Each fall, before the start of a new television season, Saturday Night Live accepts submissions from comedy writers looking to write jokes on a freelance basis for Weekend Update. To my knowledge, pretty much anyone can apply; the only prerequisite is that you know who to contact in the writer’s room. They generally respond to every inquiry, and the guidelines are fairly straightforward:
We would like you to write a total of 10 jokes based on news stories the occurred between September 6th and September 15, 2011. We are interested in seeing how you write for current events. We do not want old material. Also, please do not submit more than 10 jokes. To help you, I am enclosing a couple of pages of set-ups. You are not limited to the stories from these set-ups, but any stories you use must have occurred during the stated time period.
We are looking for solid, traditional monologue jokes. I.E. Two line jokes. Set-up followed by a punchline. We do not want Daily Show style rants. Please do not send in bits, shorts sketches, or anything involving other cast members. Do not submit jokes with multiple punchlines. They will count as separate jokes.
If you are accepted, there’s no guarantee that anything you write will ever make it to air. In fact, there’s a strong possibility that it won’t. But you still get to say you’re a freelance joke-writer at SNL, and that plays better on a résumé than “dog walker.” I have no idea of how many people typically apply, and even less of an idea of how many are accepted. I wasn’t. In fact, I was rejected in record time, just hours after emailing my submission. So, just in case you’re wondering what not to do, here are a few of the jokes that didn’t get me a job writing for Weekend Update. Continue reading