SNL Paid the Audience at Last Weekend’s Show

After having been shut down since March due to the Coronavirus, “Saturday Night Live” was back in the studio last weekend, but it was a taping with a twist, as audience members this time around were paid like they were crew members, according to The New York Times.

The audience was pleasantly surprised when they went home with paychecks after the season premiere due to new local guidelines as a result of the pandemic. The rules dictate that TV shows are not allowed to host live audiences unless they are paid employees, cast, and crew. The audience can also only be 25 percent of its typical size and no more than 100 people.

“There is no evidence of noncompliance, but if any is discovered, we will refer that to local authorities for follow-up,” Jonah Bruno, spokesman for the state health department, said of the taping.

Audience members, who were divided into small, socially distanced groups, received $150 each from Universal Television after the show. The audience members had Covid-19 tests before the taping and were temperature checked when they arrived at Rockefeller Center. Face masks were also required at all times in the studio, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Before the pandemic, tickets for the studio audience were always offered by NBC for free, but were difficult to obtain. Some fans were even willing to pay for them in the past. The show is expected to air at least four more episodes through the end of the month.