‘SNL 40’ prompts guffaws and awkwardness

By: Grant Vance ~Staff Writer~

No one sitting in the audience of Studio 8H of Rockefeller Plaza on Oct. 11, 1975, could have ever predicted the importance of that Saturday night in New York City. Not only was it the premiere of “Saturday Night Live” — one of the most influential comedy shows in television history — but also the origin of a number of the most influential actors and comedians of today.

The weekly alternative sketch comedy show is still kicking after 40 years, and Sunday night viewers appreciated the magic it has brought to Saturday nights since its premiere.

The 40-year anniversary special of “Saturday Night Live” was a joy to watch, providing a great celebration of the show’s long-running importance, but not without its faults.

Filled with loads of guest stars, a plethora of sketch homage and musical performances galore, there really is a lot to love about this special.

“SNL 40” special blended celebrity appearances with old sketches featuring some of the program’s loved skits.
“SNL 40” special blended celebrity appearances with old sketches featuring some of the program’s loved skits.

Opening with a musical number from Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, the show followed the standard structure of SNL, taking a breath before each beat to commemorate the highlights of the show’s past.

The great aspects of the special included but were not limited to: Steve Martin providing the introduction for a collaborative opening monologue contest, Will Ferrell reprising his role as Alex Trebek for “Celebrity Jeopardy,” Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Jane Curtain discussing former guests and shark safety on “Weekend Update,” Andy Samberg teaming up with Adam Sandler for a brand new digital short and Wayne and Garth giving a top ten for SNL in a special episode of “Wayne’s World.”

These were more than enough reasons to sit through the three and a half hours, but it isn’t a painless process. Many of the sketches suffered from a jumpy, uneven pacing. This was entirely due to their attempts at giving everyone their moment.However this assortment of homage pieces worked in correlation with its attempted scope: the narrower, the better.

Too many sketches started well without sticking the landing, meandering about in a fury of cameo one-liners.

Though it could have used a good amount of polish, the 40 year anniversary special of “Saturday Night Live” was a great reminder of everything the show has provided since its George- Carlin-hosted inception. The special reflected the nature of the show perfectly (for better or worse), providing a great, enjoyable outlet for topical sketch comedy, walking a thin line of quality with its uneven ups and downs.

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