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The secret to SNL’s success

SNL stands as the epitome of the ultimate tightrope walk, where creativity and daring merge in a breathtaking display.

As Saturday Night Live embarks on its 50th year, the words of Lorne Michaels resonate deeply with me: “The show doesn’t go on because we’re ready. It goes on because it’s 11:30.”

That’s why I’ve always felt a profound connection to Michaels and SNL. In the advertising world, we also grapple with impossible timelines. However, the SNL deadlines possess its own kind of withering: a new show every 7 days, crafted from scratch with a fresh host and musical guest. Forty skits are written, but only 12 or 13 earn their spot on air. Table reads, blocking and dress rehearsals are a blur. Oh, and all of this must pack neatly into precisely 90 minutes. I feel kinship and awe in equal measure. This show has shaped our culture for half a century and it’s the ultimate creative high wire act.

Michaels says the show’s longevity boils down to two things: collaboration and trust. But when pressed for the real secret to SNL’s success? More cowbell.

Karen Howe

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