Earlier this year, Saturday Night Live celebrated 40 years of live sketch comedy, marking the occasion with a live special that aired on Feb. 15 and an ongoing exhibit at New York’s Premiere Exhibitions, featuring sets, props, videos and more from throughout the show’s history. To kick off the 41st season, we asked SNL make-up department head Louie Zakarian to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibit.


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Make-Up Artist: What kind of make-up items are in the exhibit?
Louie Zakarian: Well there’s a little interview with me that will be on screen by the make-up station. We’ve set up greasepaint palettes and PAXes.

There are a variety of different prosthetics on display … there’s some denture molds out there. Goat Boy’s original hand is out there. Just seeing that make-up lab section with all the molds set up is pretty cool. It has the same kind of feel to the real mold room. The introduction gives a feel for what we do; explains what we do and how we do it. We’ve got the Dick in the Box guys all set up with wardrobe and hair. That [intro] video has time-lapse video of me applying Golum make-up on Taran Killam. We’d done it for the show and they came and shot us doing it for the exhibit, so they could film and time lapse and put it in the exhibit. And it’s ever expanding. They’ve just emailed to see what else they can add. I’ve heard it’s supposed to be there for two years. And then go all over the country.

[On display is] a little representation of the mold room, with steel shelving. We filled it with molds from the 40 years of SNL: things from Peter Montagna’s days, molds of Billy Crystal, molds made by Kevin Haney. I tried to throw a little bit of everything in there, things Jennifer Aspinall made … we’ve set up the wigs and facial hair for each of those characters on display. … There’s a bunch of lifecasts—a wall of lifecasts.

MA: Any sort of “Easter egg” things attendees should look for?
LZ: The Coneheads are kind of cool. They’re from the State Farm commercial we just did. The Conehead on display [in a case] is from the show. Can you spot the differences?

MA: What can you tell us about the new season?
LZ: We’re just getting up and running. Hopefully it will be a fun, crazy season. Like coming back from summer vacation and going to school. The crazier the better.

MA: Will there by political specials? How are you gearing up for that?
LZ: It’s going to be great, with Trump writing the material for us. I’m looking forward to seeing Tracy [Morgan], haven’t seen him since the accident. I loved it when Tracy was back to himself [at the Emmy Awards] saying, “A whole lot of y’all women gonna get pregnant at the after party.” That’s Tracy.

 All photos courtesy of Premier Exhibitions

Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition is slated to run through at least Jan. 2016. Visit snltheexhibition.com for more details. And pick up Issue 113 of Make-Up Artist magazine for a look at 40 years of SNL make-ups and the artists who worked on them.