Saturday Night Line walked a fine line in tackling the election last season — some say they went too far in their criticism of Donald Trump, others wagged a finger at the show allowing the future POTUS to host. But creator Lorne Michaels says they’re always keenly aware of going too far on the NBC sketch comedy.
“Occasionally we do go over [the line], but not because we didn’t think about it,” Michaels said backstage after the show’s win for variety sketch series. “You try to make sure always that it’s a clean hit, that you’re not going after somebody because it’s an applause line or because it’s easy.”
The key thing to remember, Michaels explained, is “you’re on in all 50 states and not all of them are going to agree with what you’re doing. If you seem to have a clear bias, people stop listening.”
However, Michaels says it was vital for the show to be an active participant in the election last season. “This was a year that was incredibly important to us to get it right,” he said. “We knew this was going to be an important election and it was one of the most amazing years we’ve ever had because everything changed every day.” What was written Monday was obsolete by Wednesday, and then what was written Wednesday was thrown out by Friday, Michaels said with a laugh. “Because it’s live,” he continued,” it has to be accurate, it has to be of the moment. It only works if it’s fresh and if the point of view is clear and most of all, if it’s funny. If it’s not funny, we wouldn’t do it.”