Blog

My SNL Mount Rushmore

At the risk of seeming redundant if Buzzfeed has already posted 17 versions of “23 SNL stars we cannot live without,” Bill Hader’s announced departure from Saturday Night Live made me ponder who my favorite SNL stars of all time are.  I wrote it on my Facebook page and all hell broke loose.  My criteria for choosing may explain why the four I have are the four I have, but it won’t appease all/most of you so feel free to leave your homophobic and questioning-my-mental-state type comments in the comments section.  I chose Eddie Murphy, Phil Hartman, Will Ferrell and Bill Hader.  I got a lot of heat for neglecting several names.  First their were the folks I call the conservative SNL fans – the ones that want an original member on – Bill Murray, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd were the three names mentioned most often in that order.  Then there were the folks in my age range and a little older who wanted their pre-teen and teenage nostalgia represented with Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Chris Farley and to one delusional, but well-meaning soul, Adam Sandler. And lastly there are the folks who clamor for Kristen Wiig or Gilda Radner, but I am not the Huffington Post Twitter recommendations!  Kristen Wiig is like the Carmelo Anthony of SNL – very talented, but took so many shots (Kristen Wiig was in 107% of SNL sketches in her final two seasons) that stats appear bigger than impact.  If I had to replace Hader (because to me he is admittedly the most tenuous selection of the four – only Bill Murray or Dana Carvey could take his place, but I stuck with Hader.  My criteria was simple (and has nothing to do with post/outside show successes):

  • Versatility – impressions and inventing new characters. 
  • Stature on the show – were they a pillar of their era
  • Do I still laugh at them today?

Now admittedly this criteria will favor modern comic talent more, which is what makes Eddie Murphy even more amazing.  He very well might be #1 overall and emerged in the earlier phase of the show.   But this is what I picked so here it is:

Versatility – I don’t think anyone can dispute the versatility of the men I chose.  They did both iconic impressions, but also created many original characters/sketch ideas.  This is where someone like Dana Carvey would stand out and be right at the top of an all-time SNL list.  But this is only one category.

Stature on the show – each person was a big time player on the show and was undoubtedly the best on the show at the peak of their respective SNL careers.  But of course to some people on my Facebook comment stream ignoring the original pillars of Murray, Belushi, Aykroyd, etc. is sacrilegious.  Murray would be the only guy I would come close to replacing Hader with, but part of me feels like that would be me incorporating his terrific and long film career into the mix subconsciously (though Hyde Park on Hudson was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen).  But like versatility I need more than just one category dominance.

Do I still laugh at them today – yes for all four.  Though Bill Murray”s Lounge Singer act was something I still laugh at, the majority of early SNL just makes me smile.  I do love Dan Aykroyd’s shady toy seller character as much as anything that has been on, but those are isolated examples.  I find Murphy, Hartman, Ferrell and Hader to be great in just about everything they did and can laugh at a majority of their work right now.  I understand the show as a whole has been better than it is now (as well as more culturally relevant), but that should not penalize Hader who is absurdly gifted and will leave a huge whole in the show.  I understand there is a modern bias because humor on SNL has developed in large part thanks to the early efforts and development of sketch comedy on the show.   But Dana Carvey impressions and sketches do not make me laugh the way they once did (“Chopping Broccoli” is an exception) and a lot of the general early stuff doesn’t get me going anymore. Farley was hilarious, but I do not see him as having the body of work (in part because of tragedy) or versatility of the other guys on the list.  The guys on the list were alpha dogs during their time.  It is easier to be a 3 sketch supporting second tier guy, I imagine, than to be the guy who most of the writers are trying to write for.  Each of my selections was “the guy” at some point.  So Murphy, Hartman, Ferrell and Hader – congrats!

Of course if this was all sketch comedy I might put Jim Carrey’s work on In Living Color above them all.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday!

Blog

Stuff I’ve Been Watching

In keeping with today’s cultural trend I will provide some random and short quips today on television (I have been watching more because the book I am reading on Robert Oppenheimer is sort of heavy – side note – is it possible that if Mel Gibson were sober he might have meant to say “Jews End All The Wars” – based on how many were involved with creating the Atomic Bomb?):

I have seen documentaries on Rwandan genocide that made me laugh more than the debut of Saturday Night Live.  Lorne Michaels needs more black friends because maybe he is looking for their permission to fire Keenan Thompson.  That guy has taken more jobs from deserving black people than segregation and Jim Crow.

Fred Armisen does such a bad Obama impression that Secret Service should arrest him.

Did Lorne Michaels know that these men were ruining comedy and if so, when did he know it?
Did Lorne Michaels know that these men were ruining comedy and if so, when did he know it?

Bill Hader of SNL is extremely funny.  His Kieth Morrison alone almost makes watching SNL worth it.

Friday Night Lights is a great show (re-joined Netflix to catch up on some shows that I have heard are great – Breaking Bad is on the list).  So of course it has terrible ratings.   it is odd to me that a show featuring good looking young people and football could not be a success.  It is as if America is collectively saying – give us shallow things, but don’t you dare deliver them to us in anything that could be called high quality.

If Modern Family can keep up the pace from its pilot then it will be the best comedy on television not named Eastbound & Down.

I watched a 5 part mini series on Sundance called Brick City, on Corey Booker and his attempt to change Newark, NJ.  I am now working on a Corey Booker impression and once I have perfected it one of two things will happen: Corey Booker will not get re-elected and will fade into obscurity, or he will gain an even higher national profile and then Fred Armisen will do an impression of Corey Booker that is so bad, it will make his Obama look good.

Part 2 of my comedy tour entitled: Impersonating Light Skinned and/or Half Black Politicians. that's right Harold Ford Jr - you're next!
Part 2 of my comedy tour entitled: Impersonating Light Skinned and/or Half Black Politicians. that's right Harold Ford Jr - you're next!

The Cleveland Show was not good.

Family Guy premier was great.

Glee started strong, but I think it will fade, only bolstered by religious-like support from women and gays.

Cougar Town – see Glee, but eliminate the started strong part.  And the term Cougar is really just a brilliant re-branding of “she’s kind of old, but yeah, I’d probably fu-k her?”

I have only seen 4 episodes of Jay Leno’s show, but only Jim Norton stood out to me as exceptional.

Bored To Death, Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm provide a nice HBO Sunday night.

At 4 pm, if not at the gym or sitting at my desk staring at the wall, I prefer Ellen to Oprah.

On Saturday will be the 2 year anniversary of my appearance on Craig Ferguson (my national television debut).  Since then, based on travel expenses, web expenses and gigs I have made about -$450 dollars from comedy.   My comedy career feels like the final third of a Behind The Music special; the downfall part, but without the awesome rise and hedonism that precedes it.

Voice of Behind The Music narrator: October 3, 2007 seemed like comedy was working out, but little did J-L know that was all about to change.  Next after commercial.
Voice of Behind The Music narrator: October 3, 2007 seemed like comedy was working out, but little did J-L know that was all about to change. Next after commercial.