Michael Che and Colin Jost Inadvertently Reveal Late Start to ‘SNL’ Season
It’s not like we need Weekend Update anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost to confirm what should be obvious. But by announcing a Radio City Music Hall date in mid-October, they’re confirming that Season 49 of Saturday Night Live will be off to a late start. Also likely: Just like last season, the writers’ and actors’ strikes mean the 2023-2024 version of SNL will feature fewer episodes than usual.
First things first: Che and Jost announced an October 14 gig in New York. Considering that a) last year’s SNL season kicked off two weeks earlier on October 1, and b) the Radio City Music Hall job is scheduled for a Saturday night, we can logically conclude that the two comics are pretty sure the SNL season won’t kick off on time. Given that WGA talks have barely started and SAG isn’t even at the table, it’s a safe bet that we won’t see the start of a new SNL season until late October at the very earliest.
Other SNL comics are touring as well, but are hedging their bets by wrapping up their current tours in September. The latest dates announced for players like Sarah Sherman (September 13), James Austin Johnson (September 10), and Devon Walker (September 2) indicate that they’re keeping October open — but for how long? Unlike actors, comics at least have a way to earn paychecks during negotiations.
Like late-night talk shows, writers’ strikes always have an immediate impact on Saturday Night Live. The 1981 strike ended Season 6 early — considering we judged that the worst season ever, maybe that was a good thing. Rumored to have been among the show hosts we never got to see? Brooke Shields.
In Season 10, we got robbed of more magic from Billy Crystal, Martin Short, and Christopher Guest — a writers’ strike resulted in only 17 episodes that year. Eugene Levy and John Candy were on tap to host the next scheduled episode (with musical guests Hall and Oates!). Astonishingly, Levy has never been invited back to host, though he showed up for son Dan’s episode 35 years later.
The 2007-2008 strike resulted in the shortest SNL season ever — only 12 episodes made it to air in Season 33. But the one we’ll always lament will be Season 13, cut short in February after only 13 episodes. That meant canceling the first hosting appearance for Gilda Radner, scheduled for that spring. She would have been the first female cast member ever to return as host. She succumbed to cancer the following year before getting to reach that milestone.