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Defending SNL From… You?

Almost without fail, every single move by Saturday Night Live comes under heavy scrutiny, usually in a negative light. Every episode is extensively recapped by almost every culture or humor blog (note that we do not do that here at Nerdist.com) essentially saying either how shitty SNL has gotten or how, thankfully, this particular episode was tolerable. The New York Times just wrote, almost in an patronizing-apologist fashion, how the funny female hosts on SNL are changing perceptions of women in comedy. Aside from the unnecessary encouragement of the “are women funny” discourse amongst comedy, SNL still holds sway as a benchmark in comedy in the hearts and minds of many despite generational changes in the show.

Photo: Christopher Macsurak via Wikipedia

The hate leveled at SNL manifests itself most clearly in the outrage at the announcement of who will be hosting the show in a few weeks or months. Despite the unpopular image of Lindsay Lohan, the recent announcement of having her on SNL shouldn’t be a surprise. SNL has had plenty of guests over decades that are there only because of their cultural cache derived from a movie release, TV show airing, winning a professional sports championship, or in this case, trying to rehabilitate their career, starting off with a well-received (so I hear) photo spread in Playboy on that particular week.

The unfortunate reality is that any show like SNL that has lasted almost 40 years inevitably has to change. The zeitgeist at which SNL digs to poke fun is constantly shifting, necessitating different cast members, different comedic sensibilities, and a show that will be absolutely not be the one that “you grew up with.” As such, it’s pretty much wasted time and effort getting steamed over anything SNL does, especially when the core of the problem is “this isn’t like the Will Ferrell days,” or, “this will never be as good as Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, AHHHHHH!” Watch old episodes of “your” SNL if you’re going to raise your blood pressure over someone hosting SNL that isn’t the funniest person on earth.

As this is the case, the following is a list of things that are more worth your time than getting mad at SNL:

-Digging through apartment for loose change then going to bank instead of Coinstar to get every last cent
-Going to the DMV and waiting for no reason at all
-Finding the thief that only steals from people who are donating their goods by leaving them on the curb for Goodwill to pick up
-Discovering that Jimmy Hoffa was buried in the Bermuda Triangle, which is really in Atlantis, which is most likely located at the coordinates of some code found in John Hodgman’s book That Is All
-Learning Esperanto
-Making a blog of Game of Thrones .gifs that are translated into Esperanto
-Convincing Matthew McConaughey to never take his shirt off again
-Getting your own reality show because of how interesting/horrible of a person you are right after you read this list
-Live-tweeting the Oscars while sitting next to Martin Scorsese at the Oscars
-Complaining about people who live tweet the Oscars on Twitter
-Ironically tweeting whatever sports event is happening opposite the Oscars during the Oscars
-Creating a web series of you stepping on different sidewalk cracks around the world to keep metaphorically breaking your mother’s back
-Eating an entire bottle of Srircha sauce without anyone daring you to
-Illegally uploading every Celebrity Jeopardy sketch only to find someone already did it
-Write SNL fan fiction
-Find America’s Next Honey Badger
-Write your Congressman about how parking enforcement isn’t vital to the advancement of society and asking him to pardon your ticket
-Trying to kill America’s Next Honey Badger with your bare hands
-Watching all of Berlin Alexanderplatz in one sitting
-Writing a stream of consciousness free form poem on your experience of watching Berlin Alexanderplatz
-Adapting aforementioned stream of consciousness free form poem into a fake Twitter account
-Reading every book at Urban Outfitters
-Starting your own public access show that you think is funny (Who knows? It might be good.)
-Starting Anti-Pinterest
-Go through your parent’s yearbook and realize they were as ridiculous as you were/are in HS and then have a revelation that topical sketch humor shifts with every generation and then remember that you should probably leave your folks’ house soon unless you want to end up staying over and painting a spare room that happen to have.
-Asking homeless people if they had just stolen your bike.
-Reminiscing that time Tim Meadows made fun of OJ Simpson by reviewing a football play that said “I Did It”.
-Saying that “you’re a wild and crazy guy” in your apartment a bunch of times until you get evicted for noise complaints.

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12 comments

  • I’m looking forward to Lindsey hosting this week. It is good she is really trying to turn her life around and she has a good history with SNL.

    I stopped reading comments on blogs about SNL cause they usually all start with “That show is still on.???”

  • SNL is still producing good TV and its stars are still going to do well in TV and film. Just look at NBC or Thursday night, you’ve got Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey and Amy Phoeler all being hilarious. Kirsten Wiig made the biggest comedy film of 2011. Where else are the big female comedy stars coming from?

  • My schedule has changed recently as such that it now affords me time to actually watch SNL every week. Seems fine to me. I do tend to be annoyed at it when they have people I don’t necessarily like on, but then I get over it and enjoy the show. Lohan being someone I don’t think about either way.

  • I especially love when people say that the show will never be as good as when Steve Martin on it, since most don’t realize that he was NEVER a cast member. Although he really should have been, given how often he has appeared.

    Interestingly enough, Justin Timberlake seems to be inching toward a similar situation himself. Give it a few years with more host and guest appearances, and then syndicated repeats will convince people that he, too, was a cast member.

  • Aaawww, those SNL promos were adorable! If those spots are any indication, I think Lohan will do well. For years, anytime someone famous is being self-destructive, or we collectively disapprove of their behavior, we also tend to say, “I just wish he/she would get his/her life together and get back on track.” Lindsay Lohan seems to be doing just that, and rather than applaud her for it and cheer her on with words of encouragement, some people still seem to mock her or send hate her way.

    It’s weird to me. Recently, and I can’t remember where I heard this (it might have even been Chris Hardwick who said it. I listen to so many podcasts, it’s hard to keep track), someone said, “We’re a culture that will actually root for someone to fail”. I choose not to play such a screwed up game and instead, I wish Lindsay Lohan well. After all, let’s remember that RDJ once went through something similar.

  • Great post, and I agree with this wholeheartedly.

    Some sketches are better than others, and some episodes are better than others, but it’s never NOT been that way. What they accomplish in a week continues to be amazing, and bloggers who snark about the show’s weak moments are picking the lowest-hanging fruit.

    In my opinion, I think the only mistake that’s been made is the continuing expansion of the budget. A decade ago, they were running at $2 million an episode –no idea what it is now, but the effects/sets/costumes/etc just keep getting more elaborate. I think it subconsciously raises the audience’s expectations. A live sketch show is should be riddled with endearing flaws, but if the only flaws left are in the writing, they’re going to be amplified.

    Incidentally, going to an SNL taping is an absolutely incredible experience, and you should all try to do it. My account attending the Fallon Xmas episode: http://www.third-beat.com/2011/12/19/snl-from-the-bleachers-part-1-pre-show/

  • I guess SNL quality goes up and down. After the legendary 70s, the very early 80s were awful, then got better and better through the 80s and early 90s (although, the weird Robert Downey Jr/Athony M Hall year wasn’t that great). But somewhere in the mid 90s, the quality dropped considerably and aside from some gems here and there from Farrel, Fey, Shannon,etc, it was just too many cringe worthy skits with long pauses with NO ONE laughing. It was too uncomfortable to watch. In the last three years though it has gotten better.

    I know there is this assumption that if your older and you don’t care for a new version of something it’s only because it doesn’t fit the one you know and love. But that’s not always the case, sometimes something just sucks. Wouldn’t you agree that the Star Wars prequels are just bad films in general? It has nothing to do with nostalgia, they just suck. There was no magic whatsoever in them. It’s not not poo-pooing just because, it’s observation.

  • I.M.O Jake just leave the NEGATIVE LETS PICK THIS APART TILL WERE ALL MAD bullshit articles out of nerdist. theres no need for them here. you would do better on a tmz type website where bitching and complaing and ripping apart while making absolutley no personal point is their success story. stop making something out of nothing, your reviving trolled comments on the web and talking about them C`mon Lad Cheer Up and put on “Always look on the bright side of life”.

    I am actually kinda shocked chris is in support of these types of articles. He doesnt seem like the shit disturbing type……and i know he`s not which is even more confusing.Perhaps this many-headed beast is getting slightly too big for its britches and needs to smack a head back in place. But it all makes sense with the BBC Gig,AMC gig, Recent standup special prep an so forth. No matter who you are, sometimes things can get a lil shotty in an area if your not able to dedicate 100% into it. I speak from experience.
    But STFU i will and Tirah! for now indeed

  • The fact (and surprise) is that there’s nothing else like it on television(used to be; SCTV, MAD TV, Chappel’s Show.)

    I’ve heard watching a live taping is like going to a Broadway show. Saturday Night Live is really the only original American programming on (network) television where the actors dress up and do characters.

    I think what Lorne did was invent a different format for programming live entertainment that has become our own “Opera buffa” an endless melody of what is weighing on the American psyche.

  • Lindsay Lohan was most likely on SNL because she had been on it before and was pretty good on it. I think its daft people think she should stop getting work, she should and maybe has calm down a bit