SNL's Colin Jost Says His Joke Swaps With Michael Che Are 'Both Terrifying And Exhilarating, And I Totally See Why

 Colin Jost and MIchael Che.
Colin Jost and MIchael Che.

Saturday Night Live is currently airing its 49th season as part of the 2024 TV schedule and with it comes another year of the original “Weekend Update” segment. Since its inception, the sketch has seen two cast members serve as anchors, delivering jokes about trending news while putting their unique spin on things. For current hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che that means occasionally writing jokes for each other that they read for the first time live on air.

In a recent episode of the podcast Table for Two with Bruce Bozzi, Jost opened up about how their unique gimmick came to be. He also shed some light on what it’s like being in the hot seat when it’s time to read those unrehearsed jokes, saying it’s:

Both terrifying and exhilarating

As someone whose favorite SNL sketch is “Weekend Update,” I can totally see why Jost feels the way he does. Che never goes easy on him, having him read inappropriate jokes that could have Jost canceled if he wasn’t doing it for the sake of the bit. Thankfully the audience seems to understand this and no one has called for him to be fired, but it’s still a risk that they take every time they commit to the idea.

That threat mixed with the added pressure of the segment happening live with little to no ability to cut away or go to a commercial makes the segment even more difficult and exhilarating for the anchors. As Jost said:

It's kind of crazy. There's just not a lot of live television in the world anymore. So the idea that you're on live television and you have to say something and you don't know what it is, that's pretty crazy –– and it's not usually gentle.

Despite putting their livelihoods on the line for the sake of the bit, there are some positives that come with the “joke swap” tradition. It allows the anchors to banter with each other which doesn’t happen much since they’re too busy reporting the news or interacting with iconic guests who join them on the desk, while also pushing the limits of their comedy writing skills. In Jost’s case, it also helps him out mentally too:

I'm someone who can also be really in my head a lot of times, and it definitely gets you out of your head. I really like that.

While Jost and Che aren’t the originators of the “Weekend Update” segment, they will go down in history for creating the “joke swap” tradition. The two decided to give the half-baked idea a shot during a December 2018 episode of Saturday Night Live. Like all sketches in the series, neither of the men knew how the audience was going to react but were relieved when they heard laughter from the audience. Not only that but it reminded Jost of a very important lesson we all can learn:

It’s definitely a reminder to not be afraid of trying things.

The “joke swap” could have gone terribly wrong, but these comedians knew that the reward outweighed the risk and decided to give it a try anyway. I for one am so happy they did, if only because it provides a chance for the cast members to laugh during the sketch.

If you’ve never seen the hilarious tradition, I definitely recommend checking out the highlights on the official Saturday Night Live YouTube account or streaming full episodes on Peacock with an active subscription. And don’t forget to tune into the May 4th episode of the show where Dua Lipa will serve as both the host and musical guest for the Season 49 episode.