Five Reasons to Watch Saturday Night Live This Season

Don’t say it “used to be funny.”

By Carlos Cabrera

You know what’s lame? Talking about how you hate the new Facebook redesign, or saying that you prefer the British version of The Office. You know what’s even lamer? Saying that SNL used to be funny. Here are five reasons you should put aside your petty posturing and follow this season of the greatest comedy show in TV history:

1. Kristen Wiig stuck around

Although many thought she’d be departing for greener pastures after the success of Bridesmaids, Wiig remains a pillar in the house that Lorne built. With so much versatility at her disposal, she quickly became a utility player not seen since the likes of Phil Hartman. After the departure of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph, Wiig will do most of the heavy lifting as far as female roles go. Also, her impressions of Nancy Pelosi, Suze Orman, Kathie Lee Gifford, and (most recently) Michele Bachmann are incredibly accurate (as well as very, very funny). Which is good. We need a versatile female comedian to fill the Tina Fey-shaped hole in our hearts.  

 

2. The Lonely Island will make more Digital Shorts

Back in 2005, Lorne Michaels recruited the comedy trio known as The Lonely Island to produce their particular brand of hip-hop and R&B parodies. Their short format and bizarre subject matter made them comparable to older SNL bits like Robert Smigel’s “TV Funhouse” segments or the short films of Albert Brooks. After the debut of “Lazy Sunday,” the shorts gave SNL a presence in the then-burgeoning viral-video scene. Although Jorma and Akiva have moved on to other projects, they still return regularly to produce the shorts with Andy. The Digital Shorts are often the edgiest and buzziest parts of the show, so they’re something to look forward to this year.

 

3. Justin Timberlake is sure to pop up

Whether he’s hosting, doing a walk-on or just appearing in the background of a Digital Short, Justin Timberlake has become something of an unofficial cast member. The song and dance man even has his own reoccurring sketches, like “Give It On Up To Homelessville” and “The Barry Gibb Talk Show” -- and let’s not forget songs like “D*ck In A Box” and “Motherlover.” Although his wish to be a regular on the show hasn’t been granted, we’ll take as much of him as we can get. Bottom Line — any sketch or bit he’s injected into instantly becomes better.

 

4. They hired new writers. From the internet!

There’s no change to the cast lineup this season, but some great additions have been made to the writing staff. Sarah Schneider of CollegeHumor and Chris Kelly from The Onion News Network are the latest recruits. Schneider’s technically still in a trial period, but since she penned  “Helen Mirren’s Magical Bosom,” her future seems assured. Also, Heather Anne Campbell (brought on just last season) joined after building a reputation with her L.A.-based sketch group The Midnight Show. Fresh talent = funnier show.

 

5. Bill Hader as Vinny Vedecci

When it comes to voices, no one on SNL can top Bill Hader. He’s got an incredible voice that has served him well in film as well as TV. The number of characters and impressions Hader has in his arsenal guarantees his placement in almost every sketch — if he’s not on the update desk as the anxious, club-going Stefon or interviewing confused celebrities as Italian talk show host Vinny Vedecci, then he’s delivering dead-on portrayals of James Carville, John Malkovich, and Alan Alda.

Commentarium (50 Comments)

Sep 23 11 - 12:08am
Nane

I love Justin Timberlake on SNL

Sep 23 11 - 1:12am
who me

i love andy samberg this show is great

Sep 23 11 - 4:21am
WaitASecond

The Lonely Island is a bunch of hype about nothing. A couple of guys with weird names whose claim to fame is having a budget that can afford better rap beats than other novelty hip hop groups. And, how about people just realize that that's all those guy are - just a somewhat more relevant Weird Al? Since Dick in a Box, they have been disappointingly bad at hitting the mark, or using a concept that remains funny for the length of the song. Really, world, just listen to Lonely Island and you realize that they're just kinda lame guys who, being novelty song writers, are surprisingly bad at writing funny novelty songs.

Sep 23 11 - 1:05pm
anon

Can't say I follow your idea of Weird Al being not relevant.

Sep 23 11 - 1:22pm
NuckingFuts

I agree. Lonely Island isn't that funny.

Sep 23 11 - 6:12pm
Preacher Ted

You mad, bro?

Sep 24 11 - 12:29am
wff

seriously i tried watching snl, it was not funny at all. They awkwardly stare at the camera and for get their lines

Sep 23 11 - 8:09am
FFDOM

I change the channel every time Kristen Wiig comes on screen. I really don't think she is funny. In fact, I wouldn't use the word versatility to describer her at all.

Sep 23 11 - 1:05pm
anon

It's not just me! Thank you!

Sep 23 11 - 4:37pm
JohnnyIdaho

The majority of her characters are so freaking annoying. I'll give her thumbs up for impersonations, but her other characters make me want to drive a fork into my eyes

Sep 24 11 - 7:59pm
LTSNLWatcher

Glad I'm not the only one who feels that way. As suggested above, her impersonations are good but practically *everything* else she does is exactly the game thing and is pretty much the character she played in Bridesmaids. She is either doing the "I can top that" think or simply talking in a very annoying voice. And what the F&#$ is that Gilly character about?

Sep 25 11 - 4:39am
Christine

She was funny at first, but using her in every sketch just makes me want to stab my eyes out! LTSNLWatcher: I HATE GILLY!!!!!

Sep 23 11 - 8:50am
derp

Helen Mirren's Magical Bosom was intensely lame, but I agree with everything else.

Sep 23 11 - 9:38am
thinkywritey

Stefon is the BEST. I can only hope that Michaels doesn't make a movie out of the character, thereby ruining it forever.

Sep 23 11 - 9:59am
blahblah

You can be sure he will, treasure these moments when you still liked the character.

Sep 23 11 - 1:07pm
anon

They won't make a movie about Stefon, because seeing him do the things he talks about wouldn't be as funny as hearing about them.

Sep 23 11 - 4:37pm
JohnnyIdaho

I don't get the sketch at all, but damn it, I laugh every time.

Sep 23 11 - 5:44pm
FistFootFace

I enjoy Stefon, but found that "midget" seemed to be used in more and more situations.

Sep 23 11 - 11:16am
hykuw

I'm so thankful for the DVR, so I can fast forward anytime Kristen Wiig comes on. She is definitely NOT a reason to watch SNL, but the rest are all good!

Sep 23 11 - 11:52am
K

wow, so many Wiig haters!
four words: The Lawrence Welk Show.

Sep 23 11 - 2:38pm
!!!

seriously! and the Activia commercial where she plays Jamie Lee Curtis. I poop my pants from laughing every time AND PROUD OF IT

Sep 23 11 - 4:38pm
JohnnyIdaho

Lawrence Welk? How old are the writers? 70? Way to stay current SNL

Sep 25 11 - 4:41am
Christine

The Lawrence Welk Show? Four words: that was funny once.

Sep 23 11 - 12:06pm
Jj Abrams

New writers =\= better comedy. Especially nowadays where Internet humor has been reduced to cat jokes.

Also, Justin Timberlake is a reason to watch? He's not a funny actor, he just makes sketches that much more over the top by the simple inclusion of being a random cameo. Dick in a box would have been just as funny without him. As long as Kenan Thompson remains on the show, I refuse to watch. He is simply the worst of the worst.

Sep 23 11 - 1:10pm
anon

I'd say your handle references one of the worst writers working today, but that would mean I'd be calling him a writer. Seriously, Abrams is just the hipster equivalent of Michael Bay.

Sep 23 11 - 12:59pm
anon

To paraphrase, "You know what's lame? Having a sense of when things depreciate, and then articulating it."

Sep 23 11 - 1:01pm
anon

Also, using Kristen Wiig's involvement as the very first "strength," is not the way to convince me of something's quality.

Sep 23 11 - 1:05pm
anon

“Helen Mirren’s Magical Bosom” wasn't funny.

Sep 23 11 - 1:25pm
NuckingFuts

I like Bill Hader's Herb Welch character. Just something about a crotchety old out of touch guy makes me laugh.

Kristen Wiig is very funny on there. Didn't care for bridesmaids. And in the debate of are women funny?: I would say yes. Esp several of the ones who have been on SNL. Stand up though? Mmmm. Nah

Justin Timberlake is a good comic actor.

Oh, and if there is one reason to watch: The obvious now yearly, they should have him on more if you ask me, appearance of one of the best in comedy right now: Zach Galifianakis. And no, not just cause of the hangover.

Sep 23 11 - 2:30pm
KyleZombie

SNL is so painfully unfunny and this list did nothing to convince me otherwise. It's worse than MadTV used to be.

Sep 23 11 - 6:59pm
Carlos Cabrera

Woah. Worse than MadTV?... and they accuse us of Hyperbole.

Sep 23 11 - 7:03pm
D

Interesting, those are all the reasons that I won't be watching SNL this year.

Sep 23 11 - 9:09pm
Brad

SNL hasn't been funny since Tina Fey took over as head writer and ruined the show. Seth Meyer hasn't done much to improve it.

Sep 23 11 - 9:49pm
Adam

If I have to watch Justin Timberlake in that "come on down to Liquorville" sketch one more time I'm going to shoot myself in the face.

But otherwise, yes, SNL is just as funny as it ever was; and as always, sketch comedy is hit and miss.

Sep 24 11 - 12:26pm
Charles

Agree. People talk as if every episode has to feature a decade's worth of classic sketches.

Oct 03 11 - 3:11pm
Todd Mason

Actually, any genuinely good sketch is welcome, and has been rare since Phil Hartman left, despite many good people coming and going in the cast and writing staff (the "next" cast after Hartman, with Garofalo, Elliott and others, was notably wasted). It's notable how much funnier folks are even on 30 ROCK, which amounts to an extension of SNL in many ways, than on the mothership.

Sep 23 11 - 11:49pm
Bo

Heather Campbell didn't get hired again this year to SNL.

Sep 24 11 - 1:01am
nope

Get Kenan the fuck out and we're good.

Sep 24 11 - 1:41am
Meh

SNL has been on a slow decline since before Will Ferrell left. It's rarely funny anymore, mostly because the top talent just isn't talented. Kristen Wiig is clearly the most talented on the show and Bill Hader is underutilized. But when cardboard cutouts like Andy Samberg are supposed to be a reason to watch the show, whatever show, that show is in trouble. It doesn't help when recurring skits like that kissing family are the best they can come up with.

Sep 24 11 - 2:49am
Scaramouche

What's wrong with you people! Go back to your hospice care and get off the internet. As if a sketch comedy show has to be any funnier than a doorknob, stop smelling your own farts.

Sep 24 11 - 9:27am
Colin

It's inevitable that they are still going to stretch 20 minutes of funny ideas into an hour & have the lines delivered as if being read from an autocue. I think I'll pass again.

Sep 24 11 - 3:13pm
as

I just think it's funny how worked up everyone is getting over this. SNL is hit or miss for me, same with Lonely Island, but nothing to get all up in arms over.

Sep 24 11 - 3:42pm
slippery pete

Justin Timberlake is terrible. I am sick of him. He can't act, so I wish he'd stick to his day job (but he's bad at that, too). I wish he would just disappear from the face of the earth forever.

Sep 25 11 - 3:41am
thespian

You guys need to relax, no wonder you can't enjoy sketch comedy you are all so wound up and pretentious as if SNL isn't a million times better than ten years ago. Smoke a joint or do something but no wonder you can't laugh your a bunch of jerks. Haha

Sep 27 11 - 4:47am
bloop

amen to that

Sep 25 11 - 11:11pm
El Saltine

how can you not laugh at the little hands?

Sep 26 11 - 10:52am
StupidHumor

SNL used to be funny. That is still a true statement. The skits are dumbed down, the audience is forced to laugh when the laugh signs are lit, and there is too much one sided political commentary. This show needs a new producer and a fresh set of writers.

Sep 27 11 - 2:58am
chuck

Love The Lonely Island, not really a huge Wiig fan but Bill Hader more than makes up for it. I am not a fan of Timberlake's music but I can't lie: he's a consistently solid host. He's right up there with Alec Baldwin and Jon Hamm. There's lots of good people in the cast now: Vanessa Bayer, Sudeikis and Bobby Moynihan in particular. And I will defend Kenan till the day I die.

Oct 03 11 - 4:07pm
Leah

the best moynihan skit was where he was wearing the pubic hair wig and he turned and did the funniest smile. i love him.
hader is king, but dare i say armisen is losing his cool.

Oct 21 11 - 3:53pm
Shaun

I totally agree with this article!!! SNL is still one of the best shows around. It's not that it "used to be funny", but for the most part, it has always been funny. Kristen, Bill, Fred, you name it. Even the lonely Island makes really great digital shorts. And if you hate Justin Timberlake on the show, you seriously have no soul whatsoever. And by the way, I LIKED GILLY!!! There, I said it. I know I'm not the only one.