Tag Archives: James Carville

Saturday Night’s All Right For Leaving

Screen shot 2013-05-21 at 6.42.30 PMMuch was made last week about the departure of Saturday Night Live stalwart Bill Hader, and still more was made when word broke just before (or, perhaps, during) last Saturday night’s show that longtime cast member Fred Armisen would be joining Hader in exiting Studio 8H. Add to that the speculation that Jason Sudeikis is a part of the exodus – only a year after show centerpiece Kristen Wiig left the show – and we seem to have a full-fledged panic. Hader, Armisen and Sudeikis – who accrued twenty-eight seasons of combined service on the show – will certainly leave a gaping hole, having portrayed such vital characters as President Obama, Vice President Biden, James Carville, David Patterson, the Devil, and, of course, Stefon. How could the show possibly survive such a great loss of talent, three of their leading men, a trio of go-tos. Losing one, sure, it happens. But all three, plus the farewell of Head Writer Seth Meyers at mid-season? Won’t that just be the end of SNL?

No, no it won’t. Despite some histrionics that seem to point to the opposite sentiment, the show will persist just fine. In fact, this is the circle of life for Saturday Night Live (it’s just Saturday Night Life?). Granted, if Sudeikis does, in fact, join Hader and Armisen, then you would have a more severe than normal bloodletting, but it’s not a lethal loss. The show has always and will always subsist on the infusion of new, exciting, eager talent. This season SNL was without Kristen Wiig, who seemed to have shouldered the load for so many seasons (to the show’s detriment, in our opinion) and it went on unencumbered in her absence, bolstered by noteworthy performances by newcomers Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong, two fantastic young talents who might have not had the chance to breakout if Wiig was still around. And the show has weathered the loss of every great star during its history, with someone waiting in the wings to step up. Chevy Chase leaves after the inaugural season and Bill Murray gets the call. Farley and Sandler leave and we get Will Ferrell. Ferrell leaves but Armisen and Will Forte join the show and Amy Poehler receives more screen time. Every time SNL closes a door it opens a window, a window cracked just wide enough for a talented young sketch comedian to crawl.

And it will be the same with this loss, which should better be classified as a transition than a remaking; it’s certainly nothing as a dramatic as the turnover before Ferrell’s first season. Bobby Moynihan, who had a stellar season with his “Weekend Update” appearances as Drunk Uncle and Anthony Crispino, has already been doing much of the heavy lifting, appearing in cold opens, monologues, parodies, and Update visits, performing as straight man as well as Guy Fieri. He’s certainly more than capable of being the show’s anchor in his sixth season. Likewise of Taran Killam, whose squared-jaw good looks and Baryshnikovian dance moves make him possibly the show’s most valuable not-yet-ready-for-prime-time-player, and who is due for his breakout season. Then you have Kenan Thompson, who has only improved with age, as he shook off his All That trappings and grew into a reliable SNL presence, and Tim Robinson, who had a strong, confident debut season, and Jay Pharoah, who is an incredible mimic but still looking to find his groove, despite getting the nod to play Obama this season. Not to mention the fresh new talent they might recruit to replace the departing cast members. And add to that the terrific female players that we already discussed, and you have a dynamic, hungry, inspired cast ready to make their mark and define their era on SNL. If the show is guilty of anything over its last 38 seasons, it’s of being lazy, relying on the old standbys. With the old guard on its way out, SNL just might not have that luxury next season, and we might be better off for it.

Yes, we had to say goodbye to Stefon, and that was very, very sad. But Stefon had to move on, and so do we. Because there’s another Stefon out there. There always is. We just don’t know him yet.

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Filed under Analysis, Be careful what you wish for, Makes You Think, Saved by the Bell

Lindsay Lohan on ‘SNL’: Sobering Saturday

Four days have passed since Lindsay Lohan returned to host Saturday Night Live, and the benefit of time does nothing to portray her performance in any more of a positive light.  Yes, in spite of her wooden, stumbling, at times helpless appearance, the show delivered some of its strongest moments of the season (including Bill Hader reaching new levels of brilliance as both Shephard Smith and James Carville, and an inspired, if somewhat haphazardly placed, “Music of the 70s” commercial parody with a retro-coiffed Jason Sudeikis), but those sketches  don’t negate Lohan’s awkward struggle, her 90-minute death march, and nor has almost a week of reflection.

It wasn’t always this way.  And that’s why this is so sad, so tragic.  There was a time when Lindsay Lohan was a bona fide star, white-hot and electric.  The next big thing while simultaneously being the “it” the girl.  And, yes, she had curves, but she also had talent.  Was she a young Jodie Foster?  Outside of the freckles, no.  But she had something that a young Jodie Foster did not.  Sizzle.  Sparkle.  That special something.

But where does that special something go when it dies?

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Filed under Analysis, Be careful what you wish for, Makes You Think, Saturday Night Live, Yasmine Bleeth

‘SNL’ With Host Cee-Lo, Musical Guest Gwyneth Paltrow and a Very Special Episode of ‘Pee Wee’s-Playhouse’

A little late this week so let’s get right to it:

We get it Gwyneth, you can sing!  You already proved it with Country Strong, your appearance on Glee and your CMA performance (and with Huey Lewis in Duets ten years ago).  But you had to show us again in your monologue, as Taylor Swift in this My Super Sweet Bar Mitzvah sketch, and by joining meandering songsmiths Kat and Garth on “Weekend Update.’  Listen, Gwyneth, WE GET IT.  It’s a wonder they didn’t hold off the “Worst of Soul Train sketch another week so Paltrow could play some kind of disco queen.  But they probably thought that would be overkill.

Also, Cee-Lo, we get it.  You’re a big deal right now.  Gwyneth Paltrow covered your hit song, and hugs you and treats you like her best friend.  But we don’t need to see the you also singing during the monologue and in the Bar Mitzvah sketch and also appearing in the “Record Label Meeting” sketch that was just a device to introduce your musical performance.  What’s that we said about overkill?  We mean, c’mon, it’s not like the guy is Paul McCartney.  And, sure, we admit, “F*** You” is one of those songs we heard about ad nauseam before we ever actually heard it (much like “Umbrella”), because the only radio we listen to is sports talk and NPR.  But it is good, at the very least, it’s dangerously infectious.  However, isn’t “F*** You” just like “Hey Ya,” but not as good.  Seven years later we still think the former is a great song, not sure if the latter will fare so well in 2018.  Will it be a classic or a novelty?  Only time will tell if it stands the test of time.  But, until then, we could have done with at least one less Cee-Lo appearance.

Read on: Pee-wee plays with fire, Bill Hader gets political, and a hidden meaning to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air sketch

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Filed under Analysis, Good Humor, Impatience, Saturday Night Live

Halloween ‘SNL’ & Jon Hamm: Tricks, Treats and the Return of the Old Guard

Last week we hypothesized that the Halloween episode of SNL hosted by Jon Hamm would either be the best of the season or the laziest.  Hamm, making his third hosting appearance, has already proven to be a go-to, top-notch host, one that brings out the best in the cast and crew.  But, on the other hand, what often happens when the show is blessed with a skilled host is that they relax, relying too much on the host’s charm and natural comedic talents (see: Galifiankis, Zach).  However, what we were treated to this week was something in between, and something, in hindsight, typical of a third hosting go ’round.  During a debut performance the material can often be safe, figuring out if the host has what it takes, a bit of a feeling out process.   If that host succeeds, then when he or she comes back for a second stint the crew is energized, knowing that they have someone who will deliver.  You could see that confidence, motivation and excitement in Hamm’s second hosting job last winter.  But when a host comes back for the three-peat, the crew is now so comfortable and at ease that they’re willing to taking more chances, throwing more caution to the wind.  So what you receive is not mainstream yuks and recurring sketches, or weary, unmotivated punchlines and recurring sketches, but a sense of adventure laced with apathy for the viewer.  This is what happens when you have a host who no longer needs to prove himself, who has tenure, which is why so many of Alec Baldwin’s shows are peppered with offbeat sketches, some that delight (like last season’s bizarre “Timecrowave“) and some that crash and burn (like “Arizona Evenings” from the same episode).  Judging from this past weekend’s show, it seems that Hamm is now in that class.

More: Mustaches, kisses, Rihanna, Star Wars & Sam Kinison! Plus, WHOM did they rip off this week?

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Filed under Analysis, Lady Holiday, Makes You Think, Mancrush, Saturday Night Live