A Short Breakdown of SNL’s 40th Anniversary Special
Sunday night saw what was one of the wildest nights for comedy in television, and featured dozens upon dozens of celebrities in Studio 8H. For a show that’s had an infamously bad run in the 80’s and parts of the 90’s, and had little expectation to live out its decade, it’s amazing that it’s gone on for as long as it has (even for a regular program).
Now of course, considering it’s 3 and a half hour runtime, there was naturally some less-than-great moments, basically like any other SNL episode. But luckily there was a lot that worked well anyway. The many celebrity cameos were a nice treat, as was Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin’s shoutout to fellow 30 Rock co-star who couldn’t make it because of injuries caused by car accident from last year. Additionally, the Jerry Seinfeld bit where he took questions from other celebs in the audience (the funniest being his bit with Seinfeld creator Larry David), and the Wayne’s World bit made a fun, self-referencing tribute to the show. Below you’ll see the highlights and the parts that weren’t the best.
-It was a lot of fun to see Will Ferrell back as Alex Trebek in a new sketch of “Celebrity Jeopardy” along with Darrell Hammond as the foul-mouthed Sean Connery (“I’ll take le tits now for $600”) along with Norm McDonald making another appearance as Burt Reynolds. There were also some funny impressions from the contemporary cast like Kate McKinnon doing Justin Bieber and Taran Killam doing an over-the-top Christoph Waltz.
-The montage of cast member’s audition tapes was a fun, even cute little bit where we saw the likes of Jimmy Fallon, John Belushi, Dana Carvey, Amy Peohler, Seth Meyers, and even Jim Carrey (who never actually made the cut but has hosted quite a few times) nervously audition for SNL creator Lorne Michaels. There’s even a glimpse of famous characters such as Kristen Wiig’s Target Lady and Dana Carvey’s Church Lady.
-The Californians would’ve ended up in the “didn’t work” section if it weren’t for a few very redeeming qualities. Otherwise, I tend to enjoy the Californians sketches (Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen’s Valleyspeak kill me). Despite Taylor Swift’s awkward sense of comedy and the fact that the sketch went on just a tad too long, it was redeemed by a surprising hilarious moment when Bradley Cooper and Betty White made out, and another funny twist came when Cecily Strong and David Spade’s flight attendant character started kicking the actors off the stage, much to their “surprise.”
-Weekend Update was a lot of fun for a few reasons. The first and most obvious was seeing it being anchored by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler once again, but what made it extra fun was having SNL’s first female news achor Jane Curtin join them as well. And then the best was saved for last when Edward Norton gave us his Stefon impression, followed by Bill Hader coming out in character as well to give him advice on how to properly play the character (“make a teepee for your secrets!”)
-Kanye West’s musical performance with Sia and Vic Mensa was definitely the most interesting out of the four (five if you count Paul McCartney and Paul Simon briefly jamming to “I’ve Just Seen a Face” during the monologue; Miley Cyrus also performed during the show). In addition, he was the only one to play multiple tracks. It started off with him lying down singing “Jesus Walks” and then he got up later and the three performers sang his new song “Wolves” in some strange claustrophobic tanning bed-like set.
What didn’t work:
-The middle section hosted by Maya Rudolph as Beyoncé and Martin Short was a mixed bag to say the least. It’s biggest problem being that it went on for way too long, not even Bill Murray’s love song from the movie Jaws could save it (but it was a nice try). Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen’s singing improv characters Kat and Garth made an appearance as did Adam Sandler’s Opera Man (sorry but no thanks Sandler), and many other characters, but overall it just wasn’t a strong enough part of the anniversary special.
-Despite a strong and endearing intro by fellow SNL alumni Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy’s appearance was brief, kinda awkward, and it felt like he didn’t really want to be there, when it should’ve been the exact opposite. It doesn’t help that he ended his monologue with an awkward pause (which may have been caused by a technical glitch or something not going as planned, I mean come on, it’s live television). Having not appeared as a host or during the show’s 25th anniversary special since he left SNL, his appearance was a big moment for fans of his, but unfortunately Murphy delivered a rather disappointing appearance.
-This is probably just my opinion but I felt like the sports montage wasn’t really necessary and not particularly funny, aside from a clip of Peyton Manning throwing a football at an 8-year-old. Maybe more sports fans will appreciate that segment, but I personally didn’t care for it.
Did you catch the show? Any other parts that you enjoyed? Let me know in the comments section!