Lorne Michaels on Here's The Thing

by Thomas Brady in , ,


Not many people are funny for 40 years. Even fewer people are successfully in charge of funny for 40 years. Saturday Night Live has been relevant and funny (most of the time, anyway) for over 40 years because of the brilliant oversigut of Lorne Michaels.

That's why I'm saying, whatever you're doing right now, stop it. Go listen to this episode of Alec Baldwin's podcast, "Here's The Thing," or, if you prefer, read it.

This is probably the part that hit me hardest with its head-smacking insight:

No one believes that we do what we do here in six days ‘cause there’s not much an approval process.

Out of context that sentence structure is a little weird, so I'll rephrase. Saturday Night Live can do in a week what most production teams can't do in a month because there's not much of an approval process.

He goes on:

Exactly. With the movie business, because it’s way better run as is primetime television, every paragraph is scrutinized and reviewed and I say it every week, we don’t go on because we’re ready, we go on because it’s 11:30. It somehow focusses people and I trust that process.

And to sum it up with a gut-punch:

The pace of "SNL" was like think of it, do it, and then think of something else. And that puts the creative people in charge.

And there it is. Looking back at my career so far, this was the difference between the places where I saw creativity thrive and where I saw it writhing in agony. It's a big part of why I just can't stomach most companies with more than a hundred employees.

Ken Segall, in Insanely Simple(that's a dirty, dirty affiliate link), argues that this is one of the ways Steve Jobs kept Apple from acting like a "big company."

P.S. I can't not include this quote:

Producing, for me anyway, is like an invisible art. If you’re any good at it you leave no fingerprints.