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How can I get chosen for SNL ticket lottery?

Getting chosen in the Saturday Night Live (SNL) ticket lottery is a coveted prize for any comedy fan. As one of the most popular sketch comedy shows on television, SNL is taped in front of a live studio audience at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. With limited seating and tons of demand, scoring seats via the ticket lottery provides an exciting opportunity. Here’s what you need to know to get chosen for SNL’s ticket lottery and see the show live.

What Is the SNL Ticket Lottery?

SNL distributes hundreds of tickets per show through an online lottery system. Fans can enter for a chance to win up to 2 tickets for either the 8pm dress rehearsal or 11:30pm live taping on Saturday nights. The dress rehearsal is the final run-through where the cast does a full performance of the show before it airs live. Winning the lottery allows you to be part of the fun studio audience for a taping.

When Does the Lottery Open?

The SNL ticket lottery opens on August 1st for the upcoming season which starts in September. It remains open year-round allowing fans to enter continuously for their desired show date. However, it’s recommended to enter as early as possible once the lottery opens since demand is high. The sooner you enter, the better your chances to win.

How to Enter the Lottery

Entering the SNL ticket lottery is easy and free through the show’s official website. You’ll need to create an NBCUniversal profile if you don’t already have one. This allows you to enter your information and select which show date(s) you want to attend. Here are the steps:

  1. Visit and click “Sign In” in the top right corner
  2. Create an NBCUniversal profile or log-in to your existing account
  3. Search for “SNL” and click on the show page
  4. Click “Request Tickets”
  5. Select if you want the Live Show or Dress Rehearsal for your preferred date
  6. Agree to the terms and conditions
  7. Click “Submit” to enter

Once entered, you must wait to find out if you’ve been selected. Drawings are done at random approximately three weeks prior to the show date. You’ll be notified by email if you win seats to a show.

Increase Your Odds of Winning

Because SNL is so popular, the ticket lottery sees tons of entries. Even getting in right when it opens only slightly increases the chances of getting picked. Here are some tips to boost your odds:

  • Enter continuously – Enter every week for a whole month leading up to the show date you want. More entries mean more chances to have your name drawn.
  • Be flexible – Opt to attend either the dress rehearsal or live taping. Attending either provides the SNL experience.
  • Apply for multiple shows – Don’t pin hopes on one date. Enter for several dates throughout the season to net a win.
  • Avoid popular dates – Steer clear of shows around holidays or when huge stars are hosting for less competition.
  • Enter alone – Entering for just yourself rather than a group improves probability as seating is limited.

Other Ways to Get Tickets

While the lottery provides the best opportunity for most people, there are a couple other ways you might score seats:

  • Standby line – A limited number of standby tickets are distributed the day of each show on a first-come, first-served basis. To try this route, arrive very early and prepare to wait all day outside in any weather.
  • Employee tickets – NBC employees, including NBCUniversal, can request up to 2 tickets per show. If you know someone who works there, they may be able to put in for seats on your behalf.
  • Guest of cast/host – Each member of the cast and that week’s host gets a small allotment of tickets for family and friends.
  • Invite Only – On rare occasions, select fans may receive exclusive access to purchase advance tickets.

Policies to Know Before Attending

If you’re lucky enough to win the SNL ticket lottery or get seats another way, there are policies you’ll need to follow when attending the show.

  • You must be 16 or older to be in the audience. Children under 16 are not permitted even with an adult.
  • Bring valid photo ID. All audience members must show ID before being allowed inside the studio.
  • No cameras, audio/video recording devices or smartphones are allowed inside during the show. Phone use is not permitted.
  • There is no dressing up in costume and formal attire is not required or recommended.
  • You will go through an airport style security screening upon arrival before being seated.
  • No bags are permitted. Small purses or fanny packs are allowed after inspection.
  • You must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to showtime for processing.
  • Seating is not guaranteed. Those arriving late risk losing their seats.
  • You may be seated anywhere in the studio or moved during the show at producers’ discretion.

What is the SNL Studio Like?

SNL is filmed in NBC’s historic Studio 8H in the Comcast Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Audience members enter through the building’s lobby to access the studio for a taping.

The studio fits around 400 audience members. Seats are first-come, first-served based on when you line up to enter. The set is designed like a small theater in the round with seating areas stretching up 3 tiers along the walls.

Lower sections are more desirable since you can see the sets and action up close. The upper mezzanine level offers a bird’s eye view overlooking the entire studio. The space is kept deliberately dark with spotlighting focused only on the lit stage area.

Cast members and hosts make their way through various side and backstage doors when entering the stage. The SNL band is positioned on an upper level behind the main set. Music and performances are done live during each show.

What’s the Dress Rehearsal vs Live Show Experience?

Attending either the dress rehearsal or live show taping provides an amazing experience. Here are some differences:

Dress Rehearsal Live Show
Starts around 8pm and runs 1.5 hours Starts around 11:30pm and runs 1.5 hours
Full run-through with occasional pauses Non-stop with live energy
Segments may be rewritten or omitted after feedback Final polished performance
Some surprise cameos held for live show Potential for surprise guests

The dress rehearsal lets you see sketches that may get cut after test audience reactions. The live show offers the excitement of performances going out live across the country.

Arrival and Seating Process

All audience members must be in line outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza no later than 30 minutes prior to showtime. You’ll need to pass through an initial security checkpoint to access the building.

Next you’ll go through airport-level screening where bags are inspected and all visitors are sent through metal detectors. Phones and cameras are securely locked up at this point. You cannot access them again until after the show ends.

From there you’re directed downstairs to Studio 8H. NBC Pages give audience directions and guide the process. You’ll be taken to your seat or a waiting area until the studio is ready for admittance.

Seats are first-come, first-served based on when you arrive and get through screening. The earliest audience members get seated first, so arriving early maximizes choices. NBC Pages help fill each row methodically starting with the earliest guests.

You may be moved multiple times at producers’ discretion. They strategically seat standout audience members in visible spots near the stage to liven up the energy. Related groups are sometimes split up across seating tiers.

See a Run-Through Rehearsal

For the dress rehearsal taping, you may get to see a run-through before the actual performance. The SNL cast does a full dry rehearsal of the night’s show on the main stage starting around 1pm earlier that day.

On occasion, the studio audience is invited to sit in on this technical run-through before the real dress rehearsal begins. This offers a peek behind the scenes into how the comedy sketches come together.

Rules Enforced by NBC Pages

Once inside Studio 8H, NBC Pages enforce strict rules to ensure show quality and safety:

  • No use of cell phones or cameras during the show.
  • No shouting out or attempts to interact with cast members on stage.
  • No leaving your seat for any reason during the live broadcast.
  • No talking or excess noise during performances.
  • No wearing any SNL branded clothing or paraphernalia.
  • No visible logos on clothing that could appear on camera.

NBC Pages will prompt the audience when laughter and applause are appropriate during sketches. They’ll cue when it’s ok to give a standing ovation during the closing credits.

See Iconic Sets and Musical Performances

Part of the fun is taking in SNL’s sets live in person. The main stage includes:

  • The iconic coloring book style backdrop of the New York City skyline.
  • Costume and prop areas hidden off stage.
  • Switchable set pieces that get changed out in between sketches.

You may recognize recreated versions of the show’s signature segments like the Weekend Update news desk, Barry Gibb Talk Show, Wayne’s World basement, and more.

Musical guests perform multiple songs so the audience gets an exclusive concert. Sound mixing and video edits are done live as they sing. Seeing music acts up close really enhances the experience.

Potential for Running Into Cast Members

One of the most exciting moments is the chance to cross paths with SNL cast members. Here are some of the ways you might see them:

  • Cast members may stop by the waiting area before the show.
  • Spot them coming and going from side stage doors during scene changes.
  • They often hi-five audience members seated near the stage doors.
  • Musical guests exit through the audience after their sets.
  • After the show ends, some cast members stick around to shake hands and greet fans.

While unlikely backstage, you do have the potential to run into stars since Studio 8H is confined. Any interaction depends on who’s there and how energetic they feel after a long day.

Soaking in the SNL Experience

Seeing Saturday Night Live in person is a one-of-a-kind experience. Being part of the energy and excitement allows you to connect with the show in a whole new way. Here are some tips for making the most of your SNL taping:

  • Arrive early – Get there as early as possible to maximize seat choices and chances to see cast members.
  • Follow the rules – Be attentive to NBC page instructions so you don’t get removed.
  • Laugh and applaud – Don’t hold back – be lively when prompted.
  • Savor moments – Be present by putting down your phone and taking it all in.
  • Soak up the atmosphere – Chat with other fans and enjoy the electric ambiance.

Scoring seats to SNL is an achievement any comedy buff will cherish. Entering the ticket lottery as early as you can gives you a shot at the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing Saturday Night Live live in action.


Getting chosen for the coveted SNL ticket lottery takes luck and strategy. While the odds are slim, you can maximize your chances by entering continuously, staying flexible, and avoiding popular dates. Winners must adhere to strict studio rules but get to soak in the electric atmosphere and potential brushes with cast members. With persistence and planning, you may get to cross seeing Saturday Night Live live off your bucket list.