Saturday Night Live – By Decade

Everyone who has watched Saturday Night Live, and appreciated it, has a favorite decade. If your parents watched it in college in the 70’s, it hasn’t ever gotten back to that level (according to them). If the 80’s are your bag, you spout off things that mostly begin with Eddie Murphy. If you watched it in high school and college in the 90’s (like me), then you argue that was it’s heyday. Now, a younger generation is convinced that we are in the glory years of SNL. Each set of people haver their own arguments, but I would say they are all wrong but me (ha). And I think my reasoning is pretty sound.

Saturday Night Live started in 1975. And while those original cast members are some of the iconic figures in American comedy (Chevy, Martin, Murray, Akryod, Belushi, Ratner, etc.), I don’t think that an argument for the 70’s as the best decade of SNL holds any water. First of all, they were still learning the ins and outs of the show, so there were a lot of mistakes. And while moments from those years are probably some of the funniest ever, there is still only 5 years of a sample size. In my mind, that’s not enough.

Most people would agree that the 80’s were a dark period for SNL. They didn’t know if the show would continue, everyone who was anyone had left. This left a major gap in the early to mid-80’s that just could not be filled. Enter Eddie Murphy, who really saved the show. I have seen some HILARIOUS episodes from that time period. But one brilliant cast member does not a decade make. Period. Some will argue that many of the best cast members of the 90’s really started to be hilarious in the late 80’s, and to some degree this might be true (even though I think they did most of their best work in the 90’s) – but I think that overall as a decade, the early 80’s cancel out what people like Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman did toward the end of the decade.

The 90’s were an incredible time for SNL. They were riding a creative wave from the end of the 80’s, and they kept it going right along through all ten years. Now, I will admit that in about the period from 1994-96, when many of the older guys had left, they struggled a bit. But keep in mind, that guys like Will Ferrell, Tim Meadows, Darrell Hammond and Norm McDonald were still there and being consistently funny. Just look at the list of names I can give you from the 90’s and then TRY to compare it to any other decade. You can’t. Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon, Chris Farley, David Spade, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Mike Myers, Tim Meadows, Julia Sweeney, Dennis Miller, Al Franken, Jay Mohr, Sarah Silverman, Michael McKean, Chris Elliot, Janeane Garofalo, Norm McDonald, Molly Shannon, Jim Bruer, Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, Tracy Morgan, Cheri O’Teri, Ana Gasteyer, Chris Kattan, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Parnell, Horatio Sanz, among others. SHEESH!

And while I have liked many of the digital shorts and Andy Samberg-led sketches in the last few years, the last decade has been lean on really great comedy or characters. It just hasn’t been there. The writing has been consistently boring, bordering on horrible. Bad skits have been the rule, with very few exceptions. So, as you can see, the only argument is my argument: the 90’s were the glory days of Saturday Night Live.

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One Response to “Saturday Night Live – By Decade”

  1. James Pate Says:

    I agree with your conclusion, only I laughed at Norm McDonald because he was not funny! “Aaaa, BOB DOLE!”

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