The men of Saturday Night Live’s longest-running segment traded a breaking news desk in 30 Rockefeller Plaza for a stage set up in an Ohio State ballroom for their campus performance on Thursday night.
Michael Che and co-anchor, Colin Jost, write and host “Weekend Update” each show. After their performance, the duo sat down with The Lantern to discuss their rise to fame, friendship and comedic strategies.
“Update” is produced and delivered like that of a typical newscast — two anchors, a desk and graphics behind them to show the news. It began on SNL’s very first episode in 1975 with Chevy Chase and Herb Sargent as anchors, and since then has included the likes of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers.
Sometimes the table has two anchors, sometimes one — depending on the season. However, Che’s first appearance at the table was a historic one, as he is the first black comedian to anchor “Weekend Update.”
Che and Jost delivered dialogue separately at the Ohio Union, which included Jost’s questioning of OSU’s general wellness after the death of Afroduck, and Che’s soliloquies on marriage and love.
They then came together to reflect on tried and failed sketch ideas, and took questions from the audience, specifically on their ideal spirit animals — Jost’s, a shark, Che’s a dolphin.
The duo began co-anchoring in 2014, but became friends before becoming work colleagues. They met doing stand-up and Che eventually was hired on to write for SNL by Jost and Meyers.
Their friendship, perhaps, is reason for their chemistry on air.
“I think (Lorne Michaels) kind of saw something and trusted us to figure that out a little bit,” Che said. “I feel like he had some patience which was nice to let us find it a little bit.”
Che said they knew from the beginning that “Weekend Update” was going to change with them as the hosts, but they took the first few months in stride, always having fun with it.
“The thing with comedy is you just always want it to be fun, and that’s where everything comes from.” Che said.
The fun they have might come with the job, but the relationships outside of work is something more uncommon, Jost said.
“There’s a lot of people who make you laugh who are comedians, but there’s not that many that you necessarily want to hang out with regularly,” he said.
They duo tells jokes on President Trump’s lack of popularity, cabinet choices and controversial remarks and regulations, while knowing that angering some audience members is going to happen.
“I think when you have as wide of a base as we have for our show, it’s impossible to please everybody, so you kind of just have to trust your instinct and know if it’s making us laugh, there’s something in there,” Che said. “No one’s been elected unanimously so there’s always going to be people that don’t like it. It’s fine.”
He said they stay reasonable when developing jokes on controversial topics and stick to their guns on what they think is truly funny.
“And hopefully, enough people come back with you that you can work again next year,” Che said.
Jost said with comedy in news, it’s much easier to watch.
“You get depressed if you just watch regular news. I think at least if you’re watching something that has comedy with it … you at least feel like you have some release to it; it’s not just bad news or sad news.”
However, their role as comedians should not carry over to a role in reliable journalism, they said.
“We’re not reliable. We’re trying to make people laugh. You can’t get (news) from us. If you happen to learn something from us then that is just a blessing,” Che said.
As for the future plans of “Weekend Update,” the two stayed mum on rumors circulating about a spin-off show. Jost joked that he is in the works of creating a new sitcom.
“I want to create a sitcom for Michael just so (he) has to do it.” Jost said. “He will play everyone.”