Saturday Night Live has been the gold standard for American comedy for over 40 years and, as a funny and inexperienced comedy writer, is the type of national platform that you should write for. Unless they don’t want you. In that case, SNL hasn’t been good for between 15 and 35 years, depending on your age, and you wouldn’t be caught dead writing there.
As either a future SNL writer or someone who would never work for that show even if they paid me millions of dollars, here is a 10 point plan for getting hired to write for Saturday Night Live or, alternatively, crafting the perfect tweet about how you would never want to.
Step 1: Be Obsessed With Saturday Night Live Your Entire Life
SNL isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but whether you want to be hired as a writer or tweet @Michael Che about how terrible it’s become, you must watch the show every week. Having a deep knowledge of SNL’s history will help you understand the sensibilities of the show should you be lucky enough to get hired. It will also give you plenty of materials to cite as examples of how the show used to be so much better in the more likely event that you are not hired.
Step 2: Have An Inflated Sense Of Your Own Talent
It takes an inflated ego to watch a show that has been a bedrock of popular culture since Gerald Ford was in office and think to yourself that you could do that. But who knows? A. Whitney Brown was too but a man with a dream at one point. But before you commit yourself to submitting a packet of original materials to the show to be judged and potentially mocked, consider the possibility, however remote, that you aren’t funny.
Take a breath.
Think about it.
Are you really funny or do you just like comedy? When you are around a group of people do they laugh at your jokes or just smile and say “that’s funny” when you make a sarcastic comment or reference The Office? Being funny is hard, but liking comedy is easy. So if, upon deep and devastating personal reflection, you decide that maybe being a professional comedy writer isn’t for you, treat yourself to the consolation prize of Tweeting @ColinJost and telling him that he’s no A. Whitney Brown and never will be.
Step 3: Prepare A Packet Of Original Material
Fuck Step 2 and all the haters, you know you are funny and it has been your dream to write for Saturday Night Live since you were a kid. Great, now all you have to do is send them a packet of 3 to 5 sketches. How hard could that be? Just sit at your laptop and let the hilarious ideas start flowing…
Step 4: Struggle To Come Up With One Original Idea You Unfunny Fuck
It’s been 6 hours since you started work on your sketches but all you have written so far are the words “Pearl Ham” and a rough outline of a sketch involving President Trump learning his son Baron is dating Greta Thunberg. You delete what little you have, knowing that Baron is off-limits, and as you stare deep into the reflective glow of your laptop screen you question your self-worth. As has happened at least a dozen times since you started working on this packet you mindlessly pull out your phone to swipe through Instagram where you see the smiling faces of all of those SNL phonies that you follow living the life you deserve to be living if only you could focus enough to put together something as hilarious as you assumed you could write before you tried.
After realizing you’ve now scrolled through two years of Beck Bennet’s Instagram photos, you throw your phone across the room and focus back on your laptop. The ideas are in your head and all you need to do is clear your mind and let them flow. You are a funny person and SNL should be glad to have you. It isn’t even that good anymore, so you could definitely get on if only it weren’t such a goddamn bureaucracy old boys club probably. You place your hands back on your keyboard but then almost preternaturally navigate to Pornhub in your browser and spend the next 35 minutes opening adult movies in new tabs, the vast majority of which you never get to before you finish.
After cleaning yourself up and taking a quick nap you realize you spent nearly 10 hours on the SNL packet and still have nothing to show for it besides “Pearl Ham” which the more you think about seems unlikely to lead anywhere. At this point, the Klonopin has started to take effect and the near non-stop buzzing of your boss texting you to find out why you didn’t show up for your shift at the hospital has become white noise. “Will anyone ever really love you?” you ask yourself as you tearfully delete “Pearl Ham” and then immediately type it out again. Maybe it could be something?
Step 5: Mail In Your Packet To Saturday Night Live and Wait!
SNL gets hundreds of thousands of submissions by white bearded guys like you every year, so if you don’t hear back from them right away assume that they hated what you submitted and start tweeting about how much you loathe the show. Mention how you thought it was horrible that SNL allowed Donald Trump to host when he was running for President and say something outlandish to prove your point like that it would be like if Hitler went on Mad TV and was in a sketch where he ordered Stewart to invade Poland and Stewart did his “I Don’t Wanna” line.
Step 6: Holy Shit They Want To Meet You?
It’s been three months since you sent SNL your packet and in that time you have grown steadily obsessed with the cast and writing staff and have sent out thousands of tweets and direct messages letting them know that they are all no A. Whitney Browns and that the show sucks! As you sit at your laptop and discover that Kyle Mooney has blocked yet another of your fucking usernames you get an email alert from a Page at NBC asking to schedule an interview for a writing position at SNL.
As you read, and then re-read the email, you feel like you’ve entered a fugue state. This could really be it. You start to remember how much the show meant to you when you were growing up and think about what an amazing honor it would be to be part of the same show that launched the careers of Brooks Wheelan and Gilda Radner. You cry and spend the rest of the night deleting all your Twitter accounts and thinking about how much your life is about to change.
Step 7: Impress The The Head Writers
The bad news is you’re going to have to quit your job and leave your family to move to New York, but as soon as you step into 30 Rock you know it will be worth it. This is where you belong, and assuming they don’t find out you stole most of your packet from sketch examples you found on Twitter or that you have spent the last three months cyberbullying SNL’s cast and writing staff, as well as a few costume designers you found on Instagram, this will be your new home.
As you sit nervously in a large conference room waiting for Michael Che and Colin Jost to show up, you try your best to compose yourself but the opportunity is frankly too overwhelming. You steal a pen from the desk. It doesn’t even have “SNL” on it. It’s just a BIC, but you take it anyway. As you shove a few loose legal-size notepads into your messenger bag the door opens.
It’s Colin Jost. And Michael Che. And a Jewish looking fellow who you don’t recognize. And for the next hour you tell them about yourself and how much Saturday Night Live means to you and how this has always been a dream and what an honor it is just to be in the building. Collin and the Jewish guy say they feel the same way. Michael was texting with someone as you went on for maybe a little too long but is sort of nodding his head so maybe he feels the same way too? He’s sort of hard to read.
After an hour or so of discussing comedy, they thank you for coming and you leave the building. As the brisk air hits your face you call your mom and tell her how well it went and that you’re never going back home. “Are you sure this is what you want to do? Why don’t you wait until they actually offer you the job?” she asks, but you are sure this is the right move. You text your boss at the hospital and tell her that UCLA Medical Center can find a new head of osteopathic surgery, thank you very much. Your wife and children are upset to learn you’re moving across the country, but you have a dream and who are those cunts to tell you that all you’ll ever be is a husband and father just because you’re their husband and father.
Step 8: Realize You Made A Huge Mistake
It’s been three weeks since your interview and you think it’s kind of rude that no one from SNL has gotten back to you about when you’ll be starting. “They could have really used me,” you think to yourself as you watch tonight’s episode from the new apartment you rented only a block away from the studio. As the episode draws to an end you sit alone and think about how much you miss your children and wife and wonder if this was all worth it. You know it wasn’t. You call Sheila up to tell her that you want her back, but she tells you it’s too late. You hear a man’s voice in the background. You ask to talk to the kids but she says no. “You made your decision,” she tells you as she hangs up.
Step 9: Confront Those Hypocrites At Saturday Night Live Who Wouldn’t Know Talent If A. Whitney Brown Were Standing Right In Front Of Them
What have you done, you stupid fuck? You had it all and gave it all up to write for Saturday Night Live who doesn’t even want you. But why would they? Why would anybody want you?
You don’t know why, but you run out of your apartment to 30 Rock and get in a line of about two dozen teenagers (Harry Styles was tonight’s musical guest) waiting by the building’s exit for an autograph or picture. You don’t have a plan and the young girls waiting in line with you are not interested in small talk and are making you feel like a creep. Bitches.
At around 2:00 AM you spot the Jewish guy from your interview leaving the building. “Hey! Menasha!” you yell out. He turns around and walks over. “Hey…what are you doing here? Did you want to meet Harry Styles?”
It’s such a simple question but you struggle to answer it. “No, I don’t care about Harry Styles. Did I get the job?” you ask bluntly. He is very polite about it, but lets you know that you didn’t.
“But why?” you ask, mouth quivering as the reality that you upended so much of your life for this blown chance sets in.
“Because you plagiarized all of your sketches from the Internet,” he says.
“That’s not true! The Pearl Ham was mine! Give me another chance,” you beg.
“And we know you were harassing Kyle Mooney and some of the girls from wardrobe on social media.” You try to explain, but it’s no use. “Good luck, Dr. Goran. I have to go.”
Step 10: Tweet About How Much SNL Sucks
It will take several months to convince your wife to take you back, but eventually, she will. Things won’t be the same, but you both think it’s best for the kids to have a two-parent household.
As you reflect on your ill-fated comedy career and imagine all of the things that might have been, you realize this was all for the best.
That first Saturday back home you stay up late to watch SNL. You had never heard of the host or musical guest and most of the jokes and references did nothing but make you feel old and like the world had some how moved on without you. You felt the Pearl Spam sketch was inspired though. As the show’s iconic theme plays at its end, your wife comes downstairs. Your relationship with her is still fragile, but she gets warmer toward you with each passing day. She asks you if you are coming to bed soon.
“Just give me a minute,” you tell her and she gives you a kiss that is so sweet and loving that you realize how lucky you are to still have her in your life.
As you watch her ascend the steps to the second floor, you log on to Twitter and tweet: