Saturday Night Live is a show that is fun to hate.
“It hasn’t been funny in years.”
“That show is still on the air?”
“This is the worst cast of all time.”
Those are common criticisms often expressed among the show’s skeptics.
Which, for the most part, I think are pretty unfounded. Saturday Night Live remains far and away the premier improvisational sketch comedy show on television. That alone differentiates it from practically everything else and makes it worth watching.
It still draws the world’s leading celebrities as hosts and musicians as performers.
And the show’s weekly nature allows it to literally be up-to-the-minute as far as commenting on and satirizing today’s news.
Oh, and it’s all live. If you can’t appreciate the difficult task of needing to write material from scratch for a 90-minute time block to entertain millions on a weekly basis while not knowing far in advance who the guest host is going to be, then you’re just not being rational. It’s a hard job and one that you would not be able to do better.
A lot of people also like to point out how today’s cast members pale in comparison to those of the past. But at the same time, we forget that Saturday Night Live serves as a launching pad for amateur comedians. The likes of Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Chevy Chase, Jon Belushi, David Spade, Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon and Bill Hader were nowhere near as universally popular during their actual SNL tenure. It was only after they left and starred in blockbuster films when they really became famous household names.
So all of those factors make Saturday Night Live an easy show to pick on. But the fact that it always remains in national consciousness shows that it is still as relevant as ever.
And thanks to a certain presidential candidate that provides countless amounts of material, one can make the argument that the show is as funny and influential now as it has been in a long, long time.
Saturday Night Live has a long tradition of playfully (or not so playfully) mocking our prominent politicians, especially during our presidential debates. So it was only natural that people were especially excited for the debut of the 42nd season this year, which was purposely timed to coincide with the debates.
And it hasn’t let us down.
Whether you support him or not, Donald Trump’s language, demeanor, appearance and overall behavior are asking to be ridiculed. So it came as no surprise that SNL went outside its own cast to find the perfect candidate to portray him, knowing they had one chance to get it right.
Enter Alec Baldwin.
Baldwin’s representation of Trump has been so on point that it may go down as one of the most memorable and iconic caricatures in television history.
Combine it with Emmy-winner Katy McKinnon’s portrayal of Hillary Clinton, and the cold open for every single Saturday Night Live this season has become must-see TV.
On a side note, I believe McKinnon may be the best female comic the show has ever had. She is on the cusp of greatness.
As Trump, Baldwin captures the man’s absurdities to perfection. He looks the part, he sounds the part, and he presents him as the unintelligible buffoon that he really is.
The craziest part about Baldwin’s characterization is that people in the decades ahead will probably watch these episodes and assume he’s over-embellishing the presidential candidate. When, in reality, it’s Trump who is the one who is an even bigger joke.
After Nov. 8, we will finally be rid of Donald Trump.
But we will mourn his loss on Saturday nights.