While comedy has certainly changed since the inaugural days of Saturday Night Live, one thing certainly hasn’t: Naysayers.
But SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels, who was interviewed Tuesday by comedian Martin Short as part of a Comedy On TV luncheon hosted by the Hollywood Radio and Television Society, doesn’t let it faze him.
“You just kinda go, ‘yeah, it’s uneven; we’re doing 90 minutes,’” he said. “There’s a variety of styles….the political people can’t understand why you’re doing something so dumb. It’s just all ‘Why did they have that thing?’ No one is ever completely satisfied.”
Universally appreciated, however, was SNL’s touching tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, which aired the day after the horrific event. Michaels described the delicate manner in which the tribute was handled, (he struggled with how to transition from the moving performance of “Silent Night” by the New York City Children’s Chorus to the “live from New York” intro, eventually settling on a simple fade-to-black break) and said not addressing the somber event was never an option. “I think that what happens is that when you’re doing live, everyone knows you’re there. You can say something,” he told Short. “Broadcast has an obligation and responsibility to be present and be connected….when something that big happens, you have to deal with it.”
Michaels will soon be taking his expertise on all matters – delicate and not – to the Tonight Show, where he is set to assume the role of executive producer when Jimmy Fallon takes over in spring 2014. But from what Michaels hinted – the conversation did not directly address his new role in late night – the change-over is not likely to affect his role on SNL. “I’ll do it as long as a possibly can. I think there will be a moment at some moment when I look at it and go, ‘I don’t have the same edge,’” he said. “And I think three years after that day is when I’ll stop.”