The trick to being great at cue cards is not just about the handwriting – it’s also about being calm under pressure.

That’s according to Wally Feresten, and he would know: He’s run cue cards for “Saturday Night Live” for 33 years, and for “Late Night with Seth Meyers” since it started in 2014.

His first night of work at “Saturday Night Live” was in 1990 — he held six cards for a “Sprockets” sketch with Mike Myers.

Later, his boss Tony Mendez told him that although Feresten’s body had been visibly shaking, he’d held the cards perfectly still. Mendez said he’d never seen anything like it.

Three years later, he was picked to run the department when Mendez left to work for David Letterman.

The job of a cue card handler requires a package of talents: good penmanship, athleticism, emotional intelligence, confidence on stage and an ability to manage adrenaline.

Much of the work is done in front of a studio audience, and often on live TV, meaning that mistakes could be seen by millions. (Knocking on wood, Feresten said that he’s never dropped a card.)

The card handler is also dealing with celebrities – some very nice, some less so – and has to be attuned to the performers’ comedic timing. Flip the cards too fast, and the performer misses the punchline. Too slow and you drag out the joke.

Cards have to be written, re-written, and flipped in the right order, from a script that is constantly changing, sometimes minutes before taping.

And then there are the physical demands: a cold open for “SNL” could require holding as many as 300 cards, arms extended, for several minutes. (“It hurts,” said Feresten.) A segment for Late Night’s “A Closer Look” could zip through 100 cards, keeping pace with Seth Meyers’ rapid-fire delivery.

And you have to do all this without making a sound, staying out of the frame but remaining perfectly visible to the on-air talent, and sometimes balancing atop a 2-foot-tall apple box.

Decades of this work have taxed Feresten’s body, dealing him bouts of tendonitis in his shoulders and elbows.

“By the time the 'SNL' season’s over, it’s pretty hard to put on a shirt,” said Feresten, adding that he gets a cortisone shot and does six to eight weeks of physical therapy in the summer to get stronger.

Wally Feresten, holding cue cards at "Late Night with Seth Meyers."

“It’s like an athlete preparing for a season, except I’m preparing to hold cue cards for 'SNL' and Seth Meyers,” he said.

Feresten has done his job standing on ladders and lying down on the floor — it all depends on where the actors need to look. He has stayed late to practice with celebrities who are new to cue cards and not entirely comfortable with them.

But the effort has won him accolades from A-listers. Woody Harrelson sent him a bottle of vodka after he hosted. Leslie Jones once surprised Feresten with a mahogany apple box engraved with his name because she knew he’d been standing on a wobbly one.

Seth Meyers, who left "SNL" after more than a decade to host “Late Night,” said he thought about it “for less than a second” before deciding to keep working with Feresten.

“Wally’s just been such a rock and a constant in my entire career,” said Meyers. “Probably 95% of the words I've said on television have been held up by Wally.”

Feresten, who grew up in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, never thought he’d have this job for so long. He didn’t even know it was a job.

In his mid-20s, a few years after graduating from Syracuse University, Feresten was set on becoming a comedy writer. Around that time, his brother Spike heard about a job opening in the cue card department. Spike went on to write for “Seinfeld” (and is credited on “The Soup Nazi” episode), but in 1990, he was a receptionist at "SNL."

And he hadn’t recommended Wally for the job because of his “terrible” handwriting.

“I was like, let them tell me my handwriting's awful, not you,” said Feresten, recalling the moment.

At his interview, his handwriting “wasn’t awful,” and "SNL" gave him a shot. Feresten started around the same time as Chris Rock, Chris Farley and Adam Sandler. His two sons grew up on set, watching Will Ferrell and playing ball with Jimmy Fallon. (His older son now sometimes works with him on cards.)

He’s been with the show through the Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Bobby Moynihan, Alec-Baldwin-as-Trump, Kate McKinnon and Pete Davidson eras. One of his all-time favorite guests was Betty White, who hosted "SNL" in 2010, when she was 88.

Feresten hasn’t just been behind the scenes: He made his on-camera debut in 1991, in a cold open in which Steve Martin sings joyfully about how he’s “not gonna phone it in tonight.” The sketch, which is now considered a classic by many "SNL" fans, ends with a lineup of legends — Rock, Farley, Mike Myers, Phil Hartman and Julia Sweeney — singing and dancing Rockettes-style.

Feresten has taken baby steps into the spotlight ever since, making occasional cameos on "SNL" and on Tina Fey’s “30 Rock.”

Over at “Late Night,” his on-air time has amped up since the pandemic, when the show was shot without a studio audience, and Seth had no one but Feresten to play off.

“Look, I don't know how we created this monster,” joked Meyers. “But it's part of the show now and we've come to terms with it.”

On a recent Monday afternoon, at a taping of “Late Night,” the studio audience was packed with people who looked to be in their 20s and early 30s. Fereston, in costume with gold chains, sunglasses and jeweled rings, did a bit with Seth before going right back to the cards.

Later, the guest, John Oliver, stopped mid-chat with Meyers to marvel at Wally.

“Just have to say, Wally is still sitting there wrapped in gold,” said Oliver.

“How, Wally?” said Seth. “There have been multiple commercials!”

The audience hollered in applause.

Feresten is having fun with the attention. He’s in the process of getting an agent to audition for commercials this summer.

“I’m trying to capitalize on the Wally name,” he said. “Why not, you know? I’m turning 58 this year.”

Along those lines, he runs a personalized cue card business that he started during the pandemic.

One of the joys of doing the work for so long is that it’s gotten less stressful, freeing him to enjoy time with the folks he gets to meet at work.

“I think I’ve lived a really cool, interesting life,” he said. “It’s fun, and it’s nothing I ever thought would happen.”