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Thrown by The New Yorker, the informal, hour-long discussion between the SNL overlord and his head writer revolved around the craft of live comedy, and of course yielded a few choice anecdotes along the way. For instance, Meyers revealed an inside story of Will Ferrell showing up to his fateful audition with a briefcase full of fake bribe money (only to later chicken out on the gag), while Michaels likened original cast member Chevy Chase's premature departure to "leaving a championship basketball team too early."
As for the butt of virtually every SNL-joke in 2009 being Sarah Palin, the typically deadpan producer had nothing but praise for her personality, labeling the rogue Alaskan "gracious," "likable" and "a real star." So much for salacious gossip. But the evening's main focus was SNL's ability to stay relevant over a 35-year run. Michaels attributes much of the show's success to the live format.
"We couldn't do it if it weren't live," he said matter-of-factly. "We don't go on because we're ready, we go on because it's 11:30."
And while the perfect joke might never come, there are a lot of factors that need to coalesce before -- and sometimes while -- the show airs if guffaws are to be garnered. Obviously, Michaels believes in fresh writing, but he also is a firm believer in cast members not peaking in rehearsal and saving their A-game for Saturday night.
Meyers, perhaps speaking to a younger audience, said the variety show succeeds thanks to its wide-scope of short easily digestible clips. "It was a show for the Internet before the Internet" the comic said.