You have to feel a little sorry for Dennis Miller. He has become such a professional failure and so personally unpleasant that you almost wish God would relieve him of the misery which is his life. However, there are some who take joy in Dennis Miller’s constant failures because no matter how bad their careers get, they can always say, “Well, at least I’m not Dennis Miller.”
Dennis had his better days. I remember my friends and I would watch Saturday Night Live every weekend in the mid-eighties. When the “Weekend Update” segment came on, we would laugh so hard as to spit out whatever we were eating. Dennis Miller’s commentary was witty, relevant, and absolutely hilarious. Unlike some of the other “Weekend Update” anchors, he didn’t give the impression that he was trying too hard to be funny; he was the physical and intellectual definition of humor. He entertained us for years until he left to create his own show, The Dennis Miller Show, in 1992.
This new late night show was supposed to be “cool” and “alternative.” But not only did Dennis Miller act like he was obviously reading off of cue cards, he always looked as if he came to the set after drinking a little too much. Some blamed the extremely low ratings on contracting problems with the Tribune Company, but most likely tuned out due to Mr. Miller’s complete lack of humor. The biggest thing The Dennis Miller Show could take credit for was breaking the band Toad the Wet Sprocket through to the mainstream. That, itself, should be considered a crime.
In 1994, Dennis Miller made a smart move to HBO where he created Dennis Miller Live. It was a half hour comedy show that was simple, but funny and effective. He would usually have only one guest on a show and end it with a news segment similar to his days as an anchor on Saturday Night Live. The show won five Emmy awards but soon became a parody of itself as Dennis had, apparently, run out of funny material. After deeply declining ratings and horrid feedback from viewers, HBO canceled the show.
Just before Dennis Miller Live was canceled, Dennis tried out Monday Night Football where he attempted to add a funny twist to his awful commentary. He thought he could win over audiences with such quotes as, "Check out the helmet hair on Randy Moss, babe! He looks like some freakish anti-Mr. T after a long evening sleeping through Aida.” People were laughing at Dennis Miller more than they were laughing at his pathetic jokes. Even though I’m not a football fan, I have to admit to tuning in sometimes just to see Dennis Miller for the train wreck effect. In 2002, after awful ratings, Dennis Miller was told to pack his bags.