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The Cleveland Show
May 04 2012, 11:55 AM by Christine Montgomery
This Saturday night, sports and comedy fans alike will have the chance to judge whether or not Quarter Back Eli Manning is funnier than his brother. Since Peyton Manning hosted Saturday Night Live in 2007, Executive Producer Lorne Michaels has been pursuing Eli to take his turn on stage, but it took winning a second Super Bowl to convince Eli to step into the spotlight. We have Lorne Michaels and Eli Manning answering the questions everyone is asking: who is the funnier Manning, what advice Peyton is giving Eli about hosting SNL, and which classic Saturday Night Live sketches inspired Eli Manning to make an appearance on the show.
Lorne, can you talk about what you think Eli will bring as a host, and how long you’ve been pursuing him to do it?
LORNE: (We've been) pursing a long time. I think he’s both charming and radiates a certain kind of intelligence. I don’t know how to say this, but you sort of believe that he doesn’t take himself that seriously. I mean, I think he takes his work very seriously, but there’s a sort of essential modesty to him and I think that plays well with what we do. If the host is spending a lot of time protecting an image, it’s exhausting, particularly for us.
Eli, what’s the advice you’ve gotten from Peyton about hosting?
ELI: Peyton, the main thing he said (was) “Just enjoy the week.” You know, it is a lot of fun. It is work and you’re doing, something you’re not quite used to doing, but he said, “The one thing you are used to doing is live, and that’s something you do every week and during the football season.” So he said, “Just enjoy being with the writers and stay - try to hang around as much you can and work with them and just follow guidance. They’re the ones that are funny and know how to do this."
... Actually, about 15 minutes before I got on this call John Madden called me, and he hosted a show back in the day, and he really gave me the same piece of advice that the fun part is during the week and being with the cast. And he was kind of asking if they did things the same way, kind of the same schedule, routine, and it is. It’s really similar to when he did it many years ago.
Lorne, who’s the funnier Manning?
LORNE: We won’t really know that until Saturday. It’s been great so far. In about three hours, we’ll read 40 to 45 pieces looking for 12 to 13. And we won’t really know what we’re going to be choosing until after that, because no matter what we thought of it, if it isn’t playing we don’t move forward with it then. And we want t to make sure that these are the best - this show is built around Eli and you just want to make sure that we have the best possible things to this week’s show, and no one really trusts it until we read it.
And so, we’ll see what that’s about. People have been working right through the night, and as I said, we’ll read 40 to 50 pieces, so we’ll know more in about six hours. We’ll have made all the choices in about five or six hours. And then, we will still be about half hour long and everything will then go through rewrites, and then we will rehearse about half of it and the music with Rhianna tomorrow. And then, by the time we leave on Friday around Midnight or 1 o’clock we will have done everything a couple times in its rewritten form.
Is the process of putting on the show different when you have an athlete rather than a performer hosting?
LORNE: Surprisingly not that much. The good part about athletes is that they’re used to being in front of large groups of people and not knowing how it’s going to turn out. And that’s kind of the only real preparation for us is because we won’t - we don’t really know until dress rehearsal what’s beginning to work and what’s not working. And then, there’s a lot of course correction. You go, “Well, if we do this this way it might work better,” and there’s still some risk involved.
Eli, has the process matched up with your expectations? Has the cast pulled any pranks on you?
ELI: No, there’s been no pranks so far! Everybody, the whole cast, and writers have been very nice. I’ve only got to spend a little time with each of them so far, and just hearing some of their ideas and what they’re thinking about doing. So, I’ve tried to - if they have any questions or just try to let them get a little sense of my personality and it’s been great so far.
What was your favourite skit growing up?
ELI: I guess, Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze doing the dancing like the Chippendales. That’s always a classic. You know, if I truly sat down and thought of it I would think of ten - just kind of a top ten, and then from there maybe pick the all-time, but that’s one that always kind of pops in my head. (It's) just a classic scene.
But the years it’s fun watching. I have a pretty good collection of of the best of SNL from several different cast members that are always fun to watch and see the behind the scenes and some of their tryouts for the show, and those types of things. I am a fan and watch the show and that style of humour, I appreciate it.
Watch Saturday Night Live Saturday at 11.30 et/pt.