Posted on January 25, 2019
by Steve Janowick
They are the epitome of all that’s gone haywire today.
Just a couple years ago, my kids, wife and I used to look forward to Saturday nights. We would all make our favorite snacks and curl up on the couch in the dark living room-anticipating the cold opening. Who would the guest be? The musical act? We’d especially get a kick out of Andy Samberg’s Digital Shorts. The kids loved them! Just goofy, irreverent skits, but always benign and fun. Watching Saturday Night Live each week was always a great time for me and my family. Bonding through laughter.
Hell, I’d been a fan since the first episode aired in the 70’s! As a small child growing up SNL seemed to always be in my periphery. Ingrained in all of us as a comedy institution. A big part of the cultural fabric that blanketed many boomers and Gen X’ers. It was humor for the thinking man. You kind of had to be cool and “in the know” to get the satire. Always topical but never too provocative-it was just a great release after a hard week of work.
But now it’s all gone. The show is dead.
I was going to start this post with a reference to a classic 1980’s episode of Saturday Night Live. You know, the second or third incarnation, the Eddie Murphy/Joe Piscopo era. I figured my readers would be able to relate to the points I’m trying to make by comparing this fantastic 80’s incarnation against the trash that Lorne Michaels is producing today. But then I realized all I needed to do was go back to pre-2016 to make said point.
Because November of 2016 is when they stopped caring about being funny and started caring about making a point. Their point. I knew something was very askew when the very first episode after the election had a weeping Kate McKinnon performing a slobbering piano rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as an ode to Hillary-and what could have/should have been. This wasn’t shtick poking fun at the defeated candidate-which would have actually been humorous. No, these were real tears she was shedding, yielded from actual heartfelt grief. And it was at that moment that I knew SNL had completed their far-left turn and were now totally invested in their particular platform and agenda.
And from that episode since it’s been nothing but a weekly, one-sides parody of Trump, Republicans and conservative ideologies in general. Alec Baldwin’s career is barely hanging but he still shows up, seemingly each week, to take his vapid shots at the President. Weak, man! Ironically, most of us are pretty thick-skinned and actually enjoy a little self-deprecation now and again, but we at least require those parodies aimed at us to be thought provoking, intelligent or funny-neither of which they are. They’re nothing more than cliched, trite and unoriginal hack jobs written by a bunch of young, petulant urbanites who can’t see the rest of the world through that foggy bubble that covers New York City.
And, frankly, it’s disappointing. There’s always a place for sharp, witty political satire. We all love it. It’s great stuff! The old SNL casts were masters at it. Yea, most of them were very left leaning, but they always put the comedy first. Think Chevy Chase doing Gerald Ford or Dana Carvey’s spot on George Bush Sr. But not this current crop. These cats today are seething with anger and rage. They’re traumatized by some bogus, right-wing boogeyman. They’re fearful that the second coming of the Nazi regime is going to round them up in the streets. And the shows they are currently producing are a reflection of all that.
Even my very A-political kids have tuned out. To them it’s just “dumb” and “not funny.” But as long as our country stays divided right down the middle, SNL will always have a sustainable audience. They’ll just keep catering to that half that have their pitchforks sharpened, cult dues paid, Kool Aid sweetened-and impeachment hopes alive.
I say have at it, SNL! Me and my brood will be over here watching re-runs of South Park on Netflix.
…And actually laughing again!
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