Freezing for Free Stuff: Why Taylor Swift is Not Worth the Risk of Dying on the Street


Talk shows like Late Night with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live are notorious for their “free” tickets that can potentially cost a person’s health and sanity. (Sara Azoulay/The Observer)

Published: October 20, 2010

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys tell us there’s nothing we can’t do in New York. Excuse me, famous rich people, but there’s plenty I can’t do, because this town is too darn expensive. I have to take advantage of free deals whenever I can. Yet the longer I partake in NYC’s “free” things, the more I find myself whining about the time I wasted waiting in line for hours or complaining about the annoying people who stood in line behind me. Nine times out of 10 I don’t even get to partake in this free event and it turns out I suffered for nothing.

What’s sad is this sort of thing happens all the time in NYC, but the guiltiest culprit in all of this “free” business is, without a doubt, Saturday Night Live (SNL). You’d think SNL would have a better system of giving away tickets, especially since it’s about to enter its 35th season. Although the show hasn’t been funny in years, it still manages to get some of the biggest names in Hollywood as its guests. On Oct. 23, Emma Stone, Hollywood’s current rom-com cutie, will be hosting, and Jon Hamm will be back for the third time on Oct. 30. It’s a pretty good line-up, and you can bet there’s going to be a ridiculously long line.

Who wouldn’t take advantage of the opportunity to sit in the same room as his or her favorite celebrity for an hour and a half? Plus, the best part is that SNL is free! But let me tell you something, SNL may not cost you cash, but it will cost you something, whether it be time, energy, or dignity. And as Fordham students scope out the show’s fall lineup, in all their excitement they may forget that winter is slowly approaching, and spending the night on an NYC sidewalk without a portable heater isn’t as easy as it sounds. Getting into an SNL show is not a fun way to spend one’s winter weekend, and I had to find this out the hard way.

For me, I wanted to see Taylor Swift. That’s right—the lovable, adorable and perhaps slightly nauseating Taylor Swift. I was too consumed by my excitement to really think about the consequences of waiting overnight in the first week of November. My friends and I packed food, blankets, extra hats and scarves and bravely made our way to 30 Rockefeller Plaza. We arrived 14 hours early (they give away numbers at 7:00 a.m.), and we felt pretty good about our spot in line.

We enjoyed ourselves at first, talking to the other T-Swizzle fans and munching on our granola bars. Then the weather crept up on us. Forty degrees doesn’t seem so bad after one hour, but try suffering through it for five, six or 14 hours. I’m pretty sure it dropped below 30 that night, but I may have just been hallucinating. There was no chance of sleep as the bright street lights glared at us and our blood began freezing. Finally, at the crack of dawn, we were screamed at—I mean awoken—by the lovely SNL staff, who proceeded to hand each of us a number and told us to come back at 7:15 p.m. that night. So after 14 hours of waiting in line, we still weren’t even assured a ticket.

After sleeping our Saturday away and taking copious amounts of Tylenol Cold, my friends and I returned to SNL studios. We wanted to see the dress rehearsal, which began at 8:00 p.m., and at 7:55 p.m. we were still being told we had a chance. The mental torment was unbelievable and as we passed through security (a sure sign you’re making it into the studio), we thought that we would definitely get to see the show. Then the hatchet fell: “I’m sorry, we’re full.” I’d spent the entire night sleeping on a filthy sidewalk freezing to death, caught a cold and made friends with a homeless man just to be told that I couldn’t see the show.

At least I didn’t have to spend any money, right? That had to have been a line of silver in a dark cloud. But what I saved in cash, I more than made up for in mental and physical distress. It’s not easy spending 24 hours in anticipation, waiting to be told that your efforts were in vain. Even if an event is “free,” it can cost you dearly in other ways, and SNL is the surest example of how expensive free things can get. College students tend to jump at free things (and NYC is full of them), but sometimes they’re not so priceless. So I warn you, Fordham friends, no matter how much you love the idea of seeing Jon Hamm this month on SNL, think first of what Don Draper would do. Would he really ever be caught lying on a sidewalk catching pneumonia? I doubt it. He’d rather spend money on the widescreen TV that lets him watch it from his couch, in a heated living room with a drink in hand.