Some topics can’t be joked about, even on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ We chatted with the iconic show’s current head writer, Colin Jost, about whether or not Caitlyn Jenner will be off limits in the upcoming season.
Last season on Saturday Night Live, right around the time of Caitlyn Jenner‘s infamous interview with Diane Sawyer, the show’s head writer and “Weekend Update” coanchor, Colin Jost, was tasked with doing what he always does: finding the funny. However, in what may have been an SNL first, Colin declined to make a joke, opting to move on rather than risk offending anyone. We caught up with Colin at the premiere of his new film, Staten Island Summer, and he revealed to us whether Caitlyn jokes will still be off limits when the show returns for its 41st season.
“I hope you’re able to joke about anything and I think that there’s a way into almost anything, but there’s certain levels of decorum” Colin told us about whether any subject is truly off limits in comedy. Thus, when Caitlyn announced she was transitioning, Colin broached the subject with caution.
“Obviously this is a delicate subject to talk about but as a comedy show, we still need to make jokes about it,” Colin said at the update desk on the May 2 episode. After a few non sequiturs, he turned to cohost Michael Che for some assistance asking, “Michael, wanna jump in here?” to which Michael quickly replied, “Nope!”
Now that several months (and a Vogue cover) have gone by, Colin suspects that same outlook won’t remain. “That’s what the attitude at the time was, but I think you always have to be looking for what the joke is,” he said. “You can only get away with the ‘not making a joke the joke’ once.”
Nervousness around his material is a somewhat common theme for Colin these days, especially when it comes to Staten Island Summer, his first feature film. The movie, which debuts on Netflix on July 30 and is already out digitally, is pretty closely based on Colin’s childhood growing up in Staten Island and working as a lifeguard.
As to whether it was challenging to use his own life as fodder, he actually said that made it more exciting, however, there was also a risk. “It was in a way, as a writer, easier because you’re just trying to draw on things that you know,” he said. “It’s scarier because you don’t want to misrepresent anything or anyone. It’s scarier because you’re actually going a little deeper into your life… But it’s cool, it’s exciting to reflect on your life and to look back with 10 years away from childhood and be like, ‘oh yeah, there was a lot of great stuff in there.'”
Do you think it’s okay to joke about Caitlyn on Saturday Night Live or should the writers simply not even go there?
— Casey Mink