Conan O'Brien and Tina Fey Discuss the Declining Work Ethic at 'SNL'

"I do think we worked harder"

BY Alex HudsonPublished Oct 15, 2019

Is Saturday Night Live as good as it used to be? Many people say no, and SNL alums Conan O'Brien and Tina Fey have offered a possible explanation for the show's sometimes questionable quality: today's writers simply don't work as hard as they did in the '90s.

Fey was a guest on the latest episode of the podcast Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend, and they discussed their gruelling '90s schedules at the show.

"You can't work too hard at Saturday Night Live, because it will always ask for more," Conan said. "I have some dark memories of SNL. Mostly the writing night, Tuesday night." He continued, "I have PTSD from that to this day."

Fey noted that the schedule "brings out OCD in people who never had OCD before."

Now, however, writers apparently don't undergo the same level of sleep deprivation. In particular, Fey said that writers no longer put in extra hours writing on Monday, following the initial pitch meeting.

She said, "You know what's weird now? I've been there the last couple times where I've happened to be around on a Monday for some other reason over there. Everybody leaves! We would sweat through pitch, and then you'd go and start writing Monday night, and try something. [But now] they're gone!"

At this, Conan said, "That's strange, I've heard that. Now I sound like the old man who says, 'Y'know, in our day…' But, I do think we worked harder."

He added, "When you hear about today, it can sometimes sound like, 'They all went to a salad bar.'"

Fey concurred, saying, "I think they have better lives than we did at that time."

Listen to the episode of Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend in the embedded player below. The SNL conversation begins at the 14:22 mark.

Meanwhile, this week's episode of Saturday Night Live was actually pretty good! David Harbour hosted and Camila Cabello was the musical guest. Read our 8/10 review of SNL here.

Latest Coverage