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Josh Hurst

Television: When did SNL stop being funny?

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Peter T Chattaway wrote:

Samuel Z. P. Thomas wrote:  

: Oh, and another thing that has really bugged me about the current SNL:  

: Rachel Dratch.  

I was quite smitten with her a while ago, actually. Hmmm.

::: shudder :::

DGibFen wrote:

The thing that disappoints me... is the lack of social commentary from the skits. The bite that some of the skits had before are now just watered down.

Exactly. That's what I meant by not being cutting edge. All SNL seems to do now is offer a lowest common denominator reflection of society rather than what used to be biting and very humorous comment and satire on it.

The exception is the Weekend Update segment which is the only part of the show that consistently offers it and that consistently does it well.

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The show pretty much lost all appeal for me with the departure of Murphy/Piscopo. There were highlights, but it seemed to me somewhere along the way they lost their ability to discern good writing from bad--and lacked the players to turn even bad writing into good satire. Watching it became a painful exercise in overkill; If a joke doesn't work within a minute on the air, five minutes of it is excruciating.

No one liked Jane Curtin?

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No one liked Jane Curtin?

[raises hand]

Also a big fan of Gilda Radner. I'm very old and crotchety.

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Hey, I liked Curtin, but she was pretty much an all-purpose straight woman. But I'm a fan of comedy "pitchers". I thought Desi to be WAY funnier than Lucy, particularly when she descended into physical comedy (she didn't have to). I like Dean Martin and, of course the great Phil Hartman and Nora Dunn, as well.

The thing that disappoints me (and I'm 24, but I've seen many of the episodes from early, middle, and current SNL) is the lack of social commentary from the skits.  The bite that some of the skits had before are now just watered down.  I wonder if that's because this kind of humor writing is now part of the cultural lexicon, that it's not shocking anymore, or that many other shows are just doing a better job (The Daily Show, anyone?)

This is why I like Fey/Fallon. They do social commentary along with the "Mom tamps down Jimmy" schtick. The show jumped the shark again when they let Molly Shannon go out of control in every skit, no matter what character she played. Since then, it seems to me that everyone has the right to their individual "Molly Moment", sometimes all in the same bit. Comedy needs discipline and there is none there anymore, social commentary or no social commentary.

Nobody is willing to play "scenery" either. Like the way Ayckroyd use to play a minor character using something from his collection of arcane Canadian accents during Murray's sleazy lounge act (Nick Snow, Nick Spring, Nick Summer, Nick Fall). Curtin, Murray, Rocket, Hartmann and Piscopo willingly did this until Piscopo's ego ruined him.

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This is why I like Fey/Fallon. They do social commentary along with the \"Mom tamps down Jimmy\" schtick... Comedy needs discipline and there is none there anymore, social commentary or no social commentary.

But while the Weekend Update seems to work, the rest of the show is terribly off. I've argued that having Tina Fey as the head writer is more detremental to the show than helpful. If she is the head writer (and I could be wrong) then she should have quality control. If the overall shows have been lacking, then someone needs to fix quality control.

Nobody is willing to play \"scenery\" either. Like the way Ayckroyd use to play a minor character using something from his collection of arcane Canadian accents during Murray's sleazy lounge act (Nick Snow, Nick Spring, Nick Summer, Nick Fall). Curtin, Murray, Rocket, Hartmann and Piscopo willingly did this until Piscopo's ego ruined him.

Huh. Never thought about that till now. Makes some sense, cause I never see featured players standing in the background doing very little on the last few seasons (well, there are some exceptions, but they are rare).

At this point, they do need some new blood in the show. Get a new head writer and dump a few of the featured players (Jeff Richards has not been seen since last year, so I'd assume he got a pink slip - deservingly so, as he only created one character that was halfway funny). that are chewing up too much of the scenery. (For example, every skit Fallon and Horatio Sanz are in together is ruined by their terrible ad-libbing and constant cracking up).

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But while the Weekend Update seems to work, the rest of the show is terribly off.  I've argued that having Tina Fey as the head writer is more detremental to the show than helpful.  If she is the head writer (and I could be wrong) then she should have quality control.  If the overall shows have been lacking, then someone needs to fix quality control.

Oh, right. Just because I like Weekend Update doesn't mean I validate the performance of the Head Writer or her staff, for that matter. Quality Control use to be done from Lorne Micheals' office during the various successful epochs. It's HIS fault in the long run. Consider Al Franken, he was head writer at least twice during excellent periods. I would say that his work on his own today is quite uneven, just like Fey left to her own devices. Micheals always had rules about what could be done, regardless of whether it was funny. Maybe he has changed them in order to be "fresh".

Nobody is willing to play \"scenery\" either.  

Huh.  Never thought about that till now.  Makes some sense, cause I never see featured players standing in the background doing very little on the last few seasons (well, there are some exceptions, but they are rare).

At this point, they do need some new blood in the show.  Get a new head writer and dump a few of the featured players (Jeff Richards has not been seen since last year, so I'd assume he got a pink slip - deservingly so, as he only created one character that was halfway funny).  that are chewing up too much of the scenery. (For example, every skit Fallon and Horatio Sanz are in together is ruined by their terrible ad-libbing and constant cracking up).

New blood, yes indeed. This cast is weak. It's huge by historical standards with only a handful of good people. To my, on again off again viewing, the featured players do seem to come and go, though. Not just ad libbing, but Sanz himself is part of the problem. How large is the Mad-TV cast? They need five or six versitile people who know they will be stars soon. Right now the need to be cast members.

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Oh, right. Just because I like Weekend Update doesn't mean I validate the performance of the Head Writer or her staff, for that matter.

No worries. My misunderstanding of your post.

New blood, yes indeed. This cast is weak. It's huge by historical standards with only a handful of good people. To my, on again off again viewing, the featured players do seem to come and go, though. Not just ad libbing, but Sanz himself is part of the problem. How large is the Mad-TV cast? They need five or six versitile people who know they will be stars soon. Right now the need to be cast members.

Who do you think needs to go, out of curiousity?

I'd like to see Fallon, Sanz, Chris Parnell, Rachel Dratch, Darrell Hammond (his impersonations are starting to blend together) and Kenan Thompson mysteriously gone by next season. Then allow the rest of this year's featured players to step up and deliver. But knowing my luck, they will get rid of all of the featured players from the last year.

(Oh, and the funny thing - Seth Meyers' brother Josh is one of the cast members on Mad-TV.)

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Who do you think needs to go, out of curiousity?

I'd like to see Fallon, Sanz, Chris Parnell, Rachel Dratch, Darrell Hammond (his impersonations are starting to blend together) and Kenan Thompson mysteriously gone by next season. Then allow the rest of this year's featured players to step up and deliver. But knowing my luck, they will get rid of all of the featured players from the last year.

I'm ambivalent about Dratch. She is about the only one willing to do scenery, but what she does is uneven. She does a great 11 to 14 year old boy, though. Parnell is too versatile to lose. Better direction could yield a better Parnell. His voice alone could give him Hartmann-like work. I have to stay up and watch tonite (I only discovered your post just now). Definitely keep the cute little blonde chick. Her work in "Queer Eye For the Straight Girl" alone is worth another year. Fallon could stay if reigned in. Paring the cast is one thing. It needs better direction.

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I can't remember why we were still up at 11:30 last night, but the first half of the Colin Firth show actually was funny, once they got past the vulgar Martha Stewart-themed opener. DH and I actually laughed instead of rolling our eyes, or averting them. Everyone fawning on Firth's Real-British-Actorness was hilarious. A "Cold Mountain" spoof, in which Firth played a Jude Law type who couldn't do a Southern accent--and then all the other actors were revealed to be non-Americans as well--was also a hoot.

In short, the humor was based on situations, acting, and surprise, not sex, drugs, bodily-excretions, and shock.

Norah Jones was too soothing, however, so we went to bed. :roll:

Hope the rest of the show went well.

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Daggum! I'm up at 4:30am on workdays (that means Saturday too). I fell asleep halfway through Paper Lion (HAD to see my heroes Alex Karras, Lem Barney, and Joe Schmidt) last night and woke up at 12:45am. I missed Colin Firth. Never saw the show.

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From last week's show:

"Every British actor's dream is to play an authentic American hero." --Colin Firth in the "Cold Mountain" skit.

laugh.gif

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Oh, and another thing that has really bugged me about the current SNL:  Rachel Dratch.

Infidel! mad.gif

She's currently my favorite cast member. She makes me laugh almost every time she's on camera.

Edited by TexasWill

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She makes me cringe. Maybe it's a Dallas/Fort Worth difference of opinion, neighbor.

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I thought Desi to be WAY funnier than Lucy, particularly when she descended into physical comedy (she didn't have to).

Whaa.... whaa... huh?

Lucille Ball is the greatest female physical comic of all time. What exactly about her physical comedy is a "descent"?

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Why don't they have a Best of Gilda on DVD?

Her live Broadway show is on DVD. Just as good.

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Whaa.... whaa... huh?

Lucille Ball is the greatest female physical comic of all time. What exactly about her physical comedy is a "descent"?

At least for purposes of her television career, she knew no restraint. She never knew when the joke had past and kept going, IMO. The classic scenes are all of eventual over the top excess. Vita-meena-vegamin, the candy factory, the grape stomping. They all extended way past the apex of the joke and into the draining of every once humor from the bit. Given the chance, she was way better in comedic dialogue. I can't watch those bits anymore.

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I just came back from Best Buy and Target and realized they recently released some new Best Of SNL DVD including:

Best of Gilda on DVD. Woohoo!

"She's the Jewess in Jewess Jeans."

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At least for purposes of her television career, she knew no restraint. She never knew when the joke had past and kept going, IMO. The classic scenes are all of eventual over the top excess. Vita-meena-vegamin, the candy factory, the grape stomping. They all extended way past the apex of the joke and into the draining of every once humor from the bit.

I couldn't disagree more. Well, I could, but I might get in trouble. Your comment, sir, may well apply to the past 15 years of SNL, but in my estimation it fails to describe Lucille Ball.

A matter of taste and perspective, I guess...

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At least for purposes of her television career, she knew no restraint. She never knew when the joke had past and kept going, IMO. The classic scenes are all of eventual over the top excess. Vita-meena-vegamin, the candy factory, the grape stomping. They all extended way past the apex of the joke and into the draining of every once humor from the bit.

I couldn't disagree more. Well, I could, but I might get in trouble. Your comment, sir, may well apply to the past 15 years of SNL, but in my estimation it fails to describe Lucille Ball.

A matter of taste and perspective, I guess...

I sadly agree with you on SNL. Even Weekend Update is ruined and anything Horatio Sanz touches turns to mush.

Have you heard that Charles Rocket died? And it was ruled a suicide?

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The only good thing about SNL this weekend: Pearl Jam. Wasn't a big fan of the last couple of albums, but they know how to play a live show well.

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The only good thing about SNL this weekend: Pearl Jam. Wasn't a big fan of the last couple of albums, but they know how to play a live show well.

To each his own. I tuned out when they showed up. Not my cup of tea.

There's something about the bold stupidity of Andy Samberg that's quite endearing,tho. Laser Cats didn't measure up to Lettuce or Narnia, but it held my attention throughout and laughed at the sheer goofballness of the concept. And I came in a little late with the restaurant sketch, but that was funny, IMO.

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There's something about the bold stupidity of Andy Samberg that's quite endearing,tho. Laser Cats didn't measure up to Lettuce or Narnia, but it held my attention throughout and laughed at the sheer goofballness of the concept. And I came in a little late with the restaurant sketch, but that was funny, IMO.

I like the addition of the Lonely Island guys to SNL (Samberg, plus Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone as writers). Many of the shorts they posted on the internet before they joined SNL were pretty funny. At least I think so-- seems like people either love or hate them.

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No one liked Jane Curtin?

[raises hand]

Also a big fan of Gilda Radner. I'm very old and crotchety.

I'm with her.

(I thought SNL stopped being funny with the advent of the 80s...)

Why don't they have a Best of Gilda on DVD?

They do. 10.99 on Amazon.

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