I have pretty much always been a Saturday Night Live fan. Ever since I was a small child, it carried a strange sense of magic for me. Long after my babysitters would put me to sleep, I can distinctly remember hearing the introductory "Live from New York It's Saturday Niiiight!" from my yellow-walled bedroom and wondering what all the fuss was about. It seemed so elite with its much-past-my-bedtime time slot, so grown-up cool. Boy, that must be really funny if it makes my babysitter laugh so loudly all by herself. I wanted so badly to have some part of that cool factor for myself, to be allowed to hear those slightly off-color jokes. I would sit in my bedroom dreaming of the day I, too, could watch those fake commercials and live skits on inappropriate topics.
So from the moment I was old (or sneaky) enough to dictate my own bedtime, I became a dedicated SNL viewer. I spent the better part of a decade anxiously anticipating 11:30pm EST to hear the familiar opening monologue and once again, be graced with contagious belly-aching laughter. It was a once-weekly high that I could always depend on to transport me to another mental place. Let me stress the past-tense of the word was here. That dependence is no longer. Starting with roughly the second episode this season, Saturday Night has gone from humorously Live to, I am so sad to say, quite an abysmal dive. (Typically I judge those who employ rhyming as a writing tactic but it felt oddly appropriate in this context).
The whole feel of the what-was-once-intelligently-snarky sketch show has morphed into a messy cluster of tasteless dirty jokes. On average, there is usually one sketch per show that does not somehow involve sex, drinking, drugs or genitalia ... and it is a pleasant delight if it is even a funny one. It is as if Lorne and his team of writers have spontaneously lost their sense of actual humor and have substituted that out with vulgarity in its purest sense. The words "butt, sex, kill, rape" and the likes are so frequently spewed during the 1.5 hours that by the time the show finishes, I oftentimes feel the need to clean out my ears before going to sleep. (I will refrain from pulling a Lena, however. Q-tip in the ear looked really painful).
And need I mention the cast? I don't much see the need given its obviousness but I will do so regardless. While Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Seth Meyers still amuse, the rest of the cast is just lacking. Cecily Strong garners a chuckle every now again, portraying her space-cadettish-former-porn-star commercial actress but outside of her, the female contingent pretty much sucks. Sorry ladies. I think we all miss the days of Tina, Amy and most importantly, Kristen Wiig. Those were the days when every episode was a veritable 1.5 hour comedy that we didn't have to go to the theater to see.
Justin Timberlake provided some temporary respite this past weekend with his mostly comical joint host / musical guest role. But let's be honest, does JT ever disappoint? I know, however, not to expect this level of show going forward given how lackluster it has been in the recent past. So in summary, fellow SNL fans (or otherwise), the sun has set over the era of my Saturday Night Live love affair. I suppose the time has come for me for me to find a new late-night magical escape. Please wish me luck as I embark on this daunting journey and be sure to check back for updates on my progress. In the meanwhile, stick around...and I'll be right back.