Bad news for joke writers: We’ve learned that starting this season, Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update is no longer accepting freelance joke submissions for the segment. While the show hasn’t officially confirmed the news, at least one writer who submitted a packet this year has been informed that the show has decided to end its freelancer program altogether. Here’s the message that was sent to freelancers this summer:
After much consideration we have decided to end our Freelance Submission Program. As Update has evolved over the past several years, we are now doing fewer and fewer stand-alone jokes. The result is we have only used a small handful of submitter jokes in recent seasons. Many of you have been a part of this program for years. We truly appreciate everything you have done and want to thank you for all of your hard work.
While it makes sense that Update would end the program given the segment’s push toward more long-form takes on the news, it’s unfortunate to see an opportunity for non-SNL writers to get their foot in the door go away. Prior to ending the program, SNL paid freelance Update writers $100 for every joke that made it to air, according to this 2015 article from The Hollywood Reporter.
Season 43 of SNL premieres later this month with host Ryan Gosling and musical guest Jay-Z.