'SNL' Cast Performs Unauthorized Show to Benefit Strike Casualties

The cast of "Saturday Night Live" entertained about 150 audience members in an unauthorized performance in a tiny Manhattan theater.

While NBC viewers watched a two-week-old rerun featuring Brian Williams and Feist — thanks to the ongoing Writers Guild of America labor strike — the small audience at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre was treated to a fresh new "episode" with guest host Michael Cera and musical guest Yo La Tengo.

"It was everything that's never been on the show before," cast member Kenan Thompson told The Associated Press after the show. "Sometimes it doesn't get a chance to shine, but it sure shined here."

The "SNL" cast and writers collaborated on staging the special "Saturday Night Live — On Strike!" event at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre to benefit the behind-the-scenes staff affected by the strike. The live performance was not officially sanctioned by NBC, but "SNL" executive producer Lorne Michaels, who celebrated his 63rd birthday, did attend.

"He came and saw it and laughed a little bit," said Thompson.

The performance followed a report that NBC fired "nearly the entire production staff" of "SNL."

"'SNL' laid off all their staff until further notice. Their production staff, even long-term employees, were let go," a source told the New York Post. Another source confirmed that "90 percent of the 'SNL' staff was fired."

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And while The Washington Post reported yesterday that NBC might lay staff off at Jay Leno's "Tonight" show, "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and "Last Call With Carson Daly" — all of which immediately went into rerun mode on Nov. 5 — those staffers would at least get paid for two more weeks. But an insider told the Post that "SNL" staffers got no severance.

Although no official announcement had been made as of last night about firings at any of NBC's late-night shows, multiple sources confirmed to the Post that "SNL" staffers learned of their axing yesterday morning. Reps for NBC declined comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.