Event Title

Live from New York', It's Saturday Night!: The History of Women behind the Scenes at Saturday Night Live

Location

Diamond 223

Start Date

1-5-2014 1:00 PM

End Date

1-5-2014 3:30 PM

Project Type

Presentation

Description

This research project examines the internal dynamic between men and women working on set at Saturday Night Live and evaluates the validity of the claim that the popular comedy program is or was a boys club. It also considers how the workplace experience has changed for women over the course of the shows history. Saturday Night Live has long been a leader in the comedy industry, made significant by large-scale exposure and highly relevant material. When Saturday Night Live was developed, it appeared to be a great opportunity to further establish women within the comedy industry and create chances for female accomplishment. However, this has not always been possible. After reading accounts of the shows history and multiple interview compilations, I discovered that the highs and lows of the female experience could be separated into five distinct time periods. 1975 to 1980, 1985 to 1990, and the years post-1995 were all high periods for women on the show, involving particularly strong female cast members and writers. In comparison, 1980 to 1985 and 1990 to 1995 were not positive due to a focus on male cast members and writers. I came to four main conclusions; firstly, the run of Saturday Night Live must be broken up into time periods in order to meaningfully analyze the experience of women. Secondly, the designation of Saturday Night Live as a boys club is not entirely valid; women did have opportunities in the worst of times, but it was never easy. Thirdly, sexism was a serious problem that existed at Saturday Night Live during the early and middle years of the show. Lastly, the coming of numerous popular female cast members and writers after 1995 broke the glass ceiling behind the scenes and appears to have increased the perceived value of modern womens humor.

Faculty Sponsor

Elizabeth Leonard

Sponsoring Department

Colby College. History Dept.

CLAS Field of Study

Social Sciences

Event Website

http://www.colby.edu/clas

ID

583

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May 1st, 1:00 PM May 1st, 3:30 PM

Live from New York', It's Saturday Night!: The History of Women behind the Scenes at Saturday Night Live

Diamond 223

This research project examines the internal dynamic between men and women working on set at Saturday Night Live and evaluates the validity of the claim that the popular comedy program is or was a boys club. It also considers how the workplace experience has changed for women over the course of the shows history. Saturday Night Live has long been a leader in the comedy industry, made significant by large-scale exposure and highly relevant material. When Saturday Night Live was developed, it appeared to be a great opportunity to further establish women within the comedy industry and create chances for female accomplishment. However, this has not always been possible. After reading accounts of the shows history and multiple interview compilations, I discovered that the highs and lows of the female experience could be separated into five distinct time periods. 1975 to 1980, 1985 to 1990, and the years post-1995 were all high periods for women on the show, involving particularly strong female cast members and writers. In comparison, 1980 to 1985 and 1990 to 1995 were not positive due to a focus on male cast members and writers. I came to four main conclusions; firstly, the run of Saturday Night Live must be broken up into time periods in order to meaningfully analyze the experience of women. Secondly, the designation of Saturday Night Live as a boys club is not entirely valid; women did have opportunities in the worst of times, but it was never easy. Thirdly, sexism was a serious problem that existed at Saturday Night Live during the early and middle years of the show. Lastly, the coming of numerous popular female cast members and writers after 1995 broke the glass ceiling behind the scenes and appears to have increased the perceived value of modern womens humor.

http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/clas/2014/program/205