Who is John Bowman? At the end of this past episode of Saturday Night Live, the show aired a tribute card in his honor.
For those unfamiliar with the behind-the-scenes workings of the SNL writers’ room, Bowman was an important part of the staff from 1988-89. He was a part of the team that scored an Emmy win for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series at that particular point in time. He later went on to be a writer on In Living Color and down the road, helped to co-create the incredibly popular comedy Martin starring Martin Lawrence. He’s another example of someone taking their SNL experience, however brief, and turning it into something spectacular after the fact.
Tragically, Bowman passed away late last month in Los Angeles, which is why the show chose to honor him on this weekend’s new episode. If you are a part of SNL for one season or fifteen, you remain a part of this family forever. There is no other experience quite like working on this show, and every single person in the industry knows it. It requires long hours, endless creativity, and a collaborative spirit to think of the weirdest, wildest things possible to put on TV. Then, you also have to navigate network notes and whatever is thrown at you from an executive end.
Tribute cards are one of the best ways that a show can honor someone who made invaluable contributions in some way. They remain a part of all subsequent airings and with that, they inspire people to do further research and understand what they meant to that particular program. Over the years, Saturday Night Live has done a fantastic job finding different ways to honor people who were once a part of the show. We saw another example of that earlier this season with Norm Macdonald. They understand that there’s no way that this would still be an institution almost 50 years in without so many people behind the scenes.
Our thoughts go out to John Bowman’s family and all who lived him during this continually difficult time. (Photo: NBC.)