I was going to do a formal “Top 10” list, but since video clips are so hard to find I decided to keep is simple. Let’s talk about Saturday Night Live!!!
While I didn’t come into this show until very late, long story I was an idiot, I learned to really love it. Yeah it’s not the same today but for awhile, I adored this show every Saturday night. It was a major part of my life. Especially, like many, when I was in college.
Of course the show started in 1975, and I was only 1 years old so as you may imagine I don’t remember it very well. I have seen clips of course but to be honest, I don’t get it. I think you had to be there. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect it, the show wouldn’t but around if not for the original “Not Ready for Prime-Time Players” including Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd. But when I watch the re-runs…. yeah.
When I finally started watching it was the 80’s and we were well into the Dana Carvey/Phil Hartman era. I missed a lot of good stuff, and some real bad stuff to be fair, but I loved watching Dennis Miller (later Kevin Nealon) on Weekend Update not to mention characters like Hanz & Franz and of course The Church Lady. When the 90’s rolled around I was finally a major fan. Even if the show did start to become a little Adam Sandler happy (I always thought he was overrated).
The sketches I loved could fill a whole article. There was so much good stuff from Wayne’s World to Coffee Talk to It’s Pat!. One of the first things I watched from this show was the 15th Anniversary Special. It was a nice primer for someone like me who had missed so much. As the 90’s went on the show started to get not so great. I am not sure what caused the lull that happened from 1993-1995, but those were two hard years to be a fan.
Then we got into the Will Ferrel era, and at first I didn’t like it. It was so different from the show that I knew when I started watching. But now, looking back, I would love to have those years back. Will Ferrel was great in just about everything he did (I admit even though I despise his movies). Tina Fey came along and really made the show better, and her Weekend Update segments made that segment funny again (after the horror of Norm MacDonald and Colin Quinn). As the years went cast members came and went, and some were better than others. I never really liked Fred Armisen or Will Forte. In fact the show was getting dull….and then Kristen Wiig joined the cast.
There is a reason when she left they gave her an amazing send off. She made this show the same way Phil Hartman had in the 80’s and Will Ferrell in the 90’s. She was awesome and I was a huge fan. As the show has gone on the cast we have today is decent, though I don’t think there are to many knock out’s. I definitely like the women more than the men, and in fact the women of SNL are another article for another day.
The other thing about this show is the way it penetrates pop culture. Ever call someone a Debbie Downer? That came from SNL. Ever say “buh-bye” to someone? Yeah David Spade made that gem famous. And most people, I think, think of Dana Carvey whenever they hear George Bush Sr. The impression was an exaggeration but Carvey sold it so well it’s hard to separate him from the real guy!
So what were my favorite moments? That’s almost impossible to narrow down, but I did pick five which always stood out for me. Of course, with a forty year history this is barely even a drop in the bucket. But here we go.
It’s a Wonderful Life Lost Ending
This has a special place in my heart. I was still fairy new to SNL when I caught this (on a re-run I promise I snoozing away when it originally aired). And it just worked. From Dana Carvey’s spot on Jimmy Stewart to the fact that Potter gets his cummupence to the way the sketch ends with the bell ringing like the real movie. It was one of the first sketches I saw and loved, and was a fan of the show largely due to this cute sketch.
This sketch is really stupid. Think about it for a moment, wouldn’t the character Pete Schweddy or the two ladies hosting the NPR show not catch on to the euphemism at some point? But it’s written so sharply and performed so well, that not only is it funny it’s hilariously funny. This sketch was so famous that Ben & Jerry’s made and ice cream flavor called “Schweddy Balls”. Watch it and laugh.
This whole article could be a list of the fantastic political sketches this show has always excelled in. From Dana Carvey as George Bush Sr to Will Ferrell as George Bush Jr. I chose this one because it was just perfect. Sara Palin looked a lot like Tina Fey, and was such a colorful character that a parody was almost written for them. The sketch knocks it out of the park and became an instant classic.
Barbara Streisand appears on “Coffee Talk”
This was one of those amazing moments you never forget watching! First of all, the sketch features a surprise appearance by Madonna. My brother and I were stunned when we realized that’s who the blonde was. And by itself, the sketch is very well written and performed. But of course the best part comes at the end. After spending the sketch worshiping Barbara Streisand just as Mike Myes (as Linda Richman)is signing off Barbara herself appears! And the cast had NO IDEA she was gonna be there! They stayed in character and it remains of the best SNL moments ever!
I would give my right arm for a copy of this that I can post. Alas, I have to try to describe it to you. This is one of the best, energetic openings to this show ever. The show after sucked, but that’s Ok. We see a mopy Steve Martin until Chris Farley shows him his old King Tut costume form the 70’s. This causes something to happen, and suddenly Martin is alive and singing about how he’s “not going to phone it in tonight”. By the end the entire cast has joined him on the stage, and this was a really amazing opening.
It’s awesome and memorable…and I can’t find a clip anywhere. I have it on tape but that’s not going to help here. I did finally find it on Hulu, I can’t link to it but search Steve Martin Cold Opening. Actually all of these clips are available there so feel free to check them out.
I am really looking forward to the 3 and a half hour special airing this Sunday. 40 years is quite a feat, especially when you consider the talents which started from there. From Chevy Chase to Eddie Murphy to Adam Sandler to Will Ferrell to Kristen Wiig…it’s quite a roster! Happy 40th Anniversary Saturday Night Live!!!