In what seems like a never-ending effort to battle sliding ratings, Saturday Night Live has promoted Sarah Schneider and Chris Kelly to head writing positions, (reported by Vanity Fair) joining current head writers Rob Klein and Bryan Tucker. The duo’s promotion comes right on the heels of the firing of cast members Jay Pharoah, Taran Killam and Jon Rudnitsky, so it’s clear that the shakeup is a part of a concerted effort to change the show’s direction, i.e. one more in line with the tastes of a younger audience.
Some are speculating that it is not a coincidence that both Killam and Rudnitsky were fired simultaneously, seeing as how both actors were featured in sketches that portrayed gay people in rather stereotypical manners and upset some folks at more liberal websites like Salon. Sketches like Killam’s “Boy Dance Club” and Rudnitsky’s impersonation of Anderson Cooper weren’t exactly well received, especially among more politically correct millennials.
Kelly and Schneider’s promotions appear to be an attempt to offset that “tone deaf” vibe that some of the shows sketches have given off. Together, Kelly and Schneider are responsible for some of SNL’s most popular sketches in recent history, like the Emmy-nominated song (Do It On My) Twin Bed, Hillary Clinton Bar Talk and The Beygency. Their sketches have helped to steer SNL in a new direction, one that’s more compatible with today’s audiences who prefer more nuanced characters and who are often watching sketches next-day in the form of YouTube videos. In that sense, promoting Kelly and Schneider, who are also responsible for the massively popular Bern Your Enthusiasm sketch, is a brilliant move. Whether the move will ultimately pay off for the show is another story entirely.
Keep an eye out for a change in tone on SNL; it may be subtle, but the show seems poised to change its formula (hopefully for the better) in this upcoming season.
For a taste of what Schneider and Kelly have to offer, check out their sketch The Beygency below: