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SNL 40: Review & Reflection on Lost Comedic Actors

The television event for Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary aired this week, and man was it crazy. A vast majority of SNL cast members, new and old, made an appearance on the show with many of the famous sketches coming back in great form.

In short, this SNL event was pretty awesome. But, there were good things and bad things.

The Good:

The opening with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake was terrific. They never fail.

My favorite skit of the night was the Celebrity Jeopardy skit. This was always one of my all time favorites, and Will Ferrell in general is and will probably always be my favorite cast member. I’ve watched his ‘Best Of SNL’ DVD about 600 times.

The tributes to cast members and crew who have since past on were beautiful and very fitting.

Paul McCartney’s performance was absolutely amazing. I saw him live in Boston and this was the closest feeling I’ve had to being at that concert again.

I loved that the special closed out with Paul Simon performing, because he was one of the first guests to ever appear on the show.

The guest hosts killed it. I loved watching Seinfeld and Larry David do their thing. Bill Murray’s ‘Jaws’ song was hilarious and it was cool to see a remake of the Bass-O-Matic with a fat Dan Akroyd.

I was almost expecting an ‘Ocean’s 11’ type of thing for Weekend Update, but what we got was still funny. Having guests come in and doing renditions of their favorite SNL characters was a cool thing to have.

Edward Norton is a great Stefon.

And of course, Wayne’s World was awesome.

The Bad:

Eddie Murphy. What was that? One of the main reasons I was so pumped to watch this special was because of him returning after 30 years. All I wanted was an updated take on Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood, or Buckwheat. Even just 3-4 minutes of stand-up would have sufficed. What we got was horribly lame. He came out, clapped for himself, and basically told the audience “thank you” and then we were cut to a commercial.

The Californians skit was funny for about one minute, and then went on for FAR too long. Some “newer” classic sketches were spotlighted and then cut after about one minute. That worked. There was a lot of get through. But this particular skit lasted an eternity and was not very funny.

The Ugly:

Kanye West.

Chevy Chase showing that he clearly hasn’t been on good terms with the show’s producers since 1977. I read once online that he has been banned from ever returning to the show. They must have been okay to have him back for this amazing event, but he just seemed so bitter.

Now onto my real talk.

SNL Alumni Reflection:

The point of this post is actually to talk about comedies today; and the comedians that killed it on the big screen while they were in their prime.

One of the negatives of this special that I pointed out was Eddie Murphy. His appearance on this show is a perfect representation of how I actually feel about his entire career at the moment. As Chris Rock said in Eddie’s introduction, Murphy was unlike any other. He single handedly saved SNL from kicking the bucket, and he was a movie star while on the show. He had hit after hit, with ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ being everyones’ favorite. Aside from his movies though, I have to say this. Eddie Murphy IS and WILL ALWAYS BE my favorite stand-up comedian OF ALL TIME. I watch ‘Delirious’ annually, and I lose it every time.

Check this out if you haven’t already!!!

Now Eddie Murphy has had bumps in the road in his career several times. But he always came back. He has found much success in a variety of things. In the early 2000’s, his live-action movies weren’t that great, however, he found a lot of success with the ‘Shrek’ film series, which co-starred another actor that I will get to later. But after Shrek 4, there has been almost nothing that Eddie Murphy has done to revitalize his career, besides maybe ‘Tower Heist’, which is actually an okay movie.

So what is Eddie doing now? Currently nothing. I think he is doing something music related, but come on man. We know how talented you are, but give the fans what they really want.

A ‘Beverly Hills Cop IV’ has been rumored for quite some time now. Last I read, it’s due out in 1 year. Will it happen? I really hope so. Much like how Sylvester Stallone made ‘Rocky Balboa’ and ‘Rambo’ years back, this could be Eddie Murphy’s comeback. He has been on hiatus before, but this one is going on for far too long. And no more family movies please. Come back Eddie Murphy. We miss you!

I could probably talk about actors that need to come back all day. Steve Martin is another example, but he has always had a love for the blues, and he is currently going around as a touring musician. He’s doing what he loves, and he actually has a large fan base for his music. So good for him. Rick Moranis. Where is he? In his case, he might just be straight up retired from acting, the same way Gene Wilder is. If the right role came around, maybe they’d come back one last time. But for the most part, they have their reasons. They were successful, but they didn’t love show business, and we, as fans, have to accept that.

With that said, I will mention two other (specifically SNL alumni) actors who need to get back on their horse.

Mike Myers. This one is simple. It’s almost like after 2008’s ‘The Love Guru’, he just gave up. That movie sucked, and it made sense to why he took a break. But he’s still on a break. Just this past year, he has made two appearances on SNL. Early in the year during the Sony hack, he appeared in a cold open as Dr. Evil for ‘Austin Powers’. This week, he brought Wayne’s World back to life.

He needs a comeback as well, and the best way to do this would be a Wayne’s World 3, especially since Dana Carvey could use a paycheck as well. I also would not be against another Austin Powers movie.

Lastly: Adam Sandler. When I was growing up in the 90’s, Adam Sandler movies were the bees knees. Everyone had seen movies like ‘Billy Madison’, ‘Happy Gilmore’, and ‘Waterboy’ the same way in today’s society, everyone has seen ‘Anchorman’ or ‘Step Brothers’. He made movies that made you laugh, and he kept that streak going for a long time. I used to believe that anything Adam Sandler put out, would at least be good enough in that it would give me some great laughs.

In the last 8-10 years or so… this has not been the case. I have seen his movies gradually get worse since 2007. By 2010, with ‘Grown Ups’, I had given up. ‘Jack and Jill’ was the most horribly reviewed film the year that came out, and so I didn’t even bother seeing that, and I haven’t seen his work since.

The case of Adam Sandler isn’t that he’s been on this long hiatus, but that he doesn’t make good movies in general. Maybe he doesn’t read his scripts. Or maybe, what worked for him in the 90’s doesn’t really work as much now. And the same can be said for all of these actors, as well as any genre that is currently unsuccessful. Comedies of each decade tend to have a very different feel from one another. Maybe certain actors just haven’t found that way to evolve, and blend in with what works today.

Sandler has recently begun production on some Netflix films, and I’m hoping this is where he can find success again. He’s a funny guy. I really believe that.

As I said before, I could talk all day about comedic actors who need a comeback. But after viewing this SNL special, these were the three that I felt most strongly about. Maybe they need to return to their form from when they were in their prime, or maybe they have to adapt to what works today in comedy, instead of living in the 80’s and 90’s.

Whatever the case may be, hopefully there will be a day where they make a nice comeback, and can make us all laugh and remember why we loved them in the first place.

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