Fall 2018


Chris Kelly

Troubleshooting with Duct Tape and a Fake Possum

By Becca Nadler

The scariest and most fun part of the job for Saturday Night Live stage manager Chris Kelly usually happens just after the post-dress-rehearsal notes meeting with director Don Roy King and producer Lorne Michaels. "There's a window of about 20 minutes between that meeting and when the live show starts where we've got to solve a lot of problems," he says.

On a recent episode, Kelly needed to hide a prop possum in a cabinet alongside actress Kate McKinnon with just minutes to go before air. "I go to props and say, 'Give me a roll of gaffer's tape and some cloth and give me the [possum],'" he remembers. "I've got to move stuff out of the way to get to this cabinet and I'm duct-taping, putting the [possum] in. We sneak Kate in and I go, 'I built this thing, it'll work, good luck,' and I watch with my innards knotted up. If I do it right, I'm on an adrenaline roll that doesn't stop until the show's over."

The pouch held, but because SNL runs at such a frenetic pace, "There's no time to really enjoy it," says Kelly. "You just roll right into the monologue. It's that kind of stuff which is fun. I dig it."

(Photo: Will Heath)

At Work With

Short profiles of Guild members in all categories sharing their experiences at work.

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