Martin Short has a rare perspective as someone who performed on both SNL and SCTV. He explained to the Huffington Post how wildly different the processes of each were:
Well, a huge difference was that on SCTV you would write for six weeks. Then you would shoot for six weeks and edit. Then, you take a couple of weeks off. Then you write for six weeks. So, if you didn’t have an idea for a couple of weeks when you started writing, it was OK because you could make up for it in the next four weeks. Saturday Night Live, if you were a writer/performer – like I was on the show – it could be Monday and it would be like, “I don’t have any ideas.” The host comes in and you fake your way through that meeting. Now it’s Monday night and you can’t think of anything. And you wake up and you have that feeling in your stomach on Tuesday, “What am I going to write?” Because you had to slide the script underneath the door by 6 a.m., so the typist could type it for the read-through at 11 a.m. or 1p.m., or whatever it was. The point was that it was final exams, every week. So, that was a big difference. That and the realization that there were certain types of pieces that you just couldn’t do.
He also touched on how at SCTV the goal was just to make each other laugh and how that resulted in the shows cult status:
[Making the rest of the SCTV cast was] more of a concern than someone who’s going to say, “I don’t get it.” We don’t care for that person. But! Often, that person saying, “I don’t get it,” represents the bulk of America. So, “SCTV” is the perfect example of something that played passionately to the States – about 18 percent of the population. It doesn’t keep you on the air, but it does keep you passionate within the souls of that 18 percent.
Below are two sketches featuring Short’s famous Ed Grimley character, one from SCTV and one from SNL, which is better?