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SNL audience saw the show—and got paid

How about getting to be in the live audience for a Saturday Night Live show and then going home with an extra$150 bucks in your pocket? Before the coronavirus outbreak, tickets to join the studio audience of “Saturday Night Live” were offered free by NBC, but so hard to obtain that some comedy fans were willing to pay money for them.

It turns out that the audience members who attended last Saturday’s show hosted by Chris Rock, with Canada’s Jim Carrey playing Joe Biden, were all paid.

The payments were a technicality—in order to comply with new guidelines implemented by the state of New York, which has been regulating the reopening of businesses and industries during the pandemic.

The New York Times says, the state’s health department confirmed that “S.N.L.” had followed its reopening guidelines by “casting” members of the live audience for its season premiere on Saturday — the show’s first live episode since March 7 — and paying them for their time. (It is not clear how many audience members were paid guests.)

Sean Ludwig, who attended the “S.N.L.” season premiere over the weekend, said that he and seven friends who had gone with him each received a check for $150 from Universal Television, a division of NBC’s parent company, when the show was over.

Ludwig said that they had been given a rapid virus test and asked to sign health forms indicating that they did not have Covid-19 or symptoms of the disease and had not come into contact with anyone who had it before they were allowed to attend the show.

In the days leading up to the “S.N.L.” season premiere, it was unclear whether the show would be able to draw its studio audience from the general public, as it has done in past years, because of state restrictions around reopening during the pandemic. In an earlier statement, the state’s health department said that ticketed events had been prohibited since March 16, and that the restriction had not changed.

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