How to Get Tickets to SNL
How to Get Tickets to SNL
Live from New York, it's the Saturday Night Live ticket lottery! If you're a diehard fan of NBC's long-running sketch comedy show, you might be wondering how to score tickets to join one of its live audiences. Though SNL's ticket process is a little unconventional, it's also free. Keep reading, and we'll show you how to get SNL tickets in 2 different ways: through a yearly lottery or the show's weekly standby line.

Requesting Tickets From the SNL Lottery

Email a ticket request to [email protected]. SNL tickets are only available by request once a year during a lottery. Between August 1st at 12 am EST and August 31st at 11:59 pm EST, send an email to NBC’s lottery address with your full name, phone number, email address, mailing address, and a message explaining why you want to be in the show's audience. Note that you can only send in 1 ticket request per household, and multiple requests can get you disqualified. There is no way to request a specific show or number of tickets. Shows are randomly assigned, and the ticket number is set for every entrant. Keep in mind that nobody under 16 is allowed to attend the show.

Look for an email from NBC to know if you win lottery tickets. The lottery will run throughout August, so don't expect any news until after it ends. NBC notifies winners continually throughout the season between a month and a week before the show you're selected to attend—so if you come from out of town, you may end up planning a spur-of-the-moment trip to New York City! If selected, your email from NBC will contain 2 tickets for an upcoming show. You might be chosen to attend the live broadcast or get access to the dress rehearsal beforehand—again, it's a random assignment. You'll only get a response from NBC if you're selected for tickets. If you don't hear back, assume you didn't win—but don't worry because there's another (arguably more efficient) way to get tickets.

Steer clear of any SNL tickets advertised for sale. As you can see, SNL's lottery process is pretty simple—although challenging to win. However, remember that all SNL tickets are free, non-transferable, and only distributed by lottery or the in-person standby line. There's no way to buy them, so any person or third-party website attempting to sell tickets is unreliable.

Getting Tickets Through the SNL Standby Line

Make a virtual standby reservation via email the Thursday before a show. You have a higher chance of obtaining tickets via the standby line—but you'll have to jump through more hoops. During a show week, email [email protected] between 10 am and 5 pm EST on Thursday. Include your first and last name, along with the names of up to 3 other people who will be attending with you. The maximum number of tickets you can get via the standby line is 4. Make sure you've made a plan for navigating standby with your fellow attendees before applying! Keep in mind that any emails sent before or after the times noted above won't be counted. Double-check to make sure there's a show that week before gearing up to brave the standby line. SNL airs reruns at various points throughout the season, usually due to holidays.

Look for a confirmation email within 6 hours of your reservation. Only the first 500 applicants will receive an email with a reservation number—and, later, standby tickets. It shouldn't take more than 6 hours to get a confirmation, so if there's nothing in your inbox early Friday, you'll have to try again for the next show. The actual standby line is in-person and virtual reservations aren't mandatory, but a reservation number allows you to get in line first and have a better shot at attending—so it's well worth the effort!

Check into the standby line on Friday with your reservation number. The Friday before the show, report to 49 W. 49th St under the NBC Rainbow Room sign between 6 pm and 7 pm EST. Ushers will line you up according to your reservation number. Wait until standby ticket cards are handed out the next morning. Bring your photo ID and proof of full COVID-19 vaccination to the standby line; both will be checked multiple times throughout the process before you're allowed into the show. Make sure everyone you listed in your reservation email is present for check-in. Anybody who doesn't arrive for check-in will have to give up their spot in line. If you don't have a standby reservation number, you can still line up after 7 pm EST on Friday.

Camp out in the line from Friday night into Saturday morning. Standby tickets aren't handed out until Saturday morning at 7 am EST, the day of the show, so prepare for roughly 12 hours of camping overnight. Make sure you stay in line, barring a quick trip to the bathroom, or risk losing your spot. You ARE allowed to take fast and infrequent food and bathroom breaks. Get food in the immediate area to-go, and use the Rockefeller concourse public bathrooms that are open from 8 am to 11 pm daily. NBC doesn't allow any "line-sitters" or other shortcuts to create a fair process for everyone.

Choose a standby card for either the dress rehearsal or live broadcast. Once 7 am EST rolls around on Saturday, everybody in line will get a standby ticket card, and you'll be prompted to pick either the 8 pm EST dress rehearsal or the 11:30 pm EST live broadcast to attend. Once again, you'll need to show your ID and COVID-19 vaccination card to get a ticket. If you can't make up your mind, or you want to know which show more people are signing up for, you can always ask an NBC worker and make your decision based on that! Although it's typically a little easier to get into the dress rehearsal (since more people pick the live show), roughly the same number of people are admitted to both on average. It's important to remember that even once you're handed a ticket, you still aren't guaranteed to get into the show. You'll have to return later to see if there's room for you in the audience.

Return to line up for the show at the requested time. After getting your standby ticket card, you're free to leave for a few hours! Come back to the NBC Gift Shop before the show; dress rehearsal attendees should return by 7:15 pm EST, and live show attendees by 10:45 pm EST. Soon, security will start bringing people into the building. Stay in line, keep waiting as directed, and hopefully, you'll get into the SNL audience. Make sure you arrive at the gift shop no later than the return time listed on your card. You may lose your chance to see the show otherwise. Once past the NBC Shop and security, you'll have to keep waiting as you slowly work toward the studio. Don't get discouraged—security only waves through 20 people at a time, but more than that usually gets into the show. You aren't guaranteed a spot until you're actually seated inside Studio 8H. However, according to many seasoned SNL standby attendees, your chances of getting in once you reach the elevators of Rockefeller Plaza are high!

Tips for Success in the SNL Standby Line

Reserve a virtual spot in line right at 10 am. Although standby reservations are open through 5 pm on Thursday, your best shot at getting a good spot in line is to send in that request at 10 am EST on the dot. Even then, depending on the host's popularity and musical guest that week, snagging tickets might be tricky. Based on the experiences of frequent standby attendees, you've got a decent chance of getting into the show if you're within roughly the first 80 people of the line.

Brave bad weather since the line is likely to be shorter. On Friday nights with a not-so-nice weather forecast, it's easy to be deterred from the all-night wait. However, that's exactly the reason why you should attempt it: you're more likely to get a good spot in line when other people are refusing to wait due to rain or cold temperatures.

Bring all the appropriate gear to help you camp through the night. To help you triumph and stay warm while cold-weather camping, make sure you have tarps, blankets, a camping chair, and a portable phone charger. Wear multiple layers of clothing as an extra safeguard against the cold. Even on nice days—especially during fall, winter, and early spring—that's no guarantee those NYC nights won't get frigid. The official NBC site states that items like sleeping bags, mattresses, tents, and lounge chairs (longer and bulkier than regular camping chairs) are not allowed, so be prepared for those rules to be enforced. The standby line is also a great place to chat with other SNL enthusiasts. Don't be afraid to talk with your line neighbors if you're comfortable with it.

Meet SNL cast members as they exit, even if you can't see the show. You can always try again later if you don't make it into Studio 8H. In the meantime, don't let the waiting be in vain! Go to the NBC Studio marquee on 49th Street and wait for SNL cast members to leave the building about 15 minutes after the show's end. Wave, say hi, and maybe even get a photo with someone. Hosts and musical guests leave through a different entrance, so don't expect to see them here. Occasionally, the weekly host will visit the standby line on Friday, but it's not common and definitely not a guarantee.

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