Members of Los Angeles' famed Groundlings theater company have made headlines by accusing SNL of lifting their sketch during last weekend's Sarah Silverman episode. The piece in question, "River Sisters," featured Silverman, Cecily Strong, and Sasheer Zamata as a Tina Turner tribute act performing "Proud Mary" on a crummy river cruise, which many have noticed bears a strong resemblance to a sketch that has been running at the Groundlings for several weeks, with Kimberly Condict and Vanessa Ragland as identically-dressed Tina Turner lookalikes, similarly bemoaning their careers to the song (except in a casino). Groundlings teacher Ian Gary claimed that SNL writers have plagiarized "many, many" of the theater's bits in the past, with victims too [...]
SNL shifts into a different gear when a comedian hosts the show. In the early days, comic-hosts like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Steve Martin were every bit as much a part of the show's countercultural brand as the cast members were. 40 years later, SNL has become part of the mainstream, with a product so formulaic that today's most innovative comics define themselves by how different they are from the comedy institution and the network TV legacy it represents. Popular comedians often struggle to bridge the gap between their delivery and the SNL machine, where the multicam format and demand for immediate laughs often leave little room for nuance. Sometimes the two are incompatible, like when [...]
The seasons have certainly changed at Saturday Night Live. The show's 40th season began with an episode that hardly resembled a season premiere, with little pomp or circumstance over SNL's impressive four-decade lifespan, and in its place a straightforward night of comedy that reflected a show well adjusted to its new lineup. Nerves did occasionally get the better of the performers — especially first-time host Chris Pratt, who coasted on his signature goofy charm, flashing that Andy Dwyer "oops" face a few times – but overall the episode charged forward with a leaner (and more colorful) cast, and a greater confidence in its sense of humor.
We aren't out of the woods just yet, though. SNL's live sketches suffer [...]
Here's a clip from Andy Samberg's visit to the Late Night desk last night, where he and Meyers talk about the new season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine as well as two of Samberg's SNL characters named Gerald and Gerard who never made it past the read-through table. Watch more from the interview below:
"Several times since Phil's death, I've had the same dream about him: I am back in the studio, working on Saturday Night Live, and Phil is there! 'Phil,' I say, 'I thought you were dead!' It turns out that it was a mistake that Phil was dead, or that now he's some type of reanimated zombie. All I know is I am very happy to see him again."
- Jack Handey looks back on writing SNL sketches for Phil Hartman in a new piece for Slate. Today would have been Hartman's 66th birthday.