Not funny anymore

John Hepp, Opinion Editor

I’ve always loved “Saturday Night Live.” I grew up with Bill Hader, Kristin Wiig, Andy Samberg and Maya Rudolph, just to name a few, making me laugh every Saturday night. That cast from eight to nine years ago was perfect, and created a golden age of SNL. Eventually, however, cast members move on, and many of those from SNL’s golden age did just that. A decline in quality is expected when a show moves on from major stars, but modern-day SNL transcends a mere decline in quality. It’s hot trash. Lock-it-up-and-throw-away-the-key levels of awful.

The main thing that’s really disappointed me about modern SNL is the over-reliance on political sketches. Yes, we live in a highly politicized world, and a sitting president was just impeached, but every single show opens with a political sketch. That’s not even an exaggeration. Every single episode in season 45 thus far has opened with some sort of political cold open. It was funny back in 2016, when Alec Baldwin’s caricature of Donald Trump was new and fresh, but it’s gotten stale after they arbitrarily trot him out every single episode. Four years later, it’s the same old characters, doing the same old schtick week after week. I can only hear Baldwin pronounce China as “gina” so many times before it gets tired.

Recently Houston Texans football player J.J. Watt hosted an episode, someone whose huge stature could be utilized greatly through physical comedy. Instead, however, they had him dress up as bigfoot and pretend that he pooped on the floor at a party. That’s the entire joke. Get it? Because it’s excrement, it’s funny.

The root of the problem, truly, lies in the writer’s room. Head writer Colin Jost’s brand of humor feels same-y and over-reliant on obvious jokes. There are sketches that have good ideas, but the jokes just feel off or fall flat. There are other sketches where you as the viewer know exactly where it’s going to go and what the jokes are because it’s just so obvious. Jost also tends to repeat the same sketch throughout multiple episodes in a season. I get that you only have a week to write an entire show, but Jost constantly repeats sketches like Pete Davidson’s “Chad” character, which is good in its own right, but becomes stale when the same jokes are constantly repeated. 

All of this isn’t to say that there aren’t good sketches on SNL, because there certainly are, but they’ve gotten increasingly fewer and far between. Adam Driver was bizarrely hilarious as a ketchup bottle being married when he returned to host in January, and Eddie Murphy shone as legendary character Gumby when he returned to the show for the first time in decades. These sketches were memorable because they were original—and that’s what makes SNL shine: creativity and originality. 

I love SNL. From the bottom of my heart, I really do. I just don’t love the current-day iteration. What it needs is something that it hasn’t had in almost a decade—a jolt of life. Donald Trump sketches and poop jokes won’t bring this show back to its former glory.