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SNL40: a time capsule of greatness

Scene from the Celebrity Jeopardy sketch on Saturday Night Live.

“Saturday Night Live” is considered by many to be the pinnacle of achievement in the television business. Seen as a beacon of greatness (a beacon with its faults, mind you), SNL has influenced generations of comedians past and present.

Some of the best actors and comedians have come from this show, such as Jimmy Fallon of “The Tonight Show,” Fred Armisan of “Portlandia” and Amy Poehler of “Parks and Recreation” to name a few.

This past weekend, SNL really gave its all as the show celebrated 40 years of being on the air. Forty years is not a minor accomplishment seeing as a lot of shows these days don’t even scratch the decade mark. And to fit all the sentiment and humor of 40 years and hundreds of guests into a three-and-a-half hour special isn’t an easy task.

The network managed to pull off an overall grand memorial to a TV classic. It included tributes to cast members and crew who passed away such as comic legend Chris Farley and the iconic announcer Don Pardo.

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Fallon and Justin Timberlake did a fine job summing up the best sketches and catch phrases throughout the years in a musical number/rap extravaganza during the intro. I even thought the nonchalant way JT interrupted Fallon in the beginning was such a fun poke at the over-grandiose notion of big introductions (even though they did one anyway).

Some of the oldie but goldie guests made appearances as well. Steven Martin plays the SNL stage like a banjo (and he’s very good at that). Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Eddie Murphy all made alumni appearances. Although, going between decades-old footage and the aged actors now really draws attention to how old the show really was. Murphy seems to be the exception because he doesn’t seem to age.

Wayne's World sketch.
Scene from the Wayne’s World sketch on the Saturday Night Live anniversary show.

Included in the older crowd of celebrities was Betty White as she was featured in The Californians. Her makeout scene with Bradley Cooper may have been a little much, but I’m glad to see White still has it.

Along with skits from seasons past such as Colon Blow and Mom Jeans ads, actors did tributes to beloved sketches. Sean Connery (played by Darrell Hammond) reprised his role on Celebrity Jeopardy and still mispronounced category titles such as “Let it Snow” and “Potent Potables” (I’ll let you figure those out). Weekend Update features celebrity impressions of characters such as the van by the river guy and Stephan the club promoter.

Clips of old auditions from celebrities gave a glimpse at how awkward and nervous these people can be. It puts things into perspective and makes you think that you could achieve your own dreams.

The only real problem I had with the special was the musical guests. Yes, Paul McCartney and Paul Simon did represent the more embellished guests if you’re into that, but Miley Cyrus and Kanye West were lazy choices for such a big show. Win Butler of Arcade Fire had a line introducing Cyrus, but I felt as if Cyrus should have been introducing Arcade Fire. To be fair though, West’s visuals and conceptual stage performance inspired me.

Jon Lovitz being the butt end of a handful of jokes had to be my favorite part, though. As Bill Murray announced the deceased members of SNL, Lovitz (who is very much alive and was shown in the crowd) was thrown in at the end of the montage. I enjoy a show that can make fun of itself and a willing cast member. To each their own.

Being a show of such stamina and vibrancy for 40 years, SNL definitely gave its all in this special. At first I speculated that the efforts of being nostalgic would make the show look clumsy trying to relive its glory days. However it went down smooth like fine Sangria.


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