‘SNL’ Extra Complains on Subreddit About ‘Ancient and Awful’ SAG Contract
You might recognize some of the faces that show up on Saturday Night Live without ever knowing the names that go with them. Take “School Hypnotist,” one of my favorite sketches from the Ayo Edebiri show — sure, we recognize Edebiri, Heidi Gardner, Andrew Dismukes, and Chloe Fineman, but what about those other “students” filling out the classroom?
u/folarin1 was curious about who the heck these people are, asking SNL fans on the r/LiveFromNewYork subreddit, “How come nobody has ever talked about the extras? Who are they? Where do they get them from? Are they paid? How much?”
The most illuminating answer came from u/IndyMLVC, who appears to be an SNL extra themselves. (I’m going to take u/IndyMLVC at their word — they sure seem to know what they’re talking about.) “Yes, we're paid. We're all SAG,” says u/IndyMLVC about extras’ membership in the Screen Actors Guild, the union that negotiates rates for these kinds of jobs.
But just because extras get paid doesn’t mean they’re getting much. “SNL is on a SAG variety show contract that is ancient and awful,” writes u/IndyMLVC, noting that shows like Late Show With Stephen Colbert and Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon also fall into the variety show category. “I was told by union reps that no one wants to challenge Lorne to update it. SAG background performers lose out on a lot of the perks that all other shows on the main contract afford us. There are some people who refuse to work it because of it.”
Redditors on u/LiveFromNewYork were curious about the variety show contract, asking why no one wanted to challenge SNL’s producer to update the agreement. “Because he’s Lorne,” replied u/IndyMLVC. “He’s extremely powerful.”
u/elanaesther offered that Kevin Aeh works as an extra on SNL most weeks, with social media accounts that share the occasional behind-the-scenes photos. That indeed appears to be the case if anyone wants to snoop around backstage at Studio 8H.
Back to the original questions, like where do extras come from? “We get emails once a week asking if we're available,” says u/IndyMLVC. “Sometimes they ask for specific types.”
And those emails ask for a lot of time from potential stand-ins, offers u/FerdinandBowie, noting that the requests can arrive as late as Tuesday to ask for availability from Thursday to Saturday. Why such late notice for such an extensive time commitment? I’m guessing the answer goes something like, “Because he’s Lorne. He’s extremely powerful.”