The Birth of SNL
To honor George Carlin, NBC just rebroadcast the very first episode of Saturday Night Live, which, with the exception of musical guest Billy Preston’s timeless “Nothing from Nothing,” has not aged very well. Carlin, reigned in by the newly loosened but relatively tight (for today at least) television censorship, flails around in painful one-offs that still manage to elicit giggles and claps. Have people’s tastes in humor changed this much over the last thirty years? I listened to Carlin’s infamous “seven words” stand-up a few days ago and it was hilarious, but his several monologues on SNL were cringe-inducing, as were most of the sketches. Andy Kaufman was cringe-inducing in a good way, using a slot on the fledgling SNL to practice some weird and experimental comedy.
But even though the show sucked, it was still exciting to watch, probably because it allows you to witness the birth of an American comedic institution. Sure Chevy Chase, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd bumble their way through too-little-rehearsed sketches, sure the weekend update needs work, sure there’s a mystifying segment with the Muppets and many of the jokes don’t make a lot of sense, but it’s SNL for God’s sakes. It went on to change the face of popular comedy, and that kept me watching.
Also, sorry for the lack of updates. Summer means work and studying for grad school tests, so I’m pretty busy. Want to remember Carlin at his best? Stay away from SNL and watch this instead.