'SNL' Stars and Native New Yorkers Colin Jost and Michael Che Share Their Go-to Tips for Visiting NYC's Rockefeller Center

The Weekend Update anchors also chatted — and joked — about where else in the city tourists should visit and their love for the St. Patrick's Day parade.

<p>Getty Images </p>

Getty Images

Colin Jost and Michael Che have shared Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update anchor desk for nearly a decade, but the two comedians also share a lifelong love of their hometown of New York City.

While they grew up in different neighborhoods — Che on the Lower East Side and Jost on Staten Island — an annual highlight for both has always been the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“Oh man, I love the parade,” Che told Travel + Leisure on a call alongside Jost last week. “Everybody’s walking down the street, dressed in green, kissing each other — it’s a beautiful thing!”

In the Jost household, the March holiday was always a “big day." His mom and grandpa worked for the New York City Fire Department, so he marched in both the Manhattan and Staten Island parades “a bunch as a kid,” calling the experiences “super fun.”

But this year, they’re joining forces to one-up those memories by taking on coveted roles as the hosts of Jameson Irish Whiskey's St. Patrick’s Eve, a newly invented tradition in which the comedy duo will count down the seconds in a massive celebration on Saturday, March 16, in Times Square.

The SNL stars are looking forward to spending their Saturday off at the festive event featuring DJ Pee .Wee (also known as Anderson .Paak), enjoying Jameson any way they can. “There’s no wrong way,” Che said, listing recipes like Jameson ginger and a hot toddy. “But I like it neat — just a nice little neat nip.”

<p>Jameson Irish Whiskey</p>

Jameson Irish Whiskey

“It's gonna be fun,” he added. “We'll probably be dancing, so hopefully we don't miss the countdown partying too hard!”

After all, the hometown guys know the neighborhood well.

“I love Times Square, but I wish they brought back some of the old-timey feel,” Che, 40, said. In particular, he recalled the 60-foot tall Nissin Cup Noodle billboard with actual steam that sat atop One Times Square for a decade until 2006. “Wasn’t that cool?”

Jost’s fascination is closer to earth.

“We walk through Times Square a lot when we go to dinner with the hosts on Tuesday nights,” the 41-year-old said. “We'll be with Lorne [Michaels], Steve Higgins, and our producers, and this one Batman just stares right into my soul. He’s truly haunting and genuinely scary every time I see him. The Elmos feel like a reprieve from this dude. If he’s reading this, I don’t know what I did to you — stop scaring me!”

Thankfully just a few blocks away at Rockefeller Center, the duo can relish safely in their own superhero status inside 30 Rock’s famed Studio 8H.

“Rockefeller Center has gotten so much nicer as far as great restaurants and little cocktail bars,” Che said, calling out Le Rock and Pebble Bar. Jost added to the list Del Frisco, which Che called “a classic watering hole.”

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

Jost also pointed out an often-overlooked highlight: the murals in the lobby of 30 Rock. “When I first started working there, they were so dirty that you didn’t even know there were murals,” he told T+L. “Then they cleaned it up and you’re like, oh my gosh, this is incredible. They’re all over the lobby that I passed all the time and didn’t realize they were there.”

He encourages travelers to step inside main lobby to marvel at the fresco titled American Progress. (“No one will stop you — this is not a security breach!”) Jost easily rattles off the history of the 16-foot-high by 41-foot-long work by Spanish artist José Maria Sert that was originally a piece by Diego Rivera. “He put Lenin in one of the murals and the Rockefellers freaked out and took away his commission,” the Harvard graduate explained, modestly tagging on an “I think." (We fact checked — he's 100 percent right.)

As for Che’s Rockefeller travel tip? He's a bit more practical.

“Don’t go during Christmas time — it's pretty crowded,” the star said. “If you want to go into 30 Rock then, go straight through the subway station and avoid all the people.”

Colin Jost & Michael Che

Aisle or window?
Che: I used to be window, now I'm aisle — I use the bathroom more now. 
Jost: I'm also aisle for the same reason, but I've always been aisle. I like the freedom of being able to get up.
Ferry or subway?
Che: Ferry!
Jost: I mean, what am I supposed to say? I'm going to just surprise people by saying subway.

SNL character you'd most like to travel with?
Che: Oh, Stefon, definitely!
Jost: Target Lady for the discounts.

Best weekend getaway?
Che: SNL — I love getting away from that place! No, I’m going to say Montreal — very short flight!
Jost: Woodstock, Vermont

Ultimate dream destination?
Che: I hate everywhere — I can't even think of a place. DC was fun. I’d go back there.
Jost: DC?! This year is the Paris Olympics and surfing will be in the French Polynesia in Tahiti. I want to go cover surfing for the Olympics for NBC. That's my goal.

As far as underrated spots in their home city, Jost is loyal to the borough he grew up in.

“No one goes to Staten Island,” quipped the author of the 2021’s New York Times best-seller A Very Punchable Face: A Memoir. “Everyone takes the ferry over and then they just turn around and come back, and freeload the ferry because it's free.”

Sure he may also co-own a decommissioned Staten Island ferry boat with former SNL castmate and fellow Staten Islander Pete Davidson, but he truly urges visitors to spend some time in the southernmost borough.

“Explore all the beautiful parks we have,” Jost pleaded. “There are great hikes, Italian food, and Sri Lankan food — no one's giving a chance.” His favorite spot: Denino’s near his childhood stomping grounds for its pizza.

Che, perhaps surprisingly, sided with his co-anchor.

“I actually agree with that — Staten Island is a fascinating town and it is kind of peculiar that people don't go there more often,” the Manhattanite said, before turning on the funny. “I mean, how many times do you see a city made entirely of garbage?”

“They closed the landfill decades ago, ”Jost retorted. “It is safe to walk on. It's great for picnics.”

“It's perfect for picnics and garbage,” Che replied.

While their shared love for New York City is palpable, the two do find that when they take their act on the road, their travel styles are completely opposite.

“Colin travels a lot better than I do,” Che admitted. “I'm a fly-at-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of guy. Colin is…”

“I'm no pants,” Jost jumped in, before agreeing with Che. “You don’t ever travel for pleasure. You only travel for work.”

A New Yorker through and through, Che admitted he's more of a hesitant traveler: “I wish I could stay in New York.”

Even after becoming the longest-running Weekend Update anchors in SNL history, the Emmy nominees are still reaching new heights in their hometown, selling out a joint headlining show in October 2023 at Radio City Music Hall. In fact, they'll return to the iconic stage for the NBC sketch comedy show's landmark 50th anniversary celebration in February 2025.

“There are  going to be some surprises that we don't even know about and I'm sure it's gonna be so epic,” Che said. “The 40th was so crazy that I can't wait to see what the 50th is — it’s definitely going to be as crazy as this St Patrick's Day Eve on March 16.”

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