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SUB anticipates SNL speaker series

Becky Hogan | Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Its posters boast of being the “best group on campus,” and while this self-proclaimed slogan is entirely unofficial, the Student Union Board might not be all talk. SUB’s most recent project is an upcoming “Saturday Night Live” speaker series, which plans to feature three SNL alums talking about their experiences on the long-running sketch comedy show.

“We wanted to have a few of the SNL alums and some of the current members to come to campus and talk about what it’s like to be on the show,” SUB Manager Patrick Vassel said.

Although the speakers have not been confirmed, Ideas and Issues committee members said they hope to host Ana Gasteyer, Colin Quinn and Andy Samberg.

“By virtue of their profession, any of the speakers will be entertaining,” Vassel said. “We are inviting them more as a speaker series than as a comedy series.”

The challenge, he said, is “trying to put together a unifying theme of speakers that wouldn’t be too serious.”

“We try to bring people in that change things up a bit,” Vassel said. “The SNL idea just came up this semester – there is a lot of diversity there, and it is a show that everybody knows, so everybody rallied around this idea.”

In the past SUB has hosted speakers in entertainment, including “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” drummer Max Weinberg and “Family Guy” writer Mark Henry, but this is the first time that SUB has organized a speaker series – a project Vassel said would not have been possible without the help of Student Activities.

“This is a unique project that is largely being made possible by the Student Activities Office,” Vassel said. “Normally we wouldn’t be able to take this on without Student Activities. We organized it, and they are helping us out with the financial resources.”

Vassel said SUB Ideas and Issues committee programmers Brian Sarnacki and Kerri Keselowsky “put in a lot of hours and research” contacting prospective speakers and working with their agents to determine whether the speakers would be within SUB’s budget.

The cost to bring in speakers with name recognition ranges from $10,000 to $30,000 dollars per speaker, Vassel said.

After contacting different agencies, the SUB committee narrowed down the list of speakers it had drafted over winter break to the ones that would fit SUB’s budget.

“Once agents give a standard asking fee, we pass it on to our advisor, and a contract is worked out,” Sarnacki said.

Sarnacki said SUB plans to make an announcement in the near future indicating when the speaker series will take place. Vassel said SUB also hopes to have one SNL speaker at the beginning of April and another during anTostal.

Bringing celebrities to campus is not always an easy task, he said, since many of the speakers that SUB planned to book for the Speaker Series have busy schedules.

“Tim Meadows was one of the people at the top of our list, and we were disappointed when his agent called and said he wasn’t going to be able to make it,” Vassel said. “We plan on being a lot more diligent about this in the future to make sure we don’t have another situation like this.”

Meadows was scheduled to appear Feb. 28 as the first speaker in the series, but cancelled because he is in the process of filming an upcoming movie.

Despite scheduling conflicts, Vassel said most celebrity speakers are eager to accept the invitation to speak to Notre Dame students about their experiences.

“Generally it doesn’t take a lot to get speakers to come to campus. They are generally willing and interested – it just comes down to a matter of their schedules and what they’ve got going,” Vassel said. “In terms of willingness, we receive a very positive response.”

Many of the speakers that SUB has hosted in the past have requested campus tours.

“Most speakers that come tend to want to walk around campus, and see the Dome and the Basilica, but beyond that most of the speakers haven’t requested anything too unusual,” Vassel said.