Take your stats and shove it

This just arrived in my inbox, courtesy of Seattle MINI’s e-newsletter. Sort of odd content-wise, but they do write some interesting non-car-oriented stories, which, as a marketing wonk, I find is an effective way to connect with your target audience on a personal/emotional level (as opposed to just telling them about your product, which gets to be seriously yawnsville after a while). This is what I tried to do when I wrote the KIN Scoop (RIP….and sigh).

At any rate, #26 on the list gave me pause:

“Tickets to SNL are notoriously difficult to obtain with random drawings being held each summer. However, if you do win, don’t expect to be sitting front and center. Floor seats are reserved for friends and family of the host, cast, crew, and musical guest. Ticket winners sit in the balcony.”

In 2007, my buddy Christy won two of those notoriously-difficult-to-obtain tickets and invited me – a nearly lifelong SNL addict, comedy junkie, writer, and performer – to be her guest. We arrived at 30 Rockefeller Center on a blustery, cold November evening, excited to see Brian Williams nail his hosting gig with his impeccable dry wit (incidentally, his was the final show before the notorious writers’ strike, which sidelined television for three months). We were seated in the very back row of the balcony and couldn’t have been happier about it because WE. WERE. THERE. The cameras were set to roll in five minutes when an NBC page appeared at the end of our row, pointed first at Christy, then at me, and motioned for us to follow her. After some brief hesitation as to whether she was seriously summoning us – and WTF it could be about – we left our hard-won seats and followed her into the hallway.

“We’re upgrading both of you,” she announced. “But you won’t be able to sit together. One of you is going to the floor – who’s it going to be?”

I just looked at Christy. “Ordinarily I’d say we flip for this one. But dude….I have to go down there.”

“I know, girl. GO.”

And with that, the page grabbed my wrist and pulled me into the stairwell, where we flew down the stairs, emerging backstage (which is actually located across the stage, under the balcony). I rushed past cast members’ dressing rooms, gaping at the names on the doors – Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Will Forte – and brushing Lorne Michaels’ shoulder as the page pulled me onto the floor. As we careened toward those coveted few rows of floor seats, someone shouted, “60 seconds” as the crew rushed around, finalizing the set for the cold open. Suddenly, I was just steps from that infamous Studio 8H stage and wondering where I would be placed. The page dropped my wrist and pointed to the inside aisle seat of the very first row. Front and center. Literally.

“That’s you,” she smiled.

I think I thanked her, but I honestly don’t remember anything other than sitting down in slow-mo, someone shouting, “30 seconds,” and turning around to locate Christy – now seated in the front row of the balcony. She gave me a big grin and a thumbs-up, but all I could manage was to mouth, “Holy shit.” The lights went out, a cue card guy perched himself nearly smack in my lap, someone called out, “And five…four…three…two,” and Amy Poehler and Darrell Hammond appeared – right in front of me, in character as the Clintons at a Halloween party. Over the next 10 minutes, Horatio Sanz, Will Forte, Barack Obama (!), and Brian Williams all took their marks within 10 feet of where I sat. Alternate reality? Yes. Yes in every way.

So what do I think of #26? I think it’s a pertinent reminder that there will always be people who discourage us with the “odds” and “stats” about why something is impossible, unattainable, even illogical. But if you love something enough – and you’re true to yourself, and you believe in yourself and your talents, and you let passion, rather than ego, be your guide – none of it, none of it, NONE OF IT matters. No matter what.

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