I STILL watch SNL
Because I do still watch Saturday Night Live EVERY week and have for most of my life. Mostly for the “you just never know...” factor. And because I’m a huge fan of the sketch comedy format. It probably started with You Can’t Do That on Television and Turkey Television as a kid! I remember other kids quoting Hanz and Franz in elementary school and feeling left out for not knowing who they were. And when I finally started watching I fell in love with Dana Carvey, John Lovitz, Phil Hartman and the rest of that cast. And it wasn’t long after that they started showing classic episodes of SNL in 30-minute chunks on Nick at Night (I think?) and soon I was fan of the entire SNL legacy. And that spun off into SCTV because of the cast crossover and misc. related projects and films (Three Amigos?) I didn’t have HBO as a kid but once I was in a hotel and caught an early episode of the Kids in the Hall, it totally blew my mind. Soon my dad was renting me compilation tapes of Monty Python, and my obsession with sketch comedy never wavered.
Going to college in New York City during the late 90s I discovered the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and got to see amazing live comedy for five dollars a show. The best part about going there is watching new comedians get their break, develop their skills and end up in various places. Rob Corddry from a group called the Naked Babies ends up on the Daily Show, and Rob Riggle from Respecto Montalbán ends up a cast member on SNL (and then later the Daily Show!) which makes me very happy! And that leads me to one of my favorite things about Saturday Night Live. Watching performers start out as “featuring,” then finding their footing, creating new characters, and becoming huge stars. I’m USUALLY rooting for them. If they came from the UCB or some other venue, then doubly so. Every now and then there’s a performer who I end up hating and hope they get no screen time on SNL.
Most of my friends say they USED to watch SNL, “Back when it was funny.” For me the show never really stopped being funny. I fully admit there are dry periods. Weaker casts, weaker writers that come and go over the years. But what may be considered a golden age for some viewers is considered totally unfunny to others. A lot of time people don’t realize how much overlap there is between the good and the bad. Even during the seemingly worst times, there are still some amazing sketches in the mix. The commercial parodies and Weekend Updates are evergreen in their consistent quality. And because of the show’s esteemed history, you never know who is going to come back for a cameo, or an unannounced celebrity guest that will show up just for something silly. Tom Hanks joining the 5-Timers Club is still one of my favorite moments ever.
And I admit to having a teenage nerdgasm when Aerosmith was in Wayne's breakfast nook. That kind of stuff never happens anywhere else on TV. And when someone screws up a line or improvs because of the live format ALL THE BETTER!
Is it worth suffering through the especially unfunny game show parodies? Maybe not! And yet I still do! Because I’ve already invested so much time into the legacy of SNL and I like that it’s something I’ve consistently watched since my childhood. Like a hardcore Mets fan who sticks with his team through thick and thin. Luckily I don’t watch a lot of primetime TV shows during the week, so an hour and half Saturday nights is not a huge investment of time for me! Plus I’m a pop culture nerd who doesn’t like to party. So if 1-3 sketches really hit, then I’m stoked. Judge me all you want!
This is the closest thing I have to being a sports fan.