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Has "Saturday Night Live" Finally Become Saturday Night Dead?
When I was younger, I faithfully watched “Saturday Night Live” because it always seemed to have enough “funny” to keep me positive and laughing. The list of comedians who have been there on their way to greater fame and fortune reads like a list of who’s who in comedy and is too long to repeat here. A much shorter list would be who has never been a cast member or guest on Saturday Night Live.
I don’t think it’s really a revelation to say that Saturday Night Live has lost some of its “funnyness” as well as a lot of viewership. People talk about it less on Monday mornings. This all came back to me watching Peyton Manning in his debut as a guest host on Saturday night.
Manning, the Super Bowl MVP for the world champion Indianapolis Colts, has a reputation for being very intense, demanding and uptight to the point of being constipated when it comes to game preparation and execution. . It makes sense that he would be just as intense on Saturday Night Live. Peyton Manning certainly saw the program as an opportunity to give viewers a sense of his “other side.” He can afford media consultants to suggest how he might refresh his image.
That’s why I found it disturbing when, in a skit, he knocked down children by throwing soccer balls at them, then berated them for their stupidity and incompetence. After watching this attempt at humor, I thought the National Football League and its partner United Way would come unstuck. I was wrong. I have heard very little of Manning’s sketches. I doubt Manning stayed awake nights before his appearance imagining the skits he did. The soccer game with the kids didn’t impress me at all and I didn’t find it fun at all.
When you drop by to see Little League baseball games these days, there’s always a coach or two yelling, swearing and scolding the kids for hitting or throwing the ball to the wrong base. Fathers who are losers become coaches who are legion in “beating” the children.
Successful athletes never do. They understand how hard it is to get good and how making mistakes is how you learn to fix them. Successful athletes are positive and encouraging almost without exception. I took issue with this particular skit because kids today have too many heroes that aren’t worthy of adulation or emulation. Some heroes today have a longer rap sheet than their list of valid credits.
Media pundits might insist that the program is aimed at “young urban adults” or a particular demographic, and that kids shouldn’t even watch the comedy at that time. Experts say that’s why what I have to say is moot. I’m talking nonsense, these routines are funny because they strike a chord with the vast majority of viewers or not, regardless of age or when the program airs.
Being young, sophisticated, and from New York doesn’t mean you recognize and appreciate comedy any more than a 62-year-old grandfather from Lacey, Washington like me. The current state of Saturday Night Live probably has more to do with lack of originality than lack of presentation. If you went to any downtown metro area looking for a prostitute, the pimp would tell you “pimping ain’t easy”, and the same goes for writing comedy in a delay.
We’ve all probably had a comedic moment in our lives, but how many of us can come up with a comedic routine at just the right time? That’s why we watch comedy rather than trying to create comedy. God bless Seth Myers, the new editor of Saturday Night. He clearly understands that what is not alive is dead. That said, Seth Meyers needs help. Tina Fey, the head writer who preceded Meyers, also needs help. Even Loren Michaels should be under the microscope; he provides leadership and hires talent or non-talent, as the case may be.
Saturday Night Live isn’t as funny as it used to be. Everything is tired. I believe it’s not so much the casting as the casting just needs better material. If there’s one thing I dislike more than unfunny comedy, it’s politicians who have nothing better to do than take up space and talk without contributing solutions.
So, if I’m kidding here, allow me to offer Loren Michaels a modest proposition: publicly ask viewers to submit comedy sketch ideas and dialogue. Give viewers the option to email suggestions without any compensation.
It’s an inexpensive idea and who knows, maybe new ideas will surface and if someone clearly keeps bringing new ideas that work then maybe they should join the show for the opportunity and compensation. Think about it, Loren. Recognize this fact: It doesn’t take much skill to create bathroom humor, but does bathroom humor really work that well? I do not think so.
The best humor is when we make fun of ourselves rather than others. Everyone can identify with this kind of humor without taking sides. Comedy is not about dividing and conquering, comedy is about making everyone laugh. And, as Readers Digest says, laughter is the best medicine.
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