I think I’m like a lot of people who have long forsaken “Saturday Night Live” as a regular viewing habit, but still occasionally set the DVR to see if Lorne Michaels’ crew can turn out a decent sketch or two that week. More often than not, we’re disappointed by the tameness of the cold opening political sketches, which suffer from a lack of impressionists in the cast (there’s no one in the current roster who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Darrell Hammond, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, or even Tina Fey). I can’t remember the last time I watched past “Weekend Update,” which in a world of instant communication — and better and more crisp topical joke writing on “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” — seems as outdated as a Leona Helmsley reference. And as talented as Kristin Wiig is, her appearance in virtually every sketch has had the pin on the over-exposure meter pinned for quite awhile.
In a critical piece he wrote for Slate, Nathan Heller calls the show “the embarrassing uncle of American comedy.” He’s absolutely right, although even he admits that it’s extremely unlikely SNL’s formulaic approach to comedy — and the hope-I-become-a-movie-star dreams of every actor on the show — are going to change anytime soon.