Monday, February 25, 2008

Saturday Night Live Backstage News from Writer Bryan Tucker

Saturday Night Live returned to the airwaves this week after three long months. Third-year writer Bryan Tucker gives us his thoughts on the show and what to expect this season...
It was great to see Saturday Night Live back on the air. What was the mood like during the first week back?
The atmosphere on Saturday was fun - lots of media were there. I think there was a lot of buzz because it was the first show after the strike and people were eager to see who was going to play Barack Obama.
The press made it sound like there was almost an open casting call for a Barack Obama impersonator. Was that the case? At what point was the call made to go with Fred Armisen?
They made the decision that Fred would do it after holding auditions for new cast members and nothing working out. They told Fred on Tuesday night, and he had only a couple days to try and make something work. I think if you take the race part out of it, it's pretty amazing how much he looks like Barack with the right makeup on.
You’re a big fan of Steve Martin’s book “Born Standing Up”. Did you get a chance to talk about the book with him?
I got to say "hi" to Steve, but that was about it. I didn't get to really have a conversation with him.
For those familiar with your writing, “What’s that Bitch Talking About” was clearly written by you. Congratulations on getting a sketch on in the first 30 minutes. What can you tell us about the sketch, and was the competition for airtime particularly strong this week?
"What's That Bitch Talking About?" went fine, but I wouldn't put it at the top of my resume. It did well at the big table read on Wednesday, and Tina told me that she really liked it, so I knew it had a good shot of being in the show. There were lots of sketches written by Tina, Seth Meyers and 30 year veteran Jim Downey, so a writer with ordinary status didn't have a great shot of getting stuff on this week. But that sketch had a different vibe, and managed to break through, which was gratifying.
The show got its highest rating in 2 years, which was nice to see. And I hope it continues because NBC has agreed to do a full eight shows through May if we have good ratings and meet our budget, and they're only going to do six if we don't. I get paid per show, so two more shows means a lot more money for me.
At last week’s UNC Comedy Festival, The Daily Show producer Rory Albanese mentioned they were recruiting you to help write jokes for Jon Stewart’s Oscar performance. Did you have time this week to help out, and what can you tell us about your contributions?
Yes, I got hired to write jokes for the Oscars. They only had a week to prepare, so Jon Stewart got all of his Daily Show writers to work on the show, and he also enlisted the help of three or four outside writers who would just send jokes in. I was one of those guys. I sent them a few pages of jokes on Tuesday. I worked hard on them and thought I did a good job, but none of them made it on. I wasn't disappointed, and any joke getting on would've been a nice surprise. It's very tough to get through when you're not there and part the inner circle, and you need to write a joke that's either incredibly original and funny or tackles a subject matter that haven't covered by want to. It's okay. At least I can put "Oscar writer" on my resume.
What can we look forward to in future SNL episodes?
SNL has four episodes in a row, and the next one is with Ellen Page from Juno, who couldn't come in today because she needed a day to recover after the Oscars. Then Amy Adams from "Enchanted", then Jonah Hill from "Superbad." After that it's open, then the last three weeks are Ashton Kutcher, Shia LaBeouf, and Steve Carrell.
We'll try to get more news from Bryan in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to this blog feed and add Bryan's MySpace page for "Selected Hilarity" to your friends!

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