SNL not dead yet

COMMENTARY BY:
JAMES WALSH

They’ve got a fever. And the only prescription is more cast members.

Lorne Michaels, creator and producer of the historic sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” (“SNL”) announced Sept. 15 that there will be six new cast members added to the show’s now-scarce cast. This announcement, one of the biggest in recent television history, comes in the wake of a mass exodus of stars from the cast. Fan-favorites Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers are all calling it quits this season after the seemingly debilitating losses of Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig last season.

Some fans and critics have met the cast shake-up with an attitude of uncertainty and skepticism. How can the show survive without its star power? Sure, returning members such as Nasim Pedrad, Kenan Thompson, Jay Pharoah and Taran Killam have been able to deliver gut-busting laughs over the past few seasons. But how will we survive without Hader’s Stephan indulging us with New York’s hottest club? Who else but Sudeikis’ Joe Biden will call Scranton a “cesspool”? And who on Earth can beat Armisen’s impeccably slurred Californian accent?

I believe that the new batch of SNLers has massive potential. Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney, the duo from YouTube’s “GoodNeighborStuff,” have already shown their comedy prowess. You may recognize Bennett as the man leading the round-table discussions with children in the AT&T commericals, and Mooney has had recurring roles on “Parks and Recreation” and “Wilfred.” Another addition, Mike O’Brien is no stranger to the SNL family; he’s been a writer on the show for the past five years. His skill as a writer and his hysterical “7 Minutes in Heaven” interviews could prove to be the perfect combination to become a lasting member in the SNL cast.

Time and time again, “SNL” has proven to be one of the most resilient shows in television history. Since its inception in 1975, the show has dealt with some seemingly devastating losses. Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Chris Farley, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell have all left SNL for bigger and better things. Yet the producers have a penchant for finding fresh and promising young talent, creating a continuous flow of competent and memorable comedians. SNL has withstood seasons where entire casts and writers have been swapped out. Lorne Michaels, the lifeblood of the program, has even departed for seasons at time. Through all of these setbacks and change-ups, SNL has still endured and produced 39 years of pure hilarity, and it will continue to do so this season.

Contact the writer: james.walsh@scranton.edu

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