Colin Jost stopped in Aspen last summer with his “Weekend Update” co-anchor, Michael Che, for an unlikely appearance at the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival. There, the Saturday Night Live pair answered hardball questions from moderator Chris Matthews in an awkward exchange that Che later called “a bad idea.” For fans of the duo, their comedic banter was still entertaining.
Jost, however, returns this February in a more familiar and friendly light—for comedy. The 35-year-old face of “Weekend Update” and co-head-writer for SNL is having a moment, thanks in part to today’s political climate. “It’s insane now. A huge news story on Monday or Tuesday will seem like nothing by Saturday,” he says. And because his political-satire news desk airs live on the weekend, the shortened deadline has made the end of the week crunch time for Jost and Che. “It’s exciting because everyone’s paying attention, but it’s also surreal how quickly things move now,” he says.
The nine-time Emmy nominee and Peabody Award winner is no stranger to editorializing. Jost is a Staten Island, N.Y., native and went to Harvard University, where he spent “every waking hour of my college life” at The Harvard Lampoon, the college’s satirical newspaper. “That’s the first time I discovered that people applied to jobs and got jobs in comedy,” he says. He ditched his initial plan to work for Merrill Lynch—where he interned in high school—and joined the SNL staff at 22. “And I think the most important thing was to hang out with people who made you laugh all day.”
Now, making people chuckle is his daily reality, between continuing to tour as a stand-up comedian and in his senior role at SNL. He says he’s always thinking about comedy in some form, and playing out whether jokes could work on “Weekend Update” or in an onstage set. And while he’s at home under the SNL spotlight—for which almost 10 million people tune in weekly—touring is still part of his routine, and he keeps up in off-weeks or in the summer, when the show takes a hiatus.
But there are no breaks for the hardworking Jost, who’s got to keep up with tomorrow’s headlines before they appear. As far as forecasts go for the coming year? “I kind of predict that they’ll find something huge, like a damning piece of evidence, that will implicate a bunch of people in the White House. And I think it might not matter,” says Jost. Either way, he’ll be able to make people laugh about it. Feb. 23, 7:30pm, tickets $75, Wheeler Opera House, 320 E. Hyman Ave., aspenshowtix.com