Saturday Night Live

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Big Ben
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#151 Post by Big Ben » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:29 pm

I agree with Brian here. The idea that SNL had sketches that were hit after hit just isn't true. People only really remember the good sketches like Belushi's Samurai or Chris Farley's Chippendale's Routine because they've all floated to the top and stayed there. All the really awful stuff has just been buried. Some of the current stuff makes me laugh sure but there's trash too. Chadwick Boseman had a sketch involving inflatable dogs that took place while a building was burning and there were explosions going on. I saw stupefied as to what the hell I was supposed to be laughing at.

Kate McKinnon is the standout though. I imagine she'll go on to do great things once she's done with SNL.

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Brian C
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#152 Post by Brian C » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:52 pm

Yeah that Boseman sketch was a clunker. But stuff like that is easy for me to get past - the writers tried something weird, it didn’t take, oh well, everyone moves on.

For me, mfunk’s criticism of the political stuff rings 100% true with Baldwin’s Trump sketches. The first time he did it, it was a breath of fresh air in a way - everyone was doing Trump gags, of course, but no one really sank to Trump’s gutter level like Baldwin did. Like, Hammond’s trump was all about bragging about his hotels and saying “classy” a lot, but Baldwin really took on the full awfulness of the guy and stopped treating him with kid gloves. He deserves credit for that if nothing else.

But now those sketches are an awful drag on the show. They’re pitifully lazy, both in the writing and performance, and besides not being funny, it’s hard to see half the time how they’re even trying to be funny.

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Ribs
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#153 Post by Ribs » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:59 pm

Well, and they're at such a weird point with the Celebrity impersonators for literally every single new Trump-related person. Like, Obama or Bush's impersonators didn't necessarily appear every week during their presidency, so the infrequency of Baldwin appearing doesn't really bother me so much as that they seem just incapable of having anyone new in the political orbit be played by actual cast members of the show. Take this weekend's - the joke only works as a play on Meet the Parents, which means you need to have the two celebrities from the movie. But the joke is lazy because it's not like they already had Ben Stiller or Robert De Niro playing those characters - then the joke would have been better, probably, and felt more earned, instead of feeling like they literally just got the two of them to get Youtube views for a really pretty cheap joke.

I also think part of it is, due to assuming that Trump would lose, they kind of unwittingly were left without a really good starry part for Kate McKinnon when she's clearly the center of the show as it is right now. Kellyanne Conway just isn't in the news enough to merit her appearing more than very infrequently, and Jeff Sessions has the same problem (plus, it's not actually a very entertaining impression). Beck Bennett has probably built up to be the second most notable member of the cast (well, after Kenan, too, I guess) simply by being able to play two heavy political figures. But by having literally every single new person be played by someone already famous it's really threatening the show's ability to turn people famous which is essential for it to get back on the upswing part of the cycle where the show is more generally well liked.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#154 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Apr 16, 2018 2:04 pm

I only watched a tiny bit of the show, but it's a tired crowd-pleaser to regurgitate well-known scenes from a popular film or TV show. It takes no thought whatsoever - you just need a different context, get the original actors if possible, and then pretty much copy said scene word for word and watch the audience holler. A lazy old trick, like doing a song that name-checks the city you're in, and to be fair everyone does it, not just SNL, but they typically lean on that way too much.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#155 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 2:17 pm

Ribs wrote:I also think part of it is, due to assuming that Trump would lose, they kind of unwittingly were left without a really good starry part for Kate McKinnon when she's clearly the center of the show as it is right now. Kellyanne Conway just isn't in the news enough to merit her appearing more than very infrequently, and Jeff Sessions has the same problem (plus, it's not actually a very entertaining impression).
I like McKinnon but there's definitely some "Ewing theory" potential if she left. She really sucks up so much of the show's oxygen and has a more limited range than the show seems to think she does. Every time there is a new political figure that surfaces, McKinnon is there to play them as sort of an "oh my god, isn't that amazing that she's playing [insert male politician here]?!" stunt, which is almost as insufferable as the celebrity casting stuff. McKinnon and Strong both feel as if they've hit the high point of their time on the show and then outstayed their welcome, but I just find Strong to be the much more funny and versatile one of the two.

And while I already am coming off like I have some bias against female cast members, I might as well go a little further and add the rather risky opinion that Leslie Jones is absolutely terrible in sketches. The show seems to be doing less and less to appeal to her strength, which is usually just her playing with some variation on herself like she has on Update so successfully. The moment she's delivering key cue card lines in a sketch she usually fumbles the ball, which is a bummer, because she's an incredibly likable presence and obviously has a really bright future in showbusiness.

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Brian C
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#156 Post by Brian C » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:58 pm

I don't agree with McKinnon's Ewing Theory potential, or Strong either for that matter, but I suppose I understand where you're coming from. Lord knows I felt exactly that same way about Wiig during her last few years (although her sendoff was a really lovely moment in the show's history).

Jones is pretty awful with the cue cards, no question. I think she's otherwise a fine performer, but it does break up the momentum of her sketches when she struggles with the cards. If she does a stand-up show around here, I'll happily pay to go see her.

The Stiller/De Niro thing ... ugh. It was a real shame, because getting Stiller to play Cohen seemed like a masterstroke; no one does belligerent buffoonery quite like he does. But then it just turned into a Fockers thing. What a waste. Actually kind of sad, really.

Still, I don't generally mind the "stunt casting" all that much on principle - most of the celebs they get are either alums of the show (even Stiller technically qualifies!) or frequent hosts, so they don't feel all that out of place to me. And McCarthy's first Spicer sketch was an all-time great.

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Ribs
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#157 Post by Ribs » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:43 pm

Eagle-eared listeners may have noticed that Darrell Hammond mistakenly referred to the host of this week's episode as "John Mulvaney" on not one but two separate occasions during the intro, which I'm sure excited our favorite customer service rep who definitely really exists

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mfunk9786
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#158 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:02 pm

I always fast forward through the opening credits, I had no idea he was currently the announcer. He really does know how to wring every remaining drop out of his employment there, doesn't he

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flyonthewall2983
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#159 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Tue May 29, 2018 4:21 pm

Yesterday was 20 years since Phil Hartman's murder. I don't really think his death is why The Simpsons went down the tubes, but I can say without much hesitation he's probably my favorite cast member in terms of what he did on SNL. It helped he wasn't really tied to a character like some others were, but the "everyman" aspect of what he brought really set him apart in my eyes.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#160 Post by hearthesilence » Tue May 29, 2018 5:06 pm

The 1986-1990 cast is second only to the 1975-1980 cast in terms of chemistry across an entire cast, and Phil Hartman was a big reason for that. If you watch that run of seasons, he doesn't pop out right away like Dana Carvey or Lovitz (both of whom were more ostentatious as performers) but pretty soon it's apparent how valuable he was in bringing everything together and of course earning his behind-the-scenes nickname "glue." He and Jan Hooks are probably two of the best performers in SNL history, on par with Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Eddie Murphy and Martin Short before them, and their sketches together are brilliantly executed.

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Polybius
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#161 Post by Polybius » Wed May 30, 2018 12:38 am

I agree completely. In fact, I might nudge that era into the top spot. Not so much in cultural impact but for the sheer consistent enjoyment that I got from them week in and week out.

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flyonthewall2983
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#162 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed May 30, 2018 1:12 am

I'd say one big difference is that the show settled into one consistent framework, as opposed to those first couple of years when it was finding it's feet and going into more esoteric directions at the time.

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Polybius
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#163 Post by Polybius » Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:18 am

Also, you really didn't see that sort of irreverence on network TV at that time, even that late at night.

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flyonthewall2983
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#164 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:45 pm

Polybius wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 12:38 am
I agree completely. In fact, I might nudge that era into the top spot. Not so much in cultural impact but for the sheer consistent enjoyment that I got from them week in and week out.
I agree with that too, except I don't think the show was as bad after 1990, until Hartman and a few other key people left. The Sandler/Spade/Farley era appealed to me as a kid and there is stuff there that I'm sure holds up better than some would think. I was completely of age to appreciate the Ferrell era in the late 90's, but I'd usually defer to watching reruns wherever they were on.


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flyonthewall2983
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#166 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:16 pm


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Roger Ryan
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#167 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Oct 01, 2018 12:25 pm

I love how you can hear Chris Rock murmur "My God" under his breath as he's recording West's speech. The SNL cast trying their damnedest to become invisible is painful to watch...but not as painful as that horrible opening number with West dressed as a bottle of spring water. Supposedly, Spike Jonze offered up the idea, but the execution, with West self-consciously smiling throughout as if it was the funniest idea ever conceived, was severely under-cooked. Reminded me of the last time he was on SNL and actively tried to sabotage the second musical performance because of some behind-the-scenes disagreement.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#168 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:02 pm

Jonze's concept was also used for the music video for the song, which is absolutely delightful. The performance was somewhat lacking, mostly because the song is so [playfully] blue/sexual that lyrics needed to be changed and omitted wholesale.

Anyway, the episode as a whole was okay. The show continues to feel in stasis with the same cast and same bits and it desperately needs some people to move on with their careers (Thompson and McKinnon suck up far too much oxygen at this point when there are performers who still sort of feel like they haven't gotten off the ground), but the recorded segments were funny, Driver is affable, and West's final performance minus the ridiculous off-air speech was pretty great - and such a great song.

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Brian C
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#169 Post by Brian C » Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:35 pm

Damon killed it as Kavanaugh I thought, even if the writing for the sketch left a lot to be desired - as usual, hit all the beats that people were expecting and did nothing else.

I also thought the Vermont sketch was sneaky subversive.

But yeah, just an OK episode overall, although that makes it a pretty strong season opener, which traditionally are very weak episodes for some reason.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#170 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:40 pm

The "Rad Times at Frat U" recorded segment provided much smarter commentary on Kavanaugh and his ilk than the opening sketch did, I thought. If anything's been particularly frustrating about SNL's opening political sketches lately, it's that it's just a paint by numbers of stunt casting and throwing a pile of makeup on Kate McKinnon to have her play a male politician. The idea that there will be a particularly enlightening or amusing slant beyond play acting the news with funny impressions has sort of gone completely by the wayside.

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Brian C
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#171 Post by Brian C » Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:07 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:40 pm
...and throwing a pile of makeup on Kate McKinnon to have her play a male politician.
I fully support this initiative, though.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#172 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:16 pm

It's okay sometimes, but it feels inevitable in a similar way as the stunt casting - novel as a one-off gag, but plodding as a regular occurrence.

I can't believe I'm saying this because the space he occupies in our current popular culture is already so irritating, but I thought Pete Davidson was a highlight of the opener. He is a very funny guy, even if he might end up having something truly terrible happen to him within the next few years, judging from his complexion and increasingly erratic persona. Thought he might be the next Sandler when he joined the cast, and even more convinced of it lately.

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Brian C
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Saturday Night Live

#173 Post by Brian C » Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:21 pm

Yeah we just disagree on McKinnon. I feel like she can basically do no wrong on the show - at this point, I think she’s strong in the running for greatest cast member ever.

Also, judged on its own terms, her Lindsay Graham topped anything anyone else on the show could have managed.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#174 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:25 pm

She's very, very funny, to a degree that sort of like Wiig or Ferrell at the end of their tenures, she feels as though she has outgrown the show while still being on it. In a way that even Kenan Thompson hasn't even after 16 years - it's the perfect venue for him, and I don't know if he's going to stick as a film or TV star afterward the way that McKinnon clearly will. Some people are born sketch performers and some are born stars, and McKinnon's definitely in the latter.

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flyonthewall2983
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Re: Saturday Night Live

#175 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Mon Oct 01, 2018 9:54 pm

I think Thompson's got a sitcom set up at NBC, so he might be out soon. I still can't quite get over the fact that he's the longest-tenured member of the show, remembering him still mostly from All That.

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