Taran Killam: SNL became 'less of a happy place' after Seth Meyers left, Lorne made us go easy on Trump

Another former SNL cast member is getting candid about the current state of affairs in Studio 8H.

Taran Killam, who recently ended a six-year run on the NBC late-night sketch show, tells the I Was There Too podcast that “the dynamic” at SNL “changed quite a bit” when Seth Meyers departed as head writer in 2014. “He was the last person there who I witnessed really collaborate with [creator] Lorne [Michaels], as opposed to just kind of do what Lorne says.” Killam calls the post-Meyers SNL a “competitive, exhausting environment” and “less of a happy place to be.”

Killam points to SNL‘s lavish 40th anniversary celebration in 2015 as a big turning point for the show — and Lorne’s attitude towards the cast. After Michaels absorbed all that praise, Killam remembers, “it was back to this cast who’s all 40 years younger than you and aren’t as famous as Tina Fey… my experience was he became very impatient.”

Michaels also ordered the SNL cast to take it easy on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, Killam remembers, because Michaels was trying to line up Trump as a potential host. (Trump did eventually host SNL in November of 2015.) “Lorne was being so specific about what we could and couldn’t say about him,” Killam recalls. When the SNL writers discussed parodying a CNN interview of Trump, “Lorne’s like, ‘It’ll be too old news by then, and you know, you don’t want to vilify him… I know him, I’ve seen him around at parties for years and years, and he just says whatever it is he’s thinking, and that’s his thing. But… you have to find a way in that makes him likable.”

Interestingly, Meyers returns to SNL this Saturday (NBC, 11:35/10:35c) to host the show for the first time since leaving.