Last night, I tuned into a two-hour special on Saturday Night Live: Looking Back. I usually enjoy clip shows and since this one specifically focused on the last ten years of programming, I tuned in. In the last decade, I graduated from high school, I graduated from college, I earned a master's degree, I moved out on my own, I've been in a relationship for 6 years, etc. Basically, I became an adult. And through it all, if I'm home on a Saturday night at 11:30pm, I watch Saturday Night Live.
Lately, I'm one of these annoying people who watches to see if the show will be decent. I don't think that the current writers are extremely funny and I cringe more than I laugh during most skits. I'm not sure what has changed except for the absence of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers as head writer and a bunch of unfunny guest hosts. The SNL that I hold on to and still have hope for is the show as it was from about 1995 to 2003-ish. I view Saturday Night Live as an institution--it's been on the air for decades and has survived so much while keeping a rotating cast. I just don't think that the running fart and gay jokes are funny. Fresh writers and new cast members should mean new ideas and a refreshing show every week but for me, that's not what is happening.
Once the show realizes they have something that really works, they go overboard. Kristin Wiig is awesome--she is so expressive and becomes a different person in a split-second. I read an interview with her a few weeks ago and she said that she is actually shy and that she becomes these characters so that she doesn't feel so much like she is acting. The show knew that she was wonderful and as the female cast members left one by one (Maya Rudoph, Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler), she became the female powerhouse. And she was in every skit. Her shenanighans got old quickly because she was overused. Also, there are other females that are completely underutilized. The comediennes were cast because they are funny--let them show the audience.
Another instance of this is the Digital Shorts. Andy Samberg is funny--he has a great sense of humor and two business partners/friends that are also funny. The Digital Shorts exploded with "Lazy Sunday," a rap parody Samberg did with then-castmate Chris Parnell about eating Magnolia cupcakes and seeing The Chronicles of Narnia on a Sunday. Now, I really love this. It's original and comical and people really do stuff like this in Manhattan on the weekends. But now the show feels like there is pressure to offer one every week. This is not true. If they were as funny or as thought-out, yeah, maybe. The newer ones feel forced, like they are just taking up time from the live skits. There are only like 5 live skits as it is, with the monologue, the two musical performances and the looonnng Weekend Update.
Like I said earlier, I still have hope so I'll keep watching, but it's easy for my mind to wander back to the good times with Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell or Cheri Oteri when I laughed aloud at skits regularly, or even back to the classic episodes from the 1970's that still run as some of the greatest comedic moments of all time. With Ryan Phillippe as tomorrow's host, I'm optimistic and will be standing by ready to laugh.