“I felt depressed that I just felt like I was failing at it,” the comedian, 38, told Seth Meyers during the 92Y virtual talk on Tuesday, August 25. “That was the hardest part. And I didn’t quite know how to not feel that way or how to get out of that feeling.”
He added that it was hard facing criticism, but he would read comments online in an effort to improve his performance. However, some of the feedback wasn’t constructive.
“Sometimes I would be reading things because I wanted to learn,” Jost recalled. “I wanted to get feedback in order to figure out how to be better, but then some of it’s constructive, but most isn’t. Most is just personal attacks about either the way you look or sound. Then you get more in your head.”
Jost started his Saturday Night Live career as a writer in 2005. He and Michael Che replaced Meyers, 46, on Weekend Update in 2014. The New York native said that he thought he understood the challenges of working on the show but realized cohosting Weekend Update was a different ball game.
“I had felt successful at our show as a writer up until that point,” Jost said. “You’re constantly humbled and beaten down about certain things, but I felt like I knew the lay of the land.”
The How to Be Single star explained that he didn’t have the “feel or rhythm” working on Weekend Update that he had as a writer. “I lost that all and didn’t have the confidence doing it. And it really threw me for a while,” he said.
Ultimately, Jost said that he feels “lucky” that he was able to do the segment and received a crash course in comedy.
“It’s hard and there’s no way of getting better at it other than doing it more,” he said. “There’s no other place you can go to practice doing a live Weekend Update. There’s nothing like it.”
As Jost has settled into a routine on Saturday Night Live, he’s also reached a stable place in his relationship with his fiancée, Scarlett Johansson, whom he proposed to in May 2019. He told Howard Stern in July that he used to be concerned about how his personal life would affect his career.
“I worried about my identity with it and also with comedy,” he explained. “You work in comedy, so, I was always worried about anything that felt non-comedy or took me out of the world of comedy.”
He added, “You have to keep your own identity and do your own thing.”
With reporting by Lexi Ciccone