For the first time since the 43rd season premiere with Ryan Gosling, SNL flew true.
42 was a magically numbered season, when co-head writers Sarah Schneider and Chris Kelly led Saturday Night Live back into prominent greatness (and ratings). They not only had Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, but were not afraid to think outside the box with sketches. They got totes weird with SNL, and for that glorious year, it had never flown higher.
Which is why when word came out the these now beloved head writers were bouncing on to other things, I was worried. Worried that skits about expansive sinks, John George the book assistant, and a back pack fashion show would become things of only fond memory instead of freaky cogs in a brilliant whole.
Then came the season starter with Gosling, and it was so good. Ryan was confidant and nailed his second hosting, and the writing was delightful. My favorite was the Avatar font skit (Papyrus), a thing of pure and ridiculous beauty. The Gal Gadot, Kumail Nanjiani, and Larry David episodes that followed were not completely awful. The tone was off, certainly, but there were moments of SNL magic in each. This is not a criticism that the show has fallen off a log and into a chasm of badness. This is a note that I am worried that SNL has devolved. It is as good as it was a couple of years ago, which is fine. However, the ground gained over the past season seemed to be fully conceded. So imagine my happy giddy reaction to the Tiffany Haddish episode, a return to that brilliance. My expectations have been adjusted and I now know what you crazy kids are capable of, so you guys have to keep it going. That Haddish was the first female African American stand up comedian host is sad, but she killed. She better be the first of many to come, as there is much ground to cover and talent to tap into.
Saturday Night Live is captured lightning in a bottle. Or even a bug in a jar. A bug that has a lot of weird phases and likes to sum up the world around it. It’s like it just had a huge promotion at its bug job last year but then got fired, went on a bender, sobered up and threw up everywhere, and suddenly put on a dirty hilarious rendition of Hamlet that made us all cry. I know what you can do now, you freaky awesome bug. You better give me a Taming of the Shrew that will rip apart my soul but in a way that makes me laugh, or you are not living up to your potential.