Here’s an interesting interview with comedian Chris Elliott where he discusses the behind-the-scenes process at Saturday Night Live. Doesn’t sound too fun.
I had a terrible time. I always have to preface this by saying that all the cast, they really liked me, they were all really nice. I think I just went there when I was too old. I had already done “Get a Life,” “Cabin Boy” and nine years working for Dave, and I was amazed that people like Chris Farley and Adam Sandler were still competing for airtime on the show, which is the process there. It’s a really unhealthy process. You’re doing comedy but you’re competing with your fellow cast members for airtime. I had never worked in an environment like that. I was always given my own little shot, and then “Get a Life” was mine, and so it seemed very alien to me, and I don’t think people understand how hard that show is during the week. It looks like it’s really a lot of fun, but you’re constantly auditioning. You’re auditioning the day you meet the host and have to pitch out an idea you might write that week, then you have to stay up all night and write sketches. And then there’s a table read on Wednesday where you’re basically auditioning your piece in front of everybody who wants their piece to go better than your piece. So there’s a lot of people just sitting on their hands and not laughing when you’re doing your thing and then doing real big fake laughs on the piece that they’re supporting. Then the show pieces get picked and then you have to go through this rehearsal thing and then dress rehearsal is the last stage before something gets cut — and that’s another kind of audition. So it’s very tense up to that point. I loved doing the show itself — that was the easiest part of the week for me, the actual show, because I was usually hardly on it. I think Lorne knew I had a hard time staying up after about midnight so my stuff was usually over before then. Just take a nap.