10.29.2006

SNL vs. Mad TV

Saturday Night Live has been in a rut for years. Last night was no exception. They have an A-list TV actor, Hugh Laurie, and what skit do they lead off with?

An extended fart joke.

Why do I even bother? Probably the memories of seasons past. Good seasons, when the talent and skits were consistently funny. I can remember the last one, which would have been about five years ago, when Will Ferrell was still with the program. There have been a few good shows and skits since then, but they are increasingly few and far between. The Ben Affleck episode with the Gigli sendup ("Frondy" played by Fred Armisen) was good, as was Will Ferrell's first guest episode, with Queens of the Stone Age. The cupcake rap video was well done, but since then ...

.... Nada. Half the time it seems like reruns are on (SNL really does have a short season) and they are steadily bleeding some of their best talent. Tina Fey left this season, which turned one of the few SNL bright spots, the news update, into a borefest.

And the skits ... absolutely painful. The Hugh Laurie/farting thing was just the latest in a long line of unfunny bits.

And then on channel 25 there is an honestly funny, well-done comedy show that starts at 11 pm on Saturday nights, Mad TV. Six or seven years ago Mad TV was really amateur hour, but now they are on top of their game. Many of the people on the show have been around for at least five years, and are comfortable working with each other. The skits are well-written and funny. Crista Flanagan, Keegan-Michael Key and that McDonald guy are absolutely priceless. I only watched a half-hour of the program last night, but they had two or three really strong skits, including a Survivor/Cook Island sendup and a piece based on a sociopath concession counter employee (played by McDonald) that was just classic. The crazed basketball coach skit (recurring) based on steroids was great, too. Yes, sometimes Bobby Lee gets irritating with the streaking gags, but redeems himself with skits like the Asian translator who is only capable of saying "Oh No, Hotdog!".

I am far more of a NY kind of guy (Yankees excepted) than LA, but in this case LA wins hands down. SNL is on the ropes. Mad TV is the place to be ...

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