S.N.L. D.N.R.

Sometimes you have to hand out Tough Love, folks.

I was five years old when Saturday Night Live first came onto the scene. Five years old. That show has outlasted all my cars, most of my friendships, my virginity, several beloved pets, and at least two school buildings. It was terrific at its inception, wretched for a couple of post-Eddie-Murphy years in the early ’80s, had the cast version of either an intervention or a quadruple bypass, and came out on the other side as good as ever. Then slowly that cast, born during the Reagan years, was replaced member by member, like a car having one engine component after another fall out onto the garage floor. And to continue that analogy, the mechanic picked it up, looked at what it used to be, and thought, “I got another’n of these in the shop somewhere,” and replaced it with a used but at least still-working part. Then gradually the whole car replaced itself with parts that weren’t as serviceable as the originals, and the cycle went on, and on, and on…

You see where I’m going here, right?

I can’t even watch SNL, as it’s now known — and it doesn’t deserve to have even that much similarity to the show it once was. It hurts. It hurts me in the brain and the funny and the writer, all at the same time, so I can only imagine the toll it’s taking on its last three remaining talented cast members, Amy Poehler, Darrell Hammond, and Kenan Thompson. They’re whirling in such a vortex of suckdom created by their fellow, oh, hell, just say actors whether it’s true or not, that I’m impressed they keep showing up. If I were Poehler or Hammond or Thompson, the urge to just sit backstage in my dressing room and swill Southern Comfort straight out of the bottle would be impossible to withstand by now. I think it’s why Darrell Hammond only shows up in one skit a week these days.

SNL is in a Green Eggs and Ham state of misery: they are not funny on a stage, they are not funny with Ellen Page, they wouldn’t be funny with Alan Ladd, or with Fat Boy From “Superbad.” (I just came up with those rhymes off the top of my head and they’re funnier than anything SNL has done in weeks.) IT JUST BLOWS GOATS, PEOPLE. It’s painful to watch. John keeps trying to make it through the show out of stubborn loyalty and the hots for Amy Poehler, and I cringe for him, week after wretched awful unfunny week. You’d think the writers’ strike would give them time to regroup, even if they weren’t allowed to fire every talentless schmuck in their repertoire, from smirking frat-boy dolt Andy Samberg or whatever the hell his name is, to Fred Something, whose only funny bit EVER was wearing a dress and pretending to be Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, to Kristen No One Knows Your Name and You’re Not Funny, who plays that sickening character that’s a total ripoff of John Lovitz’s Annoying Man, only less funny and oddly enough, less annoying. There’s some poor new girl in the cast who resembles Julia Sweeney. So far she’s not funny either, although it may or may not be her fault.

Who writes this crap they’re passing off to us as humor? Look, I don’t live in New York and I have no current income, and this stupid piece I’m writing at this moment has already made me smile a couple of times. That’s more than SNL has accomplished. And it’s not that they’re hurting for material — the governor of New York gets caught banging an expensive mannequin, the upcoming election is a gigantic mood swing in three acts, everyone who’s ever touched a baseball is caught pants-down and needle-in-thigh with steroids, yet they can’t capitalize on it? The Taliban allows more humor than SNL has delivered. They’ve had two presidential candidates and an Oscar nominee turn up this season, and that’s just on the shows I’ve seen bits and pieces of, but they haul Fred Armi-notfunny out to wreck the news with one of his failed recurring characters. The news is the only bright spot on the show, partly because of poor workhorse Amy Poehler and partly because all the would-be musical guests are taking one horrified look at the train wreck the show’s become and suddenly developing laryngitis. Hell, I bet they couldn’t book Britney Spears — and there’s another reason the show should be at least bearable for the first 30 minutes. America has given you Britney, SNL, and you’ve made her no fun. At long last, have you no decency?

So I’m sad to say it, but I’ve lived a little longer than the show and I’ve come up a lot wiser (not to mention a hell of a lot funnier), and someone has to call for it: just cancel SNL, guys. Just go gentle into that good night. You’re over. For reasons known only to God, Lorne Michaels refuses to fire the lot of his wretched, funereally unfunny cast (he could keep any or all of his three remaining decent players, if he can sober them up) and start from scratch. Doesn’t he remember what happened the last time he ditched the whole ship of fools and got newer, better fools? The show went from the televised armpit it had been with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Anthony Michael Hall and became the talk of Monday mornings again with players like Phil Hartman, Mike Myers, Jan Hooks, even Victoria Jackson, for God’s sake. Hey, maybe they could get Victoria back — it’s not like she’s busy with her comedy career, and at her worst she’d be the best they have now. Scrap that lousy, vocally irritating woman and the weird black stepmom of a white-trash teenage girl, and give Amy Poehler something funny to do. Put Darrell Hammond onstage as Barack Obama and retire Fred Whatshisname to commercials — he might be as funny as the other nerds in those annoying Alltel ads, if he puts his back into it. If you have to wipe the whole slate clean, Lorne, do it — Amy and Darrell and Kenan are talented enough to land on their feet, and they’ll more than likely thank you for the intervention. But for God’s sake, man, do something, whether it’s firing everyone (start with the writers!) or axeing the show. Put us out of our misery. Bring our long national nightmare to an end. Do the right thing. Make us look forward to the weekends again.

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12 Responses to “S.N.L. D.N.R.”

  1. I haven’t been able to watch it for years. I agree with you…time to pull the plug!

  2. Daners Isadora Is Phucking Phierce! Says:

    I second…or third…or whatever the pull the plug nomination.

  3. Agreed. SNL was funny in the original run, again with Eddie Murphy and then in the early 90’s. Everything else over the last 30+ years has been crap.

    I hate to say this, but do you think maybe the show is appealing to someone? Perhaps the same type of people that watch sitcoms? There must be a reason why it’s been on for so long.

  4. I stopped watching after the Hartman/Myers years. Maybe it will rebound? I remember the shite-years with Martin Short and Anthony Michael Hall. They recovered from that….

  5. pandemonic Says:

    They should have pulled that plug years and years ago. However, when you think of all the people that came out of there who are now successful, it’s rather amazing.

  6. Well, most of the people who came out of there that are now successful also came out of something else too–like Second City. And let us not forget the ones who came out of there and are now dead–like John Belushi, who I still love and have still not forgiven. DO YOU HEAR ME, JOHN?? NOT YET! HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN YOU, HAVEN’T FORGIVEN YOU! NOT GONNA HAPPEN!

    There are people who still think this is funny, yes. I have a friend who sends me clips from it on a very regular basis, and if I tell him that it was a lot funnier a long time ago, I get the “you are so OLD” speech.

    But really, it’s the show…give it up, Lorne. Put it in the Disney vault, and let it go.

  7. tigereye Says:

    I’m with all of y’all, especially Stevo (someone besides me hated Martin Short! I knew there was another one out there somewhere!) and littlefluffycat (I’ll never, ever forgive Belushi either). It’s sad to watch it drag on, and even worse to see good hosts like Ellen Page and Tina Fey dragged down with it.

    Poor Darrell Hammond. He’s my favorite, and he’s underused. I bet he’d make a terrific Obama.

  8. Yup….I was there at the beginning as well, and as a 20 year old I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on television. It took risks, and was so cutting edge and so damn funny. Now, it is crude, and dull. It is time I agree to let it go.

  9. The only SNL episodes I saw were with Chevy Chase and Lorraine Newman and Jane Curtin(sp?). I remember Garrett Morris doing News for the Hard of Hearing and Chevy trying to mainline a joint. We weren’t allowed to watch the show, so we had to keep the volume really low — or watch at a friend’s house. I suppose I’m lucky for not having witnessed the decline. Some shows/producers don’t know when to quit.

  10. madamedonna Says:

    I didn’t even know it was still airing. Hah! I guess I pulled the plug a long time ago.

  11. TheOtherIvy Says:

    The Daily show is the antidote to the slow death that SNL has become.

  12. I was fourteen when it started, and shadodottir is right. It was cutting edge and took risks. I watched until it went on life support, wanting to remember it the way it was.

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