“Firstly, on the default of New York City, let me be clear, as president I will change my mind wherever I want,” said Chevy Chase, doing a self-proclaimed, bad impression of Gerald Ford in the first ever season of “Saturday Night Live,” in 1975. This was the first of countless blows toward the establishment that “SNL” has cast in its 44 years on the air.
Sure, that doesn’t seem all that funny now, but give them a break it was the 1970s, they were only like a decade removed from when they thought “The Three Stooges” were funny. They were making great strides.
In fact, there are many people who still don’t consider “SNL” all that funny and I don’t necessarily blame them. Comedy and humor are subjective. There are reasons two people can watch a sketch like “David S. Pumpkins,” starring Tom Hanks as the titular Mr. Pumpkins, the ‘Santa Claus for Halloween’ as former SNL alum Bobby Moynihan put it.
One person will think that it’s the logical conclusion to millennia of searching for the objectively funniest five minutes physically possible, and the other person, no matter whether they think it’s just ok or flat-out bad, will be wrong. It’s because no matter what, there will always be a certain section of the population that just lack a sense of humor. In other words, they are the people who can’t take a joke. They think everything, even comedy has to make sense. If you try to find logic in comedy, you will not be able to just sit back and laugh.
Regardless of one’s thoughts on the quality of the show, or lack thereof, it cannot be said that the writers and performers ever let any politician, musician or celebrity off easy. This is the magic ingredient that, since the day Lorne Michaels, the creator and showrunner for 40 of the 44 seasons, decided that he could profit off mocking the establishment while still holding on the benefits it awarded him with, has made “SNL” the Mecca for satire, parody and general tomfoolery on not-quite-primetime television.
Recently, when “Superbad” actor and “Mid90’s” director, Jonah Hill, was inducted into the coveted Five-Timers Club for hosting his fifth show, they made sure to show a highlight reel to showcase the biting highbrow satire he was involved with through the show. The reel included a single sketch, in which he confesses to his girlfriend played by Cecily Strong that he had clogged their toilet, and then returned later to use the bathroom again on top of it… truly hard-hitting stuff.
However, crass and lowbrow that sketch may feel that is the true beauty of the show. It does it all, it sometimes makes people think about the horrors of this country, and it makes you laugh about them too. “SNL” has always poked fun at all the painful things this country has gone through, from the cold war in the ’80s to a certain caricature of a comic book villain that happens to live in our nation’s capital now, to the worst that the seventies had to offer.
The pet rock.
And when it can’t make those things funny anymore, at least they try and make you laugh with a poop joke here and there. And can you blame them? Poop is objectively hilarious.