Lorne Michaels Says 'SNL' Remote Episodes Were Not an Option This Season: "I Need an Audience"

Lorne Michaels attends the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival opening night premiere of Love, Gilda  - Getty -H 2019
Jim Spellman/WireImage

"I think [returning to the studio] was all I talked about all summer," says the show's creator and gatekeeper.

Lorne Michaels was bound and determined to have Saturday Night Live return to Studio 8H with an audience this season.

Speaking with Willie Geist for the upcoming episode of Sunday TODAY, the sketch show's creator and gatekeeper said remote episodes, like those done last season due to the pandemic, were not an option.

"I think [returning to the studio] was all I talked about all summer," Michaels tells Geist in a preview. "And leading up to it, it was, 'I need an audience.' Because, we're taking big swings, and they're hard jokes. When you don't hear any sound, it throws the timing off. The thing that the audience does is it is the plug that makes the circuit work."

Michaels also touched on the health and safety measures in place so the show could take place, which includes the cast wearing masks "up until the red light goes on."

As far as the season premiere two weeks ago, Michaels said the cold open debate between Alec Baldwin's Trump and Jim Carrey's Biden was being written up until the very last second due to the actual Trump revealing just prior that he had been inflected with COVID-19.

"I don't think the final version of it got to dress rehearsal. Most often, we don't even attempt until Friday," Michales said of political sketches.

As for whether people need a good laugh from SNL right now, Michael responded they do. "I just think it's our job and that's what we do," he said.

Watch the preview here.