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Road Comedy Recap: The King of Martin Luther Comedy

This week’s comedy destination was Washington, D.C. for 6 shows at the DC Improv.  Because I had to put myself up in a hotel I did what I do with all comedy trips that won’t make me much profit… I asked my girlfriend to join me for a weekend getaway (this is the way that I rationalize my comedy career – rather than being a struggling feature, trying to make a profit I instantly become a guy who gets paid a few bucks to take his girlfriend on vacation). #CheapVacationMogul.  I arrived Thursday solo at the Westin City Center. It was a very nice hotel that I was able to swing a good deal on through Hotwire.com. I knew it was a nice hotel because nothing was included. Internet, breakfast and prostitutes were all additional fees. Normally when I go to a hotel it’s a Hampton Inn where they give you Internet, a waffle iron and a townie 7 to warm your bed, all for $62 a night. No such luck with the DC Westin.  My favorite thing about hotels like this are the breakfast options.  “You can have a thimble of coffee and one scrambled egg for $25.50… or our buffet which features, eggs, pancakes, french toast, pastries, cereal, an omelette station and a therapy dog for $26.00.”  Hmmmmmmmm, can you come back and let me consult with Jared Kushner on the pros and cons of both options?  So as I write this in a coffee shop (I had to check out of the Westin at noon, which leaves me as a nomad in DC for 5 hours before Mass and comedy tonight before hopping the 1010pm train back to NYC) here is a recap of the week in quips and photos:

Thidepiece Thursday

With my lady not arriving until Friday morning, Thursday became “Thidepiece Thursday.”  Only one fan showed up (thank you The Black Guy Who Tips for having the most engaged and loyal fans anywhere) and she was attractive, but unfortunately she did not get the memo about Thidepiece Thursday because she rolled in with her man. Maybe because he felt guilty about violating Thidepiece Thursday etiquette by showing up or because no one had bought any of my merchandise after the show, but he bought all three albums I had for sale as he and his lady were happy with the show.  So I guess I will let it slide.

But after the 1 pity purchase I texted my girlfriend at 12:01 am (First Lady Fridays) and said, “Bring a bag with room; you are going to have to bring some of these CDs back home.”  And not to be too down, my buddy Ross and a friend of his also came to the show so obviously I am being modest about my ability to draw audiences nationwide. We sat in Shake Shack in between shows and talked about deceased relatives, just to keep it light.  Here is a fun clip from the show:

Food Court Friday

The girlfriend arrived Friday and we promptly went looking for food.  Fridays during Lent mean no meat for Catholics so she got some free-trade, goat cheese-quinoa-avocado wrap that was smuggled out of Brooklyn and I got two slices of pizza.  I actually walked from my hotel to Union Station to get her and then we walked all over DC. By the count of my new invention FatBit (which keeps track of all your steps and the fact that you are still horrible out of shape) I had done at least 25,000 steps before getting back to the hotel to prep for the evenings shows.

Before the evening entertainment we tried to go to the African-American History Museum (see my instagram – @jlcomedy – for Trump’s opinions on it) and there was a huge line. I ended up talking Utah Jazz basketball with the guy standing behind me, which is actually the least African-American way to have an NBA discussion. We then got about 30 people from the front when they said no more tickets were available #Blessed. We then went to an art museum where some Japanese lady who looks like a Pixar character had a big exhibition. We also failed to get limited tickets for that so we looked at other stuff, including a sculpture of a bald, fat girthy-cocked dude (the pic omits the girthy phallus for any young readers of bitter, anonymous comedian blogs #TargetMarket):

I left this couple (unknown to them) in the pic for scale

My girlfriend was meeting her high school friend and her husband at the show (THAT’S 6 FANS ALREADY FROM THE FEATURE ACT – #DRAW) and I had a very strong set. The audience was not full so I set my camera up in the back to capture the action. Unfortunately some folks sat near my camera (for no discernible reason) and bumped my camera so I learned quickly after the set that I had a great 18 minutes of the bathroom door killing.

As I steamed after the first show, and sold nothing, I considered quitting that very moment.  However, I did something smarter. I decided to counter the JL Comedy Jinx with some self-hate.  I decided not to tape my second set.  And of course I crushed. So while I don’t have that set on tape, I did sell 12 CDs after the show (including 3 to ANOTHER member of The Black Guy Who Tips fanbase – 7 FANS MOTHERFU*KERS!). I then crawled into bed next to my girlfriend, who was in a wine-induced coma, at 1 am. #SpoonSaturdays

Sight-Seeing Saturday

On Saturday we woke up and made our way to her friend’s house in East Falls Church for some brunch (“When in White Women Rome…”), though before that I had the pleasure of running into NYC comedian Anthony DeVito on the street. We had a nice chat and I wished him luck on his Comedy Central taping (for blog readers, you may remember Anthony from my intimate Winery Show/Bed and Breakfast in early 2016). After brunch the gf and I went for a long walk around DC and went to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the World War II Memorial, which I think is the best thing in all of DC (thank you for your (lobbying) service Tom Hanks.  Both are beautiful.  The weather was beautiful, but then it was time to bring the lady back to Union Station (you either get 3 days in a Hampton Inn, or 2 in a Westin on the Broke Comedian Getaway Vacation Package). We ate Pizzeria Uno, which obviously put me on a 24-esque timetable to get back to my Westin bathroom and I put her on the train back to NYC. Before getting to the shows that night here are some photos (more on my Instagram):

 

Two towers of DC culture and history
WWII memorial is an incredible sight – full view of Washington Monument on one side, Lincoln Memorial on the other and a beautiful design and tribute
GF captured a perfect angle of the MLK memorial
Let’s just hope the Marvel/Disney people get the rights to the MLK comic instead of DC Comics

That night I arrived at the DC Improv for three shows and was greeted by friend, former podcast guest and DMV comedy legend Rob Maher.  We chatted and then I went on stage and did the Lord’s work.  I then went into the DC Improv Lounge to follow another DMV legend and friend, Randolph Terrance and crushed even harder than in the main room (I feel like my new bit on the “Fluidity of Sexuality” would please most comedians and members of the Nixon White House). I then had my best post show sales of the week (I opted not to give CDs to the gf to bring back – either I would sell them (good) or be furious that I was dragging them back to NYC (justifying my rage at comedy) to the point that I had to run back to the Westin to get the remaining copies for the late show.  All joking aside, I do wish I had gotten a job in DC over NYC after law school because the DC comedy scene has always been my favorite.

I had a very good second set and sold a few copies more. Then I received news that Louis CK had started his SNL monologue with a “Why Did the Chicken Cross The Road” joke.  So as I kill some more time on this beautiful DC Sunday, enjoy my video from 2013 that proves that I am way ahead of Louis CK. #JLouisC

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Road Comedy Recap: Cleveland and The Electoral Map of…

This week I have been in Cleveland, my home away from where John D. Rockefeller started his empire, where Drew Carey got  fat and where I have appeared more than any other city outside of NYC and LA.  Basically I have been like Andrew Miller for this city, but over the last 7 years – 6’7″, immensely talented, unwanted by NY and delivering amazing performances.  This week has been no different and the city has been in need of healing (but apparently not in need of comedy albums as my 1.0 albums sold per show rate demonstrates) since it was the only Democratic stronghold in the city on Election Night.  I have told audiences that their state looked like a murdered Smurf because there was this tiny blue spot in the top of the state and blood red pouring out of it to the entire state.  So just like a bases loaded jam in the playoffs for Miller I arrived in Cleveland (under my urban room moniker of “Vanilla Coke”) to deliver some comedic healing… to the audience members that were not talking or texting or coming in late).  Here ya go:

Thursday – Southwest Mogul

I had a free flight to Cleveland on Southwest Airlines (I actually have the equivalent of about 6 free flights because of my Southwest credit card – let me tell you nothing gets women ready to get it on more than when at a bar or a club you pull out your Southwest Black Visa Card – yes girl, ever fly 5th class before?), but the catch was I had to fly out of BWI. Well I didn’t have to, but rather than fly from NYC to Chicago and then back to Cleveland I took Amtrak to BWI… at 4:40 am.  I arrived at BWI and went to the diner in Terminal A.  And they have (Trump voice) tremendous pancakes and hot chocolate (end Trump voice) for any travelers out there.  I then hopped on my flight and had leg room for days. See below:

Snug as a bug in a rug with soon-to-be crippled legs

When I arrived in Cleveland I snapped a quick pic with Lebron James who met me at the airport to discuss some potential business ventures.  I then made my way to the comedy condo (usually words that are as awkward to a comedian as “Special Event: Jake the Snake Roberts”) but the Cleveland Improv condo is quite nice.  I then killed time and had a great set that night.  And to prove it I sold 1 CD, but got more compliments and eye contact than I have ever received in my 7 years of performing at the Cleveland Improv.

King and Mogul

Friday – No Movie so Why Not Re-Write and Record a Bob Dylan song for 6 hours?!

Normally on Fridays I check out a movie and do a review and then emotionally wrestle for 5 hours on whether or not to go to the gym, but with no movie nearby (Black People Christmas, or whatever it is called was under 50% on Rotten Tomatoes so I couldn’t see it.  I was suspicious mainly because it was the first happy, mostly black movie that did not use Earth Wind and Fire’s September in the preview – I will not abide that disrespect to a proud black cinematic tradition.  So instead I decided that I should spend my day re-writing and recording a new rendition of Bob Dylan’s Hurricane for The Dan Lebatard Show on ESPN radio.  If you are a fan of the show it is strong work (even though my vocals are booty). I re-wrote it before lunch, went to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame at lunch to see their new exhibit on music, power and freedom (really good and inadvertently timely) and then went back to the condo to record the song.  Hopefully it gets played and appreciated on the show Monday morning (writing this Sunday afternoon in a Starbucks):

That night I had some good sets and sold a whopping 4 albums so it was difficult to sleep that knowing that Saturday would be foot long sub at Subway instead of 6 inches due to my new wealth.  Here is a clip where I summarize the Republican Party in three awkward minutes:

Saturday – You Won’t Have J-L’s Merchandise Table To Kick Around Anymore!

The heading says it all. Had good shows, but after I sold zero on the first (helped in part by a group of 4 people who set up a human wall in front of my merch table – the pic below is of a woman doing the same thing on Friday night – but at least no one threw their coat on top of my CDs like in Albany earlier this year). So after selling zero on the first show I crushed the second show and then stormed out saying “You won’t have my merch table to kick around anymore!” and went back to the condo.  I then watched Dave Chappelle host SNL and give the best monologue in the show’s history in an episode every bit as good as Tom Hanks’s episode this year, which for me was the best episode of the show in years.

Good news is my CDs will rush for 100 yards with this kind of blocking...

On an Amazon Prime movie side note – earlier in the day I watched Woody Allen’s Bananas for the first time – wow – what a brilliant comedy that still holds up and is even prescient about some things (available for free with prime until November 30). I then watched (tried to) the very overrated Green Room – made it 65 minutes in and was bored. (Trump tweet voice) Sad! (End Trump tweet voice)

Sunday – Mass and TV in Starbucks

Walked to Mass on Sunday morning (huge, beautiful St John The Evangelist – oddly enough the name of my Church in Manhattan – I guess they franchised out) and couldn’t help feeling unholy thoughts as I looked at all those white, Catholic, Ohio voters (I know how half of my people tend to lean), but then I saw a girl texting during Mass and officially felt like a grumpy, old man.  But I do like being in a full Church and the fact that people still shake hands in Church in the Midwest instead of the Purell wave that you get in NYC.  I then watched Pitch and The Exorcist on my computer (seriously good shows on Fox this Fall – Mark Paul Gosselaar as a grizzled veteran catcher on Pitch is particularly good) and wrote a new version of My Prerogative called My Presidency for Trump (a joke that did so so was about how Trump is basically Scarface for white racists – expect his poster in redneck thug trailer parks in 15 years – and a political version of what Bobby Brown did when he left New Edition). I only mention this because I am starting to feel like comedy is more a compulsion, rather than a profession or even a hobby. Oh well, 500-5000 YouTube viewers will be thrilled when it goes up at some point and that is enough for me!

So one more show tonight and then my usual 5:50 am Amtrak back to NYC on Monday. You are welcome Cleveland.

Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER &  ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.

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Mr. Trump is the Mr. Robot Parody SNL Should…

SNL had its season premiere this past Saturday to rave reviews, in particular the Alec Baldwin-Kate McKinnon Trump-Clinton debate sketch.  The show also provided a long overdue Mr. Robot sketch, considering cast member Pete Davidson is a taller doppelganger for Mr. Robot star Rami Malek.  However, one comedian in the far more anonymous part of the web has managed to combine a dead on Trump impression with a killer parody of Mr. Robot.  Comedian J-L Cauvin, who was sure to post thumbnails of his sketch before the SNL premiere (justifying his paranoia that they might finally do a Mr. Robot sketch) in case anyone believed him to be a copycat gives the world Mr Trump: a perfect representation of the conflict so many voters have between supporting Hillary Clinton vs. supporting Donald Trump.  Here is the sketch for your viewing and sharing pleasure:

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Blood Transfusion Is the Next Great American Show (and…

Last night I watched the Emmys and immediately felt accomplished because I had seen almost all the shows referenced in the opening dance number by homeless-man’s Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg.  Ten seconds later I felt shame realizing that my studio apartment really is a binge watching bunker.  Samberg went through his monologue, which although full of bombs, did have the gem, that based on new classifications in the nominating categories “Orange is the New Black is now a drama, and Louie is now considered jazz.”  I laughed out loud when I heard that.  But then it was time for the awards.  I gave a detailed preview score sheet on Facebook that proved mostly correct, except for a few pleasant surprises and a bunch of losses to something called Olive Kitteridge.  So here is my Emmy recap and a quick preview of what I think will win Best Drama at the 2018 Emmys.

Veep scores the most important win of the night. Veep is a great comedy that scored its finest season this year (the addition of Hugh Laurie aka House was tremendous – like if the Golden State Warriors had added Lamarcus Aldridge this off season). I believe Veep was the 2nd best comedy of the year (after Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), but more important than who won, was who lost, namely Transparent.  I had a genuine fear that the hip, politically timely, offensively hipster led (look up director/creator Jill Soloway at last night’s ceremony – all that was missing was a bonnet made out of kale), and incredibly unfunny (though Jeffrey Tambour is an excellent actor and gave a good, mostly dramatic performance in the show) show would score a victory for politics over actual humor.  With Veep crushing it in most comedy categories, the Emmy voters (which were recently expanded from its usually high brow “blue ribbon panel” voters) send a resounding message that comedy actually matters more than political winds in the comedy category.

So quirky, progressive and hip she probably lactates almond milk.

Game of Thrones and Peter Dinklage get rewarded for Season 4 by winning for Season 5.  Game of Thrones is a masterpiece of film making on TV screens and Peter Dinklage is tremendous.  I believe that Better Call Saul and Jonathan Banks should have won these awards, but Game of Thrones and Dinklage were both my 2nd place choices in their respective categories.  However, I really think Game of Thrones and Dinklage hit their high water marks in season 4, so this may have been a make-up call for when Breaking Bad is not eligible (Hi also to Jon Hamm – the Hakeem Olajuwon of the Emmys – winning his titles in the absence of the GOAT – i.e. Bryan Cranston)

Well deserved wins for Peter Dinklage and GOT (image of Peter looking up at me)

Olive Kitteridge.  Fine HBO – I will watch it. Thanks for keeping it On Demand.

Inside Amy Schumer  hit its peak at the right time. SNL has been in a low not seen since the Goat Boy era and IAS is both qualitatively good (though the last couple of episodes ran out of steam in season 3), as well as politically well suited to spearhead the “women in comedy” cacophony/movement.  Cool to see someone I did bringer shows with a decade ago get an Emmy.

Kimmy Schmidt Gets Nothing.  I was stunned that Titus Burgess did not win for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  Legitimately shocked (though Tony Hale is great on Veep, and he gave a shout out to the creator of Arrested Development in his acceptance speech, which always gets my respect).  Also Jane Krakowski continues to go home empty handed.  Then it dawned on me that the lead actress was not even nominated.  I hope the show gets more respect for its second season next year.  On a tangential note – I do not believe shock and tears from winners who already won a year ago for the same exact role – I am talking to you Uzo from Orange is the New Black.

You won last year. How blessed and surprised can you feel this year?

Viola Davis gave a great speech and inspired the next great American show.  Inspired by the Emmys, the speeches and the winners I began feverishly writing the pilot for my new series that will be a diverse tapestry of all things gritty and progressive.  It is about a member of the Bloods gang in LA who is a ruthless killer and has 5 kids by 4 different women, but is really acting like the world’s worst inner city nightmare because he is transgendered and is merely overcompensating for his crippling fear,  The show will be called Blood Transfusion and I expect it to get a 2 season pick-up from Netflix or Amazon.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!

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Will Forte is the James Harden of Comedy (and…

The NBA playoffs have started, my DVR is full and my blog is in need of words so this week’s episode is a useless, but incredibly insightful comparison of NBA stars and people in comedy.  This hit me while watching The Last Man on Earth on Fox a few weeks ago.  It is a very good show starring Will Forte, formerly of SNL fame.  The show is the latest strong Forte product post SNL.  He did MacGruber (you must ignore all signs on-line that it was bad – the movie is hysterical), then he got nominated for an Oscar for Nebraska and now he has created a critically acclaimed show on Fox.  If Bill Hader had produced this streak of post SNL content it would not have surprised me, but Forte had never really made me laugh much on SNL during his tenure. But now, it is clear that SNL was holding him back.  Hence the James Harden example, though even Harden had showed more flashes of stardom on the Oklahoma City Thunder than Forte did on SNL.  For you NBA ignorant folk James Harden was the third wheel on a very talented Oklahoma City Thunder team and was undervalued by OKC so they traded him to the Houston Rockets. A few years later Harden is a top 3 MVP candidate and the Oklahoma City Thunder is out of the playoffs (I hate how singular named teams are referred to in the singular e.g. the Knicks ARE but the Heat IS).

Similarly Forte has been killing it since leaving SNL and SNL is out of the playoffs.  Perhaps just as good an analogy might be Tracy McGrady leaving Toronto before reaching superstar level and then winning two scoring titles with the Orlando Magic (BUT JAMES HARDEN IS BETTER FOR CLICKS ON THE INTERNET SO I WILL STICK WITH THAT COMPARISON FOR THE TITLE).  So in that spirit here are some other useless NBA-comedy analogies to honor the kick off of the NBA playoffs:

Bill Burr is Russell Westbrook – One of the dominant talents of his or any generation and a study in barely controllable rage within his respective field, Burr is clearly the Westbrook of comedy.  The same way Kevin Durant overshadowed (perhaps unfairly, perhaps not) Westbrook, Louis CK overshadowed his fellow ginger until very recently.  But no more.

Stephen Colbert is Steph Curry – unquestionable talents who never cease to exceed expectations, partly because of being undervalued early in their careers. But with Golden State primed for a finals run and Colbert primed to take over The Late Show these two are now at the top of their fields.

Kevin Hart is Kobe Bryant (last 2 seasons only) – Both take tons of shots and don’t make many hits.  Here is a fun game for 2016 – what will be higher: number of movies Kevin Hart makes or number of 30+ shot games 37 year old Kobe Bryant has?  Both should be retired by 2017.

Mark Wahlberg’s manager is Greg Popovich – Wahlberg not a comedy star, but I think it bears comparison if only to highlight Popovich’s greatness.  Wahlberg’s manager took a criminal from Boston with a goofy wigger persona and turned him into an A-list, Oscar nominated star.  Popovich has turned a bunch of overlooked foreign players and a bunch of NBA refuse into an inexplicably high performing team for 15 years.

Eric Andre is Giannis Antetokounpo – Giannis is simply known as “The Greek Freak,” an exciting, how-high-is-his-potential type player who seems to be one of the most physically gifted people in a league full of physically gifted people.  Please see the picture below for why Eric Andre gets him as the comparison.  Showing up in more and more TV shows and movies every year, the ceiling is high for Andre, but like The Greek Freak, only time will tell how far his physical antics take him.

John Oliver is Rudy Gobert – Foreigner who emerged very recently as a potential game changer.

Amy Schumer is Chris Paul – a star in her own right, she is well known for helping out many comedy friends.  I guess I could have called Mark Normand, Schumer’s opening act, the DeAndre Jordan of comedy since they have become rising stars thanks in part to assists from their point guards.

Louis CK is Lebron James – Though their reigns are in the down turn phase there can be no denying that they still sit atop everyone’s current list in their respective fields.  And they are both bald when unaided by hair treatments.

J-L Cauvin is Anthony Davis – Who else could I be, but the next great star of the NBA with versatility and still relative obscurity?  Height, versatility and many years from a title – perfect fit. #Blessed

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!

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Kenan Thompson: the Internet Outrage Machine’s Straw Man Villain…

Kenan Thompson, long running member of the Saturday Night Live cast recently gave the desperate, hungry beast known as Manufactured Internet Outrage (MIO, not to be confused with the drink additive that Tracy Morgan pitches) a morsel to feast on.  Saturday Night Live is particularly white and has always seemed to have a lack of women of color.  In a TV Guide article, Thompson said, regarding the casting issues (please hide the children and be careful reading the following sentence): “Like in auditions, they just never find ones (women of color) that are ready.”

Oh. My. God.

Obviously there could be many reasons for Saturday Night Live‘s  lack of diversity, especially in the women of color category. Perhaps they represent a small sample size of people available to audition (coming from the Stand Up, Sketch and Improv ranks it would not be surprising), perhaps Lorne Michaels is hugely racist or perhaps the small sample of women of color who may audition did not do as well.  There are many reasons both benign and pernicious that could justify the whiteness of the SNL cast over the years, but the response to Kenan Thompson’s quote is simply a desperate and angry overreaching of people craving a villain for the day. What exactly did Thompson say – that IN AUDITIONS, there never seem to be women of color ready for the spotlight?  So he is speaking of the auditions he seems to have observed.  He did not say black women are no good at sketch comedy or comedy.  He was very specific and not very harsh or definitive in his condemnation of sketch performing women of color.  But did that stop the Internet from finding outrage? Of course not.

“Kenan Thompson blames black women for lack of black women on SNL” – Jezebel

“Kenan Thompson Blames SNL‘s Diversity Issue on Lack of Talented Black Comediennes””- TV Guide

“Kenan Thompson Blames “SNL’s” Lack Of Black Female Cast Members On Black Women” – The Urban Daily

“Stephen from Django Unchained Calls Black Female Sketch Performers Worthless Trashy Hoes” – Huffington Post

OK that last one is fake, but this is just the latest example of web traffic driving the presentation of content, instead of the actual content itself. What Kenan Thompson said was not controversial or mean or sexist or racist.  It was a half-hearted explanation based on his personal observations.  This just represents this year’s “Girls” controversy or Eddie Brill situation where a group feeling slighted generally parses and latches on to something someone said to create a straw man upon which to place their anger.  Why not direct the anger at Lorne Michaels?  Because his show has been on for four decades and he is not going anywhere or doing anything he doesn’t want to at this point.  So let’s get mad at today’s straw man monster Kenan Thompson. ZUT ALORS!  And just remember the flood of women (under five I think) that have appeared to do stand-up on Letterman since Eddie Brill stopped booking it? I would look for a similar deluge on next year’s SNL.  Because sometimes there are bad people doing bad things, but other times there aren’t but someone still has to get blamed anyway.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic, iTunes and NOW on STICHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!

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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!