SNL: Bringing the Ship About


Back for its 42nd season, Saturday Night Live advances with a change in cast and writing staff, including the likes of MTV’s Dan Cortese and the little woman who played the principal in Kindergarten Cop. But what does this mean for you, and more importantly, are you going to be ok?

The answer? Probably. Well, considering Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider have been promoted to co-head writers, it’s safe to assume the future face of SNL could be in for several serious tweaks of its nose and a couple of light bops to its forehead. With writing credits from the golden era of Funny or Die, Onion News Network and CollegeHumor between them, it should come as no surprise that the pair are responsible for some of the show’s recent breakout sketches and shorts.

If you’re not familiar with SNL, it’s difficult to know which direction to point you in first. Apart from being responsible for launching the careers of some of the biggest names in US comedy since 1975, the format and writing style has always pushed the boundaries in terms of mainstream entertainment. Creator and producer, Lorne Michaels (30 Rock, Portlandia, Late Night, The Late Show etc), has guided the show for 41 years, acting as the driving force behind each generation of cast and crew.

The SNL YouTube channel features over 5,000 videos of past and present sketches, so far drawing in over 3 million subscribers and accumulating 1.6 billion views – the viewership of the show has certainly long since surpassed that of domestic audience figures. Their recent parodies of the US presidential debates have unsurprisingly attracted tens of millions of views online – Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin have captured something in their caricatures that blur the lines between fiction and reality.

The Featured players joining Pete Davidson, Kenan Thompson and the rest of the cast this season are: Mikey Day – writer for the show since season 39, Alex Moffat – improvisational extraordinaire and Melissa Villaseñor – stand-up comedian and impressionist. Five episodes in and the feedback for season 42 has been good – comments from fans in recent years have been largely focused on the show’s hit-or-miss content, however the current lineup and writing team look set to change this, the foundations of which, in my opinion, were established with the additions of Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett in 2013 – their independent work with Nick Rutherford, also a writer on the show, as comedy group Good Neighbor, displays a unique chemistry and expertly-devised sketches which are definitely worth exploring.

So far this season we’ve seen some good choices of hosts and musical guests, Benedict Cumberbatch and Solange graced the stage last night, however the announcement of Dave Chappelle and A Tribe Called Quest coming together for episode 6 (November 12th) has understandably been met with the amount of joy I can only imagine will be felt again once world peace has been attained – there’s a possibility of course that the planets will align and this will in fact be achieved on the night, although to be absolutely sure, once the show is over, I would suggest that you stick your head out of a window to see if anything feels different.

There’s an endless archive of classic sketches and characters from over the years, but I think I’ll close this one with Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig, as their improvisational musical duo, Garth and Kat.