Monday, May 3, 2004

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?: Well, for my first post at this, my new blog home (and thanks, Adam, for welcoming both Alex and I with open arms), time to address an American cultural institution. Yes, it's time to talk about "Saturday Night Live." Honestly, despite this week greeting the best "SNL"-related movies in ages with "Mean Girls," the show has slid down the pipes in recent years. It's almost season-end time, so it's time to ask the important questions: Who will stay? Who should stay? Who will go? Who should go? Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? My thoughts:

Fred Armisen: Should stay. Will stay. Yes, the "Ferecito" sketch grew tiresome, but Armisen, unlike some folks, knows when to call it quits (note we've been pretty minimal on that front this year). Also, Armisen has a dynamite sense of the absurd in his characters--he's perfect as "that guy in the background of a sketch doing something bizarre." Or witness his turn in the "Gigli" sketch as a mentally challenged person playing opposite Ben Affleck. Note perfect.

Rachel Dratch: Should go. Will go. Dratch has solid range, playing a little bit of everything, but honestly, she's done as much as she really can on the show, and doesn't have a "signature" part. She'll be perfect as a younger Joan Cusack-type and will have a solid sitcom/movie career as a character actress.

Jimmy Fallon: Should go. Will go. Fallon's fratboy schtick is funny. I'll give him that. But he needs to get back to his roots and lose the one note. First time I saw him do comedy was as opening act for Fiona Apple before her infamous meltdown at Roseland a few years back. Now, he relies on stock characters and allegedly funny Bah-stan accents that just aren't workable. He has range, even dramatic skills, as his role in "Almost Famous" demonstrates, but SNL is not the right place for him anymore.

Tina Fey: Should go. Will stay. Tina is the savior of SNL according to the media. Her snarky wit helped reinvigorate the show, and she revels in having a brain, unllike Fallon, who revels in not having one. She's now an in-demand screenwriter and actress with the success of "Mean Girls," though I think she needs to work on story structure. What reason is there for her to stay when she can make better money and hone her craft elsewhere? But I expect she will stay, largely out of misguided loyalty, just do "Update" for a year or so while Lorne grooms her successor, and then leave in a blaze of glory.

Will Forte: Should go. Will stay. "The Falconer?" Not funny, though I admit its utter absurdity has a certain charm. Now, name another memorable Will Forte sketch. Bet you can't (the closest I can come is the "Will Forte Sex Tape" sketch a few months back). Exactly why he should go, but will stay.

Darrell Hammond: Should go. Will stay. Hammond has solid political impressions, but that's it. And honestly, how many more times can we see him shout "Welcome to HARD-BALL!" amusingly? It's worn a little thin. But, given SNL's need for a political impressionist in this season, he's likely to stay at least through the end of the year.

Seth Meyers: Should go. Will stay. Honestly, name something memorable that he's done. However, he's the John Kerry impersonator, and even though his impression lacks anything of substance (or humor), they need one through at least the end of the year.

Finesse Mitchell: Honestly, I can't think of anything he's done that makes him worth judging.

Chris Parnell: Should go. Will go. The nonentity of the cast right now. Did you know this is his SIXTH season on "SNL?" Aside from Joe Lieberman, I just don't remember anything of interest.

Amy Poehler: Should stay. Will go. Poehler's already started to build a movie career, and is likely to run away. Sadly, her touch of the surreal will be sorely missed, as will her overcaffinated (and dead-on) Kelly Ripa impression. Honestly, she'll do well, but she could easily do a few more years before she grows tiresome.

Jeff Richards: Should go. Will go. "Drunk Girl"=Not funny.

Maya Rudolph: Should go. Will go. Rudolph can hit it, but needs to learn that the Donatella Versace character really isn't that funny any more (and actually may never have been funny). I'm not sure that she has much going on in the future, because her sketches seem largely confined to her shouting, but we'll see.

Horatio Sanz: Should go. Will go. If you cannot keep a straight face during an unfunny sketch, you must go. Also, he wears out his welcome quickly--see, e.g., Gene Shalit. "I'm fat and Hispanic and stoned!" is not a joke, Horatio.

Kenan Thompson: Should go. Will go. The Carol Moseley Braun jokes were bad enough. Combine that with "Good Burger," and I designate him for axing.

Share your thoughts, as always.

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