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The Strict Rule Lorne Michaels Makes Everyone Follow On The Set Of SNL

"Saturday Night Live" has become a comedy institution. It's a place where predominantly up-and-comers can show up to hone their skills and perform in front of a national audience. And it's all possible thanks to the guidance of Lorne Michaels.

He's been with the show since its beginnings in the 1970s, and he's still there to ensure each and every performance goes off without a hitch (or as few hitches as possible). With him at the helm, he's redefined what's possible within the confines of sketch comedy, but there's another comedic medium some people may be surprised doesn't have as much of a presence on "SNL" — improv.

Improvisation is the art form of basically making things up on the spot for comedic effect. When done well, it can be quite funny, but according to reports, Michaels can't stand it on his show, and he's not afraid to lay down the law to anyone who doesn't abide on "SNL."

Lorne Michaels believes improv messes with the flow of a live sketch show

It'd be easy to assume that Lorne Michaels just doesn't like improv, but based on evidence, it appears the opposite is actually true. Over the years, he hired plenty of improv performers to become "SNL" cast members. In an interview with Vulture, Michaels lent praise to Upright Citizens Brigade, which deals heavily with improvisation. Instead, he just doesn't like improv making its way onto his show for one very good reason. 

In that same interview with Vulture, Michaels commented how with a live sketch show, people need to be in their places at a given time so that camera shots look right. Improvising a line or an extra beat could throw off the entire momentum of a sketch, resulting in something that doesn't look right on camera. And since it's a live show, there are no redos. Everything has to go perfectly the first time around, which is why Michaels has been so strict about his "No improv" rule.

Damon Wayans famously ran afoul of this rule when he switched up a character during a sketch, leading to an awkward scene where no one else knew how to react. Michaels promptly fired him from the show. Adrien Brody was also banned from hosting "SNL" when he unexpectedly dressed up in a Rastafarian outfit and donned a Jamaican accent to introduce Sean Paul as the musical guest. When it comes to "Saturday Night Live," it pays to stick to the script.