Saturday, November 21, 2009

MSNBC has 10 ways to fix SNL (and one is less Kristen Wiig)

My comments are marked as "Editor"...

Update: Did Kenan create a response video to issue #7? He might have done that right here:

Hot young hosts there mainly to plug failed movies?
(Editor: This must be Megan Fox and January Jones, because Ryan Reynolds is a hit maker, and Taylor Swift isn't in movies.)

An utter dearth of great pop-culture parody? No more!
(Editor: I actually love their pop-culture parodies, such as Scrooge McDuck and Beauty and the Beast.)

See our sure-fire ways to help NBC's weekend staple raise its game.
(Editor: After reading these, I think it's a joke. MSNBC and EW should change "our" in this sentence to "my" because they shouldn't want to support this rubbish.)

1. Enough with the parade of sexy young startlets!
(Editor: Is this a typo, or is it a pun on "starlets." Then I assume they are referring to Meagan, Taylor, and January. Since all those ladies are different ages, they are pretty much telling SNL to stop having women hosts. I think it's important to have women hosts. January's show won an Emmy (2 years in a row) and Taylor has won countless music awards. And Meagan has over a billion in Box Office value under her belt. What are the requirements they are looking for in women? SNL has always tried to mix it up with popular people and successful people. All three of those ladies are popular and successful.)

Buzzed-about twentysomethings with current projects to promote don't always make the best “SNL” hosts.
(Editor: January Jones is 31 years old, and Taylor Swift turns 20 in 4 weeks. MSNBC needs to do their homework.)

Instead of a tepid Megan Fox or an abysmal January Jones, why not try Jane Lynch, who's massively popular on “Glee,” or Mo'Nique, star of sleeper hit “Precious?” Throw Nathan Fillion in there for some geek cred. It'd be less work for the writing staff, too, because these people are...(gasp) actually funny!
(Editor: Who? Does anybody else know who these people are? After looking them up... For starters, sure Jane is older than these other ladies, but Glee is brand new. Mad Men proved itself for two years before the stars got on SNL. Second, "Precious" just came out and nobody is watching it. It is not a sleeper hit or any other kind of hit. Third, Nathan Fillion is from Castle, another brand new show. He hasn't proven himself, although I loved him Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. This is a clear case of the writer's personal opinions. The producers are bringing in real, proven stars. They are not pursuing personal opinions.)

2. Leave the policy dissections to ‘The Daily Show’: ‘SNL’ needs to go wacky and use its imagination in covering politics.
The great political sketches in “SNL’s” history have rarely been biting commentary; instead, they've been goofy send-ups (Clinton, anyone?), silly prat-falls (Ford, duh), and over-the-top parodies (Bush, Bush, Gore, and — flashback time! — Ross Perot). Let “The Daily Show” take jabs at Fox News and CNN and bring SNL's political focus back toward energetic absurdity.
(Editor: I totally agree. Finally some logic in this article. SNL had silly political impressions just this last year when they made fun of Sarah Palin, Bill Clinton, and Hilary Clinton - and even Will Ferrell came back to do his George W. Bush. Also, Darrell Hammond's John Mccain and Jason's Biden both had their silly moments. However, this year it's mostly just Armisen's Obama and Jason's Biden, and they're trying to poke fun at little issues instead of turning the impressions into funny characters.)

3. There is, in fact, such a thing as too much Kristen Wiig.
We've enjoyed Gilly, Penelope, Suze Orman, Target lady, closeted field reporter, and many of Wiig's other characters over the years, but even her biggest fans must be hitting a wall of fatigue. How can we appreciate the woman if she never leaves the screen? Not every sketch needs to center around a neurotic character with a verbal or facial tic. “Sorry.”
(Editor: I love Kristen Wiig, and I have no problem with lots of her. I think they just need to mix it up more and team her up more. Even when Will Ferrell was on, he stole the show but he had a ton of team skits he'd do. We haven't had such a prolific scene stealer since Eddie Murphy, who summarized it well by profaning SNL by saying, "Live from New York, it's the Eddie Murphy Show" when he hosted the show while still being a member of the cast. It really was the Eddie Murphy show back then.)

4. Give us more frequent and more sharply focused pop-culture parodies.
Spoofs of popular shows and movies — those are the things that ought to be “SNL’s” bread and butter. It a way to tease and be part of the specific cultural moment, plus it's funnier than yet another Target Lady trainwreck. Exhibit A: That wicked “Twilight” spoof starring Taylor Swift!
(Editor: Typo in the third sentence (It's). So Firelight was a good spoof; agreed. I also liked Beauty and the Beast and Scrooge McDuck. Plus last season's Mary Poppins and Of Mice and Men were amazing! I think they're doing well. I thought this week's Mr. Hyde was too obvious and dragged on and that Rear Window was amusing just because I'm a huge Hitchcock fan, and Jason nailed his Jimmy Stewart impression. I think they're doing fine in this area. They certainly are nailing the pop culture parodies more than previous SNL generations. I don't remember Mike Meyers ever dressing up like Snagglepus, Cathy, or the Swedish Chef (Andy Samberg's Cathy and Swedish Chef started multiple sequel skits). However, I think Eddie Murphy started it all with Buckwheat and Gumby.)

5. A multiplatinum CD shouldn't be a requirement for musical guests.
We miss the days of having to Google the artists we'd never heard of until just before they started rocking the “SNL” stage. Be a tastemaker, not a follower! The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Regina Spektor: Yeah. U2: Nah. Consider up-and-coming indie acts like Florence and the Machine instead of having the Black Eyed Peas perform three songs. Bonus: You won't have to fight with “Live With Regis & Kelly” to book the bulk of your bands.
(Editorial: I don't know. SNL is doing their thing. You really can't complain. They've done pop heroes and newbies. They've been doing it for over 30 years. Let them do their thing.)

6. Set Seth Meyers free!
The “Weekend Update” anchor and head writer has, in recent stand-up acts and late-night appearances, offered up would-be “SNL” lines that were too racy or strange to air. Guess what? They're hilarious. (“According to a new study, college students put on six to nine pounds during their freshman year because of dramatic increases in beer-drinking and decreases in physical activity ... which means the rest of your ‘freshman 15’ is probably a baby.”) When “Update”' gets aggressive, it's Meyers at his best. Unleash it! Let that jerk flag fly!
(Editorial: Oh, I thought they were going to say to put Meyers in the skits. He's much better behind the WU desk, and that's where he wants to be. I totally agree. They should let Meyers do whatever he wants. HOWEVER, they already do that. I think Meyers has chosen not to do his racier jokes on SNL. He's the head writer and the man in charge (except for Lorne). He pretty much does whatever he wants. So this really isn't an improvement.)

7. Not every black female character can be played by Kenan Thompson.
Ugh, do we even have to explain this one? We'd say the show's writers could have the guest host play, oh, Beyoncé or Michelle Obama, but only three black women have hosted the show in the last 10 years. Anyone spotting a ridiculous problem here?
(Editorial: Hahaha. But his Whoopi is hilarious! Maya did some black women and Ellen Cleghorne was on SNL 15 years ago. I suppose they can make up Nasim Pedrad to do the skinnier black women. This really isn't so bad. Some of the best women on SNL are the dudes. For example, Armisen's Joy Behar and when Samberg did Diablo Cody and Juliette Lewis. I think you're being nitpicky. I don't think Kenan has done Michelle Obama.)

Did Kenan create a response video to issue #7? He might have done that right here:

8. More surprise guests during ‘Weekend Update,’ please!
Any time Amy Poehler can find time to leave her important post at the “Parks and Recreation” Dept. to drop in on her old co-host Seth Meyers, it's a hit — and “SNL” should pencil in honorary cast member Justin Timberlake whenever possible, too. We loved when “Star Trek” stars Leonard Nimoy, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto popped by to convince longtime hardcore fans that it was OK to go and see the reboot. More surprise guests = a livelier show.
(Editor: Whoa! Hold on! Every example you gave was of guest cameos. If they put a guest cameo in every single episode than #1 They'd run out of ideas and they wouldn't be funny and #2 They'd be taking up time away from the cast to show off their characters and impressions. Weekend Update is a necessary place for the new cast members to play guests and get out there and get a following. Abby Elliott did it with her Angelina Jolie impression (and her Sarah Mclachlan). Andy Samberg and Bill Hader came out in their first episode and did an "Impression Off." Andy has busted out Cathy and Scrooge McDuck. Bobby Moynihan busted out his amazing Snagglepuss. And Nasim Pedrad just used the forum to break out her Kim Kardashian impression. Plus Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, and Kenan Thompson use it to show off their characters. So we don't want SNL to take that opportunity away. Let's keep the guests as a fun surprise and save them for the GREAT ideas. Plus they already bring out Amy Poehler and Justin Timberlake as much as they're willing to come. So let's not imagine something that isn't possible.)

9. Easy does it on the ’90s nostalgia.
It's sort of funny sometimes, but surely there's a funnier bit than a Natalie Merchant impression, or a riff on Beauty and the Beast. Topical humor is “SNL’s” trademark; leave the “hey, do you guys remember this?” jokes to “Family Guy.”
(Editor: I completely disagree. That's like throwing Eddie Murphy's Gumby and Alfalfa skits "on the ground." These are hilarious bits, and some of them are from the 80s. Or what about Rear Window, Mary Poppins, Of Mice and Men, and Dr. Jekyl? Not all these references are from the 80s. I think this is my favorite new thing that the show is doing more of. Who cares what time the content was popular? If it's funny, then they should do it. Period.)

10. Whatever happened to your great commercials?
The days of Schmitts Gay, Woomba, and Bad Idea/Mom Jeans seem long gone. We would argue for one new commercial per episode, but the ones this season (Bunny Business?!) have been so not funny, we confused them with real commercials. Make some more. And make them good.
(Editor: You're criticizing Bunny Business? What? Every two seconds of that skit was hilarious! Taylor Swift nailed Shakira! Kristen Wiig's Natalie Merchant was amazing! And everybody else also nailed it. You need to watch more of the commercials. Jason did one about dog food garbage. There are some pretty funny ones out there. They are hilarious, but they can't all be as popular as "Happy Fun Ball.")


I don't know how this got on MSNBC and EW. It's kind of embarassing to true SNL enthusiasts.



  1. I can agree with some of the article....
    At least they prefaced their Kristen criticism with an admission that they do like her.

  2. I think I only fully agree with #2 (Obama and political skits lately haven't been silly enough). The other points seem too ignorant or based more on opinion than data.

    - TAE


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