Saturday Night Live, the sketch comedy and variety show on NBC, is a long-term jewel in New York City’s culture cred. Earlier this year, they marked their 40th anniversary with a huge, triple-length special and they have aired 787 episodes in all. A whole generation of comedy movie stars got their big break live on the show’s sound stage in Studio 9H at 30 Rockefeller Center, the massive American art deco skyscraper in midtown Manhattan fondly known as 30 Rock.
Millions aspire to get onto that stage, but few get their shot. But now, more can, at least, come a little closer. As part of their ongoing celebration of 40 years on the air, NPC has opened an immersive exhibit to the public. The exhibit, designed by creative director Mark Lach, is packed full of memorabilia from the show’s highest points (and some of its lowest), and designed to showcase the infamously frantic schedule of putting out a weekly live show.
Lach wants guests of Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition to laugh and learn, and so the exhibition combines stories and actual props and costumes with snapshots of the amount of work involved day by day through the week. From meeting the guest host to writing the sketches one day and presenting them the next, two days to plan and build sets and rehearse and decide on hair and make up, and all too soon, it’s Saturday, backstage is a circus, and hey, you’re live on the air.
Or, in the exhibition, on an accurate replicate of Studio 8H, looking exactly as it does on the show (Minus, unfortunately, the personalities). It’s not the only set, either. You can walk right into Wayne;s World, for instance, and stretch out on Wayne Cambell’s couch.
For Lach, the ultimate goal is for everyone who visits his exhibition to have a whole new engagement with SNL the next time they switch it on, in its long-time slot at 11:30 every Saturday night. He wants them to have a real sense of everything that underpins the laughs, everything that has to happen just so for the show to come together.
Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition currently lives at Premier Exhibitions, 417 5th Avenue NYC. More information is on the exhibition’s website.