Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Very Funny Addiction

My friends, today I need to confess to you that I have a problem. It's been growing for several days now and it is only going to get worse. It is taking too much of my time and occasionally rearranging my entire day. The good news is it will be over in a couple of weeks; the bad news is by then I may be too far gone to help. What could be such a major addiction in my life? The 19 day long, 24 hour a day, every stinkin' episode SNL Rewind marathon currently airing on VH1 Classic, of course! It's got me in its clutches. I need it bad...

The Original Not Ready for Prime Time Players
The very first episode of NBC's Saturday Night (the original name) aired on October 11th, 1975- five days after my 16th birthday. George Carlin (still one of my all-time favorite comedians) was the first host. The timing was perfect to lure me in, and I have been with the show pretty much ever since. In college there would be parties to watch, including campus wide viewing events when Steve Martin would host. SNL was just part of my life. There have been some down years and a few outright awful years (like season 6, season 11, season 21 & right now!) but much like the show itself I have never given up. And now Saturday Night Live is about to have a huge party celebrating 40 years on the air, and to lead up to that VH1 Classic is doing this rewind marathon, beginning with newer episodes and working backwards to the beginning. I am watching way too much and loving every minute of it. And a few things have surprised me along the way. Including remembering that we get VH1 Classic...

Sometime in the early 90s
Oldtimers like myself tend to overvalue the past and underrate the present, and that happened with SNL and me. Watching the 2003-2012 episodes one can't help but marvel that people like Rachel Dratch, Bill Hader, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Tina Fey, Will Forte, Amy Poehler, Jason Sudeikis, Maya Rudolph, Tracy Morgan, Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg were at various times in the same cast. Those years produced some really funny stuff that I missed the first time around. It also strikes both myself and my son Will that no matter how bad an episode has been over the years, Weekend Update is almost always worth watching because the news is most always funny. As the rewind continues I find myself looking more and more forward to the late 80s and early 90s shows. It is common to consider the original cast to be the greatest because they were so groundbreaking. But the truth is I think that the 1988-1992 casts are my favorites. Just think about the names. The casts included Jon Lovitz, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Victoria Jackson, Dennis Miller, Nora Dunn, Mike Myers and Kevin Nealon. In 1990 the featured players had names like Farley, Sandler, Spade, Rock, Sweeney, Schneider and Meadows- all of whom became major cast members as time passed. The talent level was unbelieveable and the percentage of great skits was sky high. When they reach that time period on the rewind there will be very little sleep and a very full DVR in my life. I can't wait.

I have also been reminded that SNL is never better than when it is doing political satire and doing it well. From Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford, Dan Aykroyd as Nixon to Dana Carvey as both daddy George Bush and Ross Perot the cast has skewered many a President and presidential candidate. Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton were simply brilliant, and Will Ferrell turned his George W. Bush impression into a Tony Award winning one man show on Broadway. Darrell Hammond as Clinton and as Dick Cheney (not to mention his great work as Chris Matthews, host of Hardball) were also favorites of mine. At its best the show turns the mundane politics of the day into humorous skits we will actually remember. Watching all these old shows brings back so much history. And then there are the musical guests. And the fake commercials. And Mango...

So get my point. I love Saturday Night Live and this marathon is taking over my life. In a good way. All of my favorite years are still to come. Over the next couple of weeks before the big party on February 15th I will be sharing a few lists of my favorite cast members, skits, recurring characters, hosts and more. I'd love to include your thoughts too, so please share them in the comments. People often talk about their lives passing before their eyes. In many ways, I am watching the last 40 years of my life for the these 19 days. What they say is true- life is funny.

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2/04/2015

    Gilda Radner....Rosanna Rosanna Danna :)


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