Saturday Night Live paid its audience members to attend their season premiere. (Please try to refrain from making the obvious joke.) 

According to a report from the New York Times, audience members who chose to brave Studio 8H were handed checks of around $150 dollars after the taping, something that came as a complete surprise to the people who had snagged the free-but-typically-coveted tickets.

Attendee Sean Ludwig gave a glimpse of the precautions that the long-running comedy show was taking to return to a live show in front of an audience. 

“Just passed rapid COVID tests and double masked with 25% capacity and socially distanced audience. First time ever at SNL and ready to laugh despite the madness of the world,” he shared on Twitter.

After the show, he shared a photo of his surprise check from SNL

“We didn’t know it until after but we were PAID for our time, likely to meet New York State’s requirements for only paid staff to be in the audience,” he wrote.
 
Ludwig is alluding to a New York State law that only allows paid cast and crew in studio audiences during live events. The checks were a way to count the dispersed audience of ticketholders as employees. 

A representative for New York’s Health Department told the Times that SNL appeared to be fully in compliance with the law.

“There is no evidence of noncompliance,” said spokesmsan Jonah Bruno. “But if any is discovered, we will refer that to local authorities for follow-up.” 

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