Back Stage With SNL's Luke Null 11

Lakota East Graduate Shines Onscreen

Luke Null has always been a funny guy.


He’s the kind who can take a small part and make it hilarious. He thrives in the spotlight. And earlier this year, that natural ability got the 27-year-old West Chester native cast in the 43rd season of Saturday Night Live—a lifelong dream come true.


At Lakota East High School, the 2008 grad’s first role as a freshman was, ironically, to play a dead body with no spoken lines in the play Arsenic and Old Lace. Shortly after, his breakout role was Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie.


“Acting was an interest of mine and certainly doing shows in high school is helpful,” Null recalls. “East was great to perform at. It’s where I got the acting bug and the comedy bug, and for that, I’ll always be thankful.”


After starring in a slew of high school productions, Null went on to perform stand-up comedy and improv while at Ohio University studying Geographic Information Systems.


After graduating, he moved to Chicago and began taking classes at the iO Theater (formerly ImprovOlympic Theater) and the Annoyance Theater, run by award-winning director Mick Napier. Null then began performing around town in his improv group, Law Dog.


He caught the eye of Charna Halpern, co-founder of the iO Theater, and Null was chosen among 10 others from the theater to audition for SNL during their yearly rounds at iO and The Second City Training Centre.


Null describes what it felt like to audition for Lorne Michaels, renowned creator of Saturday Night Live.


“I don’t care who you are; if you go into that room and stage test for SNL you will be nervous,” Null laughs. “You’re on the stage that the hosts come on. And anyone who’s been up there will tell you, you’re not going to shake it.”


Null was cast on SNL in 2017 after an intense audition process. Now, his busy New York City life includes a rigorous weekly schedule preparing for each live show.


“You’re expected to write every week for the show,” Null explains. “I write an all-nighter every Tuesday night. I get a little challenged by the schedule, but it’s nuts because your body essentially get used to running on no sleep.”


According to Null, part of being a new cast member is always being on your toes.


“It’s a lot of paying my dues and keeping my head down,” Null says. “You get used to them cutting stuff, even inside of the live show. They find new ways to surprise you with bad news, but mostly it’s really fun,” he laughs.


Some proud moments this season include when one of Null’s sketches—which he wrote and performed in—was chosen to appear in the live show. If you’re an avid SNL viewer, you may recognize the sketch, “Floribama Shore,” a spoof on the MTV reality show of the same name. Another highlight for Null was when he was recognized by SNL alum and comedic genius Will Ferrell.


“I was in this one sketch on a plane, just beatboxing in the background…and it was Will Ferrell’s week hosting,” Null explains. “He came up afterwards and said, ‘Man you’re making that so funny.’ He basically gave me a pat on the back for making the most out of a small part.”


Fulfilling a comic’s dream of performing on SNL this year has only added fuel to Null’s creative fire. He plans to continue performing live and aspires to create more.


“I would love to write and develop my own show some day,” Null shares. “I also wouldn’t mind playing small parts in other shows…I love performing live, and I’m still writing comedy songs and other sketches that I’m going to pitch to SNL. It’s extremely rewarding.”


Saturday Night Live concluded its current season on May 19, and you can catch the West Chester native on re-runs until his next performance.

What’s It Like to Audition for SNL?


SNL comes to Second City and iO Theater once a year, and you spend March, April and May doing five minutes of characters, bits and songs to show them your stuff,” Null explains. “I got picked to audition, and then SNL called…and they took a few of us out for drinks. Then, they flew me out to New York, had me do my stuff, called me back, and then asked me to write all new material. They flew me back a week later, I wrote a new five-minute sketch [to perform] and they liked me. And then after meeting with Lorne Michaels they hired me.”