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Hey Josh - I wanted to reach out to you because I know you're super experienced at the UCB and writing professionally. What kinds of things (classes,YouTube vids, etc)could you recommend for someone interested in working at SNL? I've been taking improv classes at UCB, but wanted to know some other things that would help. Any and all answer would be greatly appreciated!

joshpatten:

Hi! Thanks for asking. The best advice I can give is to point out that working at SNL is equal parts talent and luck, AND the number of people who work on the show at any given point in time is such a small, small percentage of comedians, actors and writers who would be positively great on the show. What this means is that, from a strictly numbers perspective, setting “working at SNL” is a goal that is a little bit too narrow, more akin to winning the lottery or being cast for a well-financed movie out of nowhere than it is a logical outcome of any comedic career path. 

THAT BEING SAID, goals are great! My goal before I got hired wasn’t to work on this show particularly, but it was to be the best joke writer I could possibly be, and support myself through creative endeavors (be it writing, teaching improv, directing sketch, etc.). It’s useful, for me at least, to see a broad path but take it one step of the time. Partly because it’s a way I can concretely affect change, but mostly because thinking more than two steps ahead of anything fills me with a paralyzing anxiety and a crippling sense of failure. But no matter what your more immediate goals are, any path that begins with working as hard as you fucking can and being as nice and as generous as you fucking can is already headed in the right direction. 

Also, be nice to yourself and don’t get complacent.

Christine Zander

Christine Zander

Conan O’Brien

Conan O’Brien

Bob Odenkirk

Bob Odenkirk

Alan Zweibel

Alan Zweibel

Anne Beatts

Anne Beatts

Walter Williams (right, with Buck Henry) as “new castmember Gary Lipton”, “Monologue” (1980).

Walter Williams (right, with Buck Henry) as “new castmember Gary Lipton”, “Monologue” (1980).

Mark O’Donnell, a writer for SNL during 1981-82, died Monday at the age of 58.  Among the sketches he contributed to are “42nd Street” (with Bernadette Peters), “The Mild One” (a Nelson Lyon sketch with Bruce Dern), “Executive Stress Test” (another Lyon sketch, with Danny DeVito), “Tales of the Unlikely” (with Bill Murray), “Schleimer & Laub” (with Christine Ebersole) and “Happy’s Mayonnaise Palace” (with Eddie Murphy).  

Tom Davis as male Nazi (with, left to right, Paul Shaffer, Brian Doyle Murray, Sarah Paley, Liz Welch, Franne Lee (hidden), Matt Neuman, Bill Murray)

Tom Davis as male Nazi (with, left to right, Paul Shaffer, Brian Doyle Murray, Sarah Paley, Liz Welch, Franne Lee (hidden), Matt Neuman, Bill Murray)