Last night, Saturday Night Live kicked off its 40th season (did you watch it!). It's a major milestone to be sure, but how exactly is it made? Countless books have been written on the subject but established actor and fledgling documentarian James Franco tries to capture the tortuous late nights and constant rehearsals required to make America laugh.

Saturday Night isn't an amazing example of a truly well-crafted documentary. The entire 90-minute film feels more like a home movie, with grainy shots, and few pacing issues, and tons of shaky camera work, but the material is so compelling and the subjects so magnetic that its well worth your time. The mad rush between scenes, the head-scratching late nights writing sketches, and the exhausting process behind it all will make you appreciate SNL that much more. There's also a fart machine sequence and a bag of dicks reference. Comedy gold.


Saturday Night follows the entire cast and crew, from the writers, actors, set and costume designers, through the week long production process of putting together just one episode of SNL. The particular weekend evening in question is John Malkovich's host appearance on Dec. 6, 2008 (which you can watch in its entirety on Hulu).

It's a concept we've seen before in films like 6 Days to Air that shows what it takes to make a single episode of the Comedy Central animated series South Park, which also follows a weekly production schedule. Whereas that film was shot in 2011, Franco took much longer to get his film out to the public. First, the project transformed from a mini-doc to full-length feature and Franco also forgot to get NBC's permission to actually make the thing. Whoops.


After clearing those hurdles, Saturday Night is finally streaming on Hulu Plus. [Hulu Plus]

Images via Hulu