Taran Killam, who is currently starring in a not-so-great but sort-of watchable sitcom Single Parents, appeared on the Matt Gourley podcast (via Vulture) this week, and from this sound of it, Killam was not unhappy about his departure (he was either fired or he left along with Jay Pharoah, and Jon Rudnitsky, depending on the source).
According to Killam, two things seemed to have soured the mood at SNL: Seth Meyers’ departure, and Lorne Michael’s attitude after the 40th Anniversary special. Re: Seth Meyers, Killam says, “When Seth Meyers left the show, the dynamic changed quite a bit. He was the last person there who I witnessed really collaborate with Lorne, as opposed to just kind of do what Lorne says.” That tracks, as after Meyers left, Colin Jost, Michael Che (and later Kent Sublette) shared the head writer position, and Che and Jost don’t exactly seem the collaborative type.
The other issue was the 40th Anniversary special, and how it changed the dynamic of the show, says Killam. From Vulture:
“When Seth Meyers left the show, the dynamic changed quite a bit. He was the last person there who I witnessed really collaborate with Lorne, as opposed to just kind of do what Lorne says,” Killam said. “And I also think the 40th [anniversary show] really sort of affected Lorne in that I think it was exciting and I think it was flattering and I think he was really able to sort of relish in this incredible institution that he’s responsible for and all these amazing iconic careers and all of his famous friends, and it had to have been the most potent overwhelming boost of a ‘this is your life’ experience ever. And then it all went away, and then it was back to this cast who’s all 40 years younger than you and aren’t as famous as Tina Fey or whatever, and my experience was he became very impatient.” Killam went on to say that the increasing number of pretaped sketches every week, as well as the general vibe at the show post-Seth Meyers, made SNL feel like “less of a happy place to be” and more of a “competitive, exhausting environment.”
Meanwhile, as you’d expect, Lorne Michaels instructed the cast to take it easy on Trump leading up to his hosting gig.
“Lorne was being so specific about what we could and couldn’t say about him, and he was dictating a lot of the settings. At that point — the first CNN interview he was doing — and that was sort of looking like what we thought we were going to do, and Lorne’s like, ‘It’ll be too old news by then, and you know, you don’t want to vilify him. You know, he’s like any New York taxi driver. I know him, I’ve seen him around at parties for years and years, and he just says whatever it is he’s thinking, and that’s his thing. But you know, you have to find a way in that makes him likable.’”
“Makes him likable”?
Saturday Night Live really could have used Seth Meyers’ “collaboration” for that episode, although I suspect had Meyers still been on the show, Trump may not have agreed to host, as it was Meyers’ Correpondent’s Dinner speech that many suggest prompted Trump to run.
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