The popcorn would be popped. The credits would roll of the show ending at 11:29, warming up our family television for that magical time slot of 11:30. I would sit, wide eyed, buzzing with excitement. In the next short while I was guaranteed to be entertained by crazy hijinks that would, no doubt, be the discussion with huddled masses of friends before the school bell rang the following day.
In only moments I would be watching one of my all time favourite shows.
WWF Main Event.
Yet,every so often in suburban Chatham, Ontario the feed could alter moments before the start and switch over to a music montage of the New York skyline and a booming game show host voice.
"Crap," my pre-pubescent voice would crack. "It's that dumb comedy show."
I would then watch some actor or comedian I did not know come out onto a small stage and give a monologue of jokes I didn't get. I slowly came to the realization that Junk Yard Dog would not be making an appearance in my family room. I would not be enjoying the wit of Pipers Pit and I would not have my young heart sparked by the beautiful Miss Elizabeth.
The popcorn would still be eaten, but some would argue its added salt was from my tears.
It is unbelievable to my 38-year-old self that, in my youth, I would refer to Saturday Night Live as "That dumb comedy show." Only later would I learn the importance of this show. Like many things we learn in life, I needed two things to guide me to clarity: time and guidance.
A clarity that would allow me to see what a fascinating machine and institution this show was and still is. To learn about SNL's weekly schedule of all night writing sessions, intense rehearsals and live tapings is to get a glimpse into entertainment of old. A belief in putting out a fresh, original honest product. The elements of 'variety' is still deeply rooted in SNL's DNA with the weekly musical guests performing in a way, many of today's acts have never done -- live.
I first had to have my opinions guided on this shows importance by my father, who viewed comedians as saints and the world of comedy as a church. I may not recall more than two of the apostles, but my father made sure I knew all the cast members of season one of Saturday Night Live.
I also had time to mature (sort of) and in my high school years, not only realize that this show (no matter what year you watched) connected with youth the same way rock and roll did. Like rock and roll, it was loud, fast and raw. It didn't care what you thought of it and if you didn't get it, well, that was your loss. It was exciting, because you never knew what to expect and even if there was an off note, that made it all the more honest.
Like a song, if it was great you never forgot it.
Discussing your favourite SNL skit will lead you down a slippery slope that we all know has no end. Looking back you have decades to pull from with such a diverse, talented crop of comedic geniuses that were part of such ground breaking skits. From a lounge singing Bill Murray to Sinatra's round table with the late, great Phil Hartman. From little chocolate doughnuts, to Happy FunBall. Where to begin?
The fact is that these skits, commercials and musical performances have been there for many of us, our entire lives. Saturday Night Live, in its various mutations, has run parallel to all of our life changes. It represents a constant in this world of disposable stars and deplorable excuses for what we call "entertainment."
From the basement of your parents rec room, to your friends dorm room, to your own living room where you're trying not to laugh too loud for fear of waking the kids. Life changed, as did we, but SNL remained a constant for us.
When listening to a great album you can feel the love in its creation, its delivery and its overall vibe. Saturday Night Live had that same feeling of a love for the comedy fan. Like throwing on a classic album to give you comfort, you knew that when you tuned into NBC on Saturday Night at 11:30 you could go to church; a church that connected generations with its long, history filled with the patron saints comedy.
Watching tonight's 40th anniversary was a heart warming experience. An insanely, enjoyable stroll down memory lane. It was a joy watching the collection of comedians stand on hallowed ground paying respects to the institution.The characters created on this show are timeless. These skits have no expiry date to their tag lines. Unlike professional athletes who may lose their abilities in the dusk of their lives, you can see that with the numerous comedians gracing the stage tonight. You don't lose "funny."
I could not help thinking tonight as I listened to him play "Maybe I'm Amazed" that, in a strange but perfect way, Paul McCartney is exactly like Saturday Night Live.
Both have played an integral role in our lives; linking our memories to specific moments. Both have been consistently producing quality entertainment for their fans. And even if you don't love the new stuff, it's easy to forgive, since both possess such a deep setlist of hits.
To be blunt, I connect Sir Paul with Saturday Night Live simply because I cannot imagine living in world with out them in it. I find absolute comfort knowing that decades later, they are both still out there, doing what they do best.
God only knows the crater sized hole that will be created in our lives when one of them leaves us.
We'll have nothing left to do...but go back to church.
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