If ever stop to think about it, not that you would, but if you did, it is a crazy alchemy that Saturday Night Live attempts to pull off, and they try to pull it off each week. Comedy is hard enough to do well as it is, much less LIVE comedy, and then on top of that you’re going to include a host performer who may or may not have any comedic timing, or natural charisma, or interest in even being on the show in the first place? That is at the very least, a volatile combination, if not downright awful, and that explains why the show is so uneven and so regularly derided by people who actually care about this kind of thing. It’s not so much that Saturday Night Live is any better or any worse than it has ever been. It’s that the people who really LOVE IT started watching it when they were 12 years old, and 12 year olds, historically, are much more forgiving of uneven comedy and misused guests. As you get older, you just notice what an impossible task Saturday Night Live has devised for itself, or at the very least you notice the failures created by that task’s near impossibility. The problem, of course, is that Saturday Night Live rarely gets as much credit as it deserves for its successes. Oh well. Boo hoo, I’m sure. “Poor Saturday Night Live,” that is what we are all saying. “It is so sad how all that Saturday Night Live has going for it is to be a very successful, culturally resonant television show with a 35 years of historical legacy behind it. So sad.”
Anyway, Jeff Bridges. And Cookie Monster? It took me most of the opening monologue to even figure out what was going on with THAT (probably because didn’t they have Blake Lively singing with Muppets last year? And also Blake Lively was in the Digital Short? Is there some kind of contractual obligation to include Blake Lively and the Muppets once every December?) Bad song. Unnecessary puppetry. Rough start. But there was some good stuff this week, namely:
Another very intensely specific parody of a Juggalo infomercial. I would bargain that even fewer people saw the original Juggalo Toy Drive infomercial than saw the Gathering informercial that they parodied the first time, and even that seemed surprising and “insidery.” I guess my point is that I love when Saturday Night Love makes sketches JUST FOR US.
The Digital Short was also the best of the season. Congrats, boys. Musically, it’s possible that the return of Shy Ronnie was slightly better but it felt too much like a retread. Remember when Akon fake-raped that 15-year-old on stage? Nevermind.
The over-arching realization of this episode, between the Juggalo parody, the Digital Short, and Jeff’d (see below) was that if everything on this show was pre-taped it would be one of the best shows on television. They have one of the strongest writing staffs in the business, and a cast of genuinely talented performers, and it would be nice if all of those people had more opportunities to truly operate at the height of their powers rather than work under the quaint and unnecessary strictures of a live late night studio audience format. That’s not the funniest format! Enough. Empty complaints falling on non-existent ears. I’m just saying that this show would have an extra gear if it got rid of the rest of its gears.
The happy holidays wishes from David Patterson and Stefon and Snooki wasn’t a holiday classic in the way of Tonto, Tarzan, and Frankenstein, but it was a nice visit from all of our Weekend Update pals.
Oh, and as far as the actual live comedy sketches portion of the show went, the gift wrapping bit was my favorite.
P.S. Can Saturday Night Live have Eminem and Lil Wayne perform every weekend? Because that was really great. It was also nice to have people come out and just straight up perform good music without all of the cough cough art direction. Make no mistake, I ALSO have enjoyed the art direction of the musical performances this year, I guess I just like the variety, and I like when people kill it without a compelling backdrop. My favorite, though, was the second musical performance of the evening when Eminem did a solo performance and then walked off the stage and Lil Wayne walked on as he was leaving and proceeded to EAT HIS LUNCH. Sorry about how you have no more lunch left, Eminem. Talk to Wayne.