Season Finale with Zach Braff and Maroon 5
Posted May 24, 2007 4:28 PM
Our season finale. It was as celebratory/teary as I thought it was going to be, but still fun. It's very much like the end of a school year, with people hugging and wishing each other good summers. There is even a version of cleaning out your locker; getting rid of stuff from your dressing room.
Here are some things I found that made me say out loud "why do I have this?" A CD of only the guitar intro to a James Taylor song, a glossy picture of the cast from "Lost", a plastic cup filled with honey packets, and a PlayStation controller not connected to anything. I seriously have no idea how these things ended up in my room.
Some things I remember from the week:
There was a part in the Vinnie Vedecci sketch where Italian crew guys are supposed to be playing a game of foosball (you know, the mini soccer game?). For some reason the props department didn't hear about getting a foosball table until the rehearsal on Saturday. It happens sometimes and is no big deal, but for some reason everyone on the floor was talking about it. It drove me crazy hearing that word 'foosball' over and over again!
"They didn't get a foosball table. Are we supposed to be playing foosball? Were you not told about the foosball table? No, nobody mentioned a foosball table to us."
Try saying that word over and over to yourself. It just doesn't sound right. They did eventually find a foosball table. Foosball.
Hanging out with the superfans outside the studio. Every Friday night, hardcore SNL fans camp out outside NBC to get on the standby line for tickets to the show. They bring sleeping bags and tents and are so dedicated. Bill and I stopped by to talk to them for a bit. They are so sweet and way nicer than the superfans who camp out for "Dateline".
Working with Tom the costume designer on getting the right look for the Melissa character. We kept using city areas to guide it. "A little less Williamsburg. It's L.A. but more Silverlake." Right before we did the sketch I had to run in to the control room to get last minute script changes from the producers. It was kind of a rushed and serious moment until I caught myself in a mirror and saw what they were talking to.
Hearing James Anderson, the guy who writes "Deep House Dish", sing these lines to our music arranger so she can come up with tracks: "Cause it's my duty duty duty duty to pop my booty booty booty booty."
Andy, Akiva, and Jorma shot the digital short with Zach very late on Friday night. They shoot and edit these pieces really late with very little equipment or planning. I am always blown away when I finally get to see them.
I had to do a few quick changes during the live show. That's when you have a sketch soon after another that requires a full costume transformation. You don't have time to go back to your changing booth so they run you to a designated spot in the studio. Every cast member is provided with a wardrobe person, makeup artist and hair/wig stylist. These people rip everything off of you and put you in a new outfit and wig in seconds ("careful with the moustache...ouch!").
It's dramatic and frenzied, with the stage manager yelling "you have twenty seconds...fifteen.." to add to the stress. By the way, the person who does my hair is Jodi. She is amazing and a total New Yorker. The "Bronx Beat" sketch came from Amy's impression of her. I hope this blog isn't how Jodi is learning about this.
Zach was really cool to work with and a very good sport about being puked on by a puppet.
Leaving the after-after party at 6am with the sun coming up. These bicycle guys in full spandex gear rode by and I was like "Who gets up this early? That's crazy! I should write a sketch about bicycle dudes next week." I guess that masterpiece will have to wait.
PS: I'm going to continue writing about previous episodes from this season as they rerun them over the summer. Foosball.
This Week with Molly Shannon & Linkin Park
Posted May 16, 2007 10:59 AM
I had such a great time on this show. Molly was amazing and the whole cast was so happy to have her there. It was really cool to see how her performance changed from dress rehearsal to the live show, and it was especially sweet to hear the crowd reaction when she came out as Mary Katherine Gallagher. So if you were cheering in the studio audience that night, thank you very much. If you were cheering at home, we totally couldn't hear you.
Here are some of my memories from the week:
On Tuesday (writing night), around two in the morning, Will was recording vocals in the writers' room for the MacGruber theme so it could be played for the table read on Wednesday. The music and everything was on headphones so all we could hear was him yelling into a mic. He kept doing different takes with long pauses in between. Jason and I were trying to write this one piece, and our long silences would be broken with Will yelling "The dude's a raging alcoholic!"
over and over.
For the Fringe Debate sketch, they had to rig Maya up with this huge mechanical wig. It took a few people to set it on her head and plug it in. We didn't realize how much noise it was going to make. When they cut to Darrell all we could hear was Maya's wig going "whirrrwhirrrwhirrr". You get what that sounds like right? I can't describe it any better than whirrring.
I didn't have a chance to see the filmed piece for the monlogue until the live show and I loved all the Nineties details they used. Especially that Lou Bega song. Did I download the song from iTunes the next day? Maybe. That's private information.
The Sally O'Malley/Sopranos sketch was written by Steve Koren who used to write for Molly when she was in the cast. I kept thinking about being in a sketch with a character I used to watch all the time on TV. I was also enjoying Jason shrugging his shoulders and fidgeting the whole time.
Linkin Park were super friendly and nice. I'm always impressed when bands can rock out like that while being so well dressed.
I loved watching the Jeannie Darcy feature on Weekend Update. That is one of my favorite SNL characters ever, and I felt very lucky to get to see her perform up close.
When I did the blind BBQ guy on WU, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to throw that piece of steak forward at the right moment. Thankfully it flew off the fork, and it nailed the cue cards right over the middle camera. Yeah!
Before the live show and dress rehearsal, Maya and I perform a song with the band for the studio audience ("On My Radio" by The Selecter). It's been kind of sentimental doing the song these past few shows realizing how the end of the season is creeping up on us. The writers and cast are really close, so I think everyone is feeing this way right now. Except for the props department. I asked Tim, a props guy, "how do you feel about the end of the season coming up?" and he answered "for the BBQ thing, do you want a little steak or a big steak?"
A Week at Saturday Night Live
Posted May 1, 2007 11:55 AM
Hello! We just finished doing our 18th show of the season, hosted by Scarlett Johansson, and I wanted to give you an idea of what the week was like leading up to the live show.
Monday: The cast and writers of the show come in and start pitching sketch ideas for Lorne Michaels and our host. We gather in an office and take turns telling everyone our ideas. The office isn't very big so we are all crowded together, which I like because it's kind of dramatic. As an example, a pitch from me would sound like: "Hi Scarlett. So I have this idea where you play a Long Island-y girl who is helping me sell Marble Columns." And then everyone gives me a standing ovation. For twenty minutes. That last part doesn't happen but I enjoyed writing that just now.
Tuesday: This is writing night. It's really two days of writing since we (the cast and writers) come in during the day and write through the next morning. Seriously. I used to think I could come in early and get done in time to get some sleep. But it never happens.
You end up writing something with a writer, then you get another idea and write that with someone else. Then you go back and re-write the other piece. Before you know it, it's 8 in the morning. I eat many mini chocolate bars during the course of the night. Please keep that a secret as I don't want anyone to know how much chocolate I eat.
Wednesday: This is the table read. The cast, producers and host sit at a huge table and read the sketches aloud for the writers and crew. It's kind of like a radio play. It's amazing because you get to see everyone doing new impressions and characters up close. I love it. Much of it is like an experiment. Does this work? Is this an interesting character? Should I never attempt to do a Gene Simmons impression again? From there, Lorne, the producers and the host then decide what sketches are to move forward into actually being produced.
Thursday: Rehearsal day. We do a few of the sketches for camera blocking, but also it's the day when the musical guest comes in to do a sound check. This week it was Bjork and a bunch of the cast came in early to listen. She sounded so great and her band was incredible. They were mostly Icelandic with an all female brass section. It's also a day when the writers re-write the sketches, noting what worked and what didn't work in the read through. But who cares about all that, Bjork is in the house!
Friday: More rehearsing. Sometimes there are some sketches added if anything noteworthy happens in the news. Jim Downey, a writer who started at SNL in the early years of the show, wrote the cold open this week. He is an absolutely brilliant writer and is responsible for so many unforgettable pieces over the years. That's his voice on the "Moustache Rides" commercial he wrote last week. Tell your co-workers that fact when you go to work tomorrow and see what they say.
Saturday: Show day. At noon we run through everything with costumes and wigs, and then at 8 it's the dress rehearsal. That's performed in front of a live audience. There was one sketch this week that had a few technical problems during the dress rehearsal. In "Kuato", we were supposed to be puking all over the set. When the time came, Amy Poehler and I put our hands to our mouths to cue the puke special effects. These long hoses hooked up to pumps are what make the green vomit come spewing out. But it didn't work, nothing came out. It worked fine for the live show, but the smell of the stuff was awful. I think it was made of lentils and water or something. Yuck! We had to do these long cutaways to allow Andy and Scarlett to settle in to the couch with their huge dummy rigs. They had parts of a couch attached to them so they could just run in and get set. That's why there are those long takes of Maya saying "I'm sure you'll like him once you get to know him" (or whatever her line was. You know what I mean, right?)
A lot changes between the dress rehearsal and the actual show. Sketches become shorter because of time constraints. It can get kind of dramatic, with writers and producers running up and telling me that something I'm about to do is cut way down. It happened with the "Internet Celebs" sketch. Three "Little Superstar" dancing segments became one (and I had so many dance moves I was going to bust out!).
I love doing the "good nights", you know, when we all hug and wave goodbye at the end. I don't know what it is. I just remember when I used to watch the show and I would look to see what the cast members were doing and saying. Basically we are talking about money up there.
How much we are making, what we stand to make in the future, what our net worth is, etc. No, just kidding. We are gossiping. Spreading some very serious rumors. No. For real, we all have to take a foreign language class as an NBC requirement so we are all practicing our Italian. Ciao!