Wednesday, September 17, 2008

SNL - Newly Relevant or a Shadow of the Past?

The wide cast of web-pinion seems divided on whether the current SNL cast is poised on the verge of renewed greatness, or at the edge of the abyss (Check the comments here). Having not been a regular watcher since the mid-90's, I can't vouch for anything other than this 2008 season-opening clip. It's as if Tina Fey was born to play Sarah Palin. Not so much Amy Poehler's Hillary likeness, her mannerisms actually aren't quite shrill or shrewish enough (Does she also play Martha Stewart?) It works because of Fey's fearlessness.
I can see the value of that trait in comedy as well as in life.

I find life a lot less funny since giving up beer and taking on full-time parenting, financial and social anxiety as a replacement. The early 90s were SNL's golden age to me and represent a time in my life when everything wasn't life and death:

Dennis Miller, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler before he became obnoxious, David Spade, Julia Sweeney, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman - a veritable laundry list of hilarity, memorable sketches and characters. One of the criticisms of this period is Lorne Michaels' overuse of recurring characters, and I agree. Maybe Rob Schneider wouldn't have been reduced to doing horrendously unfunny movies (see The Animal) if he'd been allowed to stretch his legs a bit instead of being "Copier Guy" for three years straight. Still, say what you will about the cast's post-SNL careers, they were all at the top of their game on the show, and the recent retrospective "SNL In The 90's" only reaffirms my view. Instant (mostly undeserved) nostalgia is all the rage these days but in this case it's warranted.

With all the doom and gloom coming out of the media since the summer, I still believe it's important to be able to laugh at something before you deconstruct and analyze it into the ground. Tina Fey is doing a great job of it.

(Oct. 9th Update: See YouTube for some amazing clips of CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer relaying a similar message, this Palin thing has become quite the phenomenon. Perhaps Palin would do better in interviews and the polls if she paid Fey to impersonate her at press conferences, and quietly drop the folksy Fargo schtick when asked a serious question, about, say, the US government's $700 billion financial bailout. Katie Couric was obviously baiting her. It doesn't excuse Palin's atrocious ignorance or inability to properly deflect the question, but what was the point - unless you or your employer is distincly partisan. I suppose Couric would say the "truth had to be exposed".)

1 comment:

K_Raven said...

Good post. Thoughtful and realistic. Bueno!

There was a huge amount of talent in the SNL cast back in the mid-nineties, and all the SNL graduates have been dominating the big screen since they left.

The now waning overexposure of Will Ferrell is encouraging, though. Mr. Ferrell would not have been able to crack the mid-nineties cast much less graduate from it to the big screen. There are always anomalies, such as the continued box office success of one Adam Sandler, post Happy Gilmore.

Tina Fey's reported snooty treatment of the real Sarah Palin was not good to hear; whatever you might think of Palin, it doesn't give Fey the right to treat her subject of parody with disdain.

Despite the best efforts of the media to make Palin into a complete idiot, she has more accomplishments as Governor of Alaska than the president elect Obama has had as a relatively obscure two years as an Illinois Senator.

Current rough economics make humour more essential than ever. SNL is probably not the best place to look for some in late 2008.