'Saturday Night Live' Creator Lorne Michaels Reveals His Big Rule About Comedy

He also points to three things comedians need to succeed in the business.

Everyone’s got an opinion about what’s funny (or, perhaps more vocally, what’s not). For as subjective as comedy is, however, making countless people laugh is serious business for “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels. After decades at the helm of the skit-based series, Michaels told “Oprah’s Master Class” that he subscribes to a particular rule that helps him stay on track.

“I kind of have a rule that anybody who talks about comedy for longer than a minute-and-a-half and isn’t funny probably shouldn’t be listened to,” he says. 

High-brow comedy, low-brow comedy ― Michaels enjoys it all, although explaining exactly what makes something funny can be a complicated undertaking. “It’s one of those things like pornography: You know it when you see it,” Michaels says. 

Why people enjoy comedy in general, though, is a little easier to articulate.

“Comedy’s got a little bit of anarchy in it, and that’s the appealing part,” Michaels says. “And there’s freedom in it, and that’s also something we connect to.” 

From a performance perspective, Michaels adds that the top comedians seem to benefit three particular elements that are crucial to comedic success.

“Talent plus luck plus discipline ― those seem to be the three things that I think you need to make it happen,” he says. “Doesn’t mean it will happen... I think you need all three, though.”

Another SNL reflection:



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