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Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin Reminds Me of Other Great SNLs

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One of the most fascinating things to me about Saturday Night Live is that the current cast never gets any respect. The original group wasn’t funny until new people came in. And they weren’t funny until the next group, and they weren’t funny until the next one. It’s sad and it’s unfair, and yet I kind of think it’ll never change.

Even so, the reports of the show’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, as this year’s season opener will attest. This was the highest rated episode since their first episode in 2001, which was a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks. Whatever anyone thought of the rest of the episode, undeniably, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler doing Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton respectively was an hysterical opening. Because, let’s face it, the first time you saw Sarah Palin you instinctively thought that she looks like Tina Fey (and she does). Plus, Fey is almost always funny and when she’s paired with Poehler, it’s even better. Just check out the clip:

See, that’s funny. That’s well and truly funny. But, it’s not the only funny thing SNL has done over its 30-plus year existence; it’s not even the only funny thing the show has done in 2008.

Over at UnSpun (where, it is true, I’m also a writer), they have a list ranking the funniest SNL skits of all time. Currently sitting at number one is the land shark skit (“Candygram”), followed closely by the Church Lady (clearly that’s the work of… Satan), and the Palin-Clinton sketch is there too. Here’s the complete list:

See, there’s old stuff there, there’s new stuff there, and almost all of them bring back great memories (and not just for me who was present in the studio for some of the sketches).

SNL, like anything else, has some above average and some below average years. If the opening sketch from this season is any indication, we could be looking at an above average year. I certainly hope we are, I can’t stay up late enough to watch the show anymore, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for the show. There’s something magical and wonderful about Saturday Night Live, and I can’t imagine a television landscape without the show, especially in an election year.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • http://americanidollowdown.blogspot.com/ Sherry L

    It seems like that is more a list of the best characters rather than sketches. Definitely not all Weekend Updates are created equal.

    I don’t think SNL is going anywhere soon, but aside from the opening sketch it was only an average episode. It’s harder for SNL to be as fresh considering all the other sketch shows to come along over the years. Especially Weekend Update suffers because it has to compete with The Daily Show and The Colbert report.

    The high rating for this episode probably had a lot to do with the anticipation of Tina Fey returning to play Sarah Palin and the recent popularity of Michael Phelps. It will be interesting to see how it does over the course of the season.

    Don’t get me wrong I am a huge fan of SNL. I love the show and its history. I think this cast is pretty good, but overall the show has been lacking for me over the past few seasons.

  • Roy

    With all due respect John, you are totally off target with this editorial.

    Let’s look at some previous cast members the show had over the past few decades:

    Belushi
    Akroyd
    Chevy Chase
    Eddie Murphy
    Dana Carvey
    Mike Myers
    Jon Lovitz
    Chris Rock
    Tim Meadows
    Adam Sandler
    Will Ferrel
    Daryl Hammond
    Phil Hartman
    Cheri Oteri
    Chris Farley

    And who do they have now?
    Samberg? You gotta be kidding me. He’s not a big leaguer. Not by a long shot.

    Tina Fey (who’s not on the show) is alright and indeed did a good palin but even she is overrated and so is poelher. While compared to the other cast memebers snl has today they are top notch but that really doesn’t say much. There are no really funny people left on this show and the writing sucks too.
    There have been slumps before so i guess it’s natural that they are having one now but don’t kid yourself, the season premeire doesn’t indicate anything that will follow this season. If anything it may decieve you into thinking the season is going to be good when in fact, it will end up sucking balls just like the last one. The only reason ratings were high is because of the Tina Fey buzz and the popularity of Michael Phelps.

    Sincerely,

    Roy

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Sorry, Jason, but I have to agree with Ray about your view being slightly off the mark. The original group was funny before the new gang showed up in 1980. Plus, Shirley’s point about the list being skewed is a good one. How can one sketch compete against a recurring character? That’s a bad list.

  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com Josh Lasser

    Roy,

    The point is the no one liked Eddie Murhpy till he was gone, no one liked Carvey, no one liked Farley, Rock, Myers, Meadows, or the rest when they were on the show, they were only liked after.

  • http://sterfish.blogspot.com Sterfish

    I agree with you, Josh. It seems like every era’s cast pales in comparison with the previous era’s cast. I bet that by the time Andy Samberg and Bill Hader are the veterans on the SNL cast, people will be pining for Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis.

  • http://www.marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    no one liked Eddie Murhpy till he was gone

    what?!!

    buckwheat? mr. robinson’s neighborhood? sorry, that’s just not true.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “no one liked Eddie Murhpy till he was gone”

    what? then how he did he become the star of the show? I don’t think you remember it right because people loved his Gumby, Buckwheat, Mr. Robinson, etc. If no one liked him till he was gone, then why was 48 Hours such a big hit?

    And who ever liked Meadows?