Does the theme song to 30 Rock pop into your head every time you gaze upwards from the Plaza? Do you enjoy your coffee in the mornings alongside Matt and Kathie Lee? Do you set the DVR for 11:30pm every weekend so you don't miss a minute of Saturday Night Live?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, we highly recommend a regimen of full participation in one of the NBC shows that currently tape at Rockefeller Center. For nothing more than a super-early wake-up call, fans can gather outside Today's windows for a chance to get some screen time (hold that sign up high!), while Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon devotees can try their luck at scoring a stand-by spot in the studio audience. And if standing around Rockefeller Plaza at 6am doesn't appeal, reserve tickets for the NBC Studio Tour and get the inside scoop on how your television gets made.
Check with the shows directly (links provided below) to confirm age requirements, rules and regulations.
Today: Since 1994 the famed morning show has broadcast straight from Rock Center, inviting hordes of friends and fans to gather outside for the chance to meet their favorite hosts and maybe even get on TV. But for the last couple weeks the corner windows of studio 1A at 49th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues have been papered over, and early-morning crowds have been sparse. Excitingly, Today will reveal its new studio set on September 9, in what will surely be a celebratory morning in the Plaza.
No tickets or reservations are needed: simply show up in the wee hours (pros say be there by 6am at the latest to nab a good spot), grab a cappuccino and a killer croissant at Bouchon Bakery as soon as they open and wait for the fun to start (Rock Center restrooms officially open at 7am, FYI). With four hours of programming to fill, you just might find your moment in the spotlight. The friendly hosts always make the rounds of the crowd for autographs and picture-taking, and if you're lucky, you just might catch a concert or special event. More fun stuff happens in the Plaza before 10am than most people get to experience all week! Click here for more information on how to makes the most of your experience on Today.
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: This season will be Fallon's final hurrah as the host of Late Night in studio 6B—he's been promoted to the Tonight Show, where hopefully he won't lose any of his goofy charm (SNL's Seth Meyers will take over Late Night host duties in 2014). The loose vibe of the show is great fun for audience members, and tickets can be either reserved in advance or through day-of stand-by access.
According to their official information, "Free tickets to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon are available by calling the ticket office at 212-664-3056. Generally, tickets are booked about 4-6 weeks in advance." The rules for stand-by tickets are as follows: "Arrive no later than 9am on the morning of the taping under the NBC Studios marquee on the 49th Street side of 30 Rock. All standby tickets not handed out at 9am will be placed at the NBC Studio Tour Desk on the second floor of the NBC Experience Store in Rockefeller Plaza. Only one ticket will be issued per person. Please note that a standby ticket does not guarantee admission." With luck you'll be dancing with Questlove in no time. Click here for more information.
Saturday Night Live: The beloved comedy show's 39th season launches on September 28 in studio 8H. Every August, NBC operates an email-based lottery system, where a blessed bunch of comedy fans score tickets to the show (we've never heard of anyone actually getting one, however). Since we're too late to take that route, your best bet is to line up for stand-by tickets.
The SNL line is an experience unto itself; fans have been known to camp out on 49th Street for more than 48 hours before the show, setting up sleeping bags, chairs and other creature comforts. According to the official directions, "Stand-by tickets are distributed at 7am on the 49th St. side of 30 Rockefeller Plaza on the mornings of the show. You may choose a stand-by ticket for either the 8pm dress rehearsal or the 11:30pm live broadcast." The dress rehearsal is a full, taped performance, and is just as awesome as the actual live show, insiders tell us, so don't turn down a ticket for the rehearsal if you get offered one. Even multiple days spent in line is no guarantee for entry, so dress warm, hunker down and good luck. For further information on scoring a seat at SNL, click here.
The NBC Experience Tour: Standing on line for two days for the slight chance of a stand-by ticket might not be your idea of a holiday. In which case, might we recommend the highly entertaining and illuminating NBC Experience Tour? This hour-plus walkthrough of the legendary studios has been conducted here at 30 Rock since 1933, and tours run every 15 minutes, seven days a week. You'll gain backstage access to the sets of NBC Nightly News, Saturday Night Live, MSNBC, Today, Late Night and more, all led by one of NBC's famous pages (not Kenneth though, don't get too excited). Reservations are strongly recommended. Click here for prices, schedules and further details.