Don’t say it “used to be funny.”
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.