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Missing the old SNL

October 22, 2012 - Carrie Olson
“Things were just better back then.”

This is a phrase that I have heard time and time again by older generations. Whether it is about the economy, safety, or gas prices, it is a general reaction constantly reiterated. Sometimes I agree or perhaps ponder the sentiment, and many times I look at “the now” as more progressive and positive.

Today is different. I, too, declare, “Things were just better back then.”

I am talking about Saturday Night Live.

This show has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My parents would replay older shows featuring Gilda Radner’s “Roseanne Roseannadanna” and Steve Martin perfecting the “King Tut.” I was in love with the characters, the actors, and the incredible writing. Saturday was one night that I was allowed to stay up and I relished in the live humor.

When I was small child, I yearned for Dana Carvey and Mike Myers to give me some laughs with “Wayne’s World” and to hear Jon Lovitz proclaim, “Yeah…that’s the ticket!” The Bad Boys of SNL took over and I found Chris Farley inspiring — from portraying Matt Foley to “Lunch Lady Land,” he caused many gut aches and for tears to stream from my face due to laughter. Robert Smigel’s “TV Funhouse” always surprised and fascinated me. Where does he come up with that stuff?

During my more impressionable teenage years, I learned from comic greats like Will Ferrell and Chris Kataan. The most important thing I learned, though, was that women could be funny. Cheri Oteri, Ana Gasteyer, and Molly Shannon were my comic goddesses. There was nothing they could do wrong. My friend Leigha and I would spend precious hours during school perfecting Oteri’s Barbara Walters impression and reciting made-for-television movie lines made famous by Mary Katherine Gallagher. Perhaps our favorite sketch was “Delicious Dish,” a public radio programming on cooking that was comic genius.

Toward the end of high school, a new cast was unrolled featuring Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, and Amy Pohler, who brought unbelievable talent. After that … well, I don’t know what happened. I have seen some amazing actors on the show and some great skits, yet, it’s not the same. I used to go to school or my workplace and proclaim, “Wow! Wasn’t that a great show?” Commercial breaks were necessary for using the bathroom or refueling on snacks, but now, not so much. Instead, when a Budweiser ad appears, I’m ready to flip the channel or turn the TV off. The cold opening might be great, and the rest be considerably “blah.”

Many of the shows are pretty forgettable. I believe the writing and direction is to blame. There might be two solid sketches during that hour and a half format, which doesn’t cut it for me. And this is not a time period where there is a lack of topics to poke fun at, no, instead there is almost too much material out there. Oh, I’ve gotten excited over seeing certain sketches being performed, but realize quickly that it was hastily put together or is filled with absolutely apparent holes that the writers didn’t see in the script. “That was kinda funny,” I’ll think, or “It was okay, but …” The non-live segments, such as commercials, are better than the rest, but so what? That is only a small portion of the show.

It’s just sad. The only times I’ve really looked forward to staying in on Saturday to watch SNL is when a good guest star is on. I feel like they will “make” the show and save it for the week. I miss the times where guest stars will just blend in with the cast and make it a bit better, rather than carrying the show.

While I have enjoyed the political humor SNL has brought out due to the election, I find it the only reason why I’m tuning in on Saturday nights. Hopefully, this is just one of SNL’s slumps and they can eventually pull out of. Yet, it might be wishful thinking. But I must believe that a childhood hero can rise out of the ashes and be great again.


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There aren't any sketches now that could compete with "Two Wild and Crazy Guys." Nothing could come close.


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