Getting tickets to watch Saturday Night Live used to be like gold dust but 2020 has been a strange year and it has now emerged that in order to have a live crowd, they must pay people to be in attendance for the current series which kicked off on October 3rd.
This is due to reopening guidelines implemented by the state of New York, rules which state that live television shows are prohibited from having in-person audiences unless they pay the crowd as they would cast members, and SNL has gone ahead to do so. Tickets for the show are offered out for free by NBC and everybody loves something free which means you’re stuck on the waiting list forever and giving tickets out for free under current circumstances is no longer deemed viable.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has meant that indoor events are deemed “high-risk” scenarios by the CDC and social distancing is encouraged, forcing the show to “cast” an audience and pay them for their time just like they would Pete Davidson or Michael Che albeit with slightly different fees.
Sean Ludwig, an audience member at SNL’s first show since the pandemic, told The New York Times that he and the seven friends he attended with each received a check for $150 from Universal Television, a division of NBC’s parent company after the episode concluded. “We had no idea we would be paid before we were handed checks,” said Ludwig. “We were all very pleasantly surprised,” he added.
Ludwig and his friends got the tickets through a website called Iiota, which screens audiences for talk shows and various other events. On the website, SNL asked audience members to request between seven and nine tickets to share with people in their “social bubble,” in a bid to prevent the likeliness of the virus being spread. After doing so, Ludwig said they were given a rapid virus test and asked to sign health forms indicating they didn’t have COVID-19, they didn’t have symptoms of COVID-19, and they hadn’t come in contact with anyone who has COVID-19 which allowed their application to be successful.