( This account is somewhat bowdlerized to keep some level of privacy to the participants… more so in part 2 when huge amount of alcohol is consumed and dignity is less prized. If you want the uncensored version, you have to be my friend in real life or get me similarly alcoholically compromised in the future)
So, thanks to the magnanimousness of Sue Galloway and John Lutz, I was invited to watch last week’s SNL from the writer’s room and then tag along to the afterparty. Lutz is a writer for SNL (and also appears as “Lutz” on 30 Rock, where Sue also appears as “Girl Writer”) It’s the second time I’ve gone (the last was a couple years ago when I think maybe Drew Barrymore was hosting but I don’t remember much of the show itself… it was more about “Jesus, this is the Writer’s Room of SNL and I’m sitting in it“).
It was also Amy Poehler’s last scheduled show as a cast member, which is poignant since she was one of my first teachers at the UCB Theatre (and the only other SNL party I went to was in her first year when she let us in… eight years ago? Jesus!) When we got up to the room a couple other people from the Theatre were there and they told us that Amy had gone into labor before dress, was rushed to the hospital and they thought (though were not 100% sure) that she had delivered already. The baby’s name was Archibald, which was weighed mentally but not up for discussion because of the love for and fear of each of us feels for her. (She can shoot lasers from her eyes.)
At the aforementioned Barrymore show, the room was pretty empty. That time we watched the dress and the show and as soon as dress ended, all of the writers piled in manically and quickly rewrote massive portions of the show, dropping 25 minutes worth of material and then setting it all up again for a new audience. This time we were just there for the real show and the Writer’s Room was packed. I was kinda surprised Jon Hamm was such a draw, but then again the media elite of New York City would probably be his peeps. Not personally his peeps, but his fan-peeps, I mean. Media-elites loved The Division.
The Writer’s Room sits above the stage, like two stories up, with a window that looks out on the audience risers, stage right. I spotted one audience couple that came in vintage dress… adorable (and uncomfortable). I had seen Rich and his wife and a couple other show guys in the lobby on the way in (Bobby had gotten them all ringside seats, I think). You can watch through the window up until the show starts, then the curtain has to close, at you watch the show on a big screen over the long writer’s table. But, because of the proximity to the stage, you hear the sound from below you live and in front of you on the TV which creates a spacial distortion. Better than Acid.
Some script drafts from dress were on the table, as well as a running order and a lot of smelly half-eaten hummus platters. Gross, SNL Writers, show some pride in your workspace! Actually, a couple of the writers were looking extra classy in suits, themed for the occasion. Lutz among them… he had a very shiny tie that was purple and silver (as was my dress, so we were required to get married by sartorial law to the displeasure of his girlfriend Sue). His tie looked like it should have had expensive chocolates inside. I over heard a writer saying that they had done their writer’s pitch meeting Mad Men themed, everyone in suit and tie. Adorable, SNL Writers!
It was weird seeing Jon Hamm so animated in the monologue, but he went over really well. A writer said he was really surprised that a lot of things that went flat in dress (which also has a different full audience and is taped) were killing in the live show.
At this point there’s like maybe 50 people in the room watching. Writers walking in and out. Lots of girlfriends and wives. A whole contingent from 30 Rock. Andy Secunda. My agent. Then Coldplay comes on and the room CLEARS. They’ve all gone down to see Coldplay on the floor. I guess they weren’t there to see Don Draper. Who knew? Coldplay?
It’s during the second Coldplay set that Mad Men creator Matt Weiner and his wife walked in with Jason Sudeikis (my memory is clouded whether it was him, but he had a really nice suit, too) giving them a backstage tour. Immediately Jack McBrayer (who you may know as TV’s Kenneth from TV’s 30 Rock and is a massive Mad Men fan) and a couple other people leap up and start shaking his hand and getting into an animated conversation.
I feel kinda awkward and want to say hello too but since I’m not involved with either the Best Comedy or Best Drama Emmy-Winning program, I don’t want to bust in. I make a pleading face to Jack and he said “Oh, sorry. Let me introduce you.” He turns to Matt and says “This is my friend Dyna…”
And Matt flips out. “Dyna MOE!?”
Seriously, I have not been greeted with this much enthusiasm by a member of my actual family (but we’re Nordic and profoundly sad). He pushes Jack out of the way, grips me in a bear hug, kisses my head and talks a mile a minute about the drawings I’d been doing on Flickr.
I’m pretty un-huggy in general. And he’s a hard man to do a scene with. He keeps setting me up for lines, but then moves on to the next thing before I can answer. He wants to know my real name, which confused I give (should have said “January” since he bought that once). Then he keeps using it on me, which is more unsettling since only my mother and the IRS call me that. He jokes that I use a fake name ‘cause I’m a stripper and he used to be a stripper. Then he said his son loves the backgrounds and put one on the family computer. I say “Oh, the one with the velvet pants and the top hat?” “You heard about that, huh… no the one who plays Glen.” I didn’t have my bearings enough to ask if he put the Glen wallpaper on. He started talking about architecture and then grabs a pink post it, writes his email on it and tells me to send him my phone number so we can continue this. They move on with their tour and I sit back down. Much like being attacked by a leopard or run over by a speeding motorboat, it happens so fast it’s hard to register.
The rest of the show goes pretty well (and I already wrote about the Mad Men parody sketch a couple entries down). Now we’re going to the party. I end up following a bunch of people down to Bobby’s dressing room (‘cause I hadn’t been down there before)... it’s a lot like the Conan dressing rooms, actually, but it’s the same building so that’s no surprise.
The party is at a place down in Time Square, and I walk out with a bunch of people, who it occurs to me as we walk first into a pack of autograph seekers (many of whom appear to be terminally ill and in wheelchairs) and then into a pack of paparazzi are actually famous television stars (but I haven’t really let that sink in since they used to just be pals). Bobby gets detained by the autograph hounds; Rich and Jack hug hello just outside the door and the paparazzi go bananas.
Ashley and I, non famous television stars, wait a bit and Mitch Magee jumps a barrier. He was very anxious to be smuggled into the after-party. I told him I’d call once we were there (there is some security, you have to “come in” with someone) and evaluate it. He just showed up because he was bored. The four of us walk the 5 or 6 blocks to the party. Jack, being the charming devil he always was, passes a huge bus-shelter 30 Rock ad and said with surprise “Hey, that’s me!”
NEXT TIME …Part 2: The Party