There are three kinds of people who watch (or don’t watch) Saturday Night Live.
First are the haters. They never think it’s funny. Never was. Never will be. Cancel it now. For the longest time I figured these were the kind of people who’s idea of biting commentary was Andy Rooney complaining about getting old on 60 Minutes. Or who sat at home, in the dark, listening to sex-pervert Garrison Keillor wax rhapsodic about the virtues of the Woebegone Lutherans. (ps: I’ve read his books and short stories. I think he did everything he was accused of). Now I’m pretty sure most of them are YouTube bingers. In other words…thick people.
Next are the people who stopped watching whenever their favorite cast member left, which is telling. If you stopped watching after the original cast left, then you’re probably late 50’s, early 60’s, did a little dope back in the day, got married, sold the t-top, went straight and now watch Animal House after the grandkids go to bed. Do you miss Eddie Murphy? Do you still have the leather jacket and pants? Adam Sandler fan…guess you love poop jokes.
The final group, and the one I’m in, has watched the show for years and still enjoys it. Oh, we know there have been terrible casts and wasted talent. I watched Gilbert Gottfried, Randy Quad, and Victoria Jackson. I remember Robin Duke swallowing her fist. Ugh…I remember the Muppets were on a couple shows, too. But, I also know that Robert Downey, Jr. was once a cast member. Sarah Silverman, Damon Wayans, Ben Stiller, and Rob Riggle, too. Yeah, the show is hit or miss. I get it. You come up with 90 (60) minutes of funny every week. See how you do.
Over the years, there have been bits and sketches that have stuck with me. Sketches that get funnier, even when I know what’s coming. Not the recurring bits like Samurai Barber, or the Cheerleaders, or Brian Fellows, or take your pick. But silly little one offs, sometimes two. Like Irwin Mainway of Mainway Toys, explaining how a toy like ‘Bag O’ Glass’ was safe because it was it was labeled ‘Kid, be careful – broken glass’. I’ve introduced myself on more than one occasion as Irwin Mainway, usually to people I don’t like or want to know.
Many of the skits that I have like the best over the years, the ones I find memorable, aren’t always played for big laughs. Granted Irwin Mainway was over the top, but most of the skits I love are played small. Not funny – haha, but funny-strange. Sometimes funny-uncomfortable, like Kyle Mooney’s hapless comedian, Bruce Chandling, slowly realizing he’s dating a high school girl on Weekend Update. It’s excruciating and I love it. I’m also a big fan of Christopher Walken and Tim Meadows in ‘The Census’, where Walken plays an animal trainer who counts houseplants and Snicker bars as his apartment co-tenants:
‘How many people live in this residence?’
‘Oh, boy.. good question. I'm bad with numbers.. Maybe 80.’
‘80 people live in this apartment?’
‘Seems high, doesn't it? Not 80. How about 4? I don't know.. I'm so bad at guestimating.’
It’s the delivery, and Meadow’s low key reaction, that kills me.
‘What’s Up With That?’
Anyhow, this season gave me another favorite. I’m a hockey fan. Love to go when given the chance. As such, I find Chance the Rapper’s turn as a basketball analyst Lazlo Holmes filling in for the hockey guy to be hilarious. It’s awkward and a little uncomfortable. Probably a little racist. Lazlo tries to be professional and muddle through, but he is clearly in over his head. And freezing. I hope some team somewhere makes a shirt that simply says ‘Let’s do that hockey.’ Enjoy.