Chester & Rodney - All In A Day's Work
It’s Thursday and mom gets a call from our agent. The agent says that Hudson, Chester, Pepe and I have been hired for a skit on Saturday Night Live. I can’t believe my massive ears. I am beside myself with excitement! Frazzled beyond words! Me, on SNL! Hudson is understandably unimpressed. He’s been on SNL many times. As a matter of fact, he is the only dog to have ever barked live during the cold open. Chester and Pepe are somewhat excited, even though they’ve been on a couple of times, but the previous times were on prerecorded skits. This time, we’re all going to be on the live show, along with four other dogs.
Saturday arrives and we all drive into the city together. We arrive as scheduled at 1:30pm, enter the building at 30 Rockefeller Center and head toward security where we have to produce picture IDs before proceeding to the elevator. No sooner do we enter the building than one of our co-stars who is already inside, a Corgi named Vinny, starts yelling at us. Dude has a nasty attitude and I can tell he is going to be a problem.I mention something to mom, but she pretends not to hear me. After going through security, we go to the cargo elevator to ride up to the holding area on the 6th floor. We meet three other dogs there; a Tibetan Terrier named Daphne, and two Pugs named Shiksa and Yenta. So now the waiting begins. Two hours later we are summoned to the 8th floor for our first rehearsal. As is customary, we aren’t told what we’re supposed to do until we’re actually on set.
The set is the inside of an airplane, well the cockpit area and first class. We play the pilot’s dogs in a four minute skit. We are to stay in the cockpit for just over three minutes and then all exit en mass. Now here’s where it gets sticky. Three humans and six dogs are supposed to be in an area that is about 2.5 by 5 feet. You do the math. Can you say cozy? It’s clear that there will not be enough room for all of us, so mom makes the executive decision to exclude one of us. Logically, she decides it should be Chester or me as we’re the only breed that is represented in duplicate. I have a moment of panic as mom ponders which it should be…luckily, she decides that it is my turn in the spotlight and she tells Chester that he will have to sit this one out. Chester is somewhat miffed by this turn of events, but takes it in stride like the gentleman that he is. The skit calls for us all to stay in the cockpit and then run out down the center aisle of the airplane together. We do as expected and the rehearsal is going smoothly, until Vinny decides to attack me. Thankfully, I don’t fight back, because I know that dad would be displeased. I am noticeably unhinged due to this unwarranted assault, but manage to pull myself together on our way back to the waiting area.
After a couple of hours, we return to the set for a dress rehearsal. The writers have decided that Pepe should be front and center in Keenan Thompson’s arms. Mom and Pepe are to lay low and wait for the signal in the skit and then mom is to hand Pepe over to Keenan. Hudson and I are to hang out in the cockpit with dad, et al. It goes well, except that I decide I don’t want to run down the center aisle so as not to get attacked again by Vinny, the killer Corgi. It’s not a big deal, but it does mean less screen time for me. After the dress rehearsal, dad asks if we can rehearse on our own to pattern Hudson and me to run down the center aisle. We do that a few times and it’s clear that I have been desensitized to the Vinny-the-slayer trauma.
We alternate between hanging out in our crates and going for very hectic walks on 50th Street. If you’re never been to Manhattan at Christmas time, let me paint you a picture: it’s downright crazy with thousands of tourists all trying to get pictures near the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. It’s a virtual sea of people yet, somehow, the passersby still manage to see Chester and me. Many of them reach for us in a clear invasion of our privacy as they say, “OMG what cute dogs! What are they?” Thus, we keep our multiple walks very short. We also pass some time by wandering through the halls of the 6th floor and walking onto the empty sets of Jimmy Fallon and Megyn Kelly. We see U2’s equipment in the hallways - they travel with massive amounts of equipment, just sayin’. After a couple more hours in the waiting area, we go back on set for the first of two shows with live audiences. The first one, at 8:30, is recorded. It is the full show and the writers use this opportunity to see what jokes hit and what jokes miss, so they can do the necessary rewrites before the televised live show at 11:35pm.Rehearsal goes off flawlessly.
We are the last skit of the night. We are all tired because we’ve already been there for ten hours. I’m hanging on by a thread, if you will, my nerves of steel barely keeping me together. What if I miss my cue? What if I get stuck in the cockpit? What if Chester sabotages my crate and goes on set in my stead pretending to be me? What if a what if occurs? They switch out audiences and the televised live show begins…now it’s our turn. As we are approaching the set, Cecily Strong tells mom that they like Pepe so much that he will now be in Keenan’s arms for most of the skit. Don’t get me wrong, I like him as much as the next guy, but I would’ve expected me to be singled out for a starring role. Anyhow, I support their creative choice with nary a whimper. The show goes off without a hiccup. I give myself a mental pat on the back, mostly because it would be physically impossible to pat myself on the back. The next day, I do the unthinkable; I read the reviews of the show. Critics agree, two enthusiastic thumbs up! I’m sure this is the first of many starring roles for me.
Watch my SNL performance at:https://youtu.be/tJIz-XNLEn8
If you enjoy Christina's writing, check her books out! She is the author of “Chester Gigolo: Diary of a Dog Star” and "Insider Training: Chester Gigolo’s Dog Training Secrets Revealed” for which she won the 2016 DWAA Captain Haggerty award for Best Training Book and the 11th Annual National Indie Excellence Award (Animals & Pets). She is also a contributing author to “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors”. She has written multiple articles which have appeared in various international publications.