40th anniversary reminds fans of ‘SNL’s’ glory days

Feb 18 • News • 2289

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The first episode of “Saturday Night Live” aired in 1975 and as the 3½-hour special that took place on Sunday night reminded us, this year marks the show’s 40th year on the air.

I was born in 1992, just two years after SNL brought on future comedy greats such as Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and the late, great Chris Farley. David Spade and Rob Schneider signed on in between ’90 and ’91 as well, but although they’ve both had pretty successful careers, I don’t know if I would consider them to be “greats.”

Anyway, I grew up watching this cast create characters like Farley’s role as Matt Foley, a down-on-his-luck motivational speaker whose living situation – in a van down by the river – made him less than effective at his job.

I have watched this sketch countless times and it just never stops being funny.

Once I really got into the show, my parents started showing me episodes from before I was born, and my love for SNL grew tenfold. I could go on all day rambling off all the comedy legends who either got their start on, or were involved with, SNL at one point or another.

Despite its renowned past, however, the show has been on a steady decline for quite some time now.

I might watch an episode if someone I like is hosting that week, and that’s only if I happen to find myself sitting inside watching TV at 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday.

Sadly, the material is just generally unfunny. I might laugh a few times, but for the most part I find myself wondering what the writers were thinking.

That being said, the 40th anniversary SNL special on Sunday night didn’t do anything for the current state of the show. However, it did remind us why we loved the show in the first place.

I only got to watch about half of the show on live TV, but I spent that entire time laughing like an idiot. I would even venture to say that these 3½-hours made me laugh more than the last 10 years of the show’s episodes combined.

I was increasingly taken aback by just how many current A-list celebrities offered to do the show for free, and when Larry David was in the crowd bantering with Jerry Seinfeld on stage, I thought I was in comedy heaven for a moment.

I guess it just goes to show how many present day stars felt that they owed SNL a favor.

For me, one of the highlights of the show was the return of Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek for another round of Celebrity Jeopardy. It featured two of the best guests, namely Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery and Norm Macdonald’s Burt Reynolds. They frustrate Trebek to the brink of insanity with sexually suggestive comments about his mother and overall stupidity. Even though the material was in a way a bit recycled, it came across as a breath of fresh air.

If nothing else, this reunion show reminded me that I can always re-watch an old episode and still laugh just as much as I did when I watched it for the first time. There was just something really nostalgic about it and now it has me thinking that I just might need a little more cowbell.

 

CHARLES LEAR

lear004@knights.gannon.edu

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