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Emmys hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost discuss the big night, their evolving partnership and Tina Fey's advice

Emmys hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost discuss the big night, their evolving partnership and Tina Fey's advice
Colin Jost and Michael Che will host the Emmys for the first time on Sept. 17. (Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC)

To host this year’s Emmy ceremony, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences tapped “Saturday Night Live” wunderkinder Michael Che and Colin Jost (OK, they’re in their mid-30s but look younger). Che and Jost are co-hosts of the venerable “Weekend Update” segment of the sketch comedy and are also co-head writers on the show. They chatted with The Envelope via email about their creative partnership and their upcoming high-profile hosting gig.

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When you two learned you’d be paired on “SNL,” what was your initial reaction? When did you first realize it was going to work?

Colin Jost: My initial reaction was: “I’m so happy I still have a job.” I didn’t know whether I’d be doing “Update” at all, or who I’d be doing it with. Then I found out it was with Michael and I was really excited to figure it out together because we always had similar ideas about what’s funny, even though we come at it from different angles. About two years later, I thought it could work. And then a year or two after that I thought it was finally starting to work. It’s a process. A sometimes awful and overwhelming process. But we dealt with the awful parts together, and that only helped us get closer.

Michael Che: It was all a blur to me. It’s not really for me to say when or if it works. Comedy is subjective. But I started having fun the second season or third season.

What is your collaboration like? Do you give each other, say, one veto per “Update”? How do you think you improve each other’s work?

Che: I kind of write in my own little world. Every joke is different. We try to make sure we’re not saying the same jokes or covering the same topics just so we can cover more ground. But as far as writing, I still don’t understand my process.

Jost: The main way Michael improves my work is by shaming me about my worst instincts. Before Michael arrived, I tried a segment called “Breaking Nudes” and it cut to a bunch of nude breakdancers for 10 seconds. I think Michael would have shamed me out of doing that joke.

Are you fond of awards shows generally?

Che: I remember liking the MTV awards when I was a kid.

Jost: Eh. I think most of the time they’re way too self-serious and focused on things that 99% of the country doesn’t care about. At the end of the day, it’s adults getting trophies. Why should that be taken seriously? And remember when movies like “Gladiator” won best picture? Why can’t good, fun things win and not just good artsy things? They’re both good and the fun ones are sometimes a lot harder to make.

Were there folks you knew you had to have on your writing staff for the show, or is it mostly going to be your “SNL” crew? Have you gotten any guidelines on do’s and don’ts from the television academy?

Che: I think it is mostly the “SNL” crew. I probably won’t have a clue about what I’m going to say until about 30 minutes before we go to air. I haven’t heard any guidelines yet, but I don’t know that it matters anyway.

You guys actually know a bunch of previous awards-show hosts, including several Emmy hosts. Have any of them given you what seems like good advice (maybe it’s actually terrible advice … you don’t know yet)?

Jost: Tina [Fey] told us to keep it moving, which is great advice for almost any situation or occupation in history. Except if you’re one of those guys who pretends to be a statue.

Are there any shows or performers that didn’t get nominated that you really wish had been honored?

Jost: I was – and I rarely use this word more than 10 times a day – flabbergasted that Kyle MacLachlan was not nominated for best actor in a Whatever-That-Category-Is-Called. He played at least four different versions of Dale Cooper in the new “Twin Peaks” and was amazing at all of them (I thought Laura Dern should have been nominated as well, but at least she got recognized for “The Tale”). It’s amazing that the first “Twin Peaks” series got overlooked in the early ’90s and for 25 years people talked about how crazy it was that it got overlooked. And now the new series is going through the same exact thing! It’s like if we had gone through a world war and then 25 years later we had another world war! It wouldn’t make sense!

Also, I love “Detroiters.”

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