SNL Legend And Former Senator Al Franken Responds To Rob Schneider Saying The Show Is ‘Over’

During a podcast appearance last week, longtime SNL cast member Rob Schneider took aim at his former show. He specifically cited Kate McKinnon’s post-2016 election cold opening where she played “Hallelujah” dressed as Hillary Clinton as being the moment he realized it was ‘over.’ In the days since, other former cast members and contributors have been asked about his thoughts, and the latest to publicly chime in is original writer, former Senator and comedy legend Al Franken.

Appearing on CNN, the ex-Not Ready For Primetime Player said he’s been hearing the same refrain for almost fifty years now. He called Schneider’s remarks “silly” and told an anecdote about how long this exact accusation has been flying around. You can check out his quote below…

Al Franken guest hosting Jimmy Kimmel Live.

(Image credit: ABC)

People have been saying the show is over (forever). I was one of the original writers. I remember after the first show, second season, I think Lily Tomlin was the host, and it was a really good show. I go up to the 17th floor, where we write the show and all that stuff, and the phone is ringing, and I, like an idiot, answer it and someone says, ‘Well, the show is over. Saturday Night is dead.’ We’ve been hearing that for forty-seven years or something like that. So, no, it was a silly thing for Rob to say, I think.

Over its 47 seasons, Saturday Night Live has constantly evolved and changed. Creator Lorne Michaels and the cast have always had a good sense of when to pivot, and new cast members have constantly been brought in who have their own tastes and senses of humor. That’s why, most people, have certain time periods during the show’s run that they like better than others. It’s also why a whole lot more people than Rob Schneider have reached a point with the sketch comedy show where they felt it was ‘over.’ 

Some people thought the show was over when Chevy Chase left, but he was replaced by Bill Murray, who the audience eventually fell in love with. Then some people thought the show was over when the original cast left and they brought in a new group, which happened to include Eddie Murphy. And it’s gone that way for almost five decades, changing its taste and celebrity targets as the world has evolved and new voices have emerged. Sometimes it has been more political. Sometimes it has been more irreverent. Over the past half decade or so, it has been, according to some, more focused on advocating for an agenda than being funny.

That seemed to be the crux of Rob Schneider’s frustration when he complained about it on Glenn Beck. He was primarily upset there wasn’t any joke or an attempt at a joke in McKinnon’s sketch, saying “there was no joke at the end, and I went, ‘It’s over.’” The sketch was certainly divisive. At the time, many people loved it, and many others found it off-putting. Kate McKinnon herself later called it one of the moments she felt most connected to the audience.

Fortunately for some and unfortunately for others, SNL is about to go through another period of change. Kate McKinnon, along with other longtime staples including Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant, Alex Moffat and Melissa Villaseñor are departing. They won’t return for the upcoming season, leaving a lot of airtime for new voices to come in and assert their own senses of humor. And Kenan Thompson, of course. We’ll still be getting plenty of Kenan Thompson.

Regardless of whether you think the show’s comedy is ‘over’ or not, it still continues to make a major impact on popular culture. Season 47 ranked in the top 15 in ad impressions delivered for NBC, and over five billion minutes of the show were consumed on Facebook and YouTube combined. It’s not Sunday Night Football, but it still attracts a lot of attention, which is increasingly hard in a crowded marketplace. At this point, it’s nearly impossible to imagine the show won’t keep rolling until at least Season 50, which would be a great chance to get everyone back together and do another special like they did for the 40th anniversary, which, by the way, almost everyone agreed was amazing.

Editor In Chief

Mack Rawden is the Editor-In-Chief of CinemaBlend. He first started working at the publication as a writer back in 2007 and has held various jobs at the site in the time since including Managing Editor, Pop Culture Editor and Staff Writer. He now splits his time between working on CinemaBlend’s user experience, helping to plan the site’s editorial direction and writing passionate articles about niche entertainment topics he’s into. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in English (go Hoosiers!) and has been interviewed and quoted in a variety of publications including Digiday. Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, a great wrestling promo and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.