Archive for May 9th, 2010

Monday Morning Quarterback: SNL Season 35, Episode 21

Okay, let me get to this right away: I was not that into the idea of Betty White hosting Saturday Night Live. It has little to do with Betty White herself: I’ve seen most episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and a bunch of Golden Girls — enough to know that the lady is an old-school comedy pro who, even more remarkably, was hitting her peak several decades into her television career.

But the Facebook group that brought her to SNL’s attention isn’t really about Betty White’s esteemed comedy career. It popped up after she appeared on a (cute, amusing) Super Bowl ad for Snickers, following her umpteenth saucy-grandma appearance in The Proposal. Again, nothing against White in either of these parts (although, really, she does very little of interest in The Proposal), but since when is a thirty-second commercial spot indicative of a talent or even proficiency in live sketch comedy? To me, this isn’t much different than, say, lobbying for the Taco Bell chihuahua to host SNL — because the kind of people who clicked on “Betty White to Host SNL (Please!)” aren’t, I’d wager, people who actually watch SNL with any kind of regularity. They’re the kind of people who think that saucy old ladies are delightfully hilarious pretty much by definition, and who have a vague idea that “funny” equals “should be on Saturday Night Live or something.” It’s confusing “funny” with “cute.” Wouldn’t it be darling if Betty White did SNL? Ooh, she could do a skit with that Jimmy Fallon! He’s still on the show, right? What about the Church Lady?

So when I heard about the decision to actually let life imitate Facebook, I was bummed. It sounded craven twice: first in that SNL was responding to, and not making fun of, an internet meme; and second because there’s no way Lorne Michaels would’ve put a call in to an eighty-eight-year-old old-school comedy pro without that stupid Facebook group, no matter how many saucy grandmas she played in second-to-third-rate comedies. In short: it may have been a nice idea, but it’s one that came about almost entirely because of non-fans of the SNL with lame taste in comedy. That shouldn’t be what it takes to bust out of SNL’s hosting formula (which usually equals attractive plus has movie coming out, plus or minus has another show on NBC).

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3 comments May 9th, 2010


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