“SNL40” is a lot like a high school reunion. If you went off to become popular and successful, you’re back. But if things got weird after you left, forget it. Hence the glaring omission of Dennis Miller, who was a great “Weekend Update” host but turned conservative mouthpiece in years later. And no Victoria Jackson, who was a chirpy blonde on the show but now fights for the Right. (UPDATE I’m told she was in the audience, but otherwise unseen.)
Some others were missing too. Conan O’Brien, who wrote for the show in the late 80s, went to Cuba instead. Cheri Oteri remains a mystery. Julia Sweeney, who was in the audience last winter, didn’t get to trot out It’s Pat! for some reason. Eddie Murphy was a let down after Chris Rock gave him a huge build up. Eddie got a standing ovation, but did nothing. Albert Brooks was very much missing, as was Buck Henry (who at least got a an interstitial photo.)
Nevertheless, it was very much a soup to nuts show. Three and a half hours, and Lorne Michaels managed to fit in as much as he could of everything, from Mr. Bill to General Franco, to the Shark at the door. Dan Akyroyd and Laraine Newman re-creating the Bass in the blender was wonderful. Jane Curtin showed her excellent timing with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Norm McDonald, Kevin Nealon, and Tim Meadows were delightful to see again.
The music was an issue. While Miley Cyrus did a superlative job on Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” Simon himself settled being there. (He’d flown in from Australia.) Paul McCartney sounded terrible on “Maybe I’m Amazed”– maybe because he was up until late performing last night. Kanye West was dreadful. Simon made for everything by singing “Still Crazy After All These Years” at the show’s end. He’s Lorne’s just about best friend, and has been there literally from day 1. That song was key at the show’s start in 1975.
Finally got “Wayne’s World” at 11:12. Three hours, 12 minutes. Worth waiting for if you were still up.
The show gets an A. It was sloppy, it was up and down, there were moments of brilliance. It was exactly like any reunion. And ultimately it was very satisfying. And it was nice to see Lorne, Steve Martin and Paul Simon there on the stage at the very end.,
PS Jon Lovitz was a good sport in the In Memoriam segment, which otherwise was handled tastefully.
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