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Archive for September 13th, 2017

Observations and ramblings with some autobiographical content, presented by Brian E. Wilson

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Autobiographical introduction (to read in the voice of Don Pardo): I know exactly where I was at 11:35pm (EST) on Saturday, October 11, 1975. I was ten years old, already a veteran MAD magazine subscriber, a lover of goofy silly comedy shows created by such geniuses as Carol Burnett and the members of Monty Python. My parents subscribed to TV Guide and I became curious about the description of this show called NBC’s Saturday Night. My parents let me stay up late on Saturdays and didn’t monitor what I watched, not worried that some reckless comedians would come along and warp me, ha. After Monty Python on PBS, I flipped over to NBC. A sketch with two men (the late Michael O’ Donoghue and the late John Belushi) talking about “wolverines” came on, and it was weird, potentially dangerous, and it blew my mind. And I was hooked.  I will not pretend I understood everything that happened on NBC’s Saturday Night but I connected with its subversive youthfulness right away. I instantly loved its world of killer bees, land sharks, and I found a kindred spirit in Gilda Radner who radiated such child-like joy and wonder when performing comedy.  I of course would also fall for the lovably deadpan excellence of the underrated Jane Curtin, the goofiness of Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd’s fast-talking pitchmen, Laraine Newman’s expert Valley Girl style line deliveries, Garrett Morris’ ability to add a compelling energy to a skit, and Belushi’s wild rebel spirit. SNL made me want to write comedy. In my school, the 6th grade classes all put on a play, and I somehow convinced our teacher to let us put on an SNL-style comedy show with sketches we students wrote. My contribution: a commercial spoof in which people use foul-smelling mouthwash to make annoying people faint. In 7th grade I did a (weak) Weekend Update homage for a talent show. In the late ’80s I wrote a one-act satirical comedy about a perpetually happy but wildly destructive little girl as a tribute  to my beloved Gilda. The show left it’s mark on me. And here I am in September 2017 writing about this show…which is still on the air and receiving much acclaim for its most current season…

This past year Saturday Night Live celebrated its 42nd season (!) in style. Before the season even started, the chameleon-like Kate McKinnon won the show’s 50th Emmy (for her work in the 41st season).  For season 42, the veteran comedy/variety series earned 22 Emmy nominations (the highest number the show has ever received) and the ratings soared. This year 3 of its actresses (Vanessa Bayer, Leslie Jones, and McKinnon) received Supporting Actress in a Comedy nominations. Honorary cast member and Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series nominee Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump, McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton, frequent guest star Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer, and other spot-on impressions of political figures helped give the show a new feeling of energy and life. The fact that SNL feels like a phoenix rising from the ashes is nothing new. The show’s run has been like a roller coaster ride. Over the years, just when SNL looked down for the count (the notoriously chaotic 6th season, almost getting canceled in the mid-80s, being called “Saturday Night Dead” in the mid-90s), someone (Eddie Murphy, the sparkling late ’80s cast, Molly Shannon, Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, Cheri Oteri, Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, Bill Hader, McKinnon, Jones, others) would come along and breathe new life into the show. Right now it seems as if the show will run forever, which is quite amazing since its first few episodes were so modest. (more…)

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