SNL – Why writers matter

This weekend I sat down to watch one of my favorite actresses on one of my favorite sketch comedy shows. Octavia Spencer and Saturday Night Live finally collaborated and I was more than excited to see what hilarious sketches they came up with for the brilliant actress. As I sipped my wine and munched on some chocolate, I found myself saddened by the lack of punchline finishes, and missing laughs I hoped to experience. It was a mediocre show at best.

One a.m. came and as I rinsed my wine glass in the sink I kept wondering what could have happened. I had such high hopes for the show and the disappointment was not planned for.  Laying in bed, preparing to sleep, I thought about how so much of what we see as TV watchers, movie goers, and attendees of plays, is first and foremost written words on a page.

SNL has been around for more than 40 years, and what has made it such a success is its ability to tap new comedic talent and make social commentary in a timely way. Every show is not always great, but all in all, it is a classic show and one that hopefully every generation after me has a chance to experience. The show’s success is also in it’s very process, idea generation and writing. For those of you that have not seen the James Franco documentary Saturday Night, you are missing out on an amazing way to get a behind the scenes look at the creative process for every show. So much work goes into creating skits the hosts identify with and are excited to act out. It is a grueling task, having less than a week to come up with genius for the screen, but everyone, participants and viewers, would say it is well worth the work.

Having said that, I blame the mediocrity of the show on the writers. Not much about the show was funny, or even amusing, and that hurts. In defense of the very writers I blame, as a writer, I cannot imagine having to pump out idea after idea, sketch after sketch, week after week, without some flubs. It’s natural. Not everything can or will be funny and sometimes no matter how amazing the actor or actress is, it just doesn’t work.

That is not to say that did not enjoy the show. I love Octavia. I will pretty much watch anything she does. I also love SNL and one less than stellar show won’t stop me from enjoying the hard work they put in each week for a live show on Saturday night. I will keep my hopes high, my wine glass full and watch every chance I get.


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