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A ‘die-hard’ ‘SNL’ fan who attended the season premiere said it felt safe and ‘likened it to the first episode after 9/11’



a group of people posing for the camera: Courtney Malenius, left, and her neighbors attended the "SNL" season 46 premiere on Saturday. Courtney Malenius


© Courtney Malenius
Courtney Malenius, left, and her neighbors attended the “SNL” season 46 premiere on Saturday. Courtney Malenius

  • Courtney Malenius, of Brooklyn, New York, and seven of her neighbors attended the season 46 premiere of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” last weekend.
  • The group had to self-administer rapid COVID-19 tests, remain separated in pods, and wear masks.
  • One public-health expert told Insider he would’ve attended the show given the safety precautions, while another said she wouldn’t feel comfortable being inside for that long, even with masks and pods.
  • Following coronavirus guidelines that say TV programs can have live audiences consisting of employees, cast, and crew only, Malenius and her friends each got $150 for attending the taping.
  • “I didn’t think we were being sneaky. Whether or not the show was, I don’t know,” Malenius said about the money.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Courtney Malenius and seven of her neighbors piled into a couple of Uber XLs on Saturday to take the half-hour drive from downtown Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic that’s shut down much of New York since March, the eight Brooklyn, New York residents decided to try to establish a sense of normality by attending the season 46 premiere of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”

Once the epicenter of the pandemic — where more than 23,800 residents have died from the virus — New York has taken a conservative approach to reopening businesses, even as the number of active cases in the city remains low. Broadway, for example, is still shuttered.

Malenius has been cautious too.

“There was just some trepidation about getting to the city,” the 38-year-old director of admissions at New York University’s film school and self-proclaimed “die-hard ‘SNL’ fan,” told Insider. “We decided that we would spend a little extra money and take a few Ubers together.”

Days before, Malenius had applied for tickets through a casting and fan-engagement agency called 1iota. The “SNL” webpage, which has since been taken down, had slots for groups of seven, eight, or nine people.

“First, I had to stop and think, ‘Well, who am I close with that would feel comfortable in a close environment setting?'” she said.

Malenius texted seven neighbors in her building — people she met through play dates for their dogs — to form an eight-person pod.

“We’d become even closer during quarantine because in the beginning we were doing our essential shopping trips together, sharing PPE, and other fun essential goods,” she added.

The admissions director received an email on Friday confirming they’d been chosen to attend the live taping inside Studio 8H, where former “SNL” cast member Chris Rock served as guest host and Megan Thee Stallion performed.

The email contained forms that the group had to sign, indicating that they didn’t knowingly have COVID-19, hadn’t been around anyone who tested positive, and didn’t have any tell-tale symptoms of the coronavirus.



a group of people posing for the camera: Courtney Malenius


© Courtney Malenius
Courtney Malenius

The newly formed pod was required to self-administer a rapid COVID-19 test on