Saturday, February 21, 2015

My Reflections on #SNL40

In light of my posts and my general state of excitement leading up to celebration of the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live last Sunday night, a number of friends and readers have enquired as to what I thought of the actual show. My family sat together and watched all 3.5 hours of it as it aired; that in and of itself is a miracle. We also recorded it on the DVR and have watched a few sections numerous times already. So the short version of my review is simply that WE LOVED IT! Some things on a DVR you like so much that you grant them Save Until I Delete recognition. The #SNL40 special gets my first Save Until I Die status. It was that amazing. And here are a few of my thoughts from that great night...

  • 1975 was a long time ago, and Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtain, Lorraine Newman and Garrett Morris are all quite old at this point. But WOW was it great to see them on stage again! 
  • He has done so much in the field of entertainment, from music to serious movies to being a best selling author, that it is easy to forget that in the late 1970s Steve Martin was simply the funniest man in the world. The night was a great reminder of that fact, beginning with the "battle" over who should be the host. Martin wins in a landslide on my ballot!
  • I loved the rap Fallon and Timberlake did with catchphrases, and it was a great opening to the show. I was a bit sad that they never got to come back and do a live Barry Gibb Talk Show will all sorts of celebrity guests...
  • When you peel back all the garbage that often surrounds her and give her a great song, Miley Cyrus can REALLY sing. I am a huge Paul Simon fan, and her cover of 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover was dead on. Later on I confess to being very happy when Paul, as Twitter suggested he might, didn't cover Wrecking Ball. But more on that later...
  • Paul McCartney and Paul Simon sang a snippet of I've Just Seen a Face as their "audition" to be hosts of the special. This sent me running to iTunes to purchase the song off of the Wings Over America album. Great song!
  • Jim Carrey doing Matthew McConaughey in the Celebrity Jeopardy skit was simply brilliant. That whole sketch had Will and I falling out of our seats laughing.
  • Many critics complained that McCartney's performance of Maybe I'm Amazed sounded rough. Allow me to say in my nicest possible angry voice, "SHUT UP!!!" Paul McCartney sang on a comedy show. Twice. That makes it awesome, rough or not.
  • The salute to New York City was panned by some critics as a "filler," but I thought it was nearly perfect. NYC has always been a cast member at SNL, not just a location. I loved that tribute.
  • Martin Short may well be the funniest man alive. He and Beyonce (Maya Rudolph) hosting the segment featuring musical skits gave us looks back as so many great moments. And his trying to stay on stage in the face of Beyonce's wind machine was a bit only Martin Short could have pulled off.
  • And speaking of the musical sketches...Bill Murray brought the house down with his new song, Love Theme from Jaws. It was classic Murray, classic SNL and yet brand new. For many of us it was the standout moment of the night. "You bastard, Jaws!"
  • Does anyone know whatever became of Rob Schneider? His buddies Spade, Meadows, Sandler and Farley all got some recognition, but the Richmeister was nowhere to be found. I didn't even see him in the background of a clip.
  • In a WTH moment for women all over the world, Betty White got to make out with Bradley Cooper during The Californians. Classic SNL shock value!
  • It was great so see Eddie Murphy on stage in studio 8H again, but disappointing that he chose not to do a character. I wanted Buckwheat or Mr. Robinson so bad I could taste it. Or even Stevie Wonder- after all, Joe Piscopo did his Sinatra impression. It could have happened. Just as an added note, in my mind, Piscopo is one of the all-time underrated cast members. He was a stalwart not a star, like Aykroyd before him and Hartman and Hammond later on. They played so many roles and set up so many great sketches.
  • Besides Eddie's non-performance, my biggest disappointment was the lack of love for Toonces the Driving Cat. A true SNL legend totally ignored...
  • Mike Myers and Dana Carvey have not changed at all. Wayne's World was awesome, especially the dueling Lorne Michaels impressions. I also loved the "sit down Kanye" jokes and the shout out to the crew.
  • Unfortunately by that time we got to Wayne's World, Kanye had already performed. It was the only section of the show I will never watch again. What a waste of 5 minutes- and the perfect place for a Toonces retrospective!
  • Adam Sandler & Andy Samberg's new digital short was very well done, as they took us through time to see some of the moments when cast members broke character and dissolved into laughter just like the rest of us. Of course half the video consisted of shots of Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz losing it. Truly funny stuff.
  • The tribute to the cast and crew who are no longer with us was touching, and missing John Belushi, Phil Hartman, Gilda Radner, Chris Farley, Jan Hooks and the rest brought a tear to my eye. But just as quickly, they made me laugh again. The very much still alive Jon Lovitz was listed among the dead for the second time that night, and then Bill Murray announced that they had just learned that Generalissimo Francisco Franco was still dead- a joke from the original Weekend Updates with Chevy Chase on the 1975-76 season. Priceless.
  • How do you close a celebration of 40 years worth of Saturday Night Live? With Paul Simon, of course. He has been both host and musical guest a number of times over the years and has probably been a part of as many iconic moments as anyone. In November of 1976 (season 2) he opened the Thanksgiving show by attempting to sing Still Crazy After All These Years while wearing a turkey costume. I was a high school senior, and I watched that show from the Hotel Tudor in NYC on my first ever trip to the city. It is etched in my mind. Fast forward 39 years and Paul sang the same song to close out the show. Still Crazy After All These Years. It was a perfect description of the show, and gives the song the honor of having been an iconic SNL moment TWICE
So there are few of my thoughts. It wasn't quite everything I hoped it would be, but it sure was close. I only wish the after party had been televised so we could have seen all the impromptu all-star jam sessions that took place at the Plaza Hotel, with Fallon serving as a manic MC. Maybe some bootlegs will leak later. All in all it was a great night for comedy, for NYC and for me. Good times...good times...

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