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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

SNL on the decline with the loss of slapstick comedy

Tina Fey. Amy Poehler. Kristen Wiig. Bill Hader. Seth Meyers. Maya Rudolph. Dana Carvey. Fred Armisen. Andy Samberg. These former “Saturday Night Live” cast members once made us roar with laughter, but most have now left the show to find successful acting careers in the Hollywood.

The consequence? SNL has lost its pizzazz and wit. Whether the blame falls on the new writers or the new cast, the result is that the show now relies mostly on either asinine parodies or bathroom humor to entertain its audience — for instance a recent sketch called “Aladdin” with Adam Driver. Bird poop accidentally falling on Aladdin and Jasmine while they fly on a magic carpet can hardly be classified as comedy.

The slapstick comedy that once characterized SNL is nowhere to be found. Sketches such as those featuring Bill Hader’s beloved city correspondent Stefon and Kristen Wiig’s Dooneese have disappeared, leaving us with newer faces but poorer humor. SNL’s audience misses iconic characters like Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon’s duo Hans and Franz. Although Kate McKinnon’s spot-on Hillary Clinton’s impersonation is amusing, SNL as a whole does not live up to previous incarnations.

Weekend Update, now hosted by Colin Jost and Michael Che, has lost the dry sarcasm that was so perfectly delivered by past anchors such as Seth Meyers, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Instead of flowing naturally, the stories now seem awkward and forced. The segment relies on “guest” appearances, such as McKinnon’s “Olya Povlatsky” and Bobby Moynihan’s “Drunk Uncle” to bring the humor back to Update, instead of the witty satirical news that Update was once known for.

It was only once previous anchors Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted the show as guests in December that the stark contrast between the new and old Update was really demonstrated: Satire was notably missing from the new version of an old segment. Jost and Che may be still settling into their roles, but after a solid season and a half of hosting Update, it has become apparent that they simply aren’t as good as their predecessors.

Instead of having recurring funny sketches, there is now no organization to the show, and in the haphazard sketches, there is rarely any true humor. Some argue that the humor is just subtle enough, but there is nothing even remotely funny in Donald Trump’s smug pretentiousness in “White House 2018” and Adam Driver’s cluelessness in his sketch “America’s Funniest Cats.” SNL relies on slapstick comedy, but the current show is lacking in the startling humor that used to define the program.

SNL’s downfall might also be due in part to guest hosts, such as Donald Trump, who do not have strong comedic abilities, but are otherwise known for their careers or positions in today’s society.

Surprise appearances from SNL alumni are the main bright spots that keep the show alive, as they bring back sketches from the show’s golden period. However, this is not a sustainable way for the show to keep and grow an audience.

With the 41st season just hitting its stride, SNL’s audience is waiting for some original material and strong delivery to “pump *clap* you up!”

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