The Making of SNL During COVID: Stories From the Show

The Making of SNL During COVID: Stories From the Show

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00:01
-What's going on? -Hey. -Hi. -Well, you start. You're the smart one. -Let me go. Okay? -Okay, you go. -Okay. This season -- -This season... -I would say in a normal week of making the show, it's normal to cry once or twice. And in a pandemic version of making the show, you might cry every day. -Uh-huh. -And that's comedy. -[ Laughs ] ♪♪ -We got the call that we were gonna come back for September for the new season. I think I called you. I was like, "Oh, hell no." -Lorne knocked on my door. He got down on one knee and asked me to come back. -I think there was never any point of which I wasn't coming back. I just knew that if we worked at it somehow, we'd be able to figure it out. -And I was like, "You got to be kidding me." -Uh-huh. -"I'm not going inside." -"How are we gonna do that and be okay?" -People didn't know physically how the show was gonna happen.
01:04
We didn't know, like, would there be sets, would there, you know -- could we get -- -We didn't know anything. -When we did the "At Home" shows, it was extremely difficult. You were your own camera, sound, makeup, hair. On some level, I think it was like a relief to be like, "Okay, we'll be back with each other, back with our crew." -It was comforting but also confusing and confounding just because it was like, "How's that gonna work?" -As you might have noticed, this is a little scary. Everything will be different -- where we make our decisions, how we make our decisions, what rehearsal is like. And then when you're on the air, it'll feel pretty much the same. I know we can get through it, and I know that we can do it. So we're gonna start now and see what we got. [ Cheers and applause ] -Felt like we were in a postapocalyptic kind of future, right? Like, those early shows, there was some fear. -Yeah. -Daily. -For a lot of it, we were the only people in the building, really.
02:07
-That's what the security say -- We're the only people dumb enough to be in the building. -Oh, I didn't -- I missed the "dumb" part. 'Cause of the mask, I couldn't -- -I remember he said. -I was really afraid of COVID. I was wearing like two masks before it was cool. -Just, I've had so much anxiety. -I had a lot of anxiety about COVID. It was crazy, 'cause on the set of our very first pre-taped shoot of the season, this music video called "Bottom of Your Face"... ♪ Bottom of your face ♪ -♪ What it look? ♪ -♪ Bottom of your face ♪ -...we had this COVID scare that day. [ Bell rings ] -Okay, everyone out. -We are just waiting because I'm having the COVID cleaners come in and sterilize. -It made our day like five or six hours longer. Usually doing those days is nothing because we do them all the time. But, like, add COVID, it just hit different. It felt like a different kind of truck hitting me. -Mm-hmm. -I definitely thought we were not gonna get through even the first run of six shows. -I wish I could say I knew it was gonna work or that we'd pull it off. But we've never done six shows in a row.
03:08
We did four once. And [chuckles] it's hard. [ Indistinct conversations ] ♪♪ -20 seconds! -For the premiere with Chris Rock, Mikey and I wrote this very stupid sketch about basically dirty names. -10 seconds! -I remember feeling like, "Is this gonna work anymore? Like, are people gonna laugh at, like, silly?" -Tell us your names and what happened. -Edith Puthie. -Um...I'm sorry? I said Edith Puthie. -Um, I'm flattered, ma'am, but, no, thank you. -When that worked, it was like, "Okay, I think there's still a place to do our show in this kind of weird new time we're in." [ Cheers and applause ] -It's "Saturday Night Live." Ladies and gentlemen, Chris Rock.
04:13
[ Cheers and applause ] -This is a special show. This show is quite different than every other show. All week I've had things going up my nose every day I come in here. I haven't had so much stuff up my nose since I shared a dressing room with Chris Farley. Well... -This was definitely the hardest year that I've been here for. -It's so different. It's really different. We have no social contact with any cast member. -I'm here, but I'm in my dressing room by myself. These people I love are right next door, and I can't see them. -This is what rehearsals looked like. -And this is what the writers' room looked like. [ Laughter ] -It is socially distanced. -We all have masks. -Two masks and a shield. -There are fewer group smooch parties than there used to be. -Yeah, our kissing parties have been canceled. -We worked with the governor's office and the mayor's office. We were tested every day.
05:14
-1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10... -How many times do you think we've been tested? Going on 100? -I was gonna say more than -- -More than 100? -Way over 100. -Yeah. I'm, like, so good at rapid tests. My nose doesn't even get sore anymore. -How can I say this so you can get it? A room have air, right, we noticed. And everybody have a nose we noticed. Everybody's face have a hole. Everybody get the virus we noticed. Okay. -I think there was one point at which they said, "You know, you're the leader. People will look to you, so you're gonna have to behave a certain way." And I went, "No, no, no, no, no. No. Don't look to me for that. We're gonna need COVID cops." -You start getting into a conversation with someone, and then a COVID health person will be like, "Oh!" -I don't know if the foam noodles are still happening. -I'm sorry. Excuse me, sir. Six feet, please. -Saturdays, sometimes you have to make changes really quickly.
06:16
We have 20 minutes till this is gonna be on television. So you'd be super stressed out. And they're like six feet apart, and you're like...[groans] They're just doing their job and keeping us safe, but... -Six feet apart with two masks and a shield while the latest teen is belting her hit, it's really hard [laughing] to work that way. -♪ I heard ♪ ♪ That you're settled down ♪ -Adele? -♪ That you found a girl ♪ ♪ And you're married now ♪ -Adele? -The table read feels like the U.N. We all are at our own table and little microphones that you have to push a button to speak. -I have a joke. I have a funny -- -I know. -Yeah. -"And I'm the wacky character now." -The table read used to be at a conference table with mad people in a room. -Sitting almost in each other's laps. -Nothing caught fire at the table read
07:16
in a way it normally would because it was a lot harder to see performance... -It was tough. -...in that spread-out space. -It's hard to emote, obviously, with a mask on. -Especially with impressions, like [deep voice] 'cause you have to see the mouth thing that I'm doing. Because if it's hidden, you don't know what -- -It's the Drew Barrymore show. -How Drew you do? I am just like you -- a boho free spirit, mommy, mother, movie star since I was 6. Then the mics blowing out a lot was gorgeous. -Oh, yeah. You're, like, full-on performing, and no one can hear you. [ Static ] -It's like... -"Oh, my God, I stayed up for 17 hours and wrote something that is absolutely not audible because her microphone is off and it's just going into the void." -People are getting up on their feet more. And, I don't know, you have to do different things with all your sketches that you didn't have to do before. -♪ We're strolling to the polls ♪
08:16
-♪ To the poll ♪ -♪ We're headed west, uh-huh, 'cause that is the best ♪ -We're closed. -♪ Okay ♪ ♪ We're heading east, uh-huh ♪ -Sorry, this one's also closed. -It's hard to even recall everything that's happened this year, but it was an election. -Yeah. There was an election. -Let's now welcome the Democratic candidate... -Boo. Here comes the booing. -...former Vice President of the United States... -Allegedly. -...and senator from Delaware... -Not even a real state. -...Joe Biden. [ Cheers and applause ] -Any time when there's new faces and new combinations, I think people are excited to see it. -Mr. Vice President. -One second, Chris. ♪♪ -Having Jim Carrey, I mean, available for the cold opens was crazy. -Anything different? Do I look different at all? -He was flying in from Hawaii to come do the show.
09:19
I think Jim was wanting to show a different side of Biden. -Yeah. -And, I mean, a reference we definitely talked about was, like, Clint Eastwood. [ Western music plays ] -It was fun to be a part of that rehearsal. We're in this room, and there's, like, just chairs spaced like 20 feet apart almost. That was so strange. We've never done it like this before. -Absolutely. Scout's honor. -Vice President Pence, there's a, um... -War on police in this country? I couldn't agree more. -No, no. There's a, um -- There's a giant -- -Lack of respect for militias? You're darn right. -No. Senator Harris, help me out. -Oh, no, I'm good. -That fly became such a meme and such a viral thing immediately. It's like, "What are you guys gonna do about the fly?" -They built a Pence head immediately. -Where Jim became the fly. And that was wild. He's, like, doing that fly thing. I was like, "I can't believe what's happening right now."
10:21
-Mr. Vice President, there's another one. -Another antifa rally? No surprise there. -Friend, you look familiar. -Well, I better. I'm Herman Cain. Sliding off Pence's mock head with Jim Carrey saying, "Live from New York." -And live from New York, it's Saturday night! -It was the craziest thing ever. -To quote the great 1995 Adam Sandler film "Billy Madison," everyone in this room is now dumber for having... -Because it was the election, people got really deep into every political figure, and people played people on the show that normally no one would even follow or recognize. -I think I found out I was playing Ted Cruz, like, the morning of. -Wow, Senator Cruz, welcome to the show. -There's kind of a smarmy weasel that I identify with. -Hello, Colin. Ooh, I think I sat on a gun. We were trying to do a rewrite. I said, "Tucker, is it weird if maybe I do something like...?
11:23
Sorry, Colin, I have to sneeze. Sorry. It's my allergies. -That was a -- That was a sneeze? -Oh, yeah, see, when I was a little girl, I sneezed once, and nobody said "bless you." So a demon got in. Excuse me. Sorry. ♪♪ -CNN can now project that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. -They called the election for Biden on the Saturday of the Chappelle show. -Pretty incredible day. -And was getting ready to go into work -- like, I was putting on my shoes -- and being like, "Oh, the whole show is gonna change." -There are situations in life, and this is one of them, where there must be a winner and... a loser. [ Cheers and applause ] L-hoo...s-her. [loser]
12:30
-Every different department is so insanely good at what they do. Like, the wardrobe department pulling off Kamala's outfit, like, an hour and a half after it happened. -Two people were reconstructing the jacket. Someone was working on the pants. Half of a blouse was made because literally we're like, "Well, you only need the front." -The fact that they did that at all during a pandemic, it's like, "Whoa, they really are the best at what they do." -Yeah, I felt the same way when I was Count Chocula. -I didn't know how much, like, Count Chocula Pete was gonna look. People probably didn't even realize that was Pete until he said it, I bet. -America...look at Pete Davidson's lips. [ Laughter ] -"America"... -I think the makeup team should definitely be lauded for their work. -Baby Groot, we ain't friends. -Normally when somebody needs to get a quick two-minute makeup change, there's an army of people that just surround them, do whatever they got to do, and then send them out. With COVID, one person, one cast member,
13:35
one hair person. You can't have that army. But you still have the same two-minute turnaround. -"Hot Ones," the show where celebrities answer hot questions while eating even hotter wings. -We'd been wanting to do a "Hot Ones" for a while. Maya's Beyoncé impression is so funny. -It is truly an honor. -[ Chuckles ] Yeah, I know. -They had to run in and make her sweaty while the camera was on me. -Yeah, I'm under the table behind them, and I constantly have to pop up and spray Maya and pop back down and hide. -Are you okay? -It's not like we lessened the production demands of this show. Like, it's the same show it was. It's just now being done under these ridiculous circumstances. -Last week, I had a quick change from the very last sketch into goodnights. And, you know, I'm ripping pants off, and they're taking my wig off, and then I ran up to goodnights, and I didn't have a mask on, and everyone else had a mask on. And I was like, "Oh, my God." I felt naked.
14:37
Cecily had two on, and I'm sure this is not okay for protocol, but she took one off and gave it to me. So I had a taste of Cecily that night. -Can I get the new cast out here? Send them out. [ Cheers and applause ] -I can't imagine being in my first year here this year. -Yeah, those poor guys. -This is incredibly hard, and this is, like, our ninth year. I can't imagine coming into this and having it be your first season. That seems bad. -It's a lot. -Mm-hmm. -None of what they experienced was normal. -There's no practice, there's no class for "SNL." My dad was like, "You should take, like, a cue card class or something." And I even looked it up, and they don't have those. So, I was like, "Got to learn it somehow." I think that doing the high-heel hostess with Adele would be really fun. -That sounds great. She's got prescription roller skates that they need to be -- It's, like, a medical thing
15:40
that's being treated. -[ Laughs ] -They have been fairing incredibly well. -Yes. -I would not have survived this situation and how bizarre it is. -No. -For sure, this season has definitely been the most isolating. Like, we've been so separated. You know what I'm saying? So that's been the toughest part of it for me. -It certainly affected the writing process. -I mean, this job is so collaborative, and I'm used to going in to a room and joking -- joking around with someone. -There are so many times where you truly will just run in to a cast member or a writer and just start riffing and then that will become a piece. -We kind of didn't have that this year, so you're kind of writing almost in a vacuum through Zoom. -Like, being on Zoom and trying to convey what's funny is humiliating. -My Internet sucks. So it's, like, we're trying to do a rewrite, and I'm like... -At some point in the year, everyone working here had a full nervous breakdown. -This is the saddest interview. -I know.
16:42
-♪ It's been a whole year since a dude touched your butt ♪ -♪ Oh, right, I forgot ♪ ♪ Guess I've gone a little bit ♪ ♪ Loco ♪ ♪ Loco ♪ -What? -I haven't seen friends. I live alone. I'm a single woman. And I do have 10 plants. That's the sketch where I go, "Oh, my God, every department here is so, so good and such visionaries." My brain still breaks about it, and I shamefully still watch it because I just feel like the visuals are so cool. And then the editing? Anyway, very special moment for me because it also felt cathartic, as well, to get to do that. -♪ Loco ♪ -The film unit did probably the best work it's ever done. -We had a Brooklyn studio to shoot all of our pre-tapes in, which we never had before. -The stuff that the film unit had been able to pull off in there is mind-blowing. -They build sets, you know, within two days' notice. -Yeah, like, building the rooftop for the weed gummy sketch really blew my mind. -Wild. -That was amazing. -Mars. Mars looked good. -Chad, this is Elon Musk. -You'll need to pull the release lever slowly because of the pressure.
17:45
[ Feedback ] Chad? -A few shoots where it's just been, like, apartments. Normally we would just go to an apartment instead of building one from scratch. -It would have been easy to just say like, "All right, we're gonna do like one tape a week, given how hard it is to do all this stuff now." But we didn't let up at all. -Are you bored? -Mm-hmm. -You need something new. -Something exciting. -I need a new fantasy. -Then you need... -Zillow. -Zillow. -Zillow.com. -Streeter Seidell, a writer on the show, is so into real-estate porn, as it's called. -I'd never live in North Carolina, but if I did, I could buy a big gross mansion. -Zillow. -You brought NFTs to the world's attention. -♪ Now, what the hell's an NFT? ♪ ♪ Apparently cryptocurrency ♪ ♪ Everyone's making so much money ♪ ♪ Can you please explain what's an NFT? ♪ -We want to hear about the iceberg, baby.
18:48
-Here to explain his side of the story is the iceberg that sank the Titanic. [ Cheers and applause ] -The entire week leading up to Saturday, Anna and I would just look at each other and be like, "This is never gonna be on TV." Okay, fine, you want to do this? Let's do this. First of all, you came to where I live, and you hit me. And I'm literally injured, but all anybody cares about is that like 40 or 50 people died or whatever. -Well, it was 1,500 people. -Why are you attacking me?! -I'm really proud of my Dolly Parton "Update." ♪ Have a holly, jolly Christmas ♪ ♪ It's the best time of the year ♪ -I had friends text me the next day that were like, "Well, her Dolly impression's amazing, but, I mean, she wasn't, like, singing, right?" I was like, "Yeah, no, that includes the singing." -It was just pure love, that piece, and it felt really, really good. -I mean, Adele was really cool.
19:50
She sang right into my face. -♪ There's a fire starting in my heart ♪ ♪ Reaching a fever pitch, and it's bringing me out the dark ♪ -That was amazing. -She was the best. -♪ Forget your troubles and just get happy ♪ -♪ Happy days are here ♪ -♪ You better chase all your blues away ♪ -♪ The skies above ♪ ♪ Are clear again ♪ -I just kept thinking like, "I just want to put out something positive, joyful, you know?" I just want to say, I think, as long as we have each other, we'll get through this. -The pandemic or the performance? -Ohh! -When we actually started doing it, we were the only show in New York with an audience, -The audience, this floor right here, are first-responders, all the audience right here. -Privileged. Absolutely privileged. -Yeah, I've never, never felt more grateful for an audience in my entire life, just knowing, even in the city, how many venues are empty right now. -It was hard early 'cause audiences were really small and nervous.
20:51
Like, the first one, the audience was a little bit of shell-shocked. -Understandably. It's a strange time. Even though it is a sparser audience, they're here with us, and that means so much. ♪♪ [ Indistinct conversations ] -Listen, almost everything is in this show already, so... It has been something that everyone will remember. Not so much the audience, but I think we'll remember it. Gone all the way to the end, and I think should all be proud of yourselves. And, certainly, I'm proud of you. And let's send it off the right way. [ Cheers and applause ] -I think it's a miracle that we finished the whole season. -It's such an "SNL" thing to do to, like, be able to pull this off. -It is such an honor to be here hosting the season finale of "Saturday Night Live." And --- wait, wait, wait, wait --
21:54
And this show is even more special because it's the first time this year we have a completely full audience -- fully vaccinated. [ Cheers and applause ] -Coming back and doing the show in spite of how many more obstacles there were, I think, was really special. -To have a job, the fact that it is this job in this building, and then we get to still do it when it seemed impossible is like, "Whoa, we're very lucky to get to do this." -And being able to create and have people at home laugh at something. -Just beyond blessed and thankful. -There was a moment when Bowen and I were watching Dua Lipa, and we just were like, "No one else can go to live concerts or shows right now. And we're here." I don't know. I get tearful. -I have the utmost respect for what you're doing. It's amazing. And I didn't want to miss it. And that's why I'm here. -And to get to see a friend in person. I mean, I really mean it when, like, when it's written into sketches where we get to hug or pat each other on the back or sit. I remember when we first were sitting next to each other
22:56
on that couch in that pre-tape, we both were like, "Ooh." -Like, I made it. I made it a year, and I'm still at the show and we're all still here. -We had each other. And so, even though people were six feet apart, they were as close as they've ever been. And I think we just saw the best in everyone. -It's Saturday night! -Now that it's over, it's kind of crazy that we did it. -Yeah. -This sucks. -Love you, man. -I hate this guy. I hate this guy so much. -I think that's a good ending. ♪♪

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