Saturday, June 5, 2010

So, my Tumblr friend Beth attended a Q&A given by SNL writer Simon Rich last night. She posted a series of really interesting SNL-related tidbits from the talk that I simply had to share with you. I include them after the jump. Definitely read them as they are super-interesting. 

In other Rich-related news, it's his birthday today and he turns 26! Happy birthday, comedy wunderkind. 
Here's an article on Rich -

Also, Beth found out at the talk that Oscar-nominated filmmaker Jason Reitman has acquired the rights to Rich's book Elliot Alagash and Rich is penning the screenplay for the adaptation. Young Rich is moving up in the world!
SNL-related info from Rich's talk after the jump. Special thanks to Beth for writing such a detailed post & allowing me to repost it here!

Part 2; Simon Rich on Saturday Night Live

  • Betty White “was an animal”. Simon was very nervous about working with her (as they all were) and had her sign the script that he wrote for her.
  • Simon wrote the NPR sketch, says it was the dirtiest sketch he’d ever written.
  • It’s important to always make writing for the host top priority, even if you have a really great idea you’d like to try.
  • First sketch written was cut from the LeBron episode in 07, a sketch about a memory foam mattress that was being returned because for some reason, there was a LeBron-shaped dent in it. (Spoiler alert: LeBron was sleeping with the customer’s wife.)
  • Favourite sketch was one from 1994 wherein Chris Farley was an American on a Japanese game show. The idea of him being there and not really understanding what was going on became the inspiration for Vinny Vedecci, which he writes with Seth & Bill.
  • There are currently 20 writers on staff at SNL, which may be more than there has ever been at one time. When Simon started in 07, there were only 14 on staff to compete with.
  • Favourite hosts to write for are Jon Hamm and Alec Baldwin.
  • People he wants to host next season are Jon Hamm and Amy Poehler.
  • Writing partners are John Mulaney and Marika Sawyer.
  • Wrote Rocket Dog. The music that would play during the In Memoriam montages was a debated topic between the writers. Simon was thinking of the typical sentimental music, originally. Marika was the one to suggest that they use Life is a Highway instead.
  • Favourite cast members to write for: Amy Poehler — for her charisma, range and ability to make any character likeable. Andy Samberg — Because Simon writes a lot about growing up, and Samberg has particular young jewish boy qualities that he can easily relate to. Bill Hader — For his ability to play both with a sense of grandeur and with a sense of complete silliness.
  • Cut sketch from Taylor Swift show — Taylor played a girl who wanted to be on the underdog football team (much like underdog teams in movies), and after much convincing, they let her be on the team. She dies within the first play. The rest of the sketch is the Coach (Jason) trying to decide just how he and the team are going to get out of this mess now that a girl has died on the field.
  • Lorne’s note on the above sketch: “The audience wants to see Taylor Swift. They don’t want to spend time talking about her death.”
  • If Lorne tells you why a sketch was cut, it means that he liked it.
  • Host types from best to worst; 1. Sitcom Actors 2. Broadway/Stage Actors 3. Child Actors 4. Movie Stars.
  • Sports hosts can be counted on to have complete confidence. Lorne treats them like athletes when telling them what to do — he plays the role of their coach.
  • Simon (and presumably, Mulaney & Sawyer) wrote the Beauty & The Beast sketch.
  • During dress, the writers of the sketch sit with Lorne under the bleachers, with Higgins & Seth standing by (unless Seth needs to leave to do Update). Lorne has a monitor and a headset that feeds him the sound of the laughter of the audience, and he criticizes the sketch to the writers according to the audience’s reactions. The writers take note and will fine tune the sketch between dress & air.
  • Lorne hires writers based on specialty the same way he does castmembers (ie: impressions, characters, etc). Specialties may be premise-based writing, character-based writing, slapstick, etc. so that there is a variety of writing types on staff.
  • Something changed about the show with Tina, Seth (& Amy’s, he added) era. The show shifted to a more ensemble style rather than creating and maintaining stars like Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, etc. The castmembers wrote more, there was more collaboration between the writers and cast, more of a mixed bag. This is attributed to the likes of the Upright Citizens BrigadeThe State & Kids in The Hall — all of which were writer-performers & the influences of more people at SNL today.

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