"Saturday Night Live" is notorious for rewriting sketches up until the last minute, but last weekend's parody of the first presidential debate between Romney and Obama proved to be one of the most challenging in the show's 38-year history, according to writers speaking to Bill Carter of the New York Times.

James Downey, a longtime "SNL" scribe who has penned the bulk of the show's political sketches since the '70s, told Carter that this debate did not have any obvious comedic hooks, unlike the others he's written. “I can never remember one that didn’t have something,” he told Carter.

Co-head writer and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers agreed, telling Carter that while he watched the debate, nothing jumped out as obvious fodder.

Ultimately, the sketch presented a distracted President Obama as concerned about getting an anniversary gift for his wife, while Mitt Romney told outlandish lies about his record, including being responsible for killing Osama bin Laden.

The sketch was completed only about five hours before the show aired live.

All eyes are on "Saturday Night Live" right now, as the show is experiencing a transition year and an election year during the same season. Several key cast members recently departed, including Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg, and three new featured players have joined.

Additionally, the role of President Obama has been handed over from Fred Armisen to Jay Pharoah, creating an opportunity for rejuvenated political parody as well as increased pressure to perform.

The show's ratings are up from the previous season, although the Daniel Craig episode was the lowest rated of this season so far. Either way, the show consistently is the most-watched telecast on Saturday nights, making it a valuable commodity for NBC.

Next week's episode will be hosted by Christina Applegate, and will presumably feature a parody of the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden (Jason Sudeikis) and Paul Ryan (Taran Killam). Meyers has said that this debate is the one he's most looking forward to writing.

For more behind-the-scenes insight, click over to The New York Times.

Also on HuffPost:

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  • 1976: Ford/Carter

    Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford: "It was my understanding that there would be no math."

  • 1976: Ford/Carter

    We all want to read "Transsexuals In Politics."

  • 1976: Ford/Carter

    Ford "enjoys swimming, football, and inexplicably sending men into Cambodia."

  • 1980: Consolation Debate

    George Bush (Jim Downey) and Ted Kennedy (Bill Murray) hold a "consolation debate" to see who gets the bronze medal.

  • 1988: Bush/Dukakis

    Dana Carvey as George H.W. Bush: "On track. Stay the course. A thousand points of light. Stay the course." Jon Lovitz as Michael Dukakis: "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy."

  • 1992: Democratic Debate

    Jerry Brown (Dana Carvey) and Bill Clinton (Phil Hartman) decide what and what not to talk about during the Democratic debate.

  • 1992: Bush / Clinton / Perot

    Watch Dana Carvey pull double duty playing both George Bush and Ross Perot.

  • 1996: Dole / Clinton

    The only animated "SNL" debate gets the TV Funhouse treatment and uses the real audio from the Clinton/Dole match-up.

  • 2000: Gore / Bush

    Harkening the new era of "SNL" political comedy were the Bush/Gore debate. "Lock box" and "strategery" became instant catchphrases.

  • 2000: Gore / Bush

    Undecided voters, what are we going to do with them?

  • 2004: Kerry / Bush

    Bush (Will Forte) some times has to work Saturdays, "if that's what it takes."

  • 2004: Town Hall Meeting

    John Kerry (Seth Meyers) zings Bush by calling him not the Commander in Chief, but rather "Meandering Thief." Oh, goodness.

  • 2004: Kerry / Bush

    We really enjoyed the "World Literature" debate, the "Sports Trivia" one was a little hard to follow.

  • 2008: Democratic Debate

    "SNL" took on the widespread perception that the press was in the tank for Obama during the Democratic primary.

  • 2008: Democratic Debate

    Here's some classic Amy Poehler as Hillary. In this one, Brian Williams tells Sen. Clinton, "Excuse me, we'll ask the questions here, sister."

  • 2008: McCain / Obama

    "McCain Proposal: Candidates Suspend Campaign, Stage Three Nude Town Hall Meetings."

  • 2008: VP Debate: Palin / Biden

    Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and Jason Sudeikis as Joe Biden is a match-up made in comedy heaven.

  • 2008: Town Hall Meeting (Part 1)

    McCain (Darrell Hammond) has a lot of trouble remembering names.

  • 2008: Town Hall Meeting (Part 2)

    William Murray has an important question. However, everyone needs to pay attention to time.

  • 2008: Obama / McCain

    Joe The Plumber humor ensues. Don't worry, he has a magical plumber that could maybe fix America (who may or may not be imaginary).

  • 2012: GOP Undeclared Candidates Debate

    "SNL" couldn't wait to pump out debate sketches as soon as the GOP started chomping at the bit to beat Obama.

  • 2012: Either The 7th Or 8th GOP Debate

    Alec Baldwin as Rick Perry! Yes, please. Perry says, "Rick Perry only listens to two people, Jesus Christ and Rachel Maddow."

  • 2012: Yet Another GOP Debate

    Ron Paul might actually still be in that parking garage somewhere.

  • 2012: GOP Debate

    We wish Rick Perry were still in the race just to see Bill Hader's impression.