The new SNL season started tonight, and other than Darrell Hammond, there is no one on the cast that I find consistently funny. Andy Samberg and Kenan Thompson are mildly amusing from time to time, I guess. And Kristen Wiig occasionally has a decent role. Other than that, there have been some lean years for SNL, but this may be the weakest line-up I can remember.
Side note- Neil Patrick Harris is the host, and I have to say I think he has been particularly savvy with his brand, especially with his roles in the Harold and Kumar franchise. He is sort of the William Shatner of my generation, and I like how he makes fun of himself. And I mean that as a compliment, and we will probably see him have a rather long and lucrative career. If I am remembering correctly, a friend who was there told me that Harris made quite the scene at South by Southwest.
At any rate, weak SNL cast this year. I realized I forgot Jason Sudekis. He is fair to middlin’.
Kristen Wiig owns her roles–Darrell Hammond? Man, you are a recovering red stater…
@cay: I don’t like a lot of the roles they give her, though.
The one she had that had me dying was the woman who constantly talked but her voice trailed off…
And there it just was. Penelope.
Just Some Fuckhead
I still can’t believe Neal Patrick Harris is gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay.
Edit: To be fair, I only found out about 30 minutes ago.
You know, if we’re honest with ourselves, we admit that it’s sucked ever since Eddie Murphy left the show. There’s a Salinger short story where one of the characters says that it’s not worth performing Playboy of the Western World unless you have a a genius or two among the cast. The same is true of SNL — unless you’ve got Bill Murray or Eddie Murphy or someone like that in the cast, it’s really not worth watching. The whole shtick is that it’s live and has the element of performance to it. Jimmy Fallon mugging for the camera, that’s not performance.
All of that said, I like Darrell Hammond.
I heart Neil Patrick Harris!
Wiig and Bill Hader are both very funny when they have good material, which is mainly whenever they get the hell off SNL and work with real comedy writers.
Remember when sketches as bad as that ‘Two First Names’ abomination got relegated to the 12:50 slot? Jeez. I shudder to think what sort of dreck got left on the table and didn’t make it to rehearsal.
Just Some Fuckhead
I think you’re wrong DougJ but I want to spend some more time studying up on SNL on wikipedia before I put together cogent and well-sourced arguments to rebut your troll-like assertion.
Edit: I’ll probably hop back into our debate at around comment #120 or so, long after everyone has forgotten what you said.
that’s because most of the mid-80s were absolutely forgettable.
(update: the preceding has been a shorter DougJ)
Darrell Hammond is still on SNL?
Hammond and Hader are the only ones who even try. The show is just horrible. This is not news.
I agree with DougJ to a point. The original crew was the best GROUP SNL ever had. They have had funny individuals off and on (off for almost all the 80’s as Cleek said) but they almost never gelled as a group.
I would date the demise of reliable funny before Eddie Murphy joined. Sure he was great but he was more than balanced by Joe Piscapo. For every "I’m Gumby Damn it" you got the Whiners or the Guy from Jersey. I think I have spent most of the last 20 years watching SNL on mute and a book in my lap, unmuting when something good came on like Sprocket or Wayne’s World. When I watched at all. Now that there is Youtube and Hulu I don’t even watch. Wait for the buzz and watch the good stuff online.
As for Neil Patrick Harris, Dr. Horrible Rocks and he can sing. And he has to kiss a chick on the mouth which should be just as newsworthy as when Franco and Penn kissed in Milk but isn’t. Strange that.
I dunno. I think Kristen Wiig is pretty damned talented.
It’s all in the writing, really, and this is essentially the same team they had during the election, which was arguably one of SNL’s best runs ever. Take out Amy Poehler, add a few new people, and it’s the same cast it was last year, isn’t it?
It’s ALWAYS about the writing.
In drama, give the best actor in the world inferior material, and it’s a snooze fest. Give them good material and it’s interesting.
And give a mediocre comedian good material and they’ll be funny (if not the funniest they could be). (I know…from experience…)
The late ’80s/early ’90s cast was as good as any the show ever had: Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Nora Dunn, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Dennis Miller was actually funny then, Farley, Sandler and Spade came in toward the end…
If you haven’t seen "Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog," you must. Trust me, he’s far beyond Shatner territory. And he can sing!
Just Some Fuckhead
It is a well-known fact that all the good comedy in the world had already been done by about 1986, in no small part to the burgeoning young comic phenomenon of the time period.
El Caballo de Sangre
Darrell Hammond isn’t funny, per se, he plays funny characters. A useful analogy here is Dana Carvey – great, iconic skits, but if you’ve ever seen any of his stand-up, you realize immediately what I’m talking about.
There’s no accounting for taste, of course, but there’s just no way that this current line-up can come even close to being the worst/weakest/etc. What about the Julia Louis-Dreyfus/Tim Kazurinsky/Brad Hall/Gary Kroeger years? What about the disastrous Robert Downey Jr./Anthony Michael Hall experiments?
Right now, SNL basically amounts to a Samberg digital short and Five Skits Featuring Kristen Wiig. This is because the people Hammond impersonates are increasingly irrelevant (and, again, when he’s impersonating is the only time he’s funny), and pace JC, Samberg and Wiig are the only good things they’ve got right now (other than Keenan, but he’s always been ghettoized in the same fashion SNL always, ALWAYS does w/ its Black cast members).
BUT: This is how it ALWAYS is w/ SNL. Go back and watch episodes in full from any of the "Golden Eras" of the show people like to talk about – just to take two, the original cast and the Hartman/Nealon/Hooks/Myers/Carvey cast that added Farley/Spade/Sandler (for my money, the funniest era of the show). Even during those years, each individual episode was about 1/3 hilarious, 1/3 mildly amusing, and 1/3 FAIL.
What kind of scene? A good kind or a falling-down-drunk-and-feeling-up-teenagers kind?
Yeah, that seems about right. And people may not realize that this is a GREAT ratio for a sketch show like Second City, the Groundlings or Upright Citizens Brigade…
Or even Monty Python’s Flying Circus, widely regarded as the grand-daddy of them all. Sketch comedy, like all comedy, is tough to write well.
I haven’t watched SNL regularly in years, seeing as how I live in a furrin country and all, but my impression of the last 10 years of casts is that they fell short because lacked anyone who was really, deeply weird*, the way Belushi, Akyroyd, Murphy, Phil Hartman, and even Dana Carvey were. Weirdness is a key ingredient in comedy, like the spices in a good chili.
Of course, weird can be taken somewhat too far, sometimes.
The Digital Shorts of the last couple of years are usually worthwhile, and last night’s was no exception.
Life is too short to drink lousy beer or watch mediocre comedy.
We have the internet, and we have youtube and bittorrent. Between them, you can probably find every US comedy series, and (what’s better) every British comedy series ever made. And Flight of the Conchords and The Chaser’s War on Everything, if comedy from 2 english-speaking countries isn’t enough.
Sitting around posting "SNL isn’t consistently funny this year" is like sitting around saying "This Budweiser tastes really dull; pity there’s nothing else to drink’.
Comrade Baron Elmo
As someone who watched SNL religiously in the early days and burned for the show with the heat of a thousand suns, trawling through the first season DVD makes it clear that much of the material has dated badly… though there are still glittering gems to be unearthed here and there.
One problem is the show’s tendency to take a successful joke and run it into the ground on subsequent episodes. Hearing Emily Litella chirp "Never mind," or Garrett Morris hollering out the top Weekend Update story for deaf viewers for the umpteenth time sure doesn’t feel much like comedy three decades later.
I’m probably in the minority on this, but I think that SCTV has held up more consistently than SNL with the passage of time. The TV network format was amazingly flexible (the way they integrated the musical acts into the comedy sketches was sheer brilliance); the writing never lost its anarchic touch (though it did occasionally go off the rails); and the classic cast is an ensemble to match any that SNL ever had. SCTV-era Catherine O’Hara was one of television’s finest comediennes.
Mr. Show is another sketch classic (the nearest the USA has ever come to its own Monty Python)… I’ll be interested to see how well or badly it has aged in fifteen years or so.
@slightly_peeved: Flight of the Conchords comes back tonight, (after Big Love. Meh.)
I grew to find Conchords pretty damn funny by the end of its run last season. Actually, after viewing this, really damn funny.
Neil Patrick Harris is hilarious as Barney in “How I Met Your Mother.
And it’s “Fair to Midland” :-)
@Laura W: Damn. Didn’t do my poster’s research. Conchords starts next Sun. Guess I’ll have to go watch more you tube stuff to get my fix now that Business Time has me all excited and worked up. You’re so Beautiful. You could be an air hostess in the 60s.
Actually, I see Neil Patrick Harris is the Paul Rubens of this generation. Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and the original Pee Wee Herman show (before it became a tv series) have some interesting similarities. (Although they may just be in my mind.)
Thank you guys for the pointer to Dr. Horrible. I am a huge (ok, moderately big) Joss Whedon fan and I can’t BELIEVE i have never heard of this till now! DAMN!
"Pfft! I’m not a henchman! I’m (poses) Dr. Horrible! I’ve got a Ph.D. in Horribleness!"
"…..is that the new catchphrase?"
the weakest line-up I can remember.
Nope, season six. So, so bad. Murphy and Piscopo were newcomers but kept in the background so we could all enjoy Charles Rocket.
With the exception of his take on Mr. Rogers and Gumby, as well as White Like Me, Eddie Murphy did nothing for SNL.
SNL hasn’t been funny for some time. They had 1 or 2 good years around the turn of the century. Other than that, it hasn’t been funny since the early 90’s.
Ed in NJ
@Laura W: The season premiere of Flight of the Conchords has been available at Funny or Die for a couple of weeks now, if you need your fix.
Season 2 Premiere
I might be able to agree with your statement on Eddie Murphy to a point, but you left out too much good stuff. To name just one the assassination of Buckwheat was a sublime team effort with Murphy at its center. I suspect the sketch will look dated and lack immediacy. When it aired we had come off ten years
that included two attempts on Ford’s life and a shot at Reagen, the latter of which was one of the media’s lowest moments as network anchors got things wrong over and over again. It was a brief glimpse at what the Daily Show would become. I also think the assassination of a beloved black celebrity would be as funny right now as it was then.
He was GREAT in "Starship Troopers."
Want to know how far Miller has fallen? He’s performing at a Canadian casino this month.
I want to talk about Doogie.
"Our" generation’s( I am 56 and think(?) I am close in age to John) William Shatner is setting the bar too low. This is not insulting to Capt. Kirk, but I think Doogie has matured into a Cary Grant style of grace and comedy.
Now if he can show some dramatic chops, and I see no reason to see why not, he will be playing suave or comedic roles well into his 70’s.
I absolutely heart Neil Patrick Harris. The "Slapsgiving" episode of How I Met Your Mother was beyond classic.
And DougJ, there’s even a song in it about a Slap in the Face(tm).
NPH is all kinds of awesome.
SNL has been plodding along for years, this is neither its best or its worst. I happen to think the casts of the late 80s/early 90s were the best, but tastes vary. For years, I heard how great the casts of the 70s were, but I just don’t see them as head and shoulders above the Carvey/Hartman/Meyers years. I’ve been hearing "SNL is horrible" for the last quarter century. Maybe the opinion of the 70s casts are colored by things like Animal House, Blues Brothers, and Caddy Shack; which are truly epic.
To the extent its mediocrity has become more consistent, I’d blame Lorne Michaels. I suspect his control has increased as his talent has declined.
Bill Hader is fantastic when he has good material to work with. Check out the Dateline skit.