The 2016 presidential election and ensuing Trump administration has been a gold rush for comedy, but Saturday Night Live cast mates are torn about putting out some of their best work in a troubling political climate.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, cast mates, writers and producers detailed the work that has gone into creating their most-watched season in 23 years.
Colin Jost, who co-hosts the show’s Weekend Update segment, said this election was unlike any before it because of how culturally fragmented society has become.
When it came time to elect a new president after eight years of Barack Obama, the race became one of the few things that everyone was keyed into.
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‘It’s been harder in the past couple of years at SNL because the culture’s so fragmented. If you do a parody even of a huge show like Game of Thrones, it doesn’t have the full cultural resonance of a Cheers or Friends.
‘Whereas politics right now is probably the closest we’ve come to a full-blown national phenomenon as anything in a long time, and anytime people are paying more attention to politics, it’s good for our show.
‘But you almost feel like a war profiteer at times because we’ve benefited from a situation that’s so tough,’ Jost said.
Jost also weighed in on the controversy that surrounded Trump’s hosting gig at the show back in November 2015.
Critics condemned the show for inviting the then-candidate Trump on and giving him a platform, but Jost said they never thought he was going to get that far in the race.
‘He’s been on the cover of every tabloid consistently for 30 years. When he hosted last season, the worry was, “Would he have burned out by the time he even came to host?” That was Lorne’s concern more than the concern of, “How will this help him?”‘ Jost said.
Erik Kenward, one of the show’s producers, says this year has been different in that the ratings just haven’t ebbed since the inauguration.
‘The life cycle of the show is very much tied to the election cycle. We’re very used to having these seasons where you start with this big bump of interest where everyone is hanging on what the show is doing until the election and then it spirals down. Same thing every four years, and people who’ve worked at the show for a long time are used to that rhythm. This one is not only not following that pattern, but following the exact opposite pattern,’ Kenward said.