Tag Archives: comedy

Changes on SNL, new and old

I’ve been wondering when this would happen, but finally some of the bigger names from SNL are departing next year, including Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Pete Davidson, according to Deadline. I’ve been surprised both by how stable SNL has been over the last decade and how big the cast has grown. It started off with less than 10, now it’s over 20.

Having a big cast makes sense in some ways. It means there is a deep bench of talent ready and eager to step up. It also helps SNL deal with the lack of diversity problem they had all too recently.

I’ve been watching more SNL recently, ironically because of Twitter. I say ironically because social media used to freak Lorne and company out. Now they feed the whole show via twitter on the weekend. I get to skip the ads, and I get to watch the best bits. It’s ideal for me. My rule of thumb is if Kenan Thompson is in a sketch, it’s probably funny. That’s likely why he is sticking around.

That piece above got me to this piece: ‘Saturday Night Live’: Actors Who’ve Hosted The Show The Most – Photos – Deadline. Several things to note there. In the early years, it was often people associated with the show, like Chevy Chase (although that is also true with Tina Fey in the later years). Later it was big actors who were just really good at being funny. For awhile Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were tied in appearances (there was even a bit where to win, Martin knocks out Baldwin, wraps him in a rug and throws him out the window!) Baldwin eventually ran away with it, not just for hosting, but by being a regular with his Trump appearances. (It probably helps too he lives in Manhattan.)

I have a sentimental weakness for SNL. It’s been on 47 seasons and I’ve been watching off and on since S1. I’m looking forward to it reaching S50 and beyond. Who knows will show up for that season. Tune in.

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A list of films you might need right now is this: the best screwball comedy movies


Here’s a good list to take your mind off these pandemic times: Best Screwball Comedy Movies: List Ranked By Film Fans

And no, it’s not just old black and white movies, great as they are. There’s films as recent as 2019.

The weather is going to be rainy this week (at least in Toronto): take a break and have a laugh by watch one (or ten) of the films listed there.

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Some basic thoughts on “Friends”: it’s roots and its relationship to screwball comedy


It’s the 25th anniversary of “Friends”, and a number of reviews I read talk about it looking backwards.This piece, though, does something better: it looks at where the series came up from.  Key quote to me was this:

Chandler, who is so indifferent about what he does that he is unable to pay his job even the small courtesy of hating it—Chandler, besuited and bedraggled, whose work in computer-something-or-other summons the amorphous anxieties of the coming digital age. … It is through Chandler, in the end, that Reality Bites finds its way into Friends’ otherwise chipper cosmology. His work is simply there, looming, draining, tautological. His laconic resentments of it invoke the precise strain of Gen Xed ennui the novelist Douglas Coupland had described earlier in the decade: the mistrust of institutions, the mistrust of professions, the mistrust of meaning itself.

You can see in the quote the tie to Douglas Coupland’s  book Generation X and the film Reality Bites. These are the roots of “Friends”. ‘Friends’ at 25: The Prescience of Chandler Bing’s Job – The Atlantic. That generation after the boomers needed a show, and many of them found it in “Friends”. Now people look back at it and many mock a show about six well dressed people living in an amazing apartment in NYC. But “Friends” then tried to make sense of becoming an adult, or “adulting”, to use a word that came along later. The fact that people have such fondness for it makes me think it resonated with them and it represents part of their lives.

I always liked “Friends”, but for a different reason. I am a fan of screwball comedy, and that series often went there. Seinfeld did absurdist comedy well, but I loved that this series did a comedic style I loved so much. Watch some episodes of “Friends” and then watch a classic screwball comedy like “Bringing Up Baby” or “His Girl Friday” and you will see the similarities.

All comedy series go pear shaped after a time, and the things that made it originally great fades. For a time “Friends” was one of the best comedies on TV, and it was great then because of the form of comedy it aspired to and because of the way it represented the time it was rooted in.

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Two good interviews with Jerry Seinfeld

These two interviews appeared in the New York Times in October and August and I was impressed by both of them, especially the first one below:

Seinfeld is smart and insightful and professional. He knows comedy and stand-up well and he’s thought a lot about it.