Tag Archives: Weekend Update

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.

 

 

Leave a comment

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

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.

Leave a comment

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

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…

Leave a comment

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

Gratuitous Search Term Bait of New Year’s Eve: Man of the Year

We couldn’t be happier with this one: “snl stefon emma stone”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Where do you think Stefon will be tonight?  Trash?  Gush?  Push?  Probably some place we haven’t heard of yet.

Let’s just hope there will be plenty of Furkels!

Leave a comment

Filed under Gratuitous Search Term Bait, Saturday Night Live

Why Did Hulu Post the Dress Rehearsal Version of Jay Pharoah’s Will Smith???

Is it because he cursed in the middle of his first big spot on the show, much like Jenny Slate did last year???  Did opening night jitters get to him???

Well, no.  I thought he did, but I’ve gone back and listened to it over and over again and it turns out when I thought he said “I took a break and shit” he just said “I took a break this year.”  Whoops.

But still, they did swap out the live version for the dress:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Curious, no?  Did they just think the purple shirt was funnier?  More Fresh Prince-esque?  I guess we’ll never know (and probably shouldn’t care).

Leave a comment

Filed under Conspiracy Theory, Saturday Night Live

Last Night on Late Night Was the Intersection of the Venn Diagram of the Things I Love (And One Thing I Hate)

*Editor’s note: Jumped The Snark has been and will be busy for the immediate future on another somewhat related but also not really project, and thus updates may be few and far between for the next two months.  We’re going to do our best to keep up regular posts, but they may be of the very brief variety.  That is all.

Jimmy Fallon.  Parks & Recreation.  Rashida Jones.  Fred Armisen.  Weekend Update.  A.D. Miles.  Dee Snider.  Last night was a convergence of all of those things on Late Night.

Fallon proves once again that his show is the place to turn for pitch-perfect parodies (see: “Real Housewives of Late Night,” “Late“), and this time the team turns its scalpels towards the unfortunate phenomenon that is Glee.  And not only does their version, “6-Bee,” capture the exact tone and rhythm (and hokeyness) of the show, it pits the Late Night glee club against the Parks & Rec squad, treating us to Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Jerry and Jumped the Snark long time favorite Rashida Jones (but wherefore art thou, Asiz Ansari?), as well as an appearance from another longtime favorite, Fred Armisen.  And it all culminates in a truly impressive take on Twister Sister’s classic anthem of rebellion “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

(You may have figured out that the one thing I hate, as mentioned in the title, is Glee (the show, and by extension its cultural resonance).  A long time ago I intended to write a long blog post explaining why its characters are just caricatures, the tone muddled, the perspective confused, and that while I’m happy for Jane Lynch, her role in Party Down trumps her one-note performance as Sue Sylvester.  And this thoroughly enjoying Late Night interpretation shows that without the dramatic musical sequences Glee would just be a cut-rate Degrassi.  There, I finally said it).

And if that all wasn’t enough, later in the show we were treated to a charades battle of the former “Weekend Update” co-anchors, with Fallon and guest Tina Fey taking on Poehler (clearly pregnant by the way) and her old partner and current solo host Seth Meyers.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And to top it off, arch-nemesis and top search term Justin Bieber!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Keep up the good work, Jamie!

4 Comments

Filed under Good Humor, Saturday Night Live, Talkies

Whew. Crisis Averted. Kristen Wiig Not Joining Weekend Update

I was just about to write a post expressing my disappointment with the news/rumors that Kristen Wiig would be taking Amy Poehler’s place at the Weekend Update desk alongside Seth Meyers.  To me, that’s a mistake.  The idea is to alleviate Wiig’s workload, not increase it.  And it doesn’t make sense to award her the anchor job at the expense of her presence in sketches, which would have surely suffered given the time commitment needed for Update.  Even though they definitely need to pepper the sketches with the new female cast members the show still requires healthy dose of Wiig, just not record setting levels.  Which is why I was happy to hear that the rumor was debunked.

However, in addition to not joining Update, they should also cut back on Wiig’s appearances on Update segments, like her frequent turns as travel writer Judy Grimes and film critic Aunt Linda.  The bits are amusing, but too similar to some of her other characters (although her personification of Barbie was inspired).Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Weekend Update guest segments have traditionally been a place where those cast members who don’t get much attention in the regular sketches can present their own material and grab some airtime, which is why you so often saw Tracey Morgan and Colin Quinn visiting the desk, and even Adam Sandler and his song stylings before that.  So this season they should cede Kristen Wiig’s spots on Update to others in the cast, specifically the trio of young ladies who will be defining their role in the show.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

But what of the vacant Update chair?  Should someone besides Wiig be the next chosen one?  Well, Amy Poehler is going to return for at least the first two episodes of Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday (premiering September 17), so it would probably be foolish to install another anchor for the regular weekend Weekend edition at the same time.  But after that, who knows?  Many consider the Poehler-Tina Fey partnership the recent high point for Update, and certainly Poehler and Seth Meyers had its shining moments, but in his nights alone last season I think Meyers proved that he has the chops to handle the anchor duties solo, at least for the foreseeable future.  Let us not forget that the segment was hosted by a single anchor since its return in 1985 with Dennis Miller until Lorne Michaels paired Fey with Jimmy Fallon in 2000.  So let Meyers continue to do a fine job by himself, frequently invite on the new ladies, and maybe one of them will excel and join the pantheon of Weekend Update anchors.  However, if that doesn’t happen and we’re treated to Seth Meyers all by his lonesome every week I think we’ll be fine.  Really.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Oh.  And one more recommendation.  More Nicolas Fehn.  Please.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Leave a comment

Filed under Analysis, Saturday Night Live