An ‘SNL’ Actor Explains How TikTok Influences Hiring on the Show, More

  • Jon Madray has been acting on “Saturday Night Live” since 2016.
  • He landed the gig through a personal connection but said TikTok has greatly influenced hiring since.
  • He breaks down how the short-video app has influenced the show’s filming style and talent.

“Saturday Night Live” actor Jon Madray waited months for a reply that never came when he first reached out to an executive on the show to express his interest in joining the cast. Two years later, after giving up hope on the coveted gig, he heard back from a representative who said he was being added to the show’s roster.

“It was a shot in the dark, which eventually paid off,” said Madray, who got the contact information from a college friend who knew someone on the show.

Since 2016, Madray has been on-call every Friday and Saturday while the show films; if he’s needed, he travels to the studio to read, rehearse, and then participate in the live skits the sketch-comedy show is known for.

If Madray were trying to land a spot on “SNL” today, though, he might have taken a different route. He said TikTok has completely changed several aspects of the comedy industry, including talent recruitment.

Now, “SNL” uses the app to spot talent like Marcello Hernandez, who blew up on TikTok and became a regular cast member on the show. 

“The algorithm is amazing and shows you exactly what you want to see,” Madray said. “If you work on ‘SNL’ and are looking for fresh new faces, you come across so many potential actors.”

He also said the social-media platform has changed the way “SNL” films, particularly the pre-taped segments it uses to promote the live show. Recently, he said, the show has been experimenting with shooting content vertically so it can fit the frame of a TikTok video.

“SNL” has even drawn on TikTok for material. Madray referenced a pre-taped segment with artist Billie Eilish who acted out several viral TikTok trends.

“They’re inserting jokes that take place online so they can be a part of the cultural conversation,” he said. 

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