Q: When a non-comedian hosts "Saturday Night Live," do they write their own monologue or do they use the staff writers?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

In the bizarre world that's been built in and around NBC's Studio 8H, where "Saturday Night Live" is produced, it's not a question of whether you collaborate, but how much.

Most people who've talked about the writing process on the iconic sketch show describe it almost like one long story meeting. The writers and the guest host pile into creator Lorne Michaels' office on Monday to pitch ideas and basically don't separate again until the early hours of the following Sunday.

In that context, even the seasoned comedian hosts take input on their monologues. But the inexperienced ones, unsurprisingly, get quite a bit more support.

Former head writer Adam McKay, for example, says one of his favorite memories was of literally running through the studio halls minutes before air to bring new monologue lines to a host.

McKay's successor, Seth Meyers, said the challenge with inexperienced hosts is less about the writing and more about the performance.

"Oftentimes by the time it's a problem, you know they can't [deliver jokes] ... and sometimes they're holding on to the idea that they can."

Fellow alum John Mulaney concurred, saying that it's easy to forget that these people -- celebrities from a range of different fields -- are being asked to essentially deliver a speech, which is one of the most common fears in the world. "In some cases … you're working with them on the thing they are the most terrified about."


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