Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Saturday Night Live (40 Years And Counting...)

Saturday Night Live debuted about 3 weeks before I was born.

My first recollection of the show was on March 12, 1983 when Buckwheat was shot. I was a little more than 7 years old and didn’t yet grasp the concept of parody. The now famous sketch aired almost 2 years to the day after President Ronald Reagan was shot in similar fashion.

I wouldn’t start watching Saturday Night Live more religiously until around the time NBC aired the miniseries AD (March 31-April 4, 1985) and SNL did a running gag throughout the episode. “Caesar does not bring me this glove himself?” WHACK WHACK!

But it would be the cast of the 12th season that would seal the deal for me. Dana Carvey, Nora Dunn, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Victoria Jackson, Lon Lovitz as well as holdover from season 11, Dennis Miller collectively worked together to bring me back week after week. A. Whitney Brown and Kevin Nealon were merely featured players at that time.

My parents bought a video camera in 1987 just in time for Christmas.

I would film my own sketches with my brothers Brian and Erick, which were mostly shittier versions of the sketches SNL did the week before. My buddy Jim would spend many Saturday nights, which might explain why to this day, our conversations still invoke Steve Amadbenbrassier (from the “Iran’s Most Wanted” sketch).

By the time 1994 rolled around, I was convinced I would someday be a writer on Saturday Night Live. I wasn't brazen enough to think I’d be a cast member. After all, I had terrible stage fright.

Fast forward to 2015. Though, I obviously have never written for Saturday Night Live, I have done an awful lot with live comedy.  I still think of that kid from 1994, and his stage fright, every time I step on stage and I wonder if he could fathom what he’s done.

So this past Sunday, NBC  aired a live broadcast celebrating 40 years of SNL. I admit, my love for the show has faded over the past decade and a half. Perhaps I’m too old to truly be a member of its fan base, don’t trustanyone over 30 and such. But all the same I was very excited to see all of my comic heroes on one stage.

Neither the kid with stage fright, nor the slightly graying/heavily balding performer, was disappointed with the outcome.

Sure there were some missed cues, but all in all I enjoyed the show. I watched for about an hour and a half before I picked up my phone to see what Facebook and Twitter had to say. I was kind of surprised by how much vitriol and anger I was seeing. Then I remembered, it’s the internet. Did these voices also dream long ago that they’d now be writing for SNL? I decided to close my phone and just enjoy the rest of the show.

I loved all of the inside jokes. Many of them I know from years of reading about what goes on behind the show.

I loved seeing all of the Not Ready For Primetime Playersfrom the original cast. At least all of them that are still alive.

I loved seeing so many SUPER stars who got their starts in studio 8H including Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey.

I loved seeing how humble Chevy Chase, a man who doesn’t usually know that word, was.

I loved seeing the return of Eddie Murphy, no matter how brief.

I even loved seeing Miley Cyrus sing a very restrained version of Paul Simon's  50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, realizing she’s NOT bigger than SNL (something that Kanye West didn’t seem to get).

It’s weird to see a show that is the exact same age as you, grow old. It makes me wonder how many jokes either of us has left. Will SNL go on until Lorne Michaels breathes his last breath? Will it continue even after he’s gone, as an institution to not just television, but comedy? Will I out live it? Is it still waiting around for that kid from 1994?

No matter what the future holds for you, me, Lorne Michaels, angry tweeters or SNL, there’s is one thing that will always remain true:

No comments: