Saturday Night Live Should Start at 11 p.m.

11:30 p.m. is too late! Photo: Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank

It has come to my attention that Saturday Night Live begins at 11:30 p.m. While I imagine I learn this fact anew at the start of every new season of Saturday Night Live, that does not make it any less startling now. 11:30? A half-hour into the 11 o’clock hour? A loose change amount of minutes jangling around before the start of midnight? A polite intrusion — “oh, if we could just sneak in here, that’d be so great, thank you” — on what otherwise could be an hour-long block of programming? What?


Saturday Night Live should begin at 11 p.m. A solid, whole number: 11. What time is Saturday Night Live on? 11. That sounds right to me and, I assume, to you. The show is an institution. It started in caveman times on Boulder TV and it deserves a whole number, at least for its dedication to not adjusting its ratio of straight white men to everyone else on staff since. Plus, and perhaps more importantly, we the viewing public are increasingly tired. We deserve a show that begins half an hour earlier and gets us to unconsciousness half an hour sooner, so we can wake up well-rested for another day of just trying to make it through. I assume you are nodding your head in agreement.

“It’s because of the news,” Vulture’s comedy editor Megh Wright told me, regarding why Saturday Night Live is on at 11:30 rather than 11. Yeah, okay. And climate change is “because of carbon,” among other things. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to change it. Ever heard of a carbon tax, Megh? It’s not going to happen and this planet is going to die beneath us, but you know what can happen? Huh? Saturday Night Live starting a little earlier — at 11 p.m.

(The local news can also start half an hour earlier, replacing a sitcom rerun.) (The sitcom rerun can air after Saturday Night Live.)

“It’s because 11:30 is when late night starts,” Vulture senior editor Jesse David Fox told me, regarding why Saturday Night Live is on at 11:30 rather than 11. “NBC used to air Tonight Show reruns, but then Carson wanted to be able to take more days off, so he asked them to find a show to put in that slot.” Okay. I asked Jesse if I could quote him on this inane bit of trivia and he said, “It’s in the Live From New York book,” seemingly implying that I should seek out that section of the book to, instead, quote the book. Make no mistake, I am not going to do this. You can either take Jesse’s word for it or not; it makes no difference to me, nor does it carry any weight against my point. All that stuff is in the past, and it’s time for the future: the show starting at 11 p.m.

I reached out to Saturday Night Live PR, hoping to shed some light on why they insist on beginning their performance at 11:30 rather than 11. They declined to talk to me on record and seemed unwilling to discuss the possibility of moving the time slot. Fine.

Also, what about this? It gets you to bed a half-hour earlier. I know I already mentioned this, but I’d like to mention it again. It’s not inconsequential. We’re a nation suffering from lack of sleep, and that can cause all sorts of issues: increased anxiety; a higher risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes; other things. In 2014, the CDC called sleep deprivation a “public health epidemic.” Is that Saturday Night Live’s fault for starting at 11:30 instead of 11? I can’t say for sure, but you must admit it’s an interesting question.

I suppose the point some might make is that many viewers watch Saturday Night Live on Sunday morning rather than on Saturday night, making its start time irrelevant. Well, okay. That’s fine for you, then, if you’re one of those people. But you’re not particularly relevant to this discussion, apart from the idea that maybe if Saturday Night Live began earlier it would entice more of its Sunday viewership to watch it live. I personally tend to watch Saturday Night Live somewhat infrequently, but that doesn’t have any bearing on the fact that it should be moved to 11 p.m. “Uhh, excuse me ma’am, what about the people who don’t usually watch Saturday Night Live unless they really like the host?” I’m sorry, but you’re simply not a part of this. Not everything is about you, which in this example is me.

In conclusion, Saturday Night Live should start at 11 p.m., obviously.

Thank you!

Saturday Night Live Should Start at 11 p.m.