Joe Rogan Claims 'SNL' Is Limiting Its Own Potential

Exploring SNL's shifting comedic landscape through the years

by Zain ul Abedin
Joe Rogan Claims 'SNL' Is Limiting Its Own Potential
© James Gilbert/Getty Images

Joe Rogan, the well-known podcast host, recently discussed how the legendary sketch show "Saturday Night Live" (SNL) is potentially limiting itself due to the inherent constraints of network television. During an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan, alongside comedian and writer Neal Brennan, praised the late comic Norm Macdonald, highlighting the misalignment between Macdonald's comedic vision and the show's direction in the 1990s.

Macdonald, who passed away in September 2021, was removed from SNL's "Weekend Update" in 1998. Network executives cited a decline in ratings and quality. Still, Macdonald believed his departure was due to his recurring jokes about O.J.

Simpson during and after Simpson's highly publicized murder trial. Simpson, acquitted in 1995 but later found liable in a civil suit for wrongful deaths, continued to claim his innocence through the years. Rogan critiqued the limitations placed on comedians by network TV, stating, "SNL seems like they handicap themselves like they're handcuffing themselves...less back then, but now for sure." He reflected on his own experiences with network television, specifically his time hosting Comedy Central's The Man Show, emphasizing the creative challenges posed by executive meddling and the restrictive nature of the TV format.

Rogan argued that these limitations make it difficult for network shows to compete with the more freeform and expansive content available on the internet.

SNL's Humor Evolution

This conversation follows polling by Newsweek in November 2022, which revealed mixed feelings about SNL's current humor.

Only a small fraction of viewers consistently found the show amusing, though many acknowledged it was sometimes funny. SNL, a brainchild of Lorne Michaels since its inception in October 1975, has been a cultural staple, known for its sharp satirical edge and parodies of political and pop culture figures.

The show has seen a multitude of famous guest hosts and cast members who have left significant marks on the entertainment industry. Former cast member Rob Schneider expressed disillusionment with the direction of SNL. He particularly criticized a 2016 sketch that depicted a solemn Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton post-election, which he felt marked a turning point for the show's comedic integrity.

In response, Alec Baldwin, a frequent SNL host, defended the program, acknowledging the inherent challenges of producing a live, weekly show. Baldwin highlighted the show's enduring relevance as it approaches its 50th season, underscoring its success and cultural impact despite its fluctuating quality.