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Shoving Each Other to the Front, a Lesson From the Cast of Saturday Night Live

I have been watching Saturday Night Live since I was old enough to program the VCR to record it. I was enjoying the Season 45 premiere this weekend and noticed something that I’d also seen on the Season 43 premiere (yes, it was that impactful that this 15 second memory lasted a full two years). 

Here’s what I saw, at the end of the show, when the musical guest and the host come out for a final “Thank you.” and a general celebration.

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What you’re looking at here, is veteran cast members, who have given up their front row visibility and have shoved the new cast members to the front so that they can be clearly picked up by the camera and are pointing excitedly at them to put as much attention on them as possible. 

What you can’t see in the still photos, is that at one point, Kate McKinnon weaves her way clear across the stage to grab new member, Luke Null, who was nearly off stage, pulling him back with her. 

Of course they did this, you know why? They’re improvisors and in improv, one of our main principles is to always be looking for opportunities to “Make each other look good.” Sometimes, this means giving up the chance to get our own laugh, or a spot in the limelight, in order to set someone else up for a laugh or give them time in the spotlight. 

In this situation, the veteran cast members are also confident in their place in the cast and in their ability, so they are not threatened by the new cast members. Instead, they take a step back, throw their full support behind their new teammates and give them a chance to shine. Oh, and they celebrate the fact that there is new talent on their team that they can pull from!

Think back to the last time you had a new person on your team. What would it look like to follow the lead of these veteran SNL actors? You’d notice your new team member shying away from important projects, not quite fully confident in their ability just yet, you’d find ways to bring them in and highlight their abilities. You’d be confident in your own position and excited about what they might be able to bring to the team. You’d be willing to take a step back at times, in order to let them lead and grow. You’d celebrate your new partners!

When we set aside our own ego and make a conscious choice to make each other look good, we all end up looking great, we take full advantage of the talent on our team and have a lot more fun in the process.