Good evening Lorne Michaels and cast of Saturday Night Live,
In the past few months since I cut cable television I have been surviving on reruns of your show. (I watch about two or three episodes a day) I thank you for keeping me entertained as Netflix Streaming has fewer and fewer quality options. I must also thank you for almost 4 decades worth of comedy. There is no other comedy in US history that has even come close to reaching your level of influence and longevity. I doubt in 1975, when the first episode aired anyone could have predicted what the future would hold for you. Many of our most loved comedians have passed through your doors at some point in their careers. During election season your skits have enormous impact on how we view each candidate. SNL will always live on in pop culture history.
When the world met the ‘not ready for prime time players’ in the mid 70’s the cast had a subversive and edgy feel to it. John Belushi and crew were there to break the rules and go against the establishment. However as the years went by SNL has become more and more established. Now that Law and Order is gone you are in fact the ultimate television establishment. The veterans on the block. While I understand having a rich history brings higher expectations and higher standards, I can’t help but feel that you’ve lost some of your edge. I can imaging sitting in on a writer’s meeting and hearing this response to a dirty joke “We’re Saturday Night Live, don’t you think that’s a little beneath us?” My advice would be to mix some more stupid jokes amongst intelligent and sophisticated humor. Crass comedy might feel like a cheap trick to get laughs… but it works. You want sketches that people will repost of Facebook. Remember the reoccurring skit The Californians? That’s a great example of a skit that was trying to be funny and fancy and ended up failing on the funny. While we’re on the subject, who thought that was worthy or repetitive comebacks? There’s no shame in getting down and dirty every so often.
Obviously a show that has lasted as long as you have is doing something right. However even the best machines needs a little clean up every so often and let’s face it, apart from a revolving door of goofy nerds very little has changed at studio 8H. I don’t intend for you to start from scratch and do a complete renovation so instead here are some suggestions to freshen up your aging program:
1. Fire some white guys. In Tina Fey’s book Bossy Pants she discussed how she was proud that during her time at Saturday Night Live she fought to give women and increased voice on the show. It’s sad that women are your diversity hires. The standard mix of Harvard nerds and goofball stand ups has given your show a very narrow point of reference. Here’s a quiz: Can you name any of the men below?
All three were cast members last season who never made any impression. I realize they probably never had a chance to break out of the crowd but we’ve got to thin out the herd somewhere. Goodbye Beck Bennett, John Milhiser, and Kyle Mooney. Unfortunately many of us look at these three pictures and think, “Who the hell are they? They were on the show last season? Really? Are you sure?”
2. You need a crazy fat guy. Similar to Jim Belushi and Chris Farley you need an outrageous chubby guy who is funny no matter what he does. Maybe include some extra diversity points by going with a Latin fatty like Gabriel Iglesias.
3. More Kate McKinnon. She is the most valuable and under used cast member you have. If given the chance she could be the star of next season. WE LOVE MCKINNON!
4. Cut the show down to 60 minutes. I’ll be honest everything after Weekend Update is total crap. Axing the last half hour gives you the chance to focus on making the first 60 minutes funnier.
5. The musical guests are forgettable. The most memorable performances on SNL have been Lana Del Rey, Ashley Simpson, and Sinead O’Connor and none were remembered for great music. With that in mind limit all musical guests to one song regardless of how good you think they are.
6. Why are there no reoccurring sketches about Beyonce, Michelle Obama or the Kim Kardashian? They are three of the most famous women in the world. I could agree that Michelle might not be funny enough for a parody but the Kardashians are perfect. The evil crazy mom-ager Kris and future trans women Bruce Jenner… Come on it almost writes itself. As for Beyonce we’re all aware of the lack of a black woman on your cast for many many years. Thank god Sasheer was hired. Put her in a wig and get her to dance class.
In conclusion Saturday Night Live, you have accomplished a lot in your many years but you can’t rest on your (often questioned) reputation. White upper middle class comedy isn’t as broad reaching as it once was. Hopefully the 2014-15 season will continue with the recent diversification efforts. I look forward to see what September brings.
The Gay Gasp