The 1980s were hell on music and fashion, but they nearly killed Saturday Night Live… twice. Between the creative exodus sparked by Lorne Michaels’ exit in 1980 and his dreadful return in 1985, Eddie Murphy happened, saving the show with the power of his talent and the heat that he gave off.
Despite the fact that Murphy was followed by Billy Crystal and the early years of the iconic Phil Hartman/Dana Carvey cast, it’s really no surprise that Saturday Night Live fans voted to honor one of his sketches — “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood” — as the best of the ’80s in a poll designed to help celebrate the show’s 40th anniversary. As we told you last week, “The Olympia Restaurant” won the honor for the 1970s.
To take the award as the best of the ’80s, Mister Robinson beat out popular characters like Fernando, Toonces the Driving Cat, and The Church Lady. Mister Robinson also topped Murphy’s James Brown in a a hot tub sketch. Surprisingly, Murphy’s “White Like Me” sketch was not among the 20 choices presented to fans, though neither was the classic William Shatner “Star Trek Convention” sketch, so the list is at least somewhat flawed, even if the end result feels right.
Voting for the best sketches of the ’90s, 2000s, and 2010s is going on now, though the ’90s list actually includes a Wayne’s World sketch from 2013 and not nearly enough stuff from the early ’90s. As I said, somewhat flawed.