For the first time in ages, I stayed up to watch Saturday Night Live last night. Jane Lynch was guest hosting and I wanted to see how she did.
Now I remember why I stopped watching SNL. I might have chuckled once or twice. Maybe cracked a couple smiles. But for the most part, I watched 50 minutes worth of nothing before I finally gave it up and went to bed.
When I was a teenager, SNL was appointment TV. It blew the doors off everything. The original cast was priceless; almost all of them became huge stars. Movies were spun off from the sketches. Anyone who was anyone appeared as a guest host or musical guest.
The cast quality ran in cycles; some good, some not so good. But every so often they’d get a group together that were just perfect. The originals broke the mold, of course. The Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest cast was good. But my favorite was the early 80s cast with Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Tim Kazurinski, Mary Gross, and so forth.
Eddie Murphy’s sketches alone were gold. Buckwheat. Gumby. James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub. Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood. The Stevie Wonder impression, either with Piscopo’s Sinatra or alone. The bit where Eddie Murphy had to teach a Stevie Wonder impersonator, played by Stevie Wonder, how to sing like Stevie Wonder, may have been my favorite sketch ever. The shit was laugh-your-head-off funny.
Then there was the Mike Myers, Dana Carvey cast, who I believe overlapped with Phil Hartman and Kevin Nealon. Wayne’s World alone was good for 2 movies.
The David Spade-Chris Farley cast was in there somewhere too and had many high points.
Every once in a while, a sketch would get passed around the internet; Alec Baldwin’s “Schweddy Balls” bit comes to mind, or the commercial for “Tramp Stamp Remover” with Amy Poehler.
Before last night, the last time I checked in with SNL was in 2008 when Tina Fey was killing with her Sarah Palin impression. It was like, her spot would be great, fodder for the next Monday’s water cooler, but after that, they had nothing.
That’s how it was last night. As much as I hate to say it, maybe it’s time they fold the tent and call it a series. It’ll still go down as one of the best, most popular and influential series ever, but right now, it’s just not funny.
Isn’t that the worst thing you can say about a comedy?