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The Hilarity and Tradition of the SNL End-of-Season Joke Swap on Weekend Update

Saturday Night Live (SNL) has been a comedic institution for nearly five decades, offering satirical takes on current events through its iconic Weekend Update segment. Among the many memorable traditions that have evolved within the show, one stands out for its unpredictability and sheer hilarity: the end-of-season joke swap between Weekend Update co-anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che.

The Origin of the Joke Swap

The concept of the joke swap was introduced during the December 2017 episode of SNL’s 43rd season. It emerged as a playful challenge where each anchor writes jokes for the other, which they must read aloud without prior review. This element of surprise has led to some of the most side-splitting moments on the show, as each anchor often crafts jokes designed to make the other as uncomfortable as possible.

The Dynamics of the Swap

Colin Jost and Michael Che have a unique chemistry, with Jost’s polished, straight-man persona contrasting perfectly with Che’s more laid-back, acerbic style. This dynamic becomes particularly potent during the joke swap, as each tries to outdo the other with increasingly edgy or absurd material. The unpredictability and spontaneity of this segment tap into the essence of live comedy, providing audiences with genuine reactions and unscripted hilarity.

Memorable Moments

The joke swap has produced numerous unforgettable moments that have left audiences—and the anchors themselves—laughing uncontrollably. For instance, one of the most talked-about jokes involved Che making Jost read a joke about the Black Lives Matter movement, knowing full well the sensitive nature of the subject and the comedic tightrope it involved. Conversely, Jost has crafted jokes for Che that often poke fun at Jost’s own privileged background or perceived naivety, creating a meta-comedy experience that resonates deeply with viewers.

The Appeal of the Joke Swap

The appeal of the joke swap lies in its raw and unfiltered approach to comedy. In an era where many comedic segments are meticulously planned and rehearsed, the joke swap stands out for its authenticity. The anchors’ genuine reactions—whether it’s Jost’s visible discomfort or Che’s hearty laughter—add a layer of relatability and humanity to the show. It’s a reminder that even seasoned comedians can be caught off guard and that humor often lies in the unexpected.

Impact on SNL’s Legacy

The joke swap has become a highly anticipated part of the SNL season finale, with fans eagerly awaiting the segment to see what outrageous material the anchors will come up with. It encapsulates the spirit of SNL: daring, boundary-pushing, and always in pursuit of the next big laugh. The tradition has also cemented Jost and Che’s status as one of the most dynamic duos in Weekend Update history, highlighting their ability to navigate sensitive topics with humor and grace.

As SNL continues to evolve, the end-of-season joke swap remains a testament to the show’s enduring appeal and innovative spirit. It serves as a delightful reminder that comedy thrives on risk and that sometimes, the best laughs come from stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Colin Jost and Michael Che’s willingness to embrace this challenge not only showcases their comedic talents but also their camaraderie, making the joke swap a beloved staple of SNL’s storied legacy.


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Patrick Zarrelli

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