Everything about “Saturday Night Live” has become abysmal, including some attributes it shares with other TV comedy shows. Let me explain.

Even when SNL does topical skits, they aren’t particularly clever — and never edgy. That’s because Lorne Michaels doesn’t want to risk the show being perceived as having a point of view — particularly a liberal one. If it did, how would he be able to book surprise cameos by right-wingers like Nikki Haley? I was shocked this weekend’s cold open had Scarlett Johannson playing Alabama senator Katie Britt giving the Republican response to Biden’s State Of The Union rather than flying the crazy kitchen lady in to do it herself.

I’m guessing no one on the show recognizes how poor the writing has gotten because the over-hyped studio audience laughs and applauds at everything. Even in the few instances when they don’t, like during Weekend Update, Michael Che looks at them as if to say, “Why didn’t you go crazy for that like you do everything else?” 

To which any honest audience member would reply, “Because it wasn’t funny. It had the pacing of a joke, with what sounded like a setup and a punchline, but none of it worked.”

Bill Maher has repeatedly scolded his crowds for what he thought was a negative reaction, because he, too, can’t admit something came out of his mouth that was not hysterical. Long ago, his audience became trained to be overly supportive hyenas, so he’s actually surprised when they don’t react positively to everything he utters.

Note that I didn’t say laugh. These audiences don’t do that. They applaud, particularly if the joke fits their political agenda. The difference is that laughter is an involuntary act. When it isn’t, the result always sounds strained — and because so much of what passes for comedy on television misses the mark, you get claps instead.

In sitcoms, audience applause can be disruptive. Once his character Kramer grew in popularity, “Seinfeld” studio audiences erupted as soon as Michael Richards made his first entrance through Jerry’s door, just as “Happy Days” fans went nuts whenever Fonzie walked in. Larry David has said that once it occurred a few times, he made the audience warmup people tell the crowd beforehand not to do that because it screwed up the timing of the scenes.

In late night, this phenomenon has gone way past the overzealous clapping phase. Now, every guest on every show gets a standing ovation, even when they’re someone the audience has never heard of, particularly journalists and authors. Sure, it’s an ego boost for showbiz folk, most of whom already live in a cocoon of admiration and sycophancy, for whom mere applause isn’t enough. But leaping to your feet for an actor you’ve never seen from a show you don’t watch that streams on a platform you don’t subscribe to? Way too much.

Why does the studio audience react that way? Because they’ve been told to do so before the show — and they’ve seen everyone else do it when they watched from home and learned that’s how you’re supposed to act now. No one wants to be the only person caught by a panning camera sitting calmly while everyone else is standing euphorically.

On SNL, Colin Jost always gets squeals from the show’s young, white, female fans when he says his own name at the beginning of Weekend Update — but his co-anchor Michael Che doesn’t. Why do you suppose that is? After all, they both tell the same badly written jokes that barely elicit a smirk, let alone a laugh.

And then there are the unsatisfying imitations. During its half-century on the air, SNL has employed some very gifted impressionists: Eddie Murphy, Darrell Hammond, Maya Rudolph, Dana Carvey. In the current cast, Chloe Fineman and James Austin Johnson are reliable mimics.

But the problem with them, as with anyone who does impressions for a living, isn’t just getting the voice down. They also have to say funny things in that voice. If you’re technically good, but comedically bad, you’ve failed in your mission on a comedy show. But if you have great material, doing the voice perfectly doesn’t even matter. Just come close and let some funny words win the day (go watch clips of Melissa Villaseñor as AOC, Will Ferrell as George W. Bush, Jim Breuer as Joe Pesci).

When SNL first went on the air, it had a cast of seven sketch performers. Now, the show has something like seventeen — plus three writers who do filmed skits under the collective name Please Don’t Destroy (which for some reason also gets instant applause the moment it shows up on screen). 

That’s so many people that once the top-tier performers have all been assigned to sketches in the first half of the show, there are very few crumbs left for the rest — none of whom have shown any breakout potential. In SNL terms, that means they haven’t created a character with a catchphrase or some idiosyncrasy to be exploited multiple times in each season. 

You know, the kind of stuff the audience can recognize quickly and applaud wildly.

Michaels has said he might give up control of SNL after its fiftieth season, which means next year. Maybe his successor will offer an honest assessment of how far the show has gone off the rails and make the show both relevant and funny again. Nah, they’ll probably give it to Pete Davidson.