3 Reasons Why an SNL Skit Is a Lot Like Your Work Life


Saturday Night Live is no stranger to motivation, and much like our very muscley friends Hans and Franz, we’re here to “pump you up” and help transform you into your most impressive self. While we certainly don’t think your career is a joke, there certainly are a lot of similarities between your path and an SNL skit.

1. You Rehearse, But It Happens Live

On other TV shows, if an actor flubs a line or the shot wasn’t quite right you can stop and start over again, but an SNL sketch is live (it’s right there in the title, after all.) While they have cue cards to assist the actors along, there are no re-dos or stopping to regroup and regain your composure if a sketch goes off the rails. How well the actors perform under pressure matters, and the same is true of you in your career.

Just because it’s live and fast paced doesn’t mean it’s spontaneous. SNL has rigorous dress rehearsals where they practice sketches in front of an audience to determine what lines or even entire sketches to cut if the jokes don’t land as well as they’d like. We hate to fall back on a well-worn phrase, but practice makes perfect. It would be madness to roll into a big meeting or presentation not being prepared, and you’d fall on your face pretty quickly and in front of an audience no less!

2. Things Go Haywire

Sometimes, things just don’t go your way, regardless of how well you prepare. SNL is notorious for having certain comedians (looking at you Jimmy Fallon) unable to stop from laughing when things get too funny and they’re unable to maintain control over themselves.

Just like breaking on SNL, when things go wrong for you it’s likely to affect the rest of your team as well. Sometimes, like in the clip above, all you can do is just keep powering through as a team—the important thing is not to give up.

When things start to go wrong, you have to think fast, be on your toes, and roll with it when things don’t go as planned. Digging your heels in and becoming inflexible when things are going wrong is the worst way to deal with a hiccup because it drastically limits your options—you get so hung up on how things should be that you’re not dealing with how they are at the moment. Allowing yourself to be flexible in your reaction, while still focusing on the goal at hand, is what allows you to think fast and regroup to achieve your goal— and sometimes it’s the improvisation that turns something from just ok into great. That skit is almost 10 years old, and it’s considered a classic, due largely in part to the cast’s inability to keep it together!

3. Your cast changes

Every week, there’s a new host to SNL, and it seems like every 5 years, there’s almost an entirely new cast to boot. That’s shockingly similar to the trends that are occurring in the modern workplace as well—you’re going to end up working with a lot of people, in a lot of scenarios, and you’ve got to find a way to make it work with each new group of people, sometimes with very little time to ramp up.

At SNL, everyone sets out to make each sketch funny and enjoyable, it’s a common goal for everyone and they work together to achieve it. The group is a mixture of new people (the host and any guest stars they might bring on) as well as an established working group (the main cast of the show.)

This directly mirrors the typical working life. Sometimes you’ll be the “host” working with an established group, whether that’s because you just joined a new team, or you shifted over to another department for a specific task; and sometimes you’re going to be a part of the cast, working with a “host” or just within your core group, to get the job done. The point is, you have to come together to accomplish a goal, even if you don’t know each other as well as you’d like—the goal unites the team, and from there, the work (and teamwork) gets accomplished.

Look, we’re definitely not saying you should rush out and take improv classes, but there is a lot to learn from the improvisational world of SNL that can be applied to your career. Especially if you’re willing to think on your toes and embrace the chaos that sometimes happens in all of our careers.

What do you think? Want to talk about your favorite Weekend Update hosts (Tina Fey, forever!) or bring up an SNL sketch we left out? Let us know in the comments!

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