Regularly scheduled programming: How watching ‘Saturday Night Live’ compilations made me love the show again

A YouTube logo and red frame are in front of the SNL stage.
(Lucia Marquez-Uppman • The Student Life)

A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through the endless videos in my YouTube recommendations when I saw a video called “snl moments i think about approximately 5 times a week” and decided to check it out. After the five minutes of the first video ended, I immediately clicked on the next one: “snl season 47 moments to watch when you’re not where time is.” 

Since then, I have spent most of my free moments watching whatever “SNL” compilations pop up on my recommended page — when I’m brushing my teeth, getting ready, cleaning my room and even writing this column. There is something about the way the videos are edited to just have the funniest jokes of the sketches, without any context, that makes them so much funnier than the show is by itself. 

I have spent so much time watching the compilations that one-liners from the sketches have infiltrated my daily conversations with friends and family. I sound like a modern version of Sam Weir from “Freaks and Geeks,” talking solely in “SNL” references. However, beyond just making me laugh, these compilations have also reignited my love for the show. 

I was first exposed to “SNL” when I was in elementary school. Even though I couldn’t understand a majority of the jokes — especially The Lonely Island digital shorts — I knew that I loved watching the show when my parents put it on. I started watching during the seasons with Andy Samberg, Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen and Bill Hader, and I remember my favorite characters coming on during Seth Meyers’ Weekend Update: ‘Stefon’ and ‘Garth and Kat.’ 

In the years since those childhood Sunday mornings spent watching the episodes from the night before, I stopped watching as much “SNL.” If there happened to be a really funny sketch, it would make its way to me on social media. When a celebrity I liked was hosting or was the musical guest, I would watch on Sunday mornings on YouTube, stopping the sketches I didn’t find funny or just watching the monologue. 

In the era of YouTube, watching “SNL” has almost completely changed. The sketches have an additional life on the internet when the recordings of sketches are uploaded a few hours after the end of the show. Even the sketches Cut For Time — filmed during the dress rehearsal but not performed live on Saturday nights — are still able to have a life online, as fans discover them. In the compilations, Cut For Time sketches are still included, even though they weren’t able to have a moment during the live show. 

Recently, the conversation surrounding “SNL” has mainly focused on whether the show is still as funny as it used to be. Some of these conversations are valid, bringing up points about how the show relies too much on political sketches or doesn’t give enough time to the funniest sketches. Other conversations can mainly be connected back to the common idea that everyone thinks the funniest time to watch “SNL” was when they first started watching. On Twitter, the conversations around “SNL” episodes and sketches are split between older generations remarking that the show hasn’t been funny for years, and younger generations praising the genius of the sketches. 

Before watching the compilations, I had also grown to agree with the idea that “SNL” was no longer funny, with the exception of the last few seasons. Through the compilations, though, I have gained a new appreciation for the show and the creativity that goes into each week — “SNL” is funny again. “SNL” came back from a break last weekend, and after watching the compilations and having the show on my mind, I was genuinely excited to watch. 

While it might just be the amount of compilations I’ve been watching giving me a more positive view of the show, I also credit it to the recent additions made in the writer’s room. When I look up the sketches I found especially funny — the ones I couldn’t stop thinking about from a compilation — usually they were written by some of my favorite cast members: Bowen Yang, Ego Nwodim, Heidi Gardner or Aidy Bryant. Season 47 also added Sarah Sherman (famous for roasting Colin Jost on Weekend Update) as one of the new cast members, and Martin Herlihy, Ben Marshall and John Higgins (also known as Please Don’t Destroy) joined the writing staff, adding a new kind of comedy to the show. 

When I’m watching the “SNL” compilations, I feel the same joy I felt when I was kid, watching the sketches over my parents’ shoulder on Sunday mornings. For the first time in a long time, I am excited about watching it live each week, in part because of the compilations and the apparent change in the comedy. Watching compilations or videos of sketches in my free moments has made my days infinitely better, and I suggest you do the same if you’re looking for a good laugh. 

Claire DuMont SC ’23 is one of TSL’s TV columnists. She has been watching the sketches, “Inside SoCal: Is Art Gangster?,” “Rami Wants a Treat” and “Mattress Store” on repeat. She is very excited for Oscar Isaac to host this weekend.

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