Category Archives: Saturday Night Live

An Earlier ‘Late Night’

Q: When is a sitdown a standup? 

A: When Seth Meyers premieres as host of Late Night and takes his act out from behind the “Weekend Update” desk and moves it to center stage. 

Seth Meyers Late NightIt was a much less of an auspicious debut for Late Night with Seth Meyers than Jimmy Fallon’s maiden Tonight Show voyage, even with a visit from Vice President “Crazy” Joe Biden (indeed, maybe the most notable part of the evening came from Amy Poehler, who utilized the opportunity to announce a second season renewal for Comedy Central’s Broad City). However, that it was a low-key evening was not a surprise, it was probably by design. In fact, whereas Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night distinguished itself for being the late night show for millennials, the first one crafted with YouTube and Twitter in mind, this iteration of Late Night might stand out for being something quite the opposite. And if it’s balance that Lorne Michaels’ late night lineup is after, then Meyers’ hour might bring it.

It’s foolhardy to judge the long-term success of a program based off of one show, or the first week of shows, or even the first moth, maybe even the first year. Conan O’Brien famously took some time to adjust, and Meyer’s predecessor Fallon slowly settled into his groove, and even after his promotion he still struggles mightily as an interviewer. So it was both no surprise and no cause for alarm that Meyers’ first outing left much room for improvement. His monologue, something that likewise remains a weak spot in Fallon’s arsenal, felt awkward, unnatural, and Meyers seemed uncomfortable finding his mark on the studio floor instead of behind a newsdesk. Indeed, leading up the premiere, we wondered if Meyers should dispense with the traditional stand-up monologue all together and just do it all from the desk, Daily Show style. However, after seeing what we feel is a beautiful, vibrant studio with distinctive sliding doors in place of curtains, we’re rethinking that sentiment; the setting is right, it’s just the style, subject and delivery that needs some work. More topical, pop-culture and current event setups, less obscure, strange-but-true stories. Similarly, his first desk piece, “Venn Diagrams,” had promise, but quickly lost momentum, and had little to separate itself from a Buzzfeed slideshow. We applaud the concept, but it needs more. Or less, like some cheap, low-concept Late Show segments. But, unfortunately, it was caught between a throwaway sight gag and entertaining, clever wordplay. What it maybe missed most was more of Meyers himself.

Which is where the show might need to go to find its sweet-spot. Meyers’ strength, as opposed to Fallon, is interviewing, is engaging with his guests in a way that’s neither fanboy nor sycophant. It was for precisely that skill that he was considered as a replacement for Regis Philbin on Live!, and it’s that ability he needs to exploit, even if, in the current talk show landscape, traditional interviewing is something that seems to be reserved for Charlie Rose. Perhaps, then, it is not any of Meyers’ Late Night forebears that he should strive to emulate, but Tom Snyder, whose Tomorrow Show was the precursor to Late Night with David Letterman. While we’re far from suggesting that Meyers dispense with the live audience, only interview one guest per show and take up smoking, emphasizing a more straightforward format – interesting, revealing interviews that allow for both Meyers’ and his guest’s personalities to shine through – might make the most sense, might allow Late Night with Seth Meyers to find its own voice. In fact, the new Late Night set itself – a sparse, almost teacher-like desk, and 70s style chairs instead of a plush couch – evokes the feeling of The Dick Cavett Show, another early talker that stressed insightful interviews over bits and punchlines. If Jimmy Fallon is the cutting-edge, high-energy, internet-savvy model at 11:30pm, then Meyers can be the more relaxed, subtler throwback at 12:30pm. He might need to go back, if he wants to stay late.

And, if Meyers focuses on those things, then he can leave the fun stuff to Fred Armisen.

 

 

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Filed under Back to the Past, Must See TV, Reeeeeege, Saturday Night Live, Talkies, Weigh-in

Deja View: Why Seth Meyers Would be the Wrong Choice as ‘Late Night’ Heir

The plot keeps thickening with the NBC late night situation, and it continued today with the buzz  that Lorne Michaels would like to anoint current “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers as successor to Jimmy Fallon on Late Night, just as Meyers followed Fallon behind the Update desk (albeit, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in the interregnum). However, we think, in this case, Lorne might be making a poor decision.

With sources reporting that Jimmy Fallon will take over The Tonight Show in 2014 it’s only natural to start speculating who will replace him at 12:35am. And, similarly, it’s only natural to start speculating who Lorne Michaels will nominate for that position, as the show is produced his Broadway Video and it was he who plucked Conan O’Brien out of relative obscurity to launch the program in 1993 and who rescued Fallon from near-irrelevance to grab the reins in 2009. So whomever the next tenant of Studio 6B is will probably be chosen by Michaels and will likely come out of his comedy stable. However, while Meyers fits that bill, a longtime writer and cast member on SNL, he might be the wrong guy at the wrong time. He’s just too much in the Fallon mold, and the show would be wise to move in another direction.

More: History should repeat itself, but not exactly…

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Filed under Analysis, Local Flavor, Saturday Night Live, Talkies

Elliott Ghoul’d: JT Joins the ‘SNL’ Five Timers Club But One Member is Conspicuously Absent

Justin Timberlake made his triumphant return to Studio 8H this past weekend, delivering the episode that it felt like SNL and its fans had been waiting for all season long. The affair marked Timberlake’s fifth turn as host, inducting him into the esteemed “Five Timers Club” that includes such SNL luminaries such as Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Alec Baldwin and Tom Hanks. In fact, it was during Hanks fifth hosting appearance in December of 1990  (and before fifteen of Baldwin’s sixteen hosting turns) when we first learned about the existence of the exclusive club, with a young Conan O’Brien (going by the alias “Sean”) presenting Hanks with his club robe. For the first time in just over twenty-two years we revisited this VIP lounge this past Saturday night, with Timberlake receiving his robe from another O’Brien, SNL writer and 7 Minutes in Heaven star Mike O’Brien. Martin, Simon and Hanks were once again present, as well as fellow club members Chevy Chase and Candice Bergen (and non-club but former cast members Dan Ackroyd and Martin Short). But shockingly absent from the distinguished proceedings was Five Timer Elliott Gould, who helped initiate Hanks back in ’90. Sure, by that time Gould hadn’t hosted for ten years, and hasn’t in the twenty-two since, but once a Five Timer always a Five Timer, right? In fact, Gould was the third host to join the club (behind Buck Henry and Martin), which essentially makes him a charter member. So why then has Gould essentially been excommunicated from Saturday Night Live? Why has someone who was so instrumental and loyal in those early SNL years become a persona non-grata at the Five Timers Club? Was it his role on FriendsA falling out with Don Pardo? Or, perhaps he and his friends stole from Lorne? Most likely, while fellow club members Martin and Baldwin climb higher and higher into the double digits, we’ll never know why Gould has been away for over two decades, whether by banishment or by self-righteous declaration of independence. No matter what though, they can never take away his pool privileges.

Btw, Lindsay Lohan is one hosting appearance away from joining the club. Should she be tapped for that fifth time, expect stricter membership requirements to follow soon after.

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Filed under Flashback!, Good Humor, Hanx, Makes You Think, Saturday Night Live

Parting Shot: 2 Cool

Taco Bell Cool Ranch

 

Cool Ranch Doritos, now that’s what I call a Taco

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Filed under Freak Out Control, Local Flavor, Parting Shot, Saturday Night Live

A Jumped the Snark “Shorty” – Predicting the 2014 Oscars

We’re unveiling a new feature on this blog today: Jumped the Snark Shorties, very brief thoughts and commentary on various topics and issues. Could be a follow-up to a previous post, an ad-hoc op-ed, or a random non-sequtiur. Opinions that are too short and partially formed to necessitate a full-length analysis, but too long for a tweet. Today we revisit our post from last week, our response to response to the Oscars and the outrage fired towards Seth MacFarlane. 

With all the bitter criticism and outcry following Seth MacFarlane’s Academy Awards hosting turn, it’s only natural to wonder who will take the stage next year. Likewise, it’s safe to assume that the Producers will be walking on glass with their next selection, aiming to pull in a host that can pull in the laughs (and ratings) while omitting the more the more offensive elements, effectively compensating for this year’s (alleged) disaster.

Our prediction: Sandra Bullock & Melissa McCarthy

Why? Coming off the upcoming The Heat these will be two very bankable, very likable, very current commodities. And, unlike Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, these are movie stars, and, perhaps more importantly, actresses more than comedians. Their comedic reputation and integrity won’t be at risk; they’ll be more likely to be tame, to be good soldiers, and more amenable to it than the former SNL standouts,  neither of whom, it should be noted, have yet to truly break out on the big screen.

But Jumped the Snark, won’t the “Body Cops” be all over that with Melissa McCarthy’s size? 

No, the Body Cops themselves are handcuffed after this year’s show, nobody would dare say anything remotely misogynistic or negative towards women; it would instead be a celebration of the fairer sex, in all their shapes and forms. And, privately, the producers would feel comfortable tapping an overweight woman because they paired her with a thin, classic beauty, and they’ll pat themselves on the back for being so progressive.

Follow-up question: Is it a requirement that a human hosts the Oscars? I feel like everyone would approve of Kermit the Frog. 

While we would, of course, love a Muppet up there on that stage, but our understand is that non-humans can present, but not host. It’s like how non-native citizens can be Governor, but not President. And now that we say that we do like the sound of “Governor Kermit.” We’ve certainly done worse.

 

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Filed under Muppets, Saturday Night Live, Shorties, The Big Screen

Parting Shot: Pains, Train & Automobiles

Picture 15

Are you Sirius? 

(taken before this SNL sketch, which proves, once again, that they are reading our diary)

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Filed under Marconi & Cheese, Parting Shot, Saturday Night Live, Tyranasaurus Sex

I’ll Take Condiments for $800: French Stewart Returns to Jeopardy

A little over thirteen years after his first memorable appearance, 3rd Rock from the Sun star French Stewart made an unexpected return to Jeopardy this week, under the obvious pseudonym Barry Peterson. Unfortunately, even though he’s learned to open his eyes, he once again failed in his promise to bloom in Double Jeopardy.

(or is it Jimmy Fallon, pulling of a brilliant piece of performance art?)

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Filed under Look-Alikes, Match Games, Saturday Night Live