Saturday Night Live is not only one of the most influential institutions in the comedy universe, but one of the most important and longest running, having woven itself into the fabric of our culture over the last 40 years. We’ve all seen what happens on screen and remember our favorite characters and sketches, but rarely have we been able to peek behind the curtain to experience what brings this extraordinary show to life each and every week. Well that is exactly what Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition offers us. A once-in-a-lifetime look into the unique process documenting not only its history, but how it gets on air every Saturday at 11:30pm whether they are ready or not. To be impressed would be an understatement. In this exhibition, you will be “Wowed!” by artifacts you get to see, touch, and read about. From Lorne Michaels’ office desk to the actual costumes used on the show. There are behind-the-scenes photos and actual transcripts and props. You will get to live out your biggest SNL fantasies when you step on to the set of Jeopardy, or sit on Wayne and Garth’s couch. And what SNL experience would be complete without a photo at the Weekend Update desk. We recently had the opportunity to spend some time after our tour with the man responsible for bringing it all to life. The man who got us as close as one could be without actually stepping on to the stage as a cast member in Rockefeller Studio 8H. That man is Mark Lach.
Congrats on such a great exhibition. It was quite an amazing experience.
Thanks so much. This has been a labor of love. I embedded myself over at Saturday Night Live over the last year to figure out how they do it. It’s such a fascinating way to do a show. This past season, as we know, was the 40th Anniversary of Saturday Night Live and it will probably be on for 40 more if fans have anything to say about it. An incredible history that has launched the careers of some of the great comedic actors and stand-up comedians that we’re aware of, but it’s a fascinating way they put the show together. And that’s the story arc of the exhibition. A Monday through Saturday night experience. And as much as I thought I knew about entertainment and television, to be over there to see how it’s done much like it’s been done for 40 years, is one of the endearing things about SNL. They really haven’t changed that much. One of the first objects in the exhibition is the MailGram that Lorne Michaels sent out to the execs over at NBC in Los Angeles proposing how he’d like the show to be. And it’s incredibly similar to the way the show still is today. The exhibition is 12,500 square feet that takes you through the six days of putting the show together with artifacts, props, costumes, and scenery. And it reflects how funny SNL is, but also how interesting the process is.
Well, you definitely captured all that a more. You made that all come to life. Now, I can only assume you were a big Saturday Night Live fan and purposely put yourself in this position so you could be a part of this?
You’re on to something here. When I got into this business of exhibitions, my first experience was the Titanic exhibition, the folks that recovered the artifacts asked me to put one together. And it would end up touring the world. And within a year I was at the bottom of the ocean in a submarine looking through a porthole at the Titanic. And it occurred to me, this is a pretty good gig. You can go into a subject with limited knowledge sometimes, and it’s important to research it, to experience it, to put together an exhibition that conveys all of those things to somebody. It’s so important to what I do and I also realize it’s a great excuse to do some amazing things. So whether it was the Titanic, or going into King Tut’s tomb, or hanging out at Saturday Night Live, these are all things I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in and be a part of so that I can bring them to life.