One of the most interesting entertainment stories of the COVID-19 era has been Saturday Night Live’s transformation from a show shot exclusively in Studio 8H in New York City to one done remotely. The three SNL At Home episodes were a dramatic shift in subject matter and setting for the sketch comedy show, and on Friday SNL shared a video detailing how the show pulled them off in a special YouTube video.
The started with its last in-studio episode, hosted by Daniel Craig in early March. It was the last time the cast was together before the true reality of the pandemic made in-studio episodes of the show impossible.
“That last show it didn’t feel like we wouldn’t be coming back,” Mikey Day said. Others noted the swift decision that the show would continue remotely.
“I think I got an email that was just sent to everybody and they were like ‘yeah we’re gonna do it at home now,’” Pete Davidson recalled. From there, the video detailed how the first virtual table read went and included some fun anecdotes about the absurdity of recording sketches in apartments spread out around the country. Bowen Yang even said he had his next door roommates reading lines with him during a Soul Cycle sketch.
Kenan Thompson noted that the show’s sketches evolved significantly from its first and second At Home episodes, as the show had time to send wigs and other props out to flesh segments out considerably. Weekend Update changed in its second episode with more technology and green screens, and overall the cast members got less overwhelmed by the process of writing, recording and conceptualizing sketches in isolation.
A particularly cute part of the video was Mikey Day and Thompson reflecting on letting their kids take part in the filming of sketches. Bringing work home with you is tough for everyone, but the show often made it work by bringing those kids on camera to take part in the fun. Thompson referenced Brad Pitt’s opening line from his cold open — “Live, kinda, from all across America. It’s Saturday night” — as a moment that changed his perception of the show.
“It’s like, OK, we’re getting a glimpse into an invincibility with this show,” Thompson said. “Whether we do it at 30 Rock or not, I think we can figure out a way to get it done.”