Monday: Fairly easy, basically a brainstorming session covering current events. Meet the guest host.
Tuesday: The hardest day; the writers come in at 1 or 2 in the afternoon, start writing and don't stop until 5 or 6 in the morning, or later. Tucker usually ends up working on two to four sketches, and the host comes around the individual offices to give input.
Wednesday: The cast and staff (50 people or so) sit around a big table and read through every sketch, which takes around four hours. The interior politics of the show can be seen here. Established writers pitch their sketches first, leaving newer writers to go over their ideas at the end of the long session, when everyone is tired. Creator Lorne Michaels and producers then pick 11-13 sketches from around 45 to perform for dress rehearsal. If a writer's sketch is chosen, he or she talks to wardrobe, makeup, set designers, basically producing the sketch.
Thursday: The writers split into two groups and sit around two tables to go through each of the skits and try to make them better: editing, cutting and adding lines. They also start blocking the sketches, or showing the actors where they need to be located on the set. This lasts until 10 p.m.
Friday: More blocking rehearsal as well as practicing for the monologue and "the cold open," the sketch before opening credits.
Saturday: Show day. There's a dress rehearsal from 1 to 4 p.m., when the sketches are performed in real time and in costume. There's another dress rehearsal at 8 p.m. before another audience (not the final TV audience). This is when Michaels and the other producers sharpen their axes. The writers of each sketch sit with Michaels underneath the audience bleachers for final feedback.
"If it doesn't get laughs, it's horrible to be under there," Tucker says.
After rehearsal, the producers go into a room, finalize the order of the show, and cut two or three sketches. Then at 10:45, everyone is called into a room to look at a big bulletin board, where the order of the show is set. Around 11, everyone gets ready and writers keep rewriting until the last second.
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