Friday, July 15, 2016
I have a major pet peeve. I hate when people say that Saturday Night Live hasn’t been funny since the original cast. This is a bandwagon people jump on just to sound cool even if they haven’t watched the show in years. To them I say, first of all – watch the first episode ever. It’s not that funny. It’s slow and actually very weird. SNL was a crazy experiment and it is an inimitable accomplishment that it’s been on the air for pver 40 years. Second – yes, every single sketch is not a home run, but every single cast (after the original) has had brilliant members with indelible characters and sketches.
Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Nora Dunn, Jan Hooks, Cheri Oteri, Molly Shannon, Phil Hartman, Martin Short, Will Ferrell, Bill Hader, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen, just to name a few…
I am a devotee of SNL and as such, I slog through the inferior sketches for those moments of gold - and there are many. In the past 2 seasons this current class has delivered some of the most clever and salient work on the show in years. (Honorable mention goes to the music videos and Weekend Update with Michael Che & Colin Jost skewering Trump last season after he hosted). SNL provides scathing social satire on the American condition and is a barometer on current events. Even though SNL has an ensemble cast, there are always cast members who stand out. Right now, the “stars” of the show are Taran Killam and Kate McKinnon. And although they are not household names, they are kicking ass on SNL and I predict that Kate is going to be a huge star after this weekend. Ghostbusters opens today and it is going to be gi-normous and make her a huge star.
I knew McKinnon was special since The Big Gay Sketch Show (2006-2010). She played an aristocratic British boy named Fitzwilliam who could have anything in the world but all he wanted was a vagina. This was at a time before there was a transgender character on every other show on television. It was brave and bold and a little heartbreaking. Watch here to see a taste of Fitzwilliam and other characters Kate did on TBGSS.
On SNL, Kate moves seamlessly from a dead on Hillary Clinton to Justin Beiber to Ellen Degeneres. Her character last season who was abducted by aliens was so funny that every other cast member in the scene broke into laughter, including host Ryan Gosling. She also, with Kumail Nanjiani, was a better host of the Independent Spirits than Chris Rock was of the Oscars. McKinnon is fearless in her work and that’s what makes her so engaging. I’m guessing that comes from how she lives her life, being the first openly gay cast member in SNL history. Like I said, if you don’t know her name right now, you will after this weekend. Whether this Ghostbusters is a good movie is beside the point. It's a watershed moment that a big summer blockbuster stars 4 women with 2 relatively unknown. Thanks to Paul Feig for that. I hope this is the beginning of a trend - in casting, in the world and whatever it takes to get many more Kate McKinnon projects made.