SNL is a difficult gig...

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SNL is a difficult gig...

Postby PyroDan » February 18th, 2013, 10:53 pm

So I was on another boardroom that i frequent and somebody was blasting Kristen Wiig and I posted the following....

KW is funny.

SNL has a 30% hit rate in a given episode, which sounds terrible, but when you realize that any given episode has been written, rehearsed and produced a total of 4 days that week, and that only 70% of the sketches make it to live air, due to over running and commercial/musical act placement.

SNL is probably one of the toughest gigs in entertainment.


One poster agreed with me and stated the 30% hit rate has been constant since the start.

What are your thoughts, as people educated in both comedy and production?
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Re: SNL is a difficult gig...

Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » February 19th, 2013, 10:34 am

agreed. though i think there have been some fluctuations in that rate over the years. i think it would be interesting to break down, both in sketches people loved and ones they hated (no middle of the ground "that was all right" filler sketches, because they clearly did their job. :P ), how much of it was the writing they enjoyed and how much the performance.
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Re: SNL is a difficult gig...

Postby happywaffle » February 19th, 2013, 1:00 pm

Strongly agree. I can honestly say I would never want to work on that show. I definitely think the hit rate has been more-or-less steady over time; it's selective memory that causes everyone to think SNL was so much better back when THEY watched it.

If I were in charge, I'd trim SNL to 60 minutes and introduce one or more improv sets (given that most of the cast are improv virtuosos, this seems like a no-brainer). That would greatly improve the overall quality and allow for a much higher hit rate.
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Re: SNL is a difficult gig...

Postby Spots » April 17th, 2013, 11:24 pm

I believe I read somewhere that Lorne Michaels is strict about performers not ad-libbing their lines.

He prefers them to follow the script.


I might be wrong but it follows that completely improvised scenes is even less likely. Like any institution they've got it down to what they think works. And breaking that formula would be a huge liability.

The ones who have come closest are the Lonely Island guys. Andy Sandberg and crew producing those (widely popular) short films has been experimental for SNL and certainly broke the mold. Good for them for trying and succeeding.
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Re: SNL is a difficult gig...

Postby LuBu McJohnson » April 18th, 2013, 2:48 pm

I can see improv being difficult for that show, especially since it is live. Not that I know anything about anything, but I'm pretty sure you have to specifically time all those segments so that all the commercial time promised to sponsors can run. So you can't just start a set and then go until you feel like you can stop.

Improv stuff on TV can work, but the best way to do that is pre-tape it. That way you can pinpoint the good places to take a break and the show looks as good as possible.
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Re: SNL is a difficult gig...

Postby happywaffle » April 18th, 2013, 2:51 pm

LuBu McJohnson wrote:I can see improv being difficult for that show, especially since it is live. Not that I know anything about anything, but I'm pretty sure you have to specifically time all those segments so that all the commercial time promised to sponsors can run. So you can't just start a set and then go until you feel like you can stop.

Improv stuff on TV can work, but the best way to do that is pre-tape it. That way you can pinpoint the good places to take a break and the show looks as good as possible.


True. As any good improv snob knows, "Whose Line" runs a bunch of sketches and then only airs the best ones.
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Re: SNL is a difficult gig...

Postby LuBu McJohnson » April 18th, 2013, 3:03 pm

ASSSSCAT too. MUCH MUCH MUCH less edited, but slightly so for time considerations.

EDIT: Also, stylish camera angles.
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Re: SNL is a difficult gig...

Postby Spots » April 18th, 2013, 5:49 pm

LuBu McJohnson wrote:Improv stuff on TV can work, but the best way to do that is pre-tape it. That way you can pinpoint the good places to take a break and the show looks as good as possible.




oh absolutely.





My favorite is Ryan and Colin around minute 5 where they just bomb the sound effects scene. The eskimo hunting scene. Pretty inspirational in its own way.


skip to 5:12
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Re: SNL is a difficult gig...

Postby Spots » April 20th, 2013, 6:22 pm

Along the same lines I wanted to post this. It's the best attempt at live broadcasted improv that I've seen:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=en ... xqbEs&NR=1



I believe it appeared as a live streaming broadcast for 2 ungodly hours.
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Re: SNL is a difficult gig...

Postby JLOgan » April 21st, 2013, 9:42 pm

Btw, greatest example of committing to the scene happens at around 4:00 minutes in this video.
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Re: SNL is a difficult gig...

Postby androidqueen » April 22nd, 2013, 8:09 am

Speaking of improvised video, has Austin ever had a Neutrino team? It's a format that came out of UCB's Harold classes, and it's essentially a Harold, but filmed. There's no time to edit or even to rewind the tape, so you end up learning a lot about communicating with your fellow players in subtle ways (also about recovering from accidentally looking right into the camera).

Compressed, lossy logistical description: There are three teams (2 actors, 1 director/camera, 1 runner), all of whom share a suggestion. Each team gets an object from the audience (as well as the suggestion), runs out and starts filming. (The length of each scene is determined by the desired length of the show, but I think 2min/3min/2min is pretty standard.) As each team finishes the first scene, the runner takes the tape back to the theater, where the audience is either watching another group or a pre-prepared video short. Then the first set of scenes are played while the second set is being filmed, etc. The final scene is a convergence of all three.

BTW, if anybody wanted to play around with this, I don't think I currently have the brain capacity for organization, but I do have a mini-DV camera and a lot of mini-DV tapes....
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Re: SNL is a difficult gig...

Postby valetoile » April 22nd, 2013, 12:13 pm

Coldtowne did a version of that a few years back called 321Kill. It was really fun, we did a show (or a few?) at the drafthouse.
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Re: SNL is a difficult gig...

Postby Spots » April 22nd, 2013, 10:48 pm

Arthur at Coldtowne first described the concept to me.

I visited a Neutrino show in LA thinking that I was about to see the format you described (Neutrino Project). So afterwards Matt Donnelly explained to me all the semantics about the troupe and the format.



Matt talks about it 45 minutes into this podcast thingy.

http://improvisednewyork.podbean.com/20 ... llys-life/


He describes the benefit of the show as a "timebank" where 2 minutes outside the theater equals 6 minutes of performance inside. Since there are 3 teams running tape simultaneously. Really smart idea and one I think most of us would be down for. You just gotta team up with technically savvy peeps.


I've talked to folks in Austin who want to see one that's more nuanced and takes advantage of the film frame to heighten the improv.

off the top of my head (Arthur, Asaf, Trew, Chris Allen, Jeff Britt)


It's just super involving to get the level of quality you want.
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