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Is 'SNL' Considered Funny? Only One in Five Thinks So

Newsweek 11/22/2022 Megan Cartwright
Comedian John Belushi talks with Mayor Ed Koch in a photo appearing to be from the "Saturday Night Live" set in October 1978. According to an exclusive "Newsweek" poll, only one in five Americans think the sketch comedy sketch show is funny. © Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images/Getty Images Comedian John Belushi talks with Mayor Ed Koch in a photo appearing to be from the "Saturday Night Live" set in October 1978. According to an exclusive "Newsweek" poll, only one in five Americans think the sketch comedy sketch show is funny.

Only one in five Americans thinks Saturday Night Live is funny, according to an exclusive poll conducted for Newsweek.

The NBC comedy show, which was created by Lorne Michaels and debuted in October 1975, is famous for its sketches that often parody events in politics and pop culture. This year, SNL went through a major transition after losing four veteran performers—Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon and Kyle Mooney. In addition, four others recently announced their departures: Chris Redd, Melissa Villaseñor, Alex Moffat and Aristotle Athari.

In September, Michaels, 78, told The New York Times that "this is a year of reinvention" and that "change is exhilarating."

"The pandemic had put us in this position where no one could really leave, because there were no jobs. And at the same time, if I don't add new people every year, then the show isn't the show," he said. "There have to be new people, for both our sake and also for the audience."

Even with the cast changes, a November 17 survey of 1,500 adults in the United States, which was conducted by Redfield & Wilton for Newsweek, showed that just one in five people found the show to be funny.

That said, 48 percent of those polled said that SNL was sometimes funny.

Over the years, countless celebrities have guest-hosted the program, including Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Drew Barrymore, Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck.

Earlier this month, SNL sparked criticism online after it was announced that Dave Chappelle would host for the third time. The comedian, 49, was criticized for his Netflix special The Closer, in which he made jokes targeting the LGBTQ+ community, specifically transgender people.

"Gender is a fact," Chappelle said in the special. "Every human being in this room, every human being on earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on earth. That is a fact."

He also landed in hot water after appearing to make light of Kanye West's antisemitic posts on social media while hosting SNL. In October, West—who legally changed his name to Ye last year—wrote on Twitter that he was going to go "death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE."

In his opening monologue, Chappelle said, "I gotta tell you guys, I've probably been doing this for 35 years now, and early in my career, I learned that there are two words in the English language that you should never say in sequence, and those words are the and Jews. Never heard someone do good after they said that."

StopAntisemitism Executive Director Liora Rez later slammed Chappelle's SNL comments, calling them "disgusting" in an interview with Newsweek.

"Chappelle has normalized the Jew-hatred spewed by Kanye West last month, which often manifests into real-world violence," Rez said. "Who gave Chappelle the green light for that disastrous hate speech? Where are Lorne Michaels and NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell in holding Chappelle accountable?"

Michaels and Shell have not spoken out about the backlash.

Do you have a tip on an entertainment story that Newsweek should be covering? Do you have a question about Saturday Night Live? Let us know via entertainment@newsweek.com.

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