Without those shirtsleeves of tattoos, Weekend Update’s Stefon just wouldn’t be the same club-lovin’ guy we’ve come to adore. The genius behind his look and a ton of unforgettable characters on Saturday Night Live? Costume Designer Tom Broecker, a man who has perfected the art of foam omelet costumes on Justin Timberlake and TONS of other looks (like Jebidiah Atkinson’s historical getup) for over 20 years! We caught up with the costume designer, who is also behind some of the looks of House of Cards and 30 Rock, and learned a few interesting facts about styling SNL.
1. There Isn’t Just One Costume Closet
“We have a couple different storage closets around the 30 Rock building where we shoot Saturday Night Live. The crazy costumes are sent to a storage facility in Brooklyn. And by crazy, I mean the big foam costumes and things that are too big for regular use—things like all the Justin Timberlake foam costumes from ‘OmeletteVille,’” says Tom.
2. The Costumes Come From Tons of Different Stores
Think Barney’s is too pricey for a sketch costume? Nope! Tom Broecker says they come from everywhere: Salvation Army, thrift stores, and the previously mentioned high-end department store.
3. They Have Less Than 3 Full Days to Complete the Looks
In the words of Tim Gunn, these guys have to really “make it work.” Tom explains that the turnaround is extremely fast. They get the sketch late on a Wednesday night and the costumes must be ready by 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. Since the show kicks off on Saturday Night, there are only a few hours for changes!
4. Sometimes, Really Weird Things Are Needed for Costumes
Like toilet paper—not for the bathrooms, of course. Tom says that once, during a Halloween sketch, they had to run out and get rolls of toilet paper for a character that needed to be covered in it.
5. Random Costumes Have Been Purchased for Sketch Inspiration
“Sometimes when I am out shopping, especially in vintage stores, I find crazy things and buy them for inspiration. You never know,” says Tom.
6. Wardrobe Malfunctions Happen
And they happen to the best of us! Tom says that when Betty White was hosting, an actress was changing super fast and ended up putting on her dress inside-out.
7. Will Ferrell Is the Best at Changing Quickly
If you think getting dressed quickly after sleeping through your alarm is stressful, imagine getting celebs into costume after costume backstage at SNL. Tom reveals that each actor has a dresser that helps with changes. And yes, he thinks Will Ferrell is the best at switching looks. “I would say maybe Will Ferrell was the best—always so calm during them. Never worries!”
8. The Presidential Suits Have Been Worn the Most
Repeating an outfit is not a fashion offense when it comes to the presidential sketches! Tom says that Jay Pharoah’s Obama suit or Will Ferrell’s George Bush suit have been worn the most.
What are your favorite SNL costumes? Tweet @OKMagazine and leave a comment below.