Book Review: Saturday Night Live FAQ by Stephen Tropiano

Written by Chris Morgan

Saturday Night Live has been on for decades, and book upon book has been written about it. However, many of those books are about behind the scenes tensions and scandals and such. On the other hand, Saturday Night Live FAQ by Stephen Tropiano is about getting you as many facts as possible into a book about the show. Is it possible to stuff so many years of TV into one book, and to make it interesting and coherent? Yes, and yes.

This book is basically designed to be an encyclopedia about Saturday Night Live. It begins with a historical rundown of the show, from its creation until the modern day. This is told in a more narrative style, with some attention paid to detail, with perhaps a bit more time devoted to the early days of the show and the original cast. The book is up to date enough that Tropiano gets the chance to talk about Stefon’s final Weekend Update and take shots at Lana Del Ray.

After this, the book catalogues some other aspects of the show in a slightly more broad, “just the facts” detail. You can read little bios of all the cast members, get a list of some of the hosts, including the more unusual ones, a bit of stuff on the musical acts, Weekend Update, catchphrases, and, of course, SNL movies. Let’s all read up about the Pat movie! The book also includes an extensive appendix listing every episode, with its hosts and musical acts and all that good stuff.

There is a lot of detail in this book, but it is mostly just detail. After all, as previously stated, this book is an encyclopedia more or less. It is, in a way, intended to answer frequently asked questions and such. After his prologue, Tropiano mostly sticks to objectivity. He’s just here to let you know things about Saturday Night Live, and the book does tell you a ton of stuff. Some of it is just trivial and basic, but the earlier parts of the book, when he gets the chance to go into more depth and to tell the history of the show, has some more to sink your teeth into. The prose is simple and easy to follow. There is no interest in clever turns of phrase or anything here. He’s just about getting you the information, and he does it clearly and efficiently

As such, this book is really just for people who want to learn about SNL. And unless you are an expert on the show, you will probably learn some stuff. However, if you are an expert, you likely won’t get a ton from it. If you aren’t interested in Saturday Night Live as a TV show, and you just want dirt or something, this also isn’t really for you. If you are interested in SNL, though, this is definitely a book you may want to pick up. It is packed with information that is presented well. You will know a lot about the show. You will know every cast member. You will know many a catchphrase. You will see some cool photos of memorabilia scattered throughout, such as early promotional materials and stuff along those lines. There is a lot of facts and stories about Saturday Night Live thanks to its long run, and Tropiano’s book will help you learn a bunch of the good stuff.

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