The student news site of Stone Bridge High School

The Bulldog Tribune

The student news site of Stone Bridge High School

The Bulldog Tribune

The student news site of Stone Bridge High School

The Bulldog Tribune

Is SNL Funny Anymore?

Photography%2F%2FAnthony+Quintano
Photography//Anthony Quintano

Saturday Night Live (SNL) has been a staple in American television since it premiered in 1975 and has established itself as one of the longest running variety shows in entertainment history. However, in recent years, viewers have started to receive these episodes in a less positive light, believing the show to fall short of its successful predecessors. 

SNL is a hallmark in the comedy world, managing to stay one-of-a-kind even after 49 seasons on the air. It occupies a niche time slot of late-night Saturdays, it’s prone to the effects of live TV (like wardrobe mishaps, character breaking, and live audience reactions), and it’s nostalgic. The show’s rich history is often referred to as a staple of many of its hosts’ upbringings. 

SNL is currently in the middle of its 49th season, with numerous high-profile celebrities hosting episodes this season. 

The season began with host Pete Davidson and saw other hosts like Timothée Chalamet, Emma Stone, Bad Bunny (who was the host and musical guest), Jacob Elordi, and Ayo Edebiri with musical guests like boygenius, Noah Kahan, Jennifer Lopez, and Ice Spice. 

Despite this stacked group of performers and current stars, a majority of the episodes this season still have had the same negative reception of the past few seasons. 

SNL’s faltering reputation does not stem from a lack of talent. Its current cast is full of fresh faces and returning comics. New-to-SNL cast members like Marcello Hernandez, James Austin Johnson, and Chloe Troast are all great in various ways, bringing both youthful humor and comedic delivery to SNL’s traditional setup. Veterans include Heidi Gardner, Ego Nwodim, Kenan Thompson, and Bowen Yang, to name a few, who all have their own unique characters, niche pop culture references, and charisma that add to the allure of SNL. 

The series does adapt to the times occasionally, which can be seen with their current comedy trio Please Don’t Destroy, who are reminiscent of Andy Samberg’s outrageously goofy trio The Lonely Island. Please Don’t Destroy create video skits that occur within the confines of their shoebox-sized shared office that are the perfect formula for a viral video, providing a fresh take on SNL’s typical episode. 

The problem isn’t the talent–it’s the writing. SNL’s quality has always been heavily reliant on the strength of its writing. Their writing tends to find itself fluctuating in a limbo every few years with the loss of cast and crew who leave for movie or TV gigs, or with the influx of new cast and crew in the process of developing their TV-personas and comedic stylings.

In the past fifteen years, the “Golden Age of SNL” ended with the departure of faces like Amy Poehler, Jason Sudeikis, Kristen Wiig, Seth Meyers, John Mulaney, Fred Arminsen, and Bill Hader. The past five years saw the mass exodus of Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Bobby Moynihan, Kyle Mooney, Pete Davidson, and Leslie Jones. 

Sketches are often too long, need more fleshing out, or just don’t work.

Between 2005-2021, the SNL writing team was made up of consistent groups. Seth Meyers led the team for almost a decade beginning in 2008. Colin Jost was a head writer beginning in 2012 before stepping back to focus on Weekend Update alongside Michael Che in 2015. The two later entered the head writing chairs from 2017-2022. 

As Colin Jost and Michael Che stepped back as head writers in 2022, new head writers Alison Gates, Streeter Seidell, and Kent Sublette stepped in to lead the helm. 

The pressure that comes with the title of head writer may be the source of why the show is failing to deliver consistent episodes, which is reflected in the show’s recent difficulty to have a near perfect 90-minute episode. 

Sketches are often too long, need more fleshing out, or just don’t work. 

Even though the ratings for the show aren’t the best, it’s not as if SNL will go away anytime soon–they’re a staple in cable television and popular culture. But, if the show wants to improve its public reception, it will need to take the advice of its viewers: tighten up the writing, stay consistent, and try new things. 

About the Contributor
Maddie Willinger, Staff Writer
Maddie Willinger is a senior, and a first year at the "Bulldog Tribune". She is an officer in Girl Up, EdRising, SBHS’s chapter of The Launch Project, and a Cappies Critic. Maddie loves to keep up with pop culture, and can be found reading Taylor Jenkins Reid books, watching new movies to log on her Letterboxd, or listening to Taylor Swift way too often.