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Is ‘Saturday Night Live’ Still Funny?

Paul Hawthorne, Getty Images

Saturday Night Live, what happened to you? When the show gets brought up in conversation many say, “it’s no longer funny.” As a fairly consistent viewer of the show, I wonder today if it is still funny or if it is just me and my letdown after the anticipation of the “cold open” sketch and “Weekend Update” leading up to a new episode.

You’ll hear people say SNL has sucked (for lack of a better word) since the original cast left back in the early to mid 80s. Granted, during the first 10 years of the show’s run, I was too young to really watch the show and even if I was able to watch it most of the sketches would have gone over my head. The original cast maybe forever immortalized by those viewers in their 50 and 60s. The first decade is really an era I have no first hand opinion on. I’ve seen some of those really old bits like, “We’re Two Wild and Crazy Guys” and “James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub” but not being in the moment in the time, it really isn’t fair to say one way or the other.

The era that hooked me in was the time frame when “Wayne’s World,” “Church Chat” and “Hans and Franz” were weekly features. If I were to be “that guy” I’d say the show was at its peak when Mike Myers, Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz were part of the cast.

It also seems that back in the 90s through a couple of years ago the show would lose just a couple of cast members a year and fill the spots and it may take a few episodes or maybe a little longer to warm up to the new actors, but the show always held on to seemingly 80% of the cast year to year. Sort of like a sports franchise. The team will change by a few players each year but year to year the franchise is basically stays the same. It wasn’t like you tuned in to a fresh season and everyone but two were gone.

The only “veterans” left this season are Kenan Thompson and Bobby Moynihan.

SNL lost most of its recent established cast over the past two or three years. Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sedakis, Seth Meyers, Andy Samburg and Amy Poehler have all left. So I think part of the show’s lack of style and cache is due to a lack of marquee power.

Does it has to do with the writing and not just the show running with unfamiliar talent? I have theory on writing and talent if you think it’s mediocre today or better put less funny now than “back then.”

There are more outlets for comedy now than there were back say 20-30 years ago. Today there are more late night comedy talk shows than there were channels back in the early 90s. I guess I’m saying that not all roads to comedic success run through Saturday Night Live. So NBC may not be able to land the best up-and-comers just because of supply and demand.

To sum it up, I still do like and look forward to the show’s “cold open” sketch normally, the monologue, “Weekend Update” and their fake commercials and digital shorts but the sketches are often at best pointless but worse not usually that funny. Make the sketches more topical, more relevant to the guests on and don’t just plop in a random sketch with no point.

I also think there needs to be more revolving features. The last great one was the soap opera parody “The Californians.”

Is SNL still funny?  Your thoughts.


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