One of the most exciting jobs I have ever had was as a regular extra for Saturday Night Live during its 22nd season (1996/1997). A friend from college worked on SNL as an intern, and when he got promoted to casting, he called me. The call went a little something like this: “Do you have a red sweater? Are you free the rest of the week?” Yes and yes!
Extras had to bring several clothing options. Unless you were in a specific sketch, you wore your own wardrobe. We also did our own hair and makeup. I would be cast in a sketch before showing up to an evening rehearsal on a Wednesday night. Usually I was simply told what kind of wardrobe to bring, and sometimes I was told what cast members would be in the sketch.
Extras had their own holding area, and we didn’t really mingle with the cast and crew of the show. The holding area for us at night was actually Studio 8G at Rockefeller Center studios. During the day, 8G was where The Rosie O’Donnell Show was taped. During down time at rehearsals, the SNL extras would look around the chairs for any lingering Koosh balls or Ho Ho’s. There was often a lot of downtime.
Sometimes extras would show up only to find out their sketch had already been cut from the show. Sometimes you would be on set for ages as the writers reworked a joke or gag. It was, in a word, exhilarating. The energy of studio 8H (where SNL is broadcast) is electric. Hallways must be kept clear at all times, because usually cast or crew are charging down them at warp speed. But sometimes you would find yourself watching a scene change and marveling at the expert crew and creative maneuvering, and you would hear someone next to you sigh, “It’s amazing, isn’t it?” And sometimes that person would be Robert Downey, Jr.
I walked across the stage or sat in a restaurant or pretended to window shop during Season 22. It was such small work, and yet I loved being a part of something so large. I will always remain a loyal fan of the show and root for every scene to nail it, because I know just how many people were involved in making each moment happen. For a moment in time, I was one of those people.
Season 39 of Saturday Night Live begins on September 28 with Tina Fey as the host, and musical guest Arcade Fire. On October 5th look for a ratings jump as Miley Cyrus does double duty as host and musical guest. Then on October 12th, Bruce Willis will host for his second time, his first being in 1989. Katy Perry, who has been a host of SNL previously, will join him as the musical guest.
There are five new cast members who will make their debut this season. Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney, who met at USC, join the cast direct from the success of their Good Neighbor comedy troupe. Also joining the cast are John Milhiser, Noel Wells, and Mike O’Brien. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Beck and Kyle will be bringing some “bro humor,” and John and Noel will wow us with their impressions and physical humor. Mike has been part of the SNL family as a writer, and this casting news is a huge break for him.
Will you be watching this season?
Our Favorite SNL Hosts From Recent Seasons
Tina Fey | Season 39 1 of 11
The first host of a new season is under tons of pressure. Tina was the perfect choice to bring us into a new year of sketch comedy. Crossing fingers for a special guest appearance from her BFF Amy Poehler!
Image Credit: BreatheCast
Miley Cyrus | Season 39 2 of 11
Bruce Willis | Season 39 3 of 11
The last time Bruce Willis hosted, it was 1989. It was the era of Dieter and Sprockets! Bruce also had a short show, as his musical guest Neil Young performed three songs. I am really looking forward to seeing Bruce on the show. Side note: I also miss Moonlighting.
Image Credit: PR Photos
Melissa McCarthy | Season 37 and 38 4 of 11
Melissa has hosted the show twice recently and, hands down, she is my new favorite guest host. One of the reasons I enjoy her is because she GOES THERE with comedy. She commits to the sketch and has zero ego. Many guest hosts will refuse to do any sketches where they look unattractive, but Melissa seems to say yes to everything the writers throw at her. I hope she returns this season.
Image Credit: SNL Wiki
Jimmy Fallon | Season 37 5 of 11
Beloved former cast member Jimmy Fallon returned as host for the first time on the Christmas episode of Season 37. It was one of the best episodes ever. His performance as host earned him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
Image Credit: SheKnows
Anne Hathaway | Season 38 6 of 11
Joseph Gordon-Levitt | Season 38 7 of 11
Justin Timberlake | Season 38 8 of 11
Justin brings so much energy to his performances on SNL. I'm guessing the writers love writing for him, as many of the sketches he performs in become instant classics. His most recent character is the singing sidewalk promo guy who does sing-offs and rap-offs and dance-offs with his competitors, ending every song with "Bring it on down to _____-ville."
Image Credit: GQ
Zach Galifianakis | Season 38 9 of 11
Zach Galifianakis brought epic funny to his episode. The Jennifer Aniston look-a-like contest was brilliant. Zach shaved part of his beard during a wardrobe change of SNL and it was all captured in this great video. It gives you a great glimpse into what it is like behind the scenes of the show. Watch Zach shave his beard.
Image Credit: NYMag
Jennifer Lawrence | Season 38 10 of 11
Jennifer's opening monologue raised a few eyebrows, as people weren't used to her great sarcasm. She broke down the list of her fellow best actress nominees for an Academy Award and zinged each and every nominee. Loved it!
Image Credit: HungerTimes
Jason Segel | Season 37 11 of 11
Jason hosted a Thanksgiving episode to remember in Season 37. The most memorable sketch was the one where he and Paul Rudd make out. Obviously.
Image Credit: Couch Time Jill
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