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The SNL Theory

One thing that I have observed about those who watch Saturday Night Live on a regular basis is an overwhelming amount of bitching about the current state of the sketch comedy show. Viewers frequently talk about “when SNL was good” like it was some yester-year that is definitely not in place now.

I have heard countless statements and read many an article claiming that “SNL was better back then“. Strangely, the ratings have never reflected this. For example, the Sarah Palin sketches featuring Tina Fey as the charasmatic vice-president hopefull garnished SNL’s best ratings in 14 years. This has led me to a theory that those who watch SNL are forever doomed to complain about SNL’s current crop of comedians.

The current claim is “SNL isn’t as good as it was with Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Tracey Morgan, Jimmy Fallon, etc”. Well, guess what. During that era of SNL (late 90’s to early 2000’s) people complained then, too. What was shouted then was “SNL just isn’t as good now as it was when Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Chris Rock, etc were on”. During that time, people were complaining that SNL had lost its edge from when comedians like Mike Myers, Kevin Nealon, and Dana Carvey were on. Looking back on it, all those casts brought some pretty memorable moments, no?

My point is, SNL has produced a pretty impressive crop of comedians over its time. You can look back to the very beginning of SNL and find people like Chevy Chase. Then you can look back to just a few years ago and find Tina Fey and Amy Phoeler. So either all these people underperformed on SNL or maybe the complaints that the “good ole days of SNL” are behind us aren’t valid.

In a few years time when The Lonely Island gang is long gone from SNL, I have little doubt that people will look back to now and complain about the lack of those great “SNL Digital Shorts”.

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Introduction of an Old Face

June 2, 2009 1 comment

On June 1st, 2009 Conan made his return to the late night

I have been a long time fan of Conan O’Brien, even since his days with Andy Richter. I applauded the decision to give Conan the Tonight Show and anxiously awaited the date when our fire-headed funny-man made the long trek to L.A. Last night, we were given our first glimpse of what 11:35pm weeknights will look like from here on out.

My biggest fear about Conan’s move to become only the third host in Tonight Show history was that Conan would be forced to clean up his act. Not that Conan is overly gross or immature, but there is little doubt that Conan appeals more to the young viewers than did the “Guy next door” Jay Leno.

My fears about Conan moving earlier were he would have to clean up his act to appeal to younger viewers, appealing to older viewers would not be Conan’s strength and would ultimately hurt his charm, and if he did not appeal to the older crowds he’d lose a large viewership and ultimately fall in the ratings.

Conan’s first appearance last night as host of The Tonight Show was a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I was very happy that Conan was Conan. Watching last night made me feel like this was just a standard episode of Late Night but in a new studio. Conversely, however, I think I expected Conan to be funnier than usual. I thought to myself during the monologue, “He’s had three months off and this is the best he could come up with?” Nevermind that, because I have faith that Conan will continue to shine.

One feeling I got while watching The Tonight Show that I did not expect was a feeling of awkwardness. I did not want Conan to clean up his act, however, during some of Conan’s more crude attempts at humor last night I thought, “Oh wow, I am surprised he is doing a joke like that at this hour.” (Best example is the woman spraying water all over her chest when Conan drove by in his car). I think my biggest fear with this is what I mentioned above. I do not want Conan to alienate his viewers and lose in the ratings.

So, to summarize, Conan did not shock me. Conan was Conan and that is all any long-time fan of O’Brien’s could hope for.

Positives

  • Same old Conan
  • Gorgeous new studio
  • Virtually the same cast of characters (Max Weinberg, etc)

Negatives

  • The return of Andy Richter (somehow that man is able to turn any funny situation into an awkward situation – the unfunny kind of awkward)
  • Lack of banter with Max Weinberg (I honestly do not think this is permanent)
  • Crowd size (The smaller audience in NYC always allowed for a more intimate feeling, now Conan feels miles away)

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