Saturday Night Live: Lady Gaga

photo_3I had booked a trip to visit friends in New York City two months ago.

We’d explore the city, take a day trip outside the concrete jungle and eat amazing pizza along the way.

Plans changed a bit when Saturday Night Live announced Lady Gaga as a host and musical guest for the Nov. 16 episode, which conveniently overlapped with my scheduled NYC adventure.

Fast forward to last Saturday: I found myself sitting in the rain at 5 a.m. with a plastic bag covering my blonde wig and a black peacoat shielding my seashell bikini costume from the autumn cold.

Oh, and this happened:

Below are cool behind-the-scenes tidbits about how the dress rehearsal and live show differed, plus how chaotic it must truly be to work on the variety show.

Cool tidbits

I could’ve sworn Gaga waved/blew a kiss to me and the person next to me/in front of me as she was about to start her dress rehearsal monologue. We tried to be super loud and energetic in the hopes she would acknowledge us.

During dress rehearsal, Seth Meyers introduced Gaga before “Gypsy,” not Bobby Moynihan.

photo_2 (1)On the TV monitors (used to see sketches that had obstructed views or pre-recorded video) in front of us, “Applause” lit up when they wanted an audience reaction. Fitting with Gaga in attendance.

Weekend Update is the perfect segment to test out things during dress rehearsal. Cecily Strong offered a couple of quips about how bad some of the jokes she had to say were when the audience’s reaction was lackluster.

The final skit of old Gaga was filmed right above me. Coincidentally, it was also near the seats given to stand-by tickets, those of us who camped out (and arguably her biggest fans). I had the tendency to read the cue cards (since I couldn’t exactly see she and Kenan Thompson from my view). I had an inkling to what the skit was about when I first read, “I’m on the edge of roast beef.”

There was an awkward silence (paired with a collective gasp) from Gaga’s monsters when she said the line about firing her manager during the final skit. Did SNL know about that news?

Before each scene, particularly the couple interviewing for an apartment skit, Gaga was in the zone. She wouldn’t speak to anyone before it started. Instead, she was already in character fixing her hair, chewing her gum, pretending to be Marissa Tomei…

They actually do the closing monologue when the host thanks the musical guest, crew, etc. to end the dress rehearsal.

Anything goes

Let’s be honest: Even though it’s on late at night, one has to be careful about how provocative one can get on TV.

Dress rehearsal, however, is a different story.

Gaga and R. Kelly’s “dancing” was far more raunchier during “Do What U Want.” Same could be said for the parents talent show skit. Perhaps that’s the reason why one of my favorite skits was not used in the final show.


How often have you heard someone say SNL isn’t as good as it used to be?

Almost always, right?

It’s a shame, really, because actually being in the studio makes one realize how much hard work goes into putting a show together. Workers scrambled to get the sets ready, which I’m sure took days to build (and some wouldn’t even be used past dress rehearsal!). Interns hold hundreds of cue cards with lines from skits (quite the workout). Not to mention all of the costumes and quick changes that need to be made in between commercial breaks or skits.

After Gaga’s monologue, for example, she rushed back up the steps near the band. As it went to a commercial break, her handler plucked her away, and they raced off back down the middle (past the people seated stage level) to get changed into the geeky Apple genius. If you pay attention closely to the deleted sea captains skit, you can actually spot the handler helping her in the bottom-left corner.

Just off camera

There was a little crack between the Kanye/Kim backdrop (where it stood) and backstage. That gave me and a friend a great view of R. Kelly (and his awesome white suit) before he performed with Gaga. It was surreal watching him slowly make his way to the stage, passing by sets and crew, while Gaga sang. It was also neat seeing what happened just off camera — handing his glasses, microphone and cigar to his hype girl who then in turn walked away with the accessories — so he could plank on Gaga.

How did Gaga go from Denzel Washington in “Training Day” to an old woman in “Forrest Gump”? As soon as she finished with the former, she rushed to the side (just off the stage) and began a quick change. When the bed was rolled in for the final segment, her leap was adorable. She’s so short it proved to be an amusing sight to see.


Quick turnaround

Dress rehearsal went from 8-10 p.m, half an hour longer than what everyone saw later that night.  That’s less than 1.5 hours to decide the final version of SNL, which airs a little before 11:30 p.m. The order of skits changed around a bit. Kanye/Kim remained first and old Gaga was the perfect end. But the “Worst covers” skit was one of the last ones we saw.

As a result, lines had to be cut from skits. Other changes were made to speed things up to fit into the allotted time (11:30 p.m.-1 a.m.). I go into further detail about this in the next section.

And then there’s the awesome improv after a goof-up, as evidenced by Taran Killam’s kamikaze line/joke during his Weekend Update segment.


Shorten for time

In the Kanye/Kim skit, there was one final segment in the dress rehearsal version: “Are you smarter than Kim?” Kanye’s first question asked who sat next to some celebrity at the MET Gala. Gaga’s character didn’t know, but Kardashian did. Because the answer was her. After another celebrity-fueled question, Gaga remained frustrated. In the final one, West asks the first name of his father. Neither knows the answer. After a hint, Kardashian answers with, “Mr. Black Man.”

I was surprised the skit about the couple looking for an apartment stuck around. It did, however, get shortened. In the final version, they cut straight to the chase asking about the “volume of your lovemaking.” During dress rehearsal, that was the third question asked.

During the hilarious kids’ acting camp, there was a longer version of “Breaking Bad” in which the girls worked the room just as much as the boy. In the final version, though, she went straight into the Captain Morgan-esque pose.

In the final skit, where Gaga plays an old version of herself, Thompson teases her about fans being called monsters. “And they liked that?” That didn’t make the final cut. Remember how Thompson said he was more of a classic rock fan and mentioned One Direction? He also proclaimed his love for the Jonas Brothers. Gaga responded with, “I’m all for a Jonas Brothers reunion,” poking fun at recent news that they broke up as a band.

Deleted skits

1. The second skit shown to us (following Kanye and Kim) was about a group of women drinking at an apartment, waiting for another friend to arrive to hang out. Instead, a man shows up claiming to be her, but a “Freaky Friday” mix-up put her in this body. As the girls try to figure out whether this is true, the man keeps suggesting the women take their clothes off. At the end, a woman arrives at the door as the man exits, claiming to be the owner of that body.

2. Another skit that wasn’t quite funny — and thus didn’t find its way onto the final version of the show — presented a guide to couples hoping to rekindle the spark in their relationships. Kate McKinnon and Strong were the hosts, offering bizarre advice to Gaga’s character who hopes to seduce Killam. All goes well until Gaga veers off the advice (usually on the third attempt at seduction). An example: Licking and pawing her face like a cat.

3. As the live show began to wind down, I noticed that two of my favorite skits had not aired. The first was of a pair of unattractive Hooters waitresses waiting on a table of men. One of the men, clearly a regular, acknowledges a pretty waitress. But McKinnon’s character arrives wearing long sleeves and pants underneath her uniform, stating she has eczema. When the men ask for the “foxy” factor to go up, Gaga decides to tag team. Her breasts are saggy and her hair is natty. The men are clearly thrown off and repulsed. They ask the women to try something sexy, and Gaga mentions that she could read from an erotic book of two women camping. The men couldn’t be more delighted. That is until the descriptions turn out to be far from sensual, and McKinnon and Gaga act out cat sex noises and the like. The physical comedy (and vulgarity of it) got some big laughs from our audience, but it might’ve been too risque for the final show.

4. My favorite skit is a web exclusive, though I’m still not sure why it didn’t make the final cut. Gaga and a group of women have taken over as sea captains during the 1800s, and it spoofs contemporary society’s love for dissing others, retro attire (in this case an eye patch) and a sassy gay stowaway (forced to catwalk the plank).


One response to “Saturday Night Live: Lady Gaga

  1. Pingback: A year in review: 2013 | Christina's Culture Corner·

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