Friday, 25 September 2009
Guess who's hosting the season premiere tomorrow
Or perhaps the better question is is SNL still relevant? SNL has had its up and downs over the years, but lately (largely thanks to their digital shorts and Tina Fey's Palin impression) they've been getting a lot of press and many people think that it's back. Hillary Clinton even mentioned SNL at the primary debates. But is it really back? Is it relevant again? Is it funny?
Let's start with Tina Fey's Sarah Palin impression. That received all sort of attention and accolades and is perhaps the leading argument for SNL becoming relevant, funny, and edgy again. Sure it was funny and it was momentarily relevant, but it wasn't exactly edgy and it didn't show the sort of talented writing required for long term relevance. Parody is the act of taking a subject and exaggerating to reach a deeper truth. The Sarah Palin impression did not accomplish this because it wasn't all that exaggerated. They essentially took her own words and played up a few extra winks. Repeating her words isn't parody or accomplished satire.
So being gifted a barely functioning, mentally ill, PTA activist as a vice presidential nominee and a talented comedian who looks exactly like her does not make the show suddenly funny again.
The next argument for SNL's comeback are the digital shorts. From the Lonely Island songs to Natalie Portman's rap to Lazy Sunday they're the most quotable, funny, and attention grabbing things SNL has done in years. But is that really enough to declare the show funny again? I mean, I love Laser Cats as much as anyone, but it's not exactly groundbreaking, which it needs to be to be the anchor of the show.
Maybe my standards are too high, but I'm just comparing SNL to its illustrious past. SNL used to be an important show, but it can never get to that point again because it can't take the same risks it used to. It's an institution now and it is too mainstream to truly ever earn the title "edgy" again. When it first started, SNL's cast was called the "not-ready-for-prime-time players." Now, they literally have a version of the show for prime time. SNL is a pipeline for comedians into the movie industry. It's too clean and crisp and way too clean cut.
But I'll leave it up to you, the readers.
Is SNL funny?