Oh, man, when was the last time SNL felt so dangerous? A couple points about this: first of all, we are always told that the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players from the show’s first season were “dangerous.” And if you go back and watch some of those sketches, there are ample examples of why. (Just alone a sketch in which Chevy Chase says the n-word in front of Richard Pryor and Pryor responding “dead honkey” is pretty dangerous.) And I certainly don’t blame SNL now for not being consistently “dangerous.” It’s hard to be “dangerous” when you’ve become the establishment.
(As an aside, I love that the term “Not Ready For Primetime Players” came as a dig toward Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell, which featured its own comedy troupe called The Prime Time Players. And I love The Prime Time Players were Bill Murray, Christopher Guest, and Brian Doyle-Murray, who would all have stints on SNL. I found this so fascinating I once tried to do a piece on this show, going so far to track down a producer. We exchanged emails back and forth for a couple weeks, then he stopped responding. It’s been two years now without a reply, so I can safely assume this isn’t happening now. Alas.)
I think SNL has a tendency to think it’s being “dangerous” by letting someone like Donald Trump host. With the thought process being something like, “Oh, he’s controversial.” But the reality is, the more controversial the host – especially when it’s a politician – the safer the show seems to be. And aside from all the controversy surrounding the Donald Trump show, it was just bad show. He was a bad host and it was objectively bad television.
It’s when SNL books someone like Kristen Stewart – who does not give two fucks (and proved it by saying that word during the monologue) – that SNL can actually try to be provocative. And maybe if anything good actually came from the Donald Trump-hosted show – and don’t let anyone pretend that every single cast member and writer, who have nothing to do with the booking process, heard about that show – is that maybe the people at SNL don’t feel like they are the establishment anymore. Depending on who you talk to, some may feel like they are still hated by some segments who will never forgive them for Trump. So in that case, what do they have to lose? And that’s the kind of attitude that can lead to a show like the one we saw Kristen Stewart host. Was she the best host? No, but she was loose, which made the cast loose, which made the show seem like anything could happen at anytime. Even “Weekend Update” was a complete mess, but at least it was a fun mess where it felt like anything could happen. And then not to mention Melissa McCarthy showing up like a force of nature as Sean Spicer to knock the whole thing out of the park.
This was objectively good television.