COMEDY

'SNL' Head Writer Bryan Tucker Talks 'Edgy' Sketches And Audience Backlash

"With the Internet, everybody has a loudspeaker."

"Saturday Night Live" is no stranger to controversy, and last weekend's episode, with host Donald Trump, was only the latest such instance. But according to the show's head writer, Bryan Tucker, that's been the case since the show's inception.

HuffPost Live's Josh Zepps spoke with Tucker about dealing with audience reactions during a Monday conversation about The Kicker, a new sports comedy site founded by Tucker and Grant Jones, a former writer for The Onion. When Zepps pointed out that online commenters are often quick to pounce on sketches that some viewers consider racist, sexist or otherwise offensive, Tucker said those voices seem louder in recent years because of social media.

One example came earlier this year, when Louis C.K. hosted the show's 40th season finale. His monologue, which featured jokes about pedophilia and being "mildly racist," raised questions about whether the comedian had gone "too far." Tucker said C.K.'s material was in keeping with "SNL" traditions.

"'SNL' has always been a place where if you're gonna be edgy, we try and welcome that. You know, Richard Pryor and George Carlin were [among] the first hosts," Tucker said. "I think the difference is now, with the Internet, everybody has a loudspeaker, so ... things that people would say to each other privately in their living rooms can now be put on Twitter and can now be put in comment sections." 

Tucker also commented on another lightning rod for controversy: Leslie Jones' inaugural appearance on "Weekend Update" in 2014, when she made jokes about what her dating life would have been like during the days of slavery. Jones sparked "outrage" with the material, but Tucker said those jokes didn't even originate on "SNL."

"That clip you had with Leslie Jones, it's a routine she'd been doing for a year or two before she even came to 'SNL.' She auditioned with it. It's not something we wrote for her; it's something in her own voice. She totally stands by it," Tucker said. "We thought the point of was [that] it's more about how hard it is for her in modern times, dating."

Watch Bryan Tucker's full conversation with HuffPost Live.

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