14 September 2008

"SNL" Hits Home Run with Sarah and Hil

I admit I have not watched "Saturday Night Live" consistently in years. In contrast, as a child, I would secretly hide myself away to a closet TV to watch the 'glory days' of the show...the genius that was John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, "Mr. Bill", my beloved favourite Gilda Radner, et al...but after awhile the newer incarnations just could never hold a candle to the former standard-bearers. (Clips above from the NBC Video Library site.) Somewhere in there I even drifted over to the short-lived but equally good (when the cast was relatively sober, anyway) ABC competitor, "Fridays". (I loved Melanie Chartoff). In my slightly-older years, my new comic love was the daring "In Living Color"...a show and collection of skits that I still can watch and belly laugh at as well as the classic "SNL". (Because of his "Fire Marshall Bill" character, I will always give Jim Carrey's projects a better-than-fair opportunity to be seen...sometimes I've been disappointed, sometimes I've been wowed, but the guy always gets a 'get out of acting jail for free' card I don't extend to most others. Clip links to YouTube, by the way.) Unfortunately, though, after the implosion of "ILC" back ages ago, I have had little in the way of comedy skit shows to get excited about. (And American sitcoms are absolutely dreadful...I guess there's a stupid union rule about having a laugh-track for everything that might have a glimmer of potential...so I haven't watched them really in years, either. American drama, yes; American comedy as it were, no. If I want comedy, I'll switch on BBC-America and see the original shows we're going to rip off in five years' time.) In a country full of promise to take so many jokes on ourselves, it's a resource we've only developed in very awkward, and haphazard, spurts...at least on major network television.

However, in the first time in God knows how long, I made an exception to my 'no-"SNL" rule last night, and I am thankful that I did. Amy Poehler's dead-on impersonation of Hillary Clinton has been a highlight of recent months that I've snuck views of from other blogs, YouTube, and the like. The beauty of the internet now is that you can find just those bits you want and spare yourself the agony of having to watch a potentially horrible show (anybody else who watched Eddie Murphy in his prime wish we'd had that option in the 1980s?) But last night I plopped myself down in front of the telly and eagerly awaited to be surprised...like times of old, but this time I was holding a bottle of beer instead of a class of milk. The verdict? Not too bad all told...they've definitely improved since I last attempted this...but nothing could touch the opening skit. And that opening was the best I've seen or heard about from them in years.

Last night, former regular Tina Fey came back for a cameo appearance to team with Poehler in a soon-to-be-classic: Fey as Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Poehler again as Hillary Clinton, in a speech about sexism in media coverage. This is the kind of stuff that channels the very best of Radner and Company, written and performed by true pros.

Clip embed ©NBC, 2008. Tina Fey as Governor Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler as Senator Hillary Clinton. Taken from this site of videos.

There just may be hope for televised comedy in these final Presidential election days, especially if Fey and Poehler can keep contributing. Makes one sad, though, that in some weird world that these two women...Palin and Clinton , or better yet Fey and Poehler performing as Pallin and Clinton...can't be joined at the hip for some sort of future political project (er, comedic roast). Thank of the 'cultural' memories that could so easily come from that union. Until then, I think I shall have to give "SNL" another try...and I genuinely hope it's not a short-lived run again. In a Presidential campaign that is so surreal and chock full of 'what the fuck' moments as this one is and has been so far, it truly is too bad that Senators Obama and McCain are so very, very dull in comparison.

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