Sep 15, 2008

SNL = Seriously...not laughing

I remember when I used to look forward to Saturday nights for something other than a drunken binge at the pub or a pop-in to the local cinema to see the latest Wesley Snipes feature. Saturday Night Live has been a part of my life for a very long time, sadly. I say "sadly" because it has spent far more years seriously lacking in the funny than actually bringing it.

Besides the brilliant impersonation of our possible future VP by Tina Fey in the intro sketch (seriously, did you think they were gonna get anyone else to play her?), the funniest moment in the entire show happened when musical guest Li'l Wayne rocked a guitar solo at the end of one of his forgettable numbers. That was awesomely awful.

Michael Phelps, as the host, proved that he should stay in the water...and never speak in public again. Andy Samberg's hit-or-miss weekly digital short was a huge miss this week. And the newest cast member is this guy from the latest ESPN radio commercial. Guess they felt they needed a Seth Rogan-ish/Jonah Hill-ish character to round out the tribe. He didn't bring the funny either. Especially in the skit which had him playing an annoying ethnic waiter at Pizzeria Uno.

To bring insult to injury, the political season heats up and they have no one on the cast capable of decently playing either John McCain or Barack Obama. So we get Palin and Hillary in the opening act. Bleh! So what has been comedy gold in past presidential elections looks to be an empty mine shaft this time around.

Its only gonna get worse, I'm afraid. Amy Poehler is leaving the cast shortly to join the cast of The Office spin-off. She has been hit or miss with me, but you can generally see that she has talent.

Remember when SNL was relevant and funny?

PS - Saw Burn After Reading this weekend and it was really good. Very different from the trailer. A bit darker and not quite as madcap as they would let you believe. But brilliant acting + absurd situations + The Coen Brothers = wonderful. In my book, at least.

29 comments:

Poppy said...

I whole-heartedly agree with your assessment of Burn After Reading, my thoughts exactly.

As for SNL, for some unknown reason we're watching it again today and it's much funnier. Might be the ice cream and wine I had earlier...

pure evyl said...

Tina did great. Loved her mugging for the camera.

B.E. Earl said...

Poppy - I really wish I hadn't seen (or posted) the trailer. I found myself feeling dissappointed because it wasn't a comedy in the vein of The Big Lebowski. When I put that behind me, I saw how funny it was. In its own way.

Evyl - Too bad she is no longer a cast member, eh?

artfulkisser said...

Oh der - there's your review there... Can't wait to see it.

What I've seen of SNL has been very hit and miss - some great stuff but some incredibly lousy stuff too. I guess understandable given the pressure to produce every week. Given the US presidential election is such a long and drawn out process and ripe for comedic pisstaking (compared to here anyway) I woulda thought that'd be a major consideration during casting, but maybe not.

Avitable said...

Last season, I enjoyed about 40-50% of the skits each night. This season's premiere was pretty miserable. I never understand why they try to have athletes as hosts - they almost always suck, with a few strange exceptions.

I liked the Digital Short, but mainly because I saw it as a parody of the strange Beijing opening ceremony. I also liked the commercial for the jar opener and the T-mobile ad parody. And Weekend Update.

They need to give some of the other cast members some air time, like Bill Hader and Casey whatshername.

I'll keep watching it and fast-forwarding through the shitty skits, because the good ones are totally worth it.

Wil said...

Tina certainly did nail it.

The Trailer Of Love

B.E. Earl said...

AK - All good things come to those blah blah blah, ya know. ;)

Avitable - Recording it and watching it in fast forward is almost the only way to do it nowadays. And weekend update hasn't been the same since Fey left. Amy Poehler is talented but she often seems to try to hard when doing the news. And Seth whatshisname can be funny. Just not doing the news. Casey Wilson...I have high hopes for her. She has been decent in just about everything I've seen her in thus far...you are right. She needs more exposure. The other new guy though...bleh!

Wil - She has become a much better performer since moving to 30 Rock.

Slyde said...

i have not missed an episode of SNL in almost 10 years..

i have no idea why.

i think its for the same nostalgia that you quoted... SNL was the 'cool' thing to watch when i was a kid, and i check in week after week hoping for a comedy gold nugget that almost never appears..

as for their other politcal impressions, fred armisson DOES do barrack pretty well, and im sure darrel hammond could muster up mccain.. he does dick cheney all the time and it wouldnt be a stretch..

but i watch SNL each week from tivo, fast forwarding the 1000 commercials, and usually the musical acts. i can watch the 90 minute show in about 35 minutes...

lotus07 said...

Showing my age, I can recall the first season of SNL. It was back in 1976, when I was in college. Chevy Chase had yet to be replaced by Bill Murray and the stuff was cutting edge. There was nothing funnier than to get drunk and stoned and watch it with my dorm buddies. It has gone up and down since then, but mostly the trend has been downward. There are exceptional standouts from time to time, but the show only serves as a spring board for new talent to either enter other media, or drift into obscurity (what ever happened to Garrett Morse?) I taped last Saturday's installment, and found myself fast forwarding through almost all of it.

Slyde said...

p.s. its ALWAYS painful to watch SNL when a sports person hosts, but phelps was UBER painful.

he should stay underwater as much as possible...

B.E. Earl said...

Lotus - I remember the first season of SNL as well. I was around 10 at the time and my brother and I had a tv in our room, so I always got to stay up on Sat. nite to watch it. I don't really remember the first episode with Carlin, but Buck Henry (twice), Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Rob Reiner, Candice Bergen (twice), Richard Pryor, Louise Lasser (I met her last year), Peter Boyle, Madeline Kahn, and it goes on and on. Incredible season! I remember the Jill Clayburgh episode with Leon Redbone as musical guest as if it just happened last night.

Slyde - There have been one or two sports stars that were funny. Derek Jeter was good. So was Peyton Manning...kinda. And Fred Arminsen's Obaman...eh? Not too impressed.

girlydigs said...

The comment about Michael Phelps cracked me up!!

Tina did a great job.. the resemblence is uncanny!

I miss the old days of SNL... :(

Girly

Melanie said...

I have no cable so spared the entire show. I did watch the Opening on the internet today!

good stuff...

it wont ever be as good as it was... Is MAD TV still on?

Hilly said...

I broke up with SNL after Dick in a Box. I mean, not *because* of it...but shortly thereafter, I realized how much it all sucked and nothing really could compare to that JT episode.

That being said, I have never looked back until all the hype about Tina Fey being on surfaced. I wanted to kill myself by the end of the night, that is how much I think the whole thing sucked ass cakes. The Palin/Hilary skit was awesome but the rest - egads!

Heff said...

I missed the show altogether. Damn, it's got some hype behind it though.

Michelle J said...

b.e. i am a hyper hypo on so many levels. That said, i remember fondly watching SNL when i used to babysit and i thought i was so cool to be able to stay up so late on a Sat night!!! Those were the days huh?? I concur though that through the years it has declined. It no longer makes me laugh. Or barely! Tina Fey though, boy she nailed it. I love that woman!!

I saw Burn after reading and loved it. Brad Pitt cracked me up! But, it was and i think you can agree a story that went nowhere fast!!! :O)

Michelle

B.E. Earl said...

Girly - true dat! We were talking today about how edgy and funny it was back in the 70's and early 80's.

Mel - no idea about MAD TV. There was a time and place for that show too.

Hilly - totally agree on all points!

Heff - I'd love to have the hour and a half back of my life that I wasted on watching it. I'd fill that time with booze and cheap women. ;)

Michelle - Like a lot of great Coen Brothers' films, this one never really meant to go anywhere. They said they started with a Bourne Identity idea and said "Well what if no one involved really knew what was going on?" Fargo, The Big Lebowski, etc... aren't very different thematically.

Ookami Snow said...

I think NBC keeps SNL on the air just for charity work... I think they get a tax break for it.

Water Logged Canine said...

"SNL sucked this weekend, huh?"

This post and the harumphs associated with it prove why SNL is, and will always be, "the best!" My first actual memory of the show was Ed Grimley, which throws my hat into the ring around 1985. Since then, I have had the pleasure of watching all of the great, and not-so-great moments. I have also done my homework, catching up with the not ready for prime time players, and reading everything I can get my hands on in reference to the show.

In high school, the lockers that lined the school hallways were organized alphabetically. Additionally, we were only assigned the lockers one time. Therefore, the locker that I held as a freshman, was the same locker that I occupied until I exited as a senior. I know this is a long walk for a sandwich, but I promise that I have a point in addition to the one on top of my head. Directly to my left, one of my closest friends occupied his vertical real estate. Each monday, the conversation started the same, "Man SNL sucked this weekend."

Then the true brilliance of the show resonated. Bit by bit, and skit by skit...we would recount..."You know what was kind of funny?" We would re-enact characters and voices. We would slowly re-construct the show as we remembered it. By the time we were finished, we were in agreement that the show really wasn't all that bad, and there were a lot more details that we had initially overlooked in our blanket generalization.

So, SNL sucked last week, but you know what was kind of funny? When the camera cut to Seth Meyers (the show's head writer) doing a little dance after Amy Poehler delivered the punchline for a proposed new street to be named after Jose Canseco (admitted steroid user). The name? "Shrunken Cul-de-sac." My guess is that Meyers wrote the line, and when the audience reacted with anxious and repulsed laughter, I imagine it was better than Christmas morning for the writer. Hence, the dance.

The genius of the show has always existed in between the cracks and crevasses of the subtle details. Tune in next week for host James Franco and musical guest Kings of Leon. I'm am absolutely positive it will suck.

B.E. Earl said...

Ookami - or just a bone to their liberal base. Maybe.

WLC - Do you remember the Debbie Downer skit from a few years ago? Not any one of the skits that came after it, but the first Debbie Downer skit. I think Lindsay Lohan was the guest host. Anyway, the skit itself was pretty bad, but the cast members about halfway through it started to fall apart laughing at Rachel Dratch. Who somehow managed to keep it together. Weird in that Lindsay Lohan also managed to keep it cool, but the rest of them cracked up like it was a Carol Burnett Show reunion.

That was the last really great "skit" I remembered. And it was because it fell apart.

So yeah, I see what you mean.

Do you think they are gonna do a skit with James Franco as a stoner? That shit is gonna be off da hook, yo! ;)

Poppy said...

Earl - that was the Disney skit! Best skit ever, and only time I've ever laughed at something Lindsay Lohan was involved in.

teeni said...

I haven't been thinking SNL has been funny for quite a while now. Don't know what happened but it isn't the show it was meant to be.

But how cool that you were at Slyde's party! :)

FourLeafClover said...

It always makes me happy when Tina Fey stops by... but ya'... Micheal Phelps as the host was *blows raspberry*

B.E. Earl said...

Poppy - that was it! The Disney sketch! So funny.

Teeni - no party is complete without me. ;)

4Leaf - So. Bad. Period.

shiny said...

I'm usually not this self-promoting, but my blog entry from September 13th counts down several more obscure SNL sketches/films from throughout the past three decades (mostly from the latter 25 years) which I've found to be funny. Feel free to take a look...

After reviewing my taste for sketches, I realized that I tend to gravitate towards those which unravel from a theoretically concrete premise to something rather ridiculous. Which mirrors my taste for Monty Python sketches as well. It was one of the things SNL did very well in its earlier years -- and sometimes does nowadays: it pulls back the curtain and tears apart the usual anatomy of a sketch, often beginning or ending in untraditional places and adding real situations to fictional story lines.

B.E. Earl said...

Shiny - I took a look. Great post and some great skits in there. I remember them all.

martymankins said...

The YouTube video from the link in your post was removed for copyright violation.

Best SNL sketch ever: Jingleheimer Junction. Perfect in every way, IMO.

http://www.videosift.com/video/Jingleheimer-Junction

I saw "Burn After Reading" last night. Classic Cohen Bros. and the whole cast was great together. Very dark, but very funny.

B.E. Earl said...

Marty - Hate when that happens on Youtube! That clip was hilarious. Never saw it before. Thanks!

mikeb302000 said...

Earl, your post and what Lotus said brought me back to the first seasons of SNL. In those years it played a major part of all our lives. Great memories.