When I called Lorne Michaels to talk about writing this piece, he mentioned that he’d been in the TIME 100 once before, in 2008. And I wondered, Who could TIME have chosen in between as having more influence in comedy?
I’ve had the pleasure of trailing Lorne during an episode of Saturday Night Live, editing as he goes, writing as he goes, directing as he goes. Hard to think of anyone more skilled at discovering extraordinary comedic performers, who have gone on to become household names in their own right. It’s no wonder SNL‘s takes on current events have made headlines for 40 years.
But as Lorne’s friend, I know that he is graciously suspect of admiration, and he understands that a discussion or dissection of humor is doomed to be dull. His credo: be funny and get on with it. (Note to TIME: if this is too short, please remember that brevity is the soul of wit. If this is too long, ask Lorne for help—he’s good at editing.)
Nicholson is a three-time Oscar-winning actor