Will the long running sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live ever die? I often ask myself this as the years go by and the show is still on the air. Closing in on 40 seasons and almost 800 live broadcasts, SNL seems to be finding new life. It is a pretty miraculous feat.
The ups and downs from this legendary show are… legendary. I mean, really, every few years the show seems to reinvent itself with an entirely new cast and it keeps on keeping on. It’s like a runaway freight train, unstoppable even when left for dead. I’ve given up on it myself several times, only to get pulled back in.
Sketch comedy is tough. The writers and actors have to improvise and keep thing fresh and perhaps that is what makes SNL work so well over the years. The older generation of actors, like Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, et al, move on to feature film success and then make way for another generation of cast members.
People thought the show was over when that first batch of great comedians left. How can you replace John Belushi? Seems impossible but the 80’s paved way for the 90’s and great talent like Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Phil Hartman, on and on they inject fresh blood into the show and it was off and running again for another generation.
Will Farrell kept the show going after this and has gone on to star in many successful movies. And speaking of which, many of the greatest comedy films of all time have been spawned by either characters created on the show, like Wayne’s World, or from major cast members like Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in Ghostbusters, arguably the best franchise to ever be made by former SNL members.
Don’t forget The Blues Brothers either, a fantastic musical comedy, inspired by SNL characters. And here is another reason for its longevity, the musical acts that performed live on SNL. Every band and solo artist imaginable has played SNL. Music and Saturday Night Live have long gone hand in hand for decades and here’s to hoping for decades more.