Monday, February 16, 2015

SNL 40.

I grew up watching Saturday Night Live. I don't remember how old I was when I saw my first episode, but I know I was probably younger than I should've been. My earliest memories of TV include Saturday morning cartoons, shows on PBS and staying up late for SNL; and one of those things is definitely not like the others. Looking back, I suppose it's a bit odd that my parents let me stay up that late, let alone watch something that's not exactly kid friendly.

More often than not, I'd devote my Saturday nights to watching the show, if not, at least a few skits. Even when I was old enough to spend my Saturday nights out with friends, I'd still watch it whenever I could. This weekend ritual lasted up until I left for college, where finding a TV in a dorm room was kind of scarce and spending your Saturday night in front of one was a sign that you're wasting your youth.

Although I haven't really paid attention to the show in recent years, I decided to tune in on Sunday night to watch their 40th anniversary special. I may not know all the cast members or mainstay characters anymore ("The Californians?" Really?), but I figured I should at least pay tribute to a show that's been on for FORTY YEARS and entertained me from childhood to adulthood.

The show was lengthy, but star-studded. And while I caught myself looking at the clock more than once during the three and a half hour broadcast, it was fun to reminisce and re-visit some of the skits and characters I had all but forgotten about. After a while, it seemed to me that this show was more about poking fun at themselves and basically having a big-ass reunion party than putting on a longer version of their weekly show and it was fine by me. It was a show for those who made the show, and after forty years, they absolutely deserved a little bit of celebrating fun.

And if you needed more proof that the whole shindig as something just for them, look no further than the "In Memoriam" part of the ceremony. Not only did they include those who graced the silver screen (John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Chris Farley, etc) but those who we never saw as well. I was surprised to see they paid tribute to crew members who have passed, from prop makers to wardrobe to camera operators, and even more surprising was that the applause and "awws" from the audience filled with SNL alum during those moments rivaled those of the long gone cast members. Unlike the Oscars where there'd be silence when a set designer or writer was remembered, those in the SNL family gave as much respect and remembrance to those behind the camera as those in front of it. The general public may not have cared who those people were, but the people in the audience did, giving as many cheers to a camera operator and cue card holder as they did to Andy Kaufman and John Belushi.

And as the show winded down, they revisited a skit that I had loved as a child but haven't seen in over two decades: Wayne's World.

There they were, Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey sitting on the couch, looking like they hadn't aged a day (mostly).

If you didn't see it, here's their contribution the show:

This was probably my favorite moment in the hours long broadcast. Not only was it a tribute to the crew, but it was done in a way that meant something. It wasn't a cheesy, token, thirty second montage of crew photos and clips. It wasn't a brief speech at the end that no one could hear over the music as the credits rolled ("Thanks to the cast and crew for the last 40 years! Goodnight everybody!"). And they didn't bury it somewhere in the middle of the Top Ten List either (they could have easily put it somewhere below "Lorne Michaels"). Instead, they put the crew first and at the top (which is more than I can say for any show I've worked on), turning the skit done by a popular, iconic duo into something that truly honored those who made the show possible but are never seen, and gave them a moment in the spot light.

At the end of it, Meyers/Wayne and Carvey/Garth did their classic "We're not worthy" bit in respect to those who are on the crew, but in my opinion, nothing is more worthy than that.

1 comment :

Michael Taylor said...

Amazing. I missed the show, so thanks for the clip -- I too have never seen anything quite like that shout-out to the crew. Good for them.

I loved SNL way back in the days of the original cast -- when I was young and so were they -- and was a regular viewer for five years or so… but it's now been decades (literally) since I've watched it.

Put it this way -- I'd never seen a Wayne's World sketch until just now via that clip, which looked a lot like "The Great White North" skits that used to play on SCTV. But imitation, so they say, is the sincerest form of flattery, and good comedy -- no matter the source -- is always welcome.

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