– [Drew] Live from New York. This video is sponsored by Squarespace. – Hey guys, welcome back to Lorne Michaels’ basement. He told me he wouldn’t let me out of here until I made another video about his show. So I’m a big SNL fan.
And I’m not just saying that because of the current hostage situation. I’d actually been watching it since I was a kid. I’m one of the biggest defenders of the show.
I love it for what it is. I like the format.
I like the excitement of doing a live show and discovering new young, talented people. I’m always impressed by the work that goes into it. Like building giant set pieces and elaborate props in just a few short days every week. That being said, there’s still plenty to criticize about the show, from some of their questionable hosting choices to the painfully cringy sketches they roll out from time to time. But nothing is more annoying to me than the blanket statement that SNL hasn’t been funny in 20 years, no 50 years.
Hell they haven’t made me laugh since 1932 when one-eyed Leslie did his world famous Calvin Coolidge impression. Those were the good old days. These are the type of comments you’ll hear on random YouTube videos, SNL’s Instagram page, or shouted from someone’s front porch.
And I’ve always been curious to go back and see what all the fuss is about. The way these people describe the show would make you think it looks like this.
When in reality, I would bet it’s a little bit more like this. And now that every episode ever made is available on Peacock, a service I will stop using the moment I’m done with this video, I figured why don’t I go back and actually watch some of these episodes? Only then can I give an accurate take on the evolution of the show. Here goes nothing. (lively jazz horns) The very first episode of Saturday Night Live looked a lot different than what would become of the show.
The host was comedian George Carlin and he didn’t appear in any of the sketches. He just did a few sets of stand-up in between them and introduced the musical acts, which included two really great performances from Billy Preston.
I liked a lot of his jokes, but there was one line in particular that influenced how I watched the rest of the episodes. – Do you ever look at the crowds in old movies and wonder if they’re dead yet? – God dammit, now I’m going to do that.
The pilot was more of a true variety show in the literal sense of the word. You had some stand up, a bunch of songs, this classic bit by Andy Kaufman, who had no affiliation with the show and came on just to do this. A random Muppet sketch, and even a short film, just thrown into the middle. It seemed like the goal of this was to appeal to as many people as possible and quickly move on from thing to thing just in case the audience might start dozing off. This was actually one of the first things I noticed about the episodes was how short the sketches were.
For the most part they were just one joke. Set up, punchline, move on to the next. They were definitely just as hit or miss as SNL has always been. But this is a pretty far cry from the current shows where every other sketch goes on just a little bit too long. For a pilot episode, this is a pretty fun time all around and had a good flow to it.
I hope they get picked up for season two. (lively jazz horns) Okay, forget what I said about the sketches being too short.
I guess they stopped doing that. The worst one in this episode went on for almost 12 minutes and it didn’t really have like a theme or a joke throughout. It was just a bunch of wacky characters taking turns being wacky.
– I am a leaf. – The audience seemed to like a lot of these sketches but most of them didn’t really do it for me. My favorite part was Steve Martin’s monologue. – Excuse me. (audience laughing) (spitting water) All right.
– [Drew] You’ll be seeing a lot of him in this video because he used to host the show all the time.
And he’s also one of my favorite comedians. (lively jazz horns) Guess who hosted this season? That’s right. OJ Simpson.
If you don’t know who OJ is, he was a football player turned movie star, and then nothing else of note happened. He did a pretty good job on the show, but man. 70’s humor is just not for me. The lead off sketch in this episode was John Belushi as a samurai. And I don’t understand what the bit is, (random incoherent noises) or why the whole thing culminated in a big dance number.
Bill Murray’s on the show now, which is cool. But I think my favorite cast member from this era is Jane Curtin. I love her delivery and I can definitely see how she ended up inspiring a bunch of younger writers and comedians like Tina Fey. I thought this joke was hilarious about a former attorney general who was being given a two week furlough from prison in order to get hip replacement surgery. – According to our sources, Mitchell’s secret plan is to systematically replace every limb, organ, joint and gland in his body, send his new version back to prison, thus allowing the original to visit himself on weekends.
(audience laughing) – This was an easy choice. Carrie Fisher hosted in season four. She was fresh off the success of Star Wars, which was like a space movie from the 70’s. It kind of flew under the radar.
They had her play princess Leia in her monologue and the first sketch, which was set in the 50’s.
I love watching older generations make fun of even older generations. I don’t know it’s like a time capsule within a time capsule. Nothing in this episode really stood out to me though but it was fun to see a young Carrie Fisher get to play a bunch of characters. I will say the worst sketch in this one made me feel like I was watching a Lele Pons video, because everybody was just yelling. – Jean, who is the man you’re seeing tonight?
– His name’s Rob. (lively jazz horns) – Okay, so I’ve watched five episodes so far and I would put the hit rate at about 15 to 20%, which is not so good.
All of their prerecorded bits or analog shorts, if you will are almost unwatchable because of how bad they look. This one in particular was basically just what every child makes when they get their first camera for Christmas. – [Doll] Gee, there’s nothing left.
Oh! – I do enjoy the sketches that feel very Steve Martiny. He has a particular style that I think is timeless. This bit where a Roman army kept getting pranked by vandals who like teepeed them and ordered anchovy pizzas and made them pay for it was pretty silly. I liked it, but in just a few short months things at SNL were about to get weird.
(creepy drone noise) In season six the show got turned upside down. Lorne Michaels left cause he was feeling burnt out and his successor fired the entire cast and replaced them with 15 new people, 12 of whom only lasted one season. The show changed too dramatically, was hated by people who stuck around to watch it, and the ratings plummeted. For the next year NBC was on the verge of canceling SNL altogether, which would have made this video a lot shorter. Whenever I hear someone say that SNL hasn’t been funny since the 70’s, I now picture them watching this season and then writing off the show forever.
I watched the first episode and it feels like a weird dream. It’s so strange seeing something that looks like Saturday Night Live but not recognizing a single face, besides Elliot Gould. There’s something so amateur about the whole thing. It almost feels like I’m watching a political episode of “All That.” It probably didn’t help that they introduced newcomer Charles Rocket as, – Kind of a cross between Chevy Chase and Bill Murray.
– Which is an unbelievably high bar to cross, especially for someone so uncharismatic and bad at jokes. (phone ringing) (audience chuckling) – Hey, how about that, huh? The rings of Saturn.
– [Drew] It’s no wonder they only let them do five episodes of Weekend Update before adding a co-anchor to the mix. – Hamilton Jordan created the new secretary of state designate and his wife this week.
Pictured here are ham and eggs. – [Drew] Oh no, she sucks too. Anyway, I can’t decide if my favorite sketch was the nose wrestling competition or when these shoes had sex. Should I be censoring this? Jesus Christ.
It seemed like they were simultaneously trying to distance themselves from the SNL of the past. For example, they renamed Weekend Update as NewsBreak, while also latching on to anything they could to offer recognizability to long-time viewers.
Sure, we may not have Bill Murray anymore, but we do have his brother. I would describe this period as the pun era because boy did they love those. – A crazed reindeer can inflict Sleighbies.
– Honestly I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say that Eddie Murphy might have single-handedly saved the show. He was one of the only cast members to survive this season and obviously ended up being one of the biggest stars people think of when they talk about SNL. Danny DeVito hosted in 82 and they threw him into a sketch called the whiners. Can you guess what their thing is? – But it’ll stick out and I won’t have any room for my feet!
– That’s right. They whine. – It’s still cold! – Now imagine watching five minutes of this. Rick Moranis hosted in 83, but not by himself.
I’ve never seen dual hosts before. Oh, please God, no, not the whiners again.
(yelling) (guns popping off) Thank you. Finally, Robin Williams hosted in 84 and they let him do Weekend Update which had again been rebranded this time as SNL News. I think they were just looking for any excuse not to have their regular anchor Brad Hall do it because he was boring.
Once again, Eddie is pretty much carrying the show on his back at this point. I can’t imagine how much worse it would be without him. (lively jazz horns) Hey, speaking of back, Lorne is, and SNL’s finally good again. Just kidding. The 85 season is almost an even bigger disaster than 1980.
Did you know Robert Downey Jr. was on the cast this year? Huh? It’s pretty crazy how forgettable his time was here. But the whole theme of the season is crazy.
The main difference between this and season six is that this time they tried to play into the absurdity a little bit. Sort of winking at the audience as if to say, yeah this season’s a little weird, but we know that it’s weird.
– NBC has asked me to read the following statement concerning last year’s entire season. It was all a dream, a horrible, horrible dream. – And I think their self-awareness only worked here because they were able to quickly transition back into being pretty solid again.
86 was Dana Carvey’s first season and he stood out immediately. You also had Kevin Nealon joining, Victoria Jackson, Phil Hartman. In 1987, they hired three new writers. Bob Odenkirk, Greg Daniels and Conan O’Brien, which is like an all-star team. Some of the sketches from this period are so silly that I feel like they have to have been written by either Bob or Conan.
I feel like I remember seeing this a long time ago, but they open season 14 with a sketch about a bank giving out change, but they basically just keep listing different combinations. – We are not gonna give you change that you don’t want. If you come to us with a a hundred dollar bill, we’re not going to give you 2000 nickels, unless that meets your particular change needs. – And it works because of how earnest he is. – We’ll give you the change equal to the amount of money that you want change for.
– I actually ended up watching multiple shows from 1988 because this was easily my favorite season so far. Matthew Broderick’s monologue was great. He turned it into a lesson on how to do a monologue. And then I don’t know why I like this one so much, but they did one where he was nervous to go to a nude beach but his friend assured him, Hey, in five minutes you’ll completely forget that you’re naked. And then the rest of the sketch was like this.
– I’d like you guys to meet Doug. – Hey Doug. – Hey Doug. – Hi guys. – Hey, pretty small penis there.
It’s such a simple idea but I thought they pulled it off pretty well. – You wanna see my pictures from Barbados? (guys agreeing) All right, there I am with some friends on a catamaran. – Penis looks great. – I think that’s how you could describe a lot of the good sketches at the time.
Simple ideas that were just well-executed. Toonces the driving cat is another favorite of mine. – [Announcer] The driving test. – Do you think Toonces will pass his driving test? – I don’t know, that written part is pretty hard.
– Maybe he’ll make up for it on the driving part. – Damn, I wish I could help him. – There’s also the commercial for long white beard, which you can wear sarcastically when you’re trying to show someone they’ve kept you waiting. In 1989, Rick Moranis hosted again with a monologue that made me out of breath just watching it. But my favorite sketch was at the end where the new MLB commissioner holds a meeting about how they’re gonna honor the former commissioner who had died a couple months prior.
– I request that the players of each team wear black armbands with Bart’s initials in honor of this great man. – But then they just keep listing more and more things they’re gonna name after him until it gets totally ridiculous.
– In left field, Bart’s favorite position will be known as Bart land USA. – I can definitely see why people consider the late 80’s to be one of the first golden eras of SNL. There was a really great combination of talented writers and performers who were open to silly ideas that I think are still funny today.
It also helped the show revive its reputation after a tumultuous start to the decade. (lively jazz horns) It didn’t take long for them to transition into their second golden era, which was the early 90’s. The cast now included Chris Farley, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Mike Myers, all of whom went on to become big stars in one way or another. If I’m being honest though, I think this period is a little overrated. Chris Farley was electric.
Everything he was in was better because he was in it.
But other than that, I feel like people assume this period was good because of the names. Like Adam Sandler. He was hilarious back then, right? – That was 10 years ago!
– You see he and SNL have a similar reputation in that a lot of people think they’re not funny now, but they used to be. And I just don’t know if Adam Sandler has ever been that funny. He’s extremely likable on the show. And I think that’s why so many people gravitated towards him, but he’s not a great joke writer. And a lot of his iconic characters from the time, it seemed like something a teenager would come up with.
I think he’s made a couple of really good movies, a few pretty good movies and a handful of fun songs on SNL.
But the best thing he ever did was surround himself with more talented people. Some of his most beloved sketches from this era are ones in which Chris Farley is doing 100% of the heavy lifting. And that’s fine. It’s an ensemble show.
That’s how it works. I just think his contribution to SNL gets a little overstated because of the notoriety that comes with his name. I also feel like the writing dipped here, despite all of the talent from the cast, not named Rob Schneider. Once they found a character people liked, they would drive that shit into the ground. A tradition that to be fair has continued ever since.
The first time Chris Farley did Matt Foley is probably one of the best SNL sketches ever. His physicality, the other actors slowly breaking, the palpable excitement from the audience. It’s impossible to watch this without smiling.
But then they did it seven more times in three years. And it got a little less fun every time.
Overall I feel like the sketched stopped being as creative as they were in the late 80’s, like they were taking fewer chances. There was a lot of stoner dudes and cross dressing, which was like a comedy cheat code at the time. Let’s just throw one of the guys in a dress and that’s the entire joke. The risky odd ball ideas were fewer and more far between but when they did come, they were great. Phil Hartman as the “Unfrozen Cave Man Lawyer” got a good chuckle out of me.
Sketches like this are always gonna be more memorable than like teenage kids telling their mom to shut up or guys who hide weed in antiques. – Put your weed in there. And you put your weed in there. You put your weed in there. – [Both] Weed!
– You know, I take it back. Maybe the smartest thing Adam Sandler ever did was stand in the same room as Rob Schneider, who makes everyone around him seem funny in comparison.
(lively jazz horns) Despite such a large star studded cast in 1995, the show was in danger of being canceled yet again. And NBC forced Lorne to fire Adam Sandler and Chris Farley. I think because at that point they were making more money than everybody else.
Lucky for them, it took all of one season to find replacements in Tim Meadows, Molly Shannon, Chris Kattann, Darrell Hammond, Ana Gasteyer, and of course Will Farrell who became the new face of the show. I wouldn’t say they hit their stride right away though. Will stood out pretty quickly. But it wasn’t until a couple of years in when the sketches started getting more consistent.
Steve Buscemi hosted in 98 and in his monologue he tried to prove that he wasn’t just a serious actor by doing improv comedy.
– Okay audience, let’s try another location. – A nursery school. – Now that sucks. – [Drew] Surprisingly, my favorite sketch in this episode was a fake Disney movie trailer where they turn the Titanic into an animated musical for kids. – [Announcer] Don’t miss Titey, or you child will hate you.
– Growing up, I always hated these animated sketches. The worst sound to hear in the middle of the show was this: (upbeat theme song) Because I knew I was not gonna like it. But this one was all right.
When Weekend Update rolled around, I was very confused when Colin Quinn showed up. I thought I was familiar with every Weekend Update host.
I was wrong. Apparently Norm McDonald got fired mid season because he made too many OJ Simpson jokes and one of NBC’s executives was friends with OJ. If that story is true, it’s funnier than anything this guy said in his two years on the show. Finally in 99 Toby McGuire hosted, which I thought was weird. ‘Cause I didn’t think he became a big star until Spiderman came out a few years later.
He did a couple impressions the audience really loved. Keanu Reeves on Celebrity Jeopardy. – Keanu Reeves, you look rather pleased. Let’s see what you wrote down. Nothing.
(audience laughing) The question was write anything, and you got it wrong. – [Drew] And Screech from Saved by the Bell.
He was a natural and Will Ferrell was also really great in this episode. There’s a reason why he’s the defining member of this cast. If I had to pick, I’d say the two worst parts of this episode where Jimmy Fallon as Hillary Swank, – I’m a girl, you know.
– [Drew] and this sketch with a Cheri Oteri character named Nadine. Now, if you’re a little older than me you might be thinking, wait, I remember that character. She’s the simmer down now lady, I loved those sketches. And I would just say, maybe go back and watch a full sketch.
Although I enjoyed her performance here, I don’t love that the joke is just that they say simmer down now like 30 times.
– Just simmer down now. Simmer down. Simmer down now. Tell David when I see him he better simmer down too. – This style of catchphrase comedy has been one of my least favorite parts of SNL and something I think has plagued the show for the past three decades.
– Okay. – There’s a difference between repeating a joke but heightening it each time, and just saying the same thing over and over and over. This happened again in the next episode I watched with Conan I was really excited about this. I didn’t even know he had ever hosted, but one of the first sketches they did was him as Molecular Man, where he just kept repeating his catch phrase. – The Molecular Man!
– [Drew] And I get that the joke was that he was giving away his identity every time he would say that, but it was still kind of annoying.
It’s okay though. They made up for it by doing this sketch where he’s a doctor. – Hello there, Mr. Burrenwaugh.
– Brown. – [Drew] He has to break the news to his patient that in order to save his life during surgery, they had to remove his taint. – Are you talking about my fleshy fun bridge? You bastard! You butchered me!
– Horatio Sans is so good in this. If he didn’t sell it as well as he did it wouldn’t have worked at all. But his devastation is hilarious. – Oh, he can’t work. He lost his taint.
(lively jazz horns) This was another fantastic cast. While most of them didn’t turn into big movie stars like the cast from the early 90’s did, they were all really funny performers who were perfect for this show. You had Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Tracy Morgan, Chris Parnell, and Tina Fey started doing update with Jimmy Fallon, who I guess just woke up from a nap.
The Brittany Spears episode in 2002 was really good. She nailed Barbie which may not sound like a compliment, but it is.
She was really funny in this right down to the arm movement. I also liked this sketch about a news show where everything kept going wrong. And the rest of the episode was forgettable. Will Farrell moved on from SNL after this season. But I think he left the show in pretty good hands with Fred Armisen and Will Forte joining at the same time in season 28.
You know, as much as I’d love to see Al Gore, John McCain or Jeff Gordon host, what the fuck happened here? I went with another Brittany, this time Murphy.
I actually do kind of like the Leatherman sketches that Jimmy and Horatio did. But you’re not gonna believe it. They actually broke character during it.
What? I’ve never seen them do that before. Two of the most popular SNL sketches of all time came when Lindsay Lohan hosted in 2004, but I was more interested in watching the Olsen twins host the season finale together. – “New York Minutes”, a very good movie. (making incoherent noises) – You know what?
Nevermind. Tom Brady hosted in season 30. Wow. Is there anything this guy can’t do? ♪ I am the bears shuffling guy ♪ ♪ Shuffling on down, don’t ask me why ♪ Oh, comedy.
Maybe he really is human after all. For some reason season 31 barely exists online. The longest episode available is only 26 minutes. And a third of it is Dane Cook stand up. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t very excited for this episode as a kid, and seeing this turtleneck sketch again brought back a memory I forgot I had.
I actually told my friend about this skit the following Monday, hyping both it and Dane Cook as the funniest thing I’d ever seen.
– Ew. – Everyone makes mistakes. The best part of this episode at least that’s been preserved on the internet, is this taco town digital short. – Pizza?
Now that’s what I call a taco. – And that brings me to the most formative years of my SNL memory. (lively jazz horns) Don’t they say about SNL everybody’s favorite cast is the one from when they were a teenager? Well, I was 12 in 2006. So this was my favorite.
Part of the reason I wanted to make this video was actually to go back and watch these episodes in full to see if they are really as great as I remember them being or if I’m doing what the generation before me does to the Adam Sandler era.
And wouldn’t you know it, these episodes aren’t perfect either. I’ve been lied to by my own brain. I chose the Matthew Fox episode because I’ve actually been rewatching Lost recently. And I wanted to relive what it was like when that show was America’s biggest cultural phenomenon.
I like the …Lost-related..
. sketch. And I always thought the MTV 4 show they did was pretty funny. In this one Maya sang a song called “Tiny Moves” where she did tiny dance moves, but the rest of the show fell kind of flat.
In 2008, Shia LaBeouf hosted which made this a pretty easy choice for me.
Part of the fun of SNL is how they preserve specific moments from these celebrities peaks of stardom. Also, I remember liking this episode. There were three really great sketches. An old game show that turned into a murder investigation. a scared straight bit with Keenan, and this one where Shia and Andy buy drinks for two women who are very enamored with them.
– Well why choose one when you can have them all? – Oh you mean an eight-way? – When it rains, it pours. – Also I never really liked the Vinny DaVinci sketches growing up cause I didn’t understand them. But watching them as an adult, I appreciate them a lot more, especially how Will Forte never has any lines but he’s always in the background just eaten spaghetti.
I do have to dock a couple points for having probably the worst digital short out of the hundred or so that they made. (off key music) There’s a reason I have no memory of this.
Speaking of young celebrities in the peak of their stardom, a long-haired Zac Efron hosted in 2009 and performed a bunch of sketches that SNL’s YouTube page has probably recommended to you at some point. There’s the bar that doesn’t card, which Zack and Andy think is really cool until they realized there’s like eight year olds in here. – Whoa, whoa, careful guys, they’re gerbils.
– Gerbils? – Yeah it’s the opposite of cougars. – [Drew] There’s Troy Bolton going back to East High to warn everyone that nobody sings in college and everybody in this school got a terrible education. – I learned that I don’t have to play into stereotypes that people have for me. – I can be a jock and a dancer.
– What’s the capital of Texas? – Texas City? – Texas Town. – And finally this one with Fred Armisen. – I’m your mother!
(glass breaking) – [Drew] The next season had my favorite of John Hamm’s three times hosting, though this is one of those episodes that’s a little rough on rewatch.
‘Cause it’s like way too long political cold open, boring topical sketch that is obviously no longer topical, and now that that’s out of the way, we can get to the funny stuff. Like this sketch that I’ve always loved, with the musical guest, Michael Bublé, called “Hamm and Bublé,” a pork slash champagne restaurant they started where you slowly realized that John is holding him hostage. If you can better place for pork and champagne, keep it to yourself. Then there was a commercial for the closet organizer, which is just Will Forte in a blue morph suit.
– Scarves, joggers, water! All it needs is two meals a day and a little bucket to do it’s business in.
Then you forget about that for a minute. You watch this sketch with Fred Armisen as a distracting courtrooms stenographer, and then they end the show with something I’ve never seen on SNL. – I know you from somewhere.
Are you on TV? – A callback to one of the sketches from earlier. – You’re the freaking closet organizer guy, aren’t you? (laughing) – [Drew] In season 36, Emma Stone hosted.
And she’s one of those people like John Hamm and Ryan Gosling that elevate the episode whenever they’re on.
Some guests you kind of have to work around and give them small parts and things and not too many wordy lines. So it’s always nice when the host can carry a sketch on their own especially when the show’s trying to navigate cast turnover. This season had a lot of Abby Elliott and Paul Britton, two people who never really made a huge impact on anything. This Weekend Update was also great. They had Stefan and also John Mulaney as himself, something he did twice while writing for the show.
– I love to watch any movie that stars an animal, because the animal does not know that it is in a movie. – [Drew] Daniel Radcliffe was really good in season 37. They did a Harry Potter sketch where he’s sort of a has been at Hogwarts, but doesn’t want to accept it. But my favorite was probably spin the bottle.
– Make sure it lands on me.
– I’ll try. (quirky music) – Gay. – Bobby Moynihan was awesome on SNL and I miss him a lot. – Where’d you come from? – I fell from heaven.
JK, the woods. – [Drew] Generally season 38 was the last season for Fred, Bill and Jason Sudeikis. So this truly was the end of an era. Obviously Bill and Fred were dynamic performers who had a massive impact on the show. But I think Jason was a huge loss as well.
It’s easy to overlook the importance of the regular dude in sketches. You don’t always realize how valuable they were until they’re gone.
Since then they’ve tried to fill those roles with Taran Killam and Mikey Day. But Jason had such an affability to him that I don’t think they’ve been able to fully replace since he left. Anyway, I chose the Bruno Mars episode and outside of the monologue song, a sketch about creepy animatronics and the surprisingly earnest, sad mouse, there wasn’t anything here to write home about.
(sighing) And now they’re all gone. Sometimes when I think about modern SNL, I think, you know they’re still kind of in a transitional period. They’re still figuring stuff out. And then I realized it’s been like nine years already. And upon rewatching the shows from 2013 on, I realized a lot of them aren’t even that bad or at least not that much worse than the shows I’ve spent the past three weeks watching.
The cast is still extremely talented, although maybe not always used in the best way. But this period had Kate McKinnon, Bobby Moynihan, Aidy Bryant, Vanessa Bayer who was super underrated, and Taryn Killam had some really funny characters that killed every time.
A lot of this though, I appreciate more in hindsight. I was less excited to watch SNL at the time and often didn’t. And yeah I think it dropped a little bit in quality but that had more to do with the fact that I was like 20 years old at that point.
And I was more critical of the things I watched. So I completely understand why people older than me did the same thing to the mid two thousands cast that I grew up on. So 2013 to 2016 is sort of the modern SNL, but pre-Trump era. And I feel like it was like right when they were starting to find their comedic footing again, here comes Alec Baldwin. Now I’ve talked this before but one misconception people have is that SNL got political in 2016 as if that’s not something they’ve ever done before.
In the past few weeks, I’ve watched them make fun of Obama, Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Al Gore, Mitt Romney, George Bush, one and two.
And now they make fun of Biden. – Kamala Harris will become the first vice-president to be featured as a wax figure at Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, while Joe Biden is the first wax figure to become president. – And sure, like a lot of people, I prefer the nonpolitical sketches, but let’s not act like this is some new thing they’re trying. It’s like saying I used to like SNL until they started having musical guests.
Personally my biggest issue with how SNL handled the Trump era was just that they hired out. Of course, they’re gonna make sketches about Donald Trump, but you have all these new cast members on the show trying to make a name for themselves. And then you overshadow all of them by bringing on Alec Baldwin to play the guy who was already getting 24/7 media coverage. So I understand why this would cause casual viewers of the show to think that one, they’ve gotten more political now. And two, the current cast isn’t very good.
Both of those are the result of this.
But despite often being overshadowed by Alec Baldwin and Jim Carey, I do think the current cast and writers have done some pretty solid work. Michael and Colin are great together, even though it took them a couple of years to not be terrible at update. And although Kyle doesn’t always have a huge role on the show, I think Beck has been a perfect cast member because of how versatile he is.
Melissa Villasenor is constantly hilarious.
Bowen Yang is already looking like a star in the making. And now they’ve got this guy who people DM me to say they thought was me just because we have the same face, name, and hairstyle. But of course I couldn’t talk about modern SNL without bringing up this. (exciting music) – What I have to say right now might be a little cringe. People are so mean I don’t lie.
(crowd cheering) (upbeat music) – This episode was awful. I hated it. It was so difficult to watch that I was actually relieved when Chad showed up. I hate Chad. But even in this terrible episode there were a few bright spots.
I thought the sketch about how all our conversations sound the same now was spot on. – I went to one dinner outdoors and one dinner indoors. Do I have brain damage? – But I’m not going to sit here and say that it was a good episode, because it wasn’t. I don’t think they should have had him on in the first place.
Although I understand why they did. That’s just what SNL does.
Every so often someone controversial will come host. Whether it’s Rudy Giuliani in 1997 former board game mascot Donald Trump in 2015, or Elon Musk, wait, what? That’s the guy who makes self-driving cars and self exploding spacecrafts, but he’s not a comedian slash performer.
This is gonna be cringe. So then more people watch than usual. It’s the talk of the town for a day and a half. And everyone picks the worst sketch of the bunch to post on Twitter and satisfy the SNL sucks brigade. And it’s a shame though, not a surprise that this got all the attention because they followed it up the next week with Keegan Michael Key, an iconic sketch performer who brought the exact opposite energy to the show.
And then a season finale with Anya Taylor-Joy that had so many excellent bits in it. I think this was actually their best episode in years. I love this rerun of an old game show, where they keep having to cut parts out ’cause the celebrities on it all turned out to be terrible people.
I loved Beck Bennett as my favorite celebrity, Vin Diesel. – When the movie’s not loud enough.
When the movie’s a little too loud. – And the whole Weekend Update segment was hilarious and culminated in what I assume will be Cecily’s send off after nine years on the show. There’s a very specific group of people who say SNL is not funny anymore. They haven’t done anything funny since Chris Farley left. But then every once in a while, they’ll be like, this is the funniest thing SNL’s done in 20 years.
This is the funniest thing SNL’s done in 20 years. This is the funniest. This is the funniest thing, this is the funniest. How many times do you get to say that before realizing maybe the show is still funny sometimes and my hyperbolic catchphrase isn’t as accurate as I thought? So if we’re asking the question is SNL worse now than it’s ever been?
The answer is no, it’s the same as it’s always been.
The difference is in 1992, if there was a terrible unfunny sketch, and there were, people forgot about it the next day. A lot of the reason there’s this generation that looks back on the 80’s and 90’s with rose colored glasses is because these sketches have been viewed retroactively in the form of best of DVDs and shortened reruns on VH1 where they condense the episode down into the three funniest sketches and the rest quietly disappear off the face of the earth. Nowadays it takes five minutes for a sketch to get ripped onto Twitter and quote retweeted into oblivion. Every failure that happens on the show will get torn to shreds.
Not necessarily because it’s so much worse than it’s ever been, but because now it’s so much easier to shit all over things.
That’s like 70% of what the internet, Twitter and my YouTube channel is. Nostalgia is a drug that causes us to misconstrue our memories. It’s human nature to look back on things more fondly because old thing good and new thing bad. And because of its longevity, SNL will always fall victim to this, but more often than not, it’s an illusion.
I guarantee you this will happen again in another decade when people are like, SNL hasn’t been funny since the 2010s. Remember Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong? Beck and Kyle? Those dudes were stars. This new cast stinks and they do way too many sketches about president Carlson.
When did SNL gets so political? My point isn’t that you’re wrong to not like Saturday Night Live. I love the show and I will be the first to admit that sometimes it sucks ass.
And admittedly it can feel kind of weird to defend something with a success percentage that would only be impressive if this was baseball. Your time is valuable.
And if staying up to watch this show live is not worth it to you, I can’t blame you. All I’m saying is if you’re going to criticize the show at least try to do it with even a hair of nuance. I agree that at this point there are dozens of other sketch shows and even independent YouTubers who make funnier sketches than what you’ll see on a random SNL episode. I think it’s natural to want to compare those things, but it is a little unfair when you consider the process of how they get made. Most sketch shows get work done for weeks or months at a time.
They’re written, rewritten, recorded, edited, rewritten again until they’re perfect. And if something doesn’t turn out the way the writers expected it to, it probably never sees the light of day.
SNL doesn’t have that luxury. The writers are up for 19 straight hours on Tuesday trying to come up with an idea good enough to make the host laugh. And then they narrow it down to eight or nine on Wednesday.
And that’s pretty much what ends up in the show. So if any of the sketches seem like the insane ramblings of someone who’s dangerously sleep deprived, it’s probably because they are. I’m pretty sure the only reason that Wario courtroom sketch ever happened was because Elan was like, I want to play a Mario character. And then a couple of the writers spent like an hour and a half trying to make something funny. Like I said, it can feel pretty weird defending something that is so often not good.
I like to think that I have pretty good tastes when it comes to comedy. So a lot of people, when they find out I enjoy this show are like, really, you like this? Just know most people who watch SNL are also critical of them.
I don’t sit there, laughing my ass off at every joke regardless of if it’s funny or not, but it’s kind of like being a fan of a sports team. They’re not going to win every game.
Some seasons are better than others. And it sucks when you see your favorite players move on to a different team. But no matter what, I almost always find something to root for. There’s nights where it’s like, eh that episode was kind of rough, but Kyle really shined or Chloe had those two really funny sketches. And that’s part of why I enjoy watching it.
It’s fun to root for these young comedians and watch them get better over time and come into their own. And then one of them ends up in a big movie a few years later and you’re like I remember watching you when people said, who’s this girl? She sucks. But you always believed. You were there from the beginning.
And I understand that that kind of thing does not matter to a lot of people but, I like it. SNL is not the pinnacle of comedy but it’s also not the worst show ever made.
And if you still feel absolutely certain that the old shows were perfect and the new shows are crap, I would encourage you to go back and watch a random full episode from your favorite season. And you will see that your memory is playing tricks on you. Anyway, I have rambled for six hours, jeez.
I hope you liked this video. I spent pretty much all month on it. So I would appreciate it if you commented something like, ah, you suck idiot SNL trash like you. That would mean the world to me. That being said, I do have bills pay and NBC will probably put a copyright strike on this video.
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Thank you to Squarespace for sponsoring this video and be sure to check out apictureofhotdog.com at pictureofhotdog.com. Well, I’m done. So I think it’s time I get outta here.
Oh, Lorne. I made the video. Lorne? Lorne? You in here?
I guess I was in my house this whole time. So I did not need to make this video. Oh well, see ya tomorrow. (lively jazz horns).