When you were a kid, there was nothing more fun than staying up late to watch Saturday Night Live! Being a several thousand (give or take a decade) year old mummy I can’t say I was exactly a kid when the show was out but I sure felt like one. Anyway, I remember watching some of my favorites: Matt Foley - motivational speaker, Stuart Smalley - who was good enough, smart enough, and dog-gone it people liked him, Linda Richman, Church Lady, two wild and crazy guys…the list could just keep going. Are you feeling reminiscent yet?? Well you can feel all that again because for a short time the Museum of Broadcast Communications in downtown Chicago is hosting a Saturday Night Life exhibit showcasing costumes, sets, and more from all the way back to the 70’s when the show started.
Walking into the SNL Experience is like a blast from the past! Right as you enter, they show you a video of some of the best SNL scenes and skits from over the years and they continue to show more as you walk around the exhibits. Going in a bit further you are treated to a complete replica of the original opening monologue set from the 70’s as well as Lorne Michaels desk full of unread scripts and staplers!
As you continue on you will see original costumes the cast members used such as the famous King Tut music number by Steve Martin, Chris Farley’s Matt Foley, The Coneheads, the Blues Brothers suits, and even some very recent ones like Mary Catherine Galager’s school girl outfit, and the dancing guys from Night at the Roxbury. They even had original ceramic busts that were made of each cast member to help with wigs making and such for later in the show. There was also original props from the show like the crazy commercial products they had like Colon Blow cereal or “Oops I Crapped my Pants” adult diapers.
What I really liked was the exhibit had plaques on the wall that walked you through a typical creation week starting with the cast and writers all sitting down to come up with skits all the way to the actually performance night. It gave you a real sense of the chaos the cast and crew goes through each week. You learned about all the people in the background as well such as the people who are hired specifically to drag actors to and from quick costume and set changes, and the ones who have to make last second dialogue changes to the cur cards which is something you don’t even think about. In fact I learned that most of the reasons actors break character on the show is because of last second cue card changes that they are basically reading for the first time live. Though I think Jimmy Fallen broke character no matter what. The plaques also gave cool trivia about SNL and some behind the scenes issues and drama that went on such as Chevy Chase and John Belushi’s infamous feud. There were also lots of filmed interviews with cast and crew about the writing and creating process which was fun to hear about.
Oh and there some great photo ops as well! There was a full replica of everyone’s favorite Celebrity Jeopardy and the Wayne’s World that were fully interactive. They also had a replica of the control room so you could pretend to be stressed out producer yelling out camera changes. At the very end you could take a picture at the weekend update desk as well.
At the completion of the tour you get to sit in front of a replica of the studio audience chairs and view a mock showing of SNL complete with musical guest and scenes. It really was a lot of fun and they even got a couple actors (filmed) to introduce the “museum exhibit” show.
One thing that would have added to the whole experience was maybe a few more behind the scenes drama such as actors that didn’t get along or guest stars that caused trouble while filming since people love hearing about that. There was a bit of that in some of the plaques and videos but I would’ve loved more. Maybe a little more info about some of the more controversial skits such as the Canteen Boy skit with the too–close-for-comfort scout leader and some of the others that were maybe too extreme to even make it to the final cut!
There was just a ton of stuff to see, I can’t even list it all here and I shouldn’t anyway because then you would have nothing to see! I really enjoyed the whole exhibit and loved the layout as well. It was great to see so many of the famous sets and costumes up close and learn more about the creation process and how insane it is. I would definitely go back again sometime. I’m giving it a full 5 outta 5 Ankhs!
There is still plenty of time to see the exhibit as it will be here for another several months. Tickets are $25 for adults, children under 12 free with discounts as well for seniors and students. More info at SNL: The Experience. Plus, don’t forget to check out the gift shop!
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