The paradox of Saturday Night Live, for anyone who’s ever looked very far into the show’s behind-the-scenes culture, is that it’s apparently one of the most miserable places on the planet to work, despite being filled with some of its most funny and comedically talented folks. The show’s breakneck scheduling, the stakes of live TV production, and the watchful, dead-eyed looming presence of Lorne Michaels has always made the long-running series sound like a pressure cooker for ulcers and nervous breakdowns, more than laughter and good times.
Still, the show’s stars do make what fun they can, something emphasized in the above clip from former series mainstay Will Ferrell. In news that will come as a shock to no one who’s ever seen him in pretty much anything, Ferrell coped with the stresses of writing and performing on Saturday Night Live by giving himself fully over to the power of playing characters and doing bits. That included stunts like dressing up in the same (bad) outfit for an entire calendar year, drifting into characters and then refusing to leave them, and, of course, that time he busted into a closed set in order to stand around behind Puff Daddy (rehearsing for his musical spot) as ascot-wearing weirdo “Ron.”
Come for the cheerful recounting of a man whose mind was clearly on the brink, stay for shots of Ferrell sitting around eating food off of his own bare stomach while Paula Pell asks him what the heck is going on.