When a dear, funny friend turns a year older, how do you wish them a proper happy birthday? By watching another season of NBC’s Saturday Night Live! The American comedy institution – created by Canadian American Lorne Michaels – has heartily chuckled into its 36th season. Today marks its birthday. It debuted on October 11, 1975. It’s one of the longest running TV series in history, and the longest running scripted comedy TV show in America.
Born in Canada, and became an American in 1987, Lorne Michaels took a chance on unknown writers and comedians to produce a comedy variety show which still influences the comedy landscape in America and in other cultures across the globe.
Classic figures born from SNL’s golden age like Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd still actively star in big movies and TV. Later stars like Eddie Murphy, Mike Meyers and Tina Fey are either still setting comic, and pop culture trends (Fey as Sarah Palin), creating big comedy movie franchises (Meyers as Austin Powers), or winning a Golden Globe and snagging an Oscar nomination – Eddie Murphy for Dreamgirls starring Beyonce Knowles.
Sure, there are weak seasons, with less chuckles of approval, and more groans of disappointment, as SNL’s comic mojo faded. But it’s no symptom of an inherent illness, or that it ‘jumped the shark’ – SNL’s magic reinvents itself each and every week. Depending on the show’s host, the topics of the day, or even a musical guest, SNL either shocks in a really funny way, or a Golden Raspberry Razzies ‘not funny’ kinda way.
Saturday Night Live, I have reached for the remote and zapped you off. Maybe I turned traitor – going over to the MAD TV camp. But you outlasted them. Just when I think your laugh powers are a whispery thing of the past, I watch Betty White host funnier than most SNL hosts.
I see Kristen Wig forge a new hilarious incarnation, and I say, ‘She’s a comedy witch!’ When Kristen Wiig poked fun at Christine O’Donnell, in her ‘I’m not a witch!’ parody, I had to disagree. Kristen, you’re a comedic spell casting witch of the highest order. Your coven – Saturday Night Live – has bewitched us for decades – with only loads more bewitching belly laughs to come.