Taking a lesson from Scarlett Johansson, Saturday Night Live is now Josting us, adding Colin Jost to a head writing team that already includes other people. At the winter break, SNL is adding Jost and his Weekend Update partner, Michael Che, to the head writing team, joining Kent Sublette and Bryan Tucker. This is the first time Che has been in a head writer’s seat, but Jost was previously a head writer before being demoted in 2015. Now he’s back, alongside Che, undoubtedly helped by the election-year popularity of their Thursday night Weekend Update specials and the overall improved health of SNL in the last couple years. I do think it’s funny, though, that professionally Jost isn’t the one and only, either.
Have you kept up with SNL this year? It’s not as good. Not as sharp, not as focused. In 2016, fueled by the election but also a clear voice, SNL enjoyed their best ratings and greatest cultural relevance in years. But this year, that clarity of perspective isn’t there, and the ratings have slid, and while the overall quality remains better than in recent years past, that touchstone relevancy is lacking. That might have something to do with the quiet shuffling of head writers over the summer. In 2016, Lorne Michaels appointed the team of Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider to the head writing gig, working with Bryan Tucker.
Tucker is still around, but Kelly and Schneider exited SNL earlier this year, and are now pursuing their own show on Comedy Central. No fuss was made about it, but it was immediately apparent that they were that clear voice driving SNL in the 2016-17 season. Without them, SNL hasn’t been as sharp or consistent. I would like to know a lot more about their exit and what prompted it, on the heels of such a successful season. But I’m sure adding Colin Jost back to the head writing team, something that already didn’t work out, will be the thing to give SNL its edge back.