Tag Archives: Taran Killam

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

Was That Special? Dana Carvey Returns to ‘SNL’ And Our Childhood Officially Ends

We’re going to warn you right off the bat that this is probably going to be the most subjective SNL recap we’ve yet written.  So if you like your SNL analysis free of emotional attachment, well, then you should look somewhere else (we’re sure the web might offer one, maybe two, other options), because, unfortunately, as we watched this last SNL, hosted by legendary cast member Dana Carvey, our reaction was intrinsically bound up in how we’ve watched this show since childhood, and how the this particular episode made us reexamine and reassess our feelings about the show, Dana Carvey and his SNL era.  So, at the extreme risk of being self-indulgent, here we go.

Read on: We mourn our youth and ask the question: who is Dana Carvey?

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Filed under Analysis, Be careful what you wish for, Crucial Taunt, Flashback!, Nostalgia Corner, Reeeeeege, Saturday Night Live, The Bieb

Jim Carrey, ‘SNL’: No One Does a Thicke!

Well, we weren’t devastated.  Maybe it was because we were still ecstatic from the Jets victory, and that residual giddiness made us a little more lenient, a little looser (the beers couldn’t have hurt either).  Whatever it was, we were in a good mood, and Jim Carrey’s return to SNL didn’t ruin it.  It wasn’t a landmark episode, or a groundbreaking night, nor did they seem that they were fully back from vacation.  But, given our lofty, unrealistic, expectations, it was satisfying.  And (unfortunately), that’s enough.

And let’s, for a change, start at the top.  We often completely ignore the cold open when reviewing SNL, because it’s usually one of the weakest, least memorable parts of the show, certainly in non-election years.  We can’t pinpoint when it started exactly, but perhaps it’s been since the great Bush-Gore battle of 2000 that the cold open has almost felt obligated to be political sketch.  Often times that’s made for great, funny television (Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton, Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, occasionally Jason Sudeikis as Joe Biden), but more often than not we’re treated to a mildly amusing address from by Fred Armisen as President Obama.  It’s become predictable and somewhat boring.  So what a surprise it was for the show to begin and discover Armisen not as Obama but as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Keep reading! More on Bloomy, Carrey nails Kunis, and a sketch made just for us…

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Filed under Analysis, Good Humor, Growing Pains, Intersection of the venn diagram of things that I love, Muppets, 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

‘SNL’ & Emma Stone: The Next Generation

First, let’s just get it out of the way and say that Emma Stone, whether or not she had (Easy) A material, was excellent in her first, of hopefully many, SNL hosting gig.  Running the gamut from an uninterested sweepstakes winner to Lindsay Lohan to a Ke$ha-like pop-tart to a French hipster to a fixated teen to a hoochie spokesmodel, Stone was pretty flawless.  What was written for or around her wasn’t always top-notch, but she was, and we think her debut was even more impressive than that of her BFF Taylor Swift last season, even if that one might have elicited a bigger buzz.  Many have compared Stone to Lohan (as happened in the episode itself, and on this blog); let’s hope that she continues on the path of Lohan’s early career, which includes hosting this show many times, BUT then let’s pray that Stone goes left where Lohan turned right, eventually veering totally off the tracks.  However, despite her charms, it wasn’t Stone that left us with the greatest impression.

Read on: SNL the new class? Plus, what sketch did they rip off this week???

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‘SNL’ Shake-Ups & Sensationalism: Slate & Sudeikis

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed by since we waved goodbye to Michaela Watkins (we hardly knew ye) and Casey Wilson (probably for the best) and welcomed with skeptical arms the rookies Jenny Slate and Nasim Pedrad.  And it’s sad to report that a year later we’re already saying goodbye to the former of that dynamic young duo.  And once again, the changes are sure to raise eyebrows.  However, this time around, we don’t have a good theory as to what precipitated the moves.

With Will Forte’s departure two weeks ago the whispers began to circulate and the dominoes began to fall.  Except, they really didn’t fall so much as erect themselves next to already firmly planted playing pieces, with Taran Killam (best known from Scrubs), Paul Brittain and Vanessa Bayer from the iO Chicago, and Jay Pharoah, a comedian and talented impressionist, joining the cast, while veterans Andy Samberg, Jason Sudeikis, Kenan Thompson – rumored to possibly be following Forte out the door – remain (as of press time) at their posts.  So it came as a bit of a shock when word got out yesterday that the show had released a cast member, but not one of its established male veterans with s burgeoning film careers (or even Kristen Wiig, who may have already over-stayed her welcome a season or two), but, instead, Slate, who had only put in a season’s worth of work.

Now, if you recall last year’s history lesson on women & SNL, you’ll recall that going into the season with four women (Slate, Pedrad, Wiig & Abby Elliott most recently) was on the high side.  In fact, going a whole season with four veteran female cast members is just about as good as it’s ever been on the show.  So, with the addition of Bayer, it’s not surprising that SNL & head honcho Lorne Michaels decided to cut loose a lady.  It was a numbers game.  That we understand.  But then why add one in the first place?

Read on: The curious case of Jenny Slate. Also, Jason Sudeikis is the new Ben Affleck.

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Filed under Analysis, Flashback!, Saturday Night Live, Yvonne Hudson