Saturday Night Live, a week away from its season finale, is in for an Update shake-up. This afternoon it was announced that Seth Meyers, host of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, would be taking over NBC’s Late Night throne, replacing Jimmy Fallon, who will be taking over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno. Meyers, host of the segment since 2008, will anchor his last Update segment later this year. The Update chair, however, remains to be determined. Here are my top picks for people I’d like to see take on the Update chair:
Honorable mention: Jason Sudeikis
Sudeikis may be rumored to be leaving, and this may be a long shot, but in a perfect world, Sudeikis would be in the running to host Update. He’s got the personality and charisma to host the show and though the odds are a million to one, in an alternate universe, Sudeikis would do really well with Update.
2. Taran Killam and Vanessa Bayer
Killam might be a pillar of the show and a strong sketch player, but his ability to flow seamlessly between political segments, talk shows and characters throughout the show make him a strong contender. Let’s not forget Fallon was a pillar of the show when he took over Update. Killam, as an up and comer, could be good. He’s versatile enough to bring out Bayer’s fun personality and quirky side. Bayer, on the other hand, is underused but has potential to be funny and Update could be a way to funnel that potential. Killam has the right mix of playful to match Bayer’s seriousness - they would play off each other well.
1. A writer and Vanessa Bayer
The last time a writer was paired with a cast member, magic happened. Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon took over the Update desk from Colin Quinn and the unknown/known combo worked out really well. SNL’s writing staff is filled with talented writers, many of whom I would love to see with Vanessa - Mike O’Brien, Colin Jost, Chris Kelly, Marika Sawyer, Sarah Schneider, even the once-thought-to-be-gone John Mulaney, the list goes on. Bayer, on the other hand, has the inklings of a potentially successful Update career. She’s semi-serious, but feels like the girl next door that people can relate to - alone, she might not be able to do it. If a writer were paired with Bayer, however, there would be enough intrigue to keep viewers interested and - hopefully - enough of a back and forth dynamic to keep the segment interesting and fun. There might be a writer behind the scenes who’s ready to make the leap to prime time and I would be perfectly okay with that.
Women in Comedy (or: Really, Adam Carolla? Really?)
Several months ago, I slept on 49th street for two nights to see Maya Rudolph host Saturday Night Live. It was at a point in my life where I was starting to really get into comedy and SNL and beginning to learn about the history of the show as well as the many talented comedians that had passed through. My friend and I saw the price of sleeping on the street a small price to pay to see one of the greats host the show.
At the time, I was starting to work on a paper for my writing class that tackled Christopher Hitchens’ idea that women were not funny by looking at Saturday Night Live. It was unbelievable to me that I would not only get to walk through the studio but sit in the same room as some of my heroes: Maya Rudolph, Lorne Michaels, Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and the entire cast.
Then, sometime between when we were standing in the elevator up to Studio 8H when we walked down the hall with framed photos of the casts over time and Maya’s episode of SNL, I realized that people like Christopher Hitchens were wrong. He was just flat out wrong.
I sat there in studio 8H and realized that institutions like SNL were only one of the many showcases for comedians to display their skills. Every week, they gathered together to write sketches that would air days later. These funny women and men were not defined by their gender. They were either funny or they were not. Sure, some of the jokes were based around their gender, but in the end it came down to whether or not they could make people laugh.
That is the point of comedy - making people laugh.
So can we just stop saying that women in comedy are not funny? I thought we as a society were past that. That whole idea is such a 1920s thought. Really? Really?
The past ten years alone should prove, if anything, that even the notion of women that are not funny should not be pursued in any way, in addition to all the funny women that have come before them (Gilda Radner?). Not only have women proved that they can be funny, but that they are funny.
So excuse my language while I tell Adam Carolla the one thing that first came to mind after I read a piece on his claim today that women are not funny: you ignorant ass. How dare you. As a women who both loves comedy and wants to get involved in it, I am offended and saddened by your words. I thought that movies like Bridesmaids and comedians such as the ones that perform at Second City or Upright Citizen’s Brigade would have proved you wrong.
Sure, Adam admits to saying that people like Tina Fey and Sarah Silverman are “funny chicks,” but the truth is that they’re way more than that. Have you ever seen Tina Fey’s work? She’s one of the smartest, most talented comedians in the business. She makes smart seem sexy and slightly nerdy - and not at all condescending like smart would usually come off as. Then there are people like Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, and even more recently rising comedians such as Chelsea Peretti, Kristen Wiig, Vanessa Bayer, Allison Silverman - the list goes on and on and on.
It’s unbelievable that, after we’ve seen people like Allison Silverman and Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph (among many, many other funny women) succeed and thrive in comedy, people still have the nerve to go out and say women are not funny. It’s insulting and it’s wrong.
# adam carolla # tina fey # maya rudolph # snl # Saturday Night Live # Amy Poehler # allison silverman # kristen wiig # lorne michaels # Chelsea Peretti # vanessa bayer # Rachel Dratch # UCB # second city # nbc # comedy # women in comedy # improv # review # critique # criticism # Critic
An Season 37 SNL Report card: Part 1, The Featured Players
How the featured players did this past season and why
Vanessa Bayer: After two years on SNL and plenty of buzz while at ImprovOlympic and Second City, Vanessa sure did sink rather than swim ever since her arrival on the show. But with Kristen Wiig leading the pack this past season, Vanessa was stuck in the shadows and struggled to shine. Often, she received only minor supporting roles. Luckily, her Miley Cyrus impression boosted her presence slightly, but not by much. She was hilarious at Second City and IO, all my friends told me, what happened at SNL? What happened at SNL was what happens to most feature players: it takes them a while to get that one role that lets the audience see them and just understand them.
But in the mean time, she’s gotten a few supporting roles to really pull her up from the pack. Her Weekend Update appearance with Armisen as The Dictator’s Best Friends is a personal favorite of mine because when I watch it, I see her shine. She’s not trying to outshine anyone, she’s just doing what she does best - being funny. Let’s not forget J-Pop America Fun Time Now, a show she hosts with Taran Killam. Vanessa’s been getting plenty of opportunities to showcase her talent in subtle ways, but she still needs a bit of work with her accents and voices. Either way, though, she’s got what it takes and she needs time to grow into her own.
Vanessa still has yet to find that role that will pin her above the pack, but she did (as seen above) get several political roles as well as a minor role in the much-hyped Californians sketch. But, now, with Wiig leaving, Bayer will undoubtedly get the chance she needs. She’s about to show people just how hilarious she can be.
Paul Brittain: Paul left SNL after 12 episodes and to be honest, I was never really a fan of his. I never really got him or his characters. I did like his Lord Wynndemere character, but I felt like, as a featured player, Paul still had much to explore. If he did indeed feel underused in proportion to his skills, he should have stuck around and let it all play out - his fellow feature players, like Vanessa or Jay, haven’t had their time of day yet either. That’s part of SNL, though - each comedian has to earn their place over time, not just expect that they will shine instantly. Either way, I feel like there was much to be explored there and he should have stuck it out.
Taran Killam: With two years on the show behind him, Taran really stepped up to the plate this past season. Any fan you’d ask would tell you the same thing: We forget Taran is a featured player (and he won’t be for much longer). He’s fantastic in every regard of the show. This past season, Taran stepped up to the plate and proved himself as one of the lynch pins of the show. From political cold opens to his sassy and emotional characters (from Andy Cohen - who you can’t not love - to Piers Morgan to Michael Cera, and counting), Taran keeps fans in eager anticipation of what celebrity or star he’ll channel his energy into. There’s something so enjoyable and personal about watching him on the television and in person that gives you a great vibe.
Oh, and Taran is from The Groundlings, the same comedy improv troupe as Kristen Wiig, Chris Kattan, Maya Rudolph, Will Ferrell and more are from (you know that’s a good sign). You know he wants to be at SNL and succeed and you know you’re watching him do it. Taran is a natural star and by this time next year, he’ll be even bigger.
Kate McKinnon: Kate came in just four episodes before the end of the season after a “try-out” run on the Sofia Vergara show. Yet in the short period of time she’s been on the show, she’s done well. Her first show featured a Pantene commercial she apparently wrote herself - one of the funniest of the show - and her later appearance as Chelsea in a parody of her late night show entitled Helga Lately really helped bring her to the public’s attention. I guess I haven’t seen enough of her yet to really “get” her, but she’s a bit odd and it’s interesting to watch. While a lot of people have dubbed her the next Kristen Wiig, I have yet to see that in her and I think she has some growing to do. Either way, I think next season we’ll see Kate grow into her own.
Jay Pharoah: Jay is one of the most tragic cases of SNL at the moment. Jay’s either doing a spot on impression or making a background appearance on the show. I have a sneaky suspicion that he’s either lacking in the original character department or cannot find a writer/write for himself in a way that will showcase these characters. It’s tricky, I will admit to that, and I know SNL has writing teams - so it is time for Jay to find his writer. Maybe he hasn’t clicked with anyone, maybe he has. He’s so flaky and all over the place that the audience (fans like me) haven’t had a chance to pinpoint just who he is and what he is capable of.
In the meantime, he seems limited. He’s only making it to air with his impressions and we wonder: do you have original characters? Why aren’t they on the show? I don’t know what to think of him yet, and I think this past season has only enforced that. He’s got some figuring out to do and perhaps, this coming season, he’ll get the chance to explore his capabilities.
# vanessa bayer # snl # Saturday Night Live # nbc # Studio 8H # lorne michaels # Jay pharoah # Taran Killam # paul brittain # kate mckinnon # second city # improv olympic