October 30, 2003

The World's A Stage

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I decided earlier this week that, due to a growing work load, I would not be going out this Saturday night. In contemplating my first Saturday in the bedroom in a long time I was comforted by the realization that, also for the first time in a while, I would be able to watch Saturday Night Live. SNL has been a cornerstone in American pop-culture for over 25 years, producing some of this country’s finest comedians and comedy-actors, and most importantly defined the skit-performance genre for a number of generations. However, my most recent experiences with the show have left anything but the longing for more skits that the shows of yesteryear induced. Both a loss of key cast members and a struggle to bring in the big name hosts is paving the demise of this unique and beloved show.

You only have to look to the careers of SNL cast members to see that things just aren’t the way they used to be. Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Eddie Murphy took their talents and dominated American comedy movies throughout the eighties. Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, and David Spade solidified SNL as a mainstay on primetime TV and in the nation’s heart. But I can’t even see the best of today’s cast — Jimmy Fallon and Tracy Morgan — really taking their respective careers any further than hosting awards shows or getting their own WB sitcom.

So are there simply no more funny people in America? Surely those with comical talent would want to kick start their career with a place on the SNL cast! Perhaps not; it seems increasingly obvious that America’s best comedians are finding their way into the mainstream through new and alternative paths.

The growth of Comedy Central has brought about the core of America’s best new comedians. The likes of Bernie Mac and Cedric the Entertainer were rocketed into the nation’s spotlight with The Original Kings of Comedy. Jim Gaffigan, Pablo Francisco, Kevin James, Dane Cook, and Brian Regan were able to stick with what they do best — stand-up comedy — thanks to the Comedy Central Presents