I was just watching Saturday Night Live for the first time this season. They cut the cast to 11 members because they were facing budget cuts, so it's not as good.
I was wondering, if they had budget cuts, why not deal with it by letting the Saturday Night Live Band go, so it's not as good. The Saturday Night Live band is like 15 members so it must have been consuming a heavy chunk of the payroll, and all they do is play over the opening credits anyway. Couldn't you have had them just record it in a studio, pay them for that, and just play prerecorded music. I know it's a live show but how much would really be lost if the band weren't playing live. I'm not entirely sure since i've never seen the show being taped in person, but I think they also play during commercial breaks in between sketches (judging by the fact that as the show goes to commercial break, music starts playing). Well, how about this, you already have a musical act booked every week? if it's a single singer like Ashley Simpson or Clay Aiken or the singer that was there last night, who brings a band with them, why not have the band play a little between commercials. I understand a singer's voice might get strained a little doing that.
I think that the Saturday Night Live band is secondary to the quality of the show and I'd argue that with only 11 performers, the show squandered what could have been a run created by its first good season in years by cutting cast members and not hiring any replacements in their place.