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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Cast of "Saturday Night Live" Speaks

Aired October 2, 2010 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LARRY KING, HOST (voice-over): Tonight from New York --

ANNOUNCER: It's "Saturday Night Live."

KING: -- in prime time.

Amy Poehler --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Seth Meyers --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY POEHLER, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Really!

SETH MEYERS, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Really!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Kristen Wiig --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRISTEN WIIG, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The guy who plays me, Fred Armisen --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED ARMISEN, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Good evening. I'm Larry King. Are these glasses getting bigger or is my face shrinking? You decide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Andy Samberg --

(VIDEO CLIP) KING: And the creator, Lorne Michaels --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LORNE MICHAELS, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Get out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: They're here from the set in one of the late night's longest running shows. If you don't know what "Saturday Night Live" is, you're not from this planet.

Next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Tomorrow night, "Saturday Night Live" will celebrate the beginning of its 36th year on NBC at 11:30 Eastern Time.

We have five outstanding cast members and the exec producer with us. We're in studio, this famous, Studio 8H, the eighth floor of the NBC Studios at 30 Rock.

Our guests are: Lorne Michaels, creator and executive producer of "Saturday Night Live," and started it all.

Amy Poehler, former cast member, who, by the way, we hear will host the show tomorrow night. She's the three time Emmy Award nominee and star of NBC's new show, "Parks and Recreation."

Seth Meyers is the anchor of "Weekend Update," and the head writer of this program.

The Emmy winner, Kristen Wiig -- you know her as Suze Orman or Nancy Pelosi or the Target lady.

Fred Armisen, you know him as me or President Obama or Governor Paterson or Joy Behar.

And, finally, Andy Samberg, the Emmy winner, best known for his digital shorts.

Lorne, I'll start with you.

MICHAELS: Sure.

KING: How did this idea get conceived?

MICHAELS: I think it got conceived because Herb Schlasser (ph) who was then writing in NBC felt that there should be production back in New York. And he had a strong affection for live programming and sort of in the glory days of New York television.

KING: "The Tonight Show" had been on, right? MICHAELS: Yes. "The Tonight Show," I was down stairs in 6B, yes, with Johnny Carson. And they just wanted a new show.

KING: For Saturdays?

MICHAELS: For Saturday. I think the time period, at that point, was Carson -- was best of Carson, which was reruns of "The Tonight Show." And I don't think Johnny was happy with those shows. And so, they decided to do a new show, and Dick Ebersol who had just been hired as a network executive, the director of "The Late Night"

KING: Of sports?

MICHAELS: Yes, had left sports at ABC.

KING: What were you doing at the time?

MICHAELS: At that time, I was working with Lily Tomlin on writing and producing on her shows, both at CBS and at ABC. I'd done one or two -- I've had begun at NBC with the "Phyllis Diller Show" and "Laugh- In," and -- but all in California

KING: "Saturday Night Live," what a history.

How did -- Amy, how did you get on to the show?

POEHLER: Well, I auditioned, like everyone here did. And I had some friends that were on the show already, and, of course, grew up watching it. So, I -- and then I just met Lorne in an undisclosed location and I handed him an envelope filled with $50,000 and here I am.

KING: Was the audition just in front of him?

POEHLER: It's with -- in front of --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It used to be, but then H.R. stepped in.

(LAUGHTER)

POEHLER: It's -- good job. You should write comedy.

KING: Nice.

POEHLER: It's really a very -- it's on this stage, and you kind of can't see anyone out there.

KING: And do they tell you to do something or do they give you something?

POEHLER: You do -- you do characters and impressions. You have like, what is it now, five minutes or so? Yes.

KING: How did you get on the show?

MEYERS: I was doing a two person show in Chicago, sort of sketch and prop show with my comedy partner at the time. And I just was lucky enough that someone from the talent department was out in Chicago at the time and they saw the show, and I sent in a couple audition tapes and then finally got brought in for the same process that we all went through.

KING: Were you nervous?

MEYERS: I was -- I was terrified. Yes. I remember when they put the mike on me, the sound -- they put the mike on me, I kept asking if it was on. I just didn't want him to leave because I knew once he walked away, I'd have to do it.

KING: Do you hold in your mind, Lorne, the fact that they are nervous?

MICHAELS: Yes, you're looking for a quality that has to be evident in the audition. They have to be -- they have to have a certain amount of comfort being on a stage, because they're about to go into as --

KING: Live television.

MICHAELS: Yes, as chaotic an experience as you can get. And if you don't -- if you're not sort of poised and ready for it, you can get knocked over.

KING: Kristen, what were you doing at the time?

WIIG: Only 50,000. There's only 50?

(CROSSTALK)

WIIG: I was at the Groundlings in Los Angeles. My manager talked to me about making a tape. And so, we put some stuff together and sent it in and yes, auditioned here.

KING: Right here.

WIIG: The most nervous I've ever been in my life, because I don't do -- I hadn't done any standup or hadn't done a lot of performing just myself on the stage. So, I was -- I was terrified.

KING: Fred, how did they find you? Or how did they find them? Or how did you find them?

ARMISEN: I was doing standup comedy in Los Angeles. We also sent in tapes. Yes, I auditioned right here. And I remember it was like really nerve-racking, but when I got the phone call that I got the show, I saved it as best call ever. And so, since then, I've just transferred that number over and over. But it was exciting. It was great to be on the stage.

KING: Did you do imitations?

ARMISEN: I did. I did some impressions and some characters. And yes, it was just -- it was a blur.

KING: Do you say in your mind sometime, Lorne, "This is it, he's definitely going to get it," or, "She's going to get it"?

MICHAELS: Yes.

KING: It's in your head.

MICHAELS: Yes, of course.

KING: And Andy?

ANDY SAMBERG, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: There was construction in 8H at the time, so I auditioned on a side stage

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh!

SAMBERG: -- which really took a lot of pressure off, because this was like -- this is kind of like a B league thing. I kind of just let it rip.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: A break?

SAMBERG: I mean, I still threw up before it.

KING: You're going to host tomorrow night?

POEHLER: Yes, can you believe it? You seem like you can't believe it.

KING: Back on the stage, it's a whole different venue.

POEHLER: Yes, I don't know. I am so incredibly honored and privileged to be back anytime to do anything on this show, but to be able to host is a whopper.

KING: How was she selected, Lorne?

MICHAELS: No idea.

(LAUGHTER)

MICHAELS: It was -- we have four new casts this year. And it's an election year. And just one of the most solid choice I could find. And here she is.

KING: How do you feel about that, Seth?

MEYERS: I'm very thrilled. It's very exciting. You know, one of the joys of writing for the show is that with the host, you always have these different unknown quantities, but at the same time, there's really nothing nicer than it being a known quantity. And, you know, every other writers are happy that Amy is back and get to write for them again, and I think the cast members are excited to be on stage.

KING: Someday it will be you, Kristen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right.

WIGG: That would be great.

MEYERS: I mean, Amy has changed. Don't get me wrong. She's a lot harder to work with.

KING: Oh, she -- a little stuck up?

MEYERS: Talk a lot about Hollywood.

POEHLER: I don't appreciate eye contact from people that are younger than me.

KING: I see. You don't like -- you got no peers, is that it?

POEHLER: Yes, I look around the landscape and I'm like, where are my peers? That's how --

(CROSSTALK)

MEYERS: She says Meryl Streep. He said maybe Meryl Streep.

POEHLER: I said maybe Streep. I said if she's lucky.

KING: Andy, are you happy for Amy's success?

SAMBERG: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: You won't be after what she just said.

SAMBERG: No, no. Amy is beloved by all. That's her secret move. No one doesn't like her.

POEHLER: I can name a few.

SAMBERG: But, yes, I mean, I would say it's inspiring to see. I came in when Amy was kind of in the middle of her run. I would say her and Seth, maybe more than anyone, really looked out for me and took me under their wing and made sure I was doing OK.

KING: Why, Fred, is he staring at you?

ARMISEN: I was just showing him the ropes. That's all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He did a lot of hazing.

ARMISEN: Yes, so much hazing. Really kind of limp hazing though. It's not very --

SAMBERG: But I accepted you.

ARMISEN: And I appreciate that.

SAMBERG: This year, for the first time. ARMISEN: So, I'm really excited for Amy. Very happy for her.

KING: OK. We'll be back with the cast and the exec producer. "Saturday Night Live," it's 36th year starts tomorrow night. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE)

POEHLER (rapping): I need your vote in the next election, can I get a what, what from the senior section. McCain got experience. McCain got doubt. But don't let him freak you out when he tries to smile because that smile is creepy, when I'm the V.P., all the leaders in the world going to finally meet me.

How does it go, Eskimo? Tell me what you know, Eskimo? How do you feel, Eskimo? Tell me -- tell me what you feel, Eskimo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Was she a good sport?

POEHLER: Yes. I know anyone who comes on the show is already a good sport.

KING: Fred, the new season is starting? Are you going to play Obama early?

ARMISEN: We'll see. See how the week goes, and what the writers have and what Lorne decides and --

KING: Do you have any trepidation --

MICHAELS: (INAUDIBLE) in the news or not.

KING: Do you have any trepidation about playing him?

ARMISEN: No, I enjoy playing him. It's always fun to see what angle the writers have on it. None really.

KING: Do you have impact with the writers? Can you say I'm comfortable with this and not comfortable with that?

ARMISEN: I trust them a lot. And they never presented me with anything that I wasn't comfortable with.

MICHAELS: And it's also, here the cast writes as well and Fred contributes also, as Amy and Kristen and Andy. So, they're also writing. So, they're taking it as peers.

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAELS: Yes.

KING: Kristen -- WIIG: Yes?

KING: -- your most famous impressions are the Speaker of the House Pelosi, Kathie Lee Gifford and Suze Orman who's been a frequent guest. All of them have. What's the trick of Suze Orman?

WIIG: Oh, my gosh. Well, she's very energetic. She's very passionate about everything that she talks about. So, I think, for me, just finding that one thing in a person that I'm doing an impression of and really just blowing it up to make it like more of a character than the actual person.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WIIG: That is what my hairdresser has named my hair do, the cut back, because she only cuts the back.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Do you study her a lot?

WIIG: Yes, I mean, I watched her for years. I love her. And so, I just -- I mean, I obviously make her a little crazier than she is. But I've met her and she's -- she likes it. And she was actually in the audience one time when I did her, which was a little scary.

MEYERS: The easiest person to pick out in the audience --

(CROSSTALK)

WIIG: Oh, yes, you can see her out there, the blond hair.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: You had a fight with Mark Wahlberg, right?

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBERG: Fight is a little harsh.

KING: What did you have with him?

SAMBERG: I did an impression of him and he was doing press for a movie of his and they asked him about it and --

KING: How do you impersonate Mark Wahlberg?

SAMBERG: Just kind --

KING: What sticks out of Mark Wahlberg? I mean, he's great. He's terrific.

SAMBERG: He reminds me of a lot of guys I grew up with.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBERG: You're a donkey, I like that. You eat apples, right. I produce "Entourage."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MEYERS: I love it, that impression. And sometimes, there is somebody like that you wouldn't think it's easy to do an impression of. And then the minute Andy started doing it, you're like -- oh, that's how you do an impression of somebody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

MEYERS: And those are always the ones that --

KING: impression is more not in the voice so much as in the manner, right?

SAMBERG: Yes, and just like grab the personality.

MEYERS: Yes.

SAMBERG: But, I mean, he came on and did a thing with me about it as well. So --

KING: It was all in jest.

SAMBERG: Yes. I wouldn't say like best, besties -- but close. Pretty close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

KING: You do Hillary?

POEHLER: Right.

KING: Easy or hard.

POEHLER: I found hard. I will say that I -- there's -- you know, there's a difference between, like, you know, someone like Darrell Hammond is a premier impressionist who -- can get everything down to the last drop. And then there are times when you are just trying to do someone and you want to -- like Kristen was saying just get like a funny take on it. It doesn't always necessarily need to be even really sound exactly like them. You just want to kind of create a character of who they are.

So, I tried to do that with her.

(VIDEO CLIP0

POEHLER: Because Hillary doesn't -- she's kind of -- you know, she didn't have anything that stuck out voice wise that I could felt I could hang on to.

KING: So, you don't play it funny, right? You have to play her -- I mean, you're serious about it?

POEHLER: Well, yes, you know, she -- you play it hopefully as real in the moment as you can. But I got, Jim Downey wrote a lot of Hillary's pieces, and his take on her which fluctuated during the many years that I play her certainly. The game that was fun to play was how she had to hold it together when she was becoming so frustrated, or that there was a lot of stuff underneath. And I thought that was a great take.

KING: Do you always try to begin with politics?

MEYERS: It's a new place for it. I feel like that's the best place for it in the show because then it sort of picks up a different momentum and it's --

KING: Do you know how we're opening tomorrow?

MEYERS: We don't know yet.

MICHAELS: We might not know as late as Friday.

KING: Change it on Friday?

MICHAELS: Yes. I mean, it will depend on what -- because anything topical, the nightly shows probably -- if it happened on a Monday or Tuesday, the nightly shows would have probably beaten it to death by then. And our take has to be original in some way. So, we have to find a way into it that seems to say something more.

KING: I would guess you may do the candidate in Delaware.

We'll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: "Saturday Night Live," 36 years starting tomorrow night. That's a record, I guess. We're 25 1/2. I feel like a baby.

OK. Let's see Kristen as the Target lady, watch

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WIIG: A 50! It's legit! I get to put this under the tray.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, I'm in a hurry.

WIIG: Hey, you know what fertilizer is, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me?

WIIG: It's part dirt and part feces. It's my job to let you know what you're buying. I just thought you should know you're buying a big bag of feces.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How do you find her? I mean, do you know a lady like that?

WIIG: I actually did meet someone that worked at a Target that talked a little bit like that, but then I exaggerated it quite a bit. And I actually did that character at the Groundlings. She's one of the characters I auditioned with when I -- when I came here.

KING: How did you find Gilly?

WIIG: Gilly --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a lot like how you were in real life.

WIIG: That's just really me.

KING: You play yourself.

(LAUGHTER)

WIIG: I play myself, really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the character, what you're doing now.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Andy won an Emmy --

(CHEERING)

KING: -- for a digital short with Justin Timberlake, which after we see this, I'm going to ask Lorne how this ever got approved.

(VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right.

SAMBERG: I always forget what's in the box.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: All right. Who came up with that?

SAMBERG: Me and my two buddies, (INAUDIBLE) Yurma (ph). I think Yurma had the initial idea.

KING: Did Timberlake go for it right away?

SAMBERG: Immediately. Yes.

KING: It says a lot about him.

SAMBERG: Yes, for sure. We were upstairs working on it and he was down here blocking scenes and we started writing it and thought, you know, this will be good. We knew he had been up for doing a song because he liked the ones we had done with Natalie Portman and the lazy Sunday --

KING: How did you come up with the whole idea of digital shorts?

SAMBERG: I mean, there's a long history of short films on the show.

KING: I know.

SAMBERG: When we came in, it was something we were well versed in because, you know, we had our own group and we had our own Web site and, you know, we had a couple of small pilot deals. So, we kind of spent a lot of time making short films, and specifically short music videos.

So -- but we didn't get hired for that, you know? I got hired off my audition. They got hired on the writing packet.

When we got here, you know, we suggested, you know, we do this kind of stuff. Is there a place for it? And we talked to, you know, some of the producers about it. And they said, yes, Lorne would love that. We're also looking for something to play while we change sets.

So, we went off and shot one on our own. I think the first one was with Will Forte, it's called "Lettuce." And it aired. They go, yes, if you want to do another one, give it a shot. We tried one more that didn't totally work and then the third one we tried was the "Narnia" rap, "Lazy Sunday."

(VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, Lorne, do you -- is there someone upstairs at NBC who blue pencils stuff?

MICHAELS: Oh, absolutely. Yes.

KING: And did you have any trouble about getting that through?

MICHAELS: It was certainly discussed. But, you know, I think it's -- the spirit of it is, I mean, it's much more about comedy than it is --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The censors made you use the box.

MICHAELS: Yes, exactly.

KING: You weren't going to use --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The interesting thing about that is my hand, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, there was no box.

KING: What did the cast think of that bit, Fred?

ARMISEN: Oh, we loved it immediately. Remember, we were out on the floor for it. Immediately.

MICHAELS: And we won't see it until dress rehearsal, you know? So, it's -- the nature of the show is -- and I strongly encourage them to do a digital short that week. And I believe I mentioned it on Monday.

KING: When they came up with that though.

MICHAELS: No, my point with it is they have a very high standard. They think and then sometimes over-think. And by the time they get started, it's quite often Friday night. So --

KING: Did they lower the standard for that bit?

MICHAELS: No, I think it got an Emmy. I think the entire Academy enjoyed it.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We'll be back with more on the cast of "Saturday Night Live." Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. We're honored to be in this place of honor. They ought to transport this to the Smithsonian, along with our set.

(LAUGHTER)

MEYERS: Is it a package deal?

KING: Yes, for longevity.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Seth and Amy, they were great together as weekend update co- anchors. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEYERS: I mean, really?

POEHLER: Really? So, really, CDC, the next time you want to give something to Goldman, that should be giving to students, how about an economics textbook? Or a noogie?

MEYERS: Yes, really.

POEHLER: Give (INAUDIBLE) a big fat noogie Goldman Sachs.

MEYERS: Or wet willy. Really.

POEHLER: Yes, really!

MEYERS: Really!

POEHLER: Come on!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Is that your bit, Seth? MEYERS: It was both of ours, but I will give credit to Andy was the one. I talk like that a lot. I'm incredulous, I think, about a lot of things. Andy suggested that I should put it in a segment.

KING: Your idea was "Really"?

MEYERS: I mean, I talk like that all the time. Andy actually had the idea.

SAMBERG: It was born of his personality. My impression of Seth is he would walk into a room when he was (INAUDIBLE) about something and go, "Really, is this really happening?"

KING: Did you go for it right away, Amy?

POEHLER: Oh, yes, I was on board and I think match incredulously (ph) with you?

MEYERS: Yes.

KING: Is this a fun place to work, Fred?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

KING: No, it's not?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Maybe before (ph) Fred got here.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Comedy is a serious business.

ARMISEN: It's -- no, it's the most fun you could ever imagine. Because you're just around smart and funny people all the time. And you're around them a lot. I mean, the week is -- it's almost 24 hours a day that you're with everybody. And it's just -- it's the most fun constantly. Also like blocking sketches. It's just --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like hangout time.

ARMISEN: Yes, really, it's like -- it's like your best friends, you know?

POEHLER: Not to be sentimental about it, but I am very sentimental. It's almost nine years to the day that we started our first show, Seth and I, our first show was September 29th 2001, and it was a very different time then to be on live television. And, certainly, a historic show, but we were also just new cast members trying to figure out where the bathrooms were. So, to be able to be back nine years later and see how much things have changed and to be back in different capacities is awesome.

KING: Was it hard to write, Seth, after 9/11? MEYERS: Yes, it would have been so hard just to be new on the show. For the new cast members we have now, it's not right after 9/11, but they're going to go through the toughest time they've ever had, because you have to learn how to write for the show. You have to perform in front of a live audience. It's just a different -- there's nothing that is like it.

There's no practice you can have to sort of figure it out. So to have that sort of both at once was a really tricky thing. On one hand, though, it let us give us a little bit of time to sort of figure it out, because no one was paying attention to us.

KING: How did you approach that?

MICHAELS: The hardest part -- there were two things that were hard. One was finding the right way to start. I sort of thought I would start with music. I asked Paul Simon if he would sing "The Boxer," which is sort of a New York City song about renewal. We had to start with a laugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAELS: Can we be funny?

RUDY GIULIANI, FMR. NEW YORK MAYOR: Why start now?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAELS: So that's the moment. And the problem, as a dress rehearsal we're doing it, and when Rudy is about to tell a joke, he starts to smile. And so I would be looking him in the eye and I would sort of see he was getting -- because I'm doing my line and I know that he's already excited about the fact that he's going to get a laugh in a moment. So that was the opening note between dress and air, was for him to not smile until he said his line. It got a huge laugh and then we were back.

KING: Speaking of back, we'll be right back. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: I'm going to ask Seth to take us through a week, starting the conception on Monday through the Saturday. First, let's see Fred as me. Watch.

(BEGNI VIDEO CLIP)

ARMISEN: Good evening, I'm Larry King. Are these glasses getting bigger or is my face shrinking? You decide.

Tonight, the late night wars are heating up once again with new rumors flying everyday. Conan is out. Jay is in. And no one is talking about the greatest talk show of all time, Mr. Joey Bishop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's pretty good. It's flattering, by the way.

ARMISEN: Thank you.

KING: Am I hard to do?

ARMISEN: No, it's pretty easy.

KING: I don't know how to take that.

ARMISEN: No. You know, you're iconic. I'm so familiar with your voice. You know, I've been hearing it and listening to it for a long time.

KING: I'm honored.

ARMISEN: And your look. Thank you.

MEYERS: Plus, you do us the service of dressing in a very easy to mimic way.

KING: You're making fun of this?

(CROSS TALK)

KING: You're making fun of this.

MEYERS: We are with that sketch too.

KING: Take us through a week?

MEYERS: Monday, we pitch ideas to our host, Amy. Then we get started on the writing. Everybody piles into Lorne's office and sort of says one or two ideas of things they're thinking of working on. .

KING: The writers.

MEYERS: The writers. Cast members pitch as well. We have a lot of different comedy voices. I think sometimes people don't understand how much the cast members sort of write and contribute to that side of it as well.

KING: Tuesday?

MEYERS: Tuesday, people roll in here around noon and stay through the night. A fair share of us -- a good group of us stay through the night all the way until Wednesday.

KING: Lorne is here through all of this?

MEYERS: Oh, no.

MICHAELS: I leave around 3:00.

MEYERS: He's here until 3:00 am.

POEHLER: He's pretty good. KING: Wednesday?

MEYERS: Wednesday, we all sit around a table. We have a stack of about 40 scripts, and we read through it.

KING: Is the host a participant in skits in which the host is not involved?

MEYERS: I would say of the 40, the host is probably in 35. So they sit at the head of the table.

(CROSS TALK)

KING: Thursday?

MEYERS: We read through everything. Then we go off into a room where Lorne and the host sort of start selecting, paring that 40 down to about 10.

KING: Every host has a say in all --

MICHAELS: It wouldn't work if it was something they didn't want to do, because then you just -- you're discussing it all the way up. .

KING: You write the host's monologue?

MEYERS: We do. We do. That's one where you most want the host to be on board.

KING: Of course. Friday?

MEYERS: You don't care about Thursday at all?

KING: I thought you did Thursday.

MICHAELS: No, that was Wednesday still.

(CROSS TALK)

KING: You are here? You're blocking cameras?

MEYERS: And rewriting. We sit down and we rewrite everything. Cut it down, punch it out.

KING: Are you laughing during these times.

MEYERS: We are.

KING: OK. Friday?

MEYERS: That's just more camera blocking. We're down here. Then late in the night, we sort of go up to Lorne's office and sort of order the show. Although, it will all sort of fly out the window after dress rehearsal. But we make our best guess as to how it goes.

KING: Do you -- is it true you do a show for an audience -- a rehearsal show that an audience sees.

MEYERS: Yes.

MICHAELS: At 8:00.

KING: On Saturday night. Then a new audience comes in.

MICHAELS: Yeah.

KING: At the rehearsal show, decisions are made, Fred?

ARMISEN: Yeah, during, right after. You know, from the audience, we can tell what's going to work.

KING: Does the rehearsal audience get to see almost more stuff than the audience will see at 11:30?

ARMISEN: Definitely.

(CROSS TALK)

KING: I would rather go to a rehearsal show.

POEHLER: Right.

KING: That would be a hoot. You see more work.

POEHLER: Right, and you're in bed by 11:00, Larry.

KING: We'll be back with more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEYERS: The Tea Party nation announced last week that Sarah Palin will headline what is being called the First National Tea Party Convention in February. It is expected to be the nation's largest ever gathering of misspelled signs.

This Wednesday, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree was illuminated. However the occasion was marred when Aretha Franklin was caught in a bear's mouth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What's the toughest part about writing for the show?

MEYERS: The toughest part is just that you have to start over every week with a completely blank slate. Whether you have a good or a bad show on Saturday, it doesn't really stick around to the following Monday. But the great part about the show is we are allowed to be wildly inconsistent with our approach to what we think is funny this week.

KING: Wildly inconsistent. MEYERS: In our approach, in that, like, this week, this writer might have an idea that has nothing to do with politics. The next week, somebody might have an idea about something in pop culture. The next week, it a scene that is sort of like a timeless comedy idea that could have been on the show 30 years ago.

KING: Does it get, though, a little -- on Saturday at 11:15?

ARMISEN: That's just what the job is. You know, making sure that you hit your mark and that you've got everything right. But, I mean, it's still fun. That stuff is still fun anyway.

POEHLER: Those live moments are really fate. Those Cortisol spikes that you have when things go wrong, they're intoxicating. I remember doing a sketch one time with Queen Latifah. And Maya Rudolph and I, we were backup singers. We had to sing a song. And something was happening with the music, so the music wasn't coming on.

It was live. And it was like OK. And Jenna, our stage manager was like, OK, 10, nine, eight. OK, do you want me to tell them. OK, six, five -- should I tell them -- four, three. OK, there's no music. We just had to sing without any music. It's those kind of moments that are beyond fun.

KING: Where were you, Lorne, when all this is happening?

MICHAELS: Right over there, just standing on the floor.

KING: You're standing on the floor? You're not in the control room.

MICHAELS: I go back and forth. The control room is -- there's lots of shows going on. There's a show in the control room. There's a show out here. And also there's changes happening while we're on air.

KING: We'll be right back with more. They start their 36th year tomorrow night. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The Lawrence Welk Show."

ARMISEN: Now here to sing a sonny, nice Mother's Day song is Gary Cordington (ph), accompanied by the Bajarali (ph) Sisters and a very special guest. A one, and two

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Another famous show in television history was Lawrence Welk with the Bubbles. Kristen plays Judy. How did you find that? You didn't watch "the Lawrence Welk Show". It was before your time. WIIG: I was familiar with it. Yes, absolutely. The night that we wrote, we were watching a lot online.

KING: So how did you find Judy?

WIIG: Anne Hathaway was hosting. We just wanted to do a sketch with her in a group with her sisters. One of the sisters has -- is a little different. So we just wanted to make her -- the way she looked was almost not an afterthought, but we just sort of wanted to think of a different of how to maker her kind of really not attractive. So we just were like hey, big forehead, big tooth, little hands. She just sort was born that way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARMISEN: Was her forehead really big or was I looking through a couple of bubbles.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Do you feel like you're now above this -- we asked about her, but you're now your -- you've got your own.

POEHLER: No, you know what's really funny is --

KING: You miss this?

POEHLER: Having been in the cast, when you come back to host, it's -- you kind of know -- you've peeked behind the curtain, and you know how hard everybody is working. So, it's just like the ultimate experience to be able to have lived it and go back.

KING: Fred, we saw you do me.

POEHLER: You didn't like that answer.

KING: It was a good answer.

POEHLER: Yes, I feel above everyone, Larry. What do you want from me? >>.

KING: I know you do.

POEHLER: I know you do.

KING: Fred, were you a kid who imitated people, like you were eight years old and you imitated your aunt?

ARMISEN: All the time, yeah, teachers, everyone on my street, all the time.

KING: Let's do a couple.

POEHLER: Do your old teacher.

ARMISEN: OK. Mr. Brandel (ph) you was kind of like nine times -- POEHLER: That's so like him.

KING: We all remember him. Want to do Hugo Chavez?

POEHLER: Hugo Chavez was kind of like -- he was always kind of puckering up.

KING: Martin Scorsese?

ARMISEN: He just talks really fast all the time. You just need to get double speed every time he talks.

KING: No one in the world does Steve Jobs.

ARMISEN: Yeah, he's a hero of mine. He's just the greatest. He's like a rock star in a way. But he's just really into numbers and long, long pauses. So he'll just say like a billion downloads a day. A billion downloads a day.

That's his line. He loves numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARMISEN: Introducing the new iPod Picano.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The show itself, putting it all together and then getting ready to go on, some weeks you have a lot; some weeks you don't have a lot. Are you perked up no matter what you're doing? I'm trying to figure out like when you're not included a lot.

SAMBERG: When you have a bad week in terms of being on the show, you definitely relax a little bit more. I do, anyway.

KING: When you have a bad week?

SAMBERG: Yeah. I mean, it's more fun if you're in the show, but it's also a lot more stress and a lot more going on. You have a much better after party if you've been in the show a lot.

KING: When a skit is not working, Seth, -- obviously every skit can't work when you're doing live. What goes through you as head writer? Because you know it's not working.

MEYERS: You know right away. And you hope -- if it's during dress rehearsal, you hope you also know that you're not going to have to do it at the air show. But if for whatever reason you have to fix it, like almost -- like you don't really have time to sort of have anything go through your head other than just get together as many people as you can and start going to work on it.

You sort of watch it under the bleachers with Lorne. And, you know, if it's a piece you have to save -- I mean, it's like triage more than anything else. You're like which of these can we save? Which do we say good-bye to? KING: What goes through you when a bit is not working? .

MICHAELS: It depends on why it's not working. It can be the shooting is -- cueing was wrong. It can be that the audience is not interested. It can be that it's just too long.

KING: What happens like if it's all three?

MICHAELS: If it's all three, it's left alone and tiptoes quietly out of here.

MEYERS: You know if you're under the bleachers and Lorne starts talking about other things --

POEHLER: Did you have a nice summer?

WIIG: Sometimes when they don't go well and you look at other cast members, it's very hard not to laugh. When you say that line --

KING: When it's not going well?

WIIG: Yeah, you know the line that's supposed to get the laugh and it's just silent. And you sort of look at the other person in the scene, and you're like, oh, I have four more minutes I have to do this.

MEYERS: That first joke bellwether doesn't work, you're like oh, that was the best one.

POEHLER: Those are the times when you become so connected with the cast members, because the worst times -- the times when you're dying are the times that you become close friends.

MICHAELS: It's also the humility that no matter what -- how certain you were that something was going to work and then there's just silence, you realize that no one knows.

KING: Have there been laughs at the dress rehearsal and not at the show?

SAMBERG: Absolutely.

KING: You're thrown by that?

SAMBERG: Yeah. I mean, no one will never know except the people on the inside. But there's moments where if you go back and look at it -- we'll go back and look at a scene and laugh, because there's a line that destroyed in dress, and you see on air somebody just goes for that line so hard, with full confidence, like "and that's when I said, to hell with the butler!" And it's like dead silence.

MEYERS: You had one in Scrooge McDuck.

SAMBERG: What?

MEYERS: We both -- you could see our eyes like dilate when you watch the take. We're like, what happened?

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments. We've got to ask Lorne about Betty White. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARMISEN: Remember how bad a governor I am already? Imagine how awful I'll be when I'm not trying to impress anyone. I can just let myself go like a typical housewife in New Jersey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Governor Paterson of New York.

ARMISEN: The way to do him is pretty much like one closed eye looking this way, and just a little bit of a -- I mean, that's pretty much it.

KING: You don't have to do more than that. How was Betty White to work with?

MICHAELS: She was fabulous. She worked so hard that Thursday and Friday because we're used to that schedule and she didn't make -- she never complained, just extraordinary to watch how great she was at it. Just what a pro.

KING: What do you make of her resurrection? Betty White is -- Snickers made her.

WIIG: Yeah, I've been watching her my whole life. It was such an honor to have her here. "Golden Girls" and "Mary Tyler Moore," I mean, I've been a fan forever.

KING: All right, we're in our remaining moments. Amy, you all revved up?

POEHLER: I don't know. I mean, I feel like you're nervous for me.

KING: I'm nervous for you, because you're above all these people. That must be -- you've got to come way down tomorrow.

SAMBERG: She's not above Lorne.

POEHLER: No.

MEYERS: That's what she's aiming for, aspiring for.

KING: She wants to be Lorne.

MEYERS: Well, as great as.

POEHLER: Right.

KING: As great as.

(CROSS TALK)

POEHLER: No, I'm very, very, very excited. And see, look --

WIIG: We're all excited. Everyone's very excited.

KING: Despite what she said about --

(CROSS TALK)

MICHAELS: Despite the fact that we don't know what we're going to be doing.

POEHLER: Yes.

KING: We've taped this earlier in the week.

MICHAELS: Even then on Friday night, we wouldn't know what we're going to be doing. We'd have a very good idea, but then things don't work or things come together that you are surprised at, or the audience --

KING: Why has this show lasted? Anyone can jump in. Seth?

MEYERS: I think there's nothing quite like it. And, you know, there's a chance on a Saturday night that you're going to see something that you're going to remember for the rest of your life. And I think it's cross generational. I was at the airport the other day and ran into a guy probably twice my age who said he still makes it home at 11:30 to watch it.

KING: Fred?

ARMISEN: I have always watched it. I always felt like it was something I needed to be around and watch.

KING: Why do you think, Andy?

SAMBERG: I think it's something that never gets old, because it's basically like a weekly campfire for the country. You know, people get to check in, sort of talk about what happened that week. And combined with -- I'm going to suck up and do it -- Lorne keeps choosing great people to be on. He keeps churning out people that are hits. They come in with great, creative ideas, and has surrounded himself with people that are good at what they do in every department, you know?

When I came here, I couldn't believe how smoothly things run here. It's insane.

KING: Lorne, we can do nothing but congratulate you.

MICHAELS: Thank you, Larry. Thank you for coming here too.

KING: Thirty six more years.

MICHAELS: Thank you. KING: And you may humble yourself, come back to -- Lorne Michaels, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen and Andy Samberg, and you will watch them all tomorrow when "Saturday Night Live" begins its 36th consecutive year, 11:30 Eastern, on NBC.

Thanks for joining us. "AC 360" is next.