Thursday, April 26, 2007

MadTV Owns SNL

The whole Alec Baldwin thing has me thinking: when did Saturday Night Live start to suck so badly?

I grew up, like probably half the 70's babies in the US, glued to the tube Saturday nights watching Eddie Murphy ply his craft. The show went through a serious downtown, only to resurface in the mid-90's with Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, and of course, my main man Tracy Morgan. One thing seems to be a constant, however, SNL has not really done a good job of matching minority (not just black) performers with good material, which definitely has caused it to lose some appeal. The cast of characters that have come through the doors of SNL only to flame out are amazing: Chris Rock, Damon Wayans, Morgan, Garrett Morris, Horatio Sanz, even the recently departed Finesse Mitchell, whose standup DVD is far funnier than anything he was given in his two years on the cast.

The behind the scenes dynamic of black male performers and producer Lorne Michaels has been well documented. Michaels never liked the star-first direction that Murphy took the show in, but couldn't deny the ratings the man bought in. Their animosity is a large reason why all SNL retrospectives conveniently overlook The Murphy Years. Wayans sabotaged a skit on live TV and basically got himself fired on purpose. Morgan would go full weeks without a single speaking part. Rock was chronically typecast. Current member Keenan Thompson sees 90% of his action while wearing a dress. It ain't pretty.

The recent budget driven (NBC 2.0) defections of Sanz, Chris Parnell, and Tina Fey have left the show completely devoid of star power. I still Tivo the show, but I can't tell you the last time I watched an entire episode. Their "SNL Digital Shorts" are lame attempts ("D" in a Box, Lazy Sunday) at creating the next viral video sensation that seldom hit. They are no longer getting consistent A-List hosts. They don't even have a quality Bush impersonator. What kinda cast is that?

Meanwhile, out west, Fox's MadTV has definitely narrowed the gap, heck, eclipsed SNL. While the NBC juggernaut, as well as greater prestige will always ensure SNL better ratings, MadTV is by faaaaaarrr the better show. They don't play favorites with casting (see: Poehler, Amy), instead choosing to spread the skits around equally among their ensemble of performers. The cast is largely minority, but their race related skits run circles around SNL's lame attempts. They stay in their lane and do mostly satire on Hollywood and the music industry, leaving the political stuff to their competitor. Their hosts are usually C-List (Carmen Electra, John Cena, Cristina Milian) at best, the types of folks that SNL wouldn't let sit in the audience, let along guest host. But when it comes to just plain comical skits, they outwork and outfunny SNL on the regular.

While it's sad to see a once proud franchise on life support, it's good to know there are alternatives.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.