I had honestly kind of forgotten that Saturday Night Live still existed.
We’ve been living in a weird, timeless void for six months now, one where things like “comedy” and “TV shows” and “websites” don’t really matter anymore. What day is it? I have no idea. My wife tells me it’s September. I’m pretty sure she had to look at her phone for that. I haven’t thought about SNL once since its last episode aired back in… was it May? April? The 20th century? I have no fucking idea any more.
But yes: the computer says it’s September. That’s usually when this show comes back. The week after Labor Day—I guess the week of Labor Day—is when we usually start getting news about the show’s return date, who’s leaving the cast, who’s joining, etc. Considering this is my job, I’m usually ready for that news to drop. I wouldn’t say I “look forward” to it, but I anticipate it—in the way one anticipates having their annual physical. I know it’s happening, I know when it usually happens, and I’ll deal with it when that time comes.
Somehow, though, it was a surprise when I saw today that the show is returning on October 3, and back live from the studio for the first time since before the pandemic. I haven’t thought once about this, or any show’s, return in months. Given the year we’re having—especially the summer we’re still not quite done with yet—it’s probably normal to just have things disappear from your brain, especially relatively insignificant things like TV shows and when their new seasons start. Nothing about SNL in particular—it’s just, you know, other things are going down, and it pushed some junk outta my noggin. It’s understandable—maybe the only understandable thing in 2020.
So, yes: Saturday Night Live is back live on NBC on Saturday, Oct. 3, coming from Studio 8H in 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. No hosts or musical guests have been announced yet, and there’s been no word on if anybody is leaving or joining the show. Expect politics, I guess. Like, the first people you’ll probably see are Maya Rudolph, Alec Baldwin, and whatever random white dude plays Joe Biden this time. Maybe, eventually, you’ll get to see some of the actual cast members outside of just the opening credits.
SNL’s return to the studio follows most of the late night talk shows. Of course those shows are probably easier to do safely during a pandemic—it’s easier to socially distance cast and crew when the show is just people talking to each other. Presumably SNL won’t be trying to socially distance its performers—unless every sketch will be written in a way where it makes sense that all of its characters are standing at least six feet apart from each other. Other shows and events that have returned have tried to keep its people safe from infection by enforcing a bubble—basically keeping everybody involved isolated in a single location, with regular testing and no visits to the outside world. It seems unlikely that would happen with a show whose season runs for 8 months and that regularly takes weeks off between episodes. Given how much time cast and writers spend in the office during an episode week, though, maybe SNL’s been working in a bubble all along.