If you missed this week’s Saturday Night Live, consider yourself lucky.
The show shifted to a remote setup amid coronavirus quarantine, with the cast performing sketches and streaming from their homes. It was safe to assume the show would lack its usual spark without live performances or an in-person studio audience. But what they did produce was just upsetting and hard to watch.
Tom Hanks hosted, only appearing to open the show and close it while standing alone in his kitchen. He talked about being the poster celebrity for COVID-19 and then did a few weird impressions with some laugh tracks behind them. It had an awkward, strange feel to it, like a dad at the family dinner table trying to crack jokes after someone dropped some heavy news.
The sketches, which cast members recorded at home as well, were almost all misses. Most of the internet-related jokes felt dated, and with the exception of the Zoom conference call, none were terribly relatable.
SNL, “Zoom Call”
The show closed with a heartfelt memorial to Hal Willner, the longtime SNL music producer who recently died due to complications from COVID-19. It was a touching and harrowing reminder of how serious this pandemic is. Credits then rolled with Studio 8H sitting empty behind them.
When the show was over, you were left even more depressed than before.
SNL clearly tried its best. We’re all floating in uncharted waters dealing with COVID-19, and they’re obviously still working out some kinks. But for a comedy show—damn. People usually tune into SNL to share laughs over topical sketches about our collective troubles. This time around, however, it just reminded us all how hopeless everything feels.
SNL could easily turn to the internet to find ways to keep their show funny from afar. Just look at A Bad Lip Reading or old Vine compilations. These are viral videos that get a laugh and are easily created at home. They could reach out to A Bad Lip Reading and have them do what they do for some old SNL sketches. Or they could turn to old viral Vines to see what the Vine stars did, alone at home, to create their hilarious content—maybe even get some old Vine stars like Jerome Jarre, King Bach, or Brittany Furlan to help with writing at-home sketches.
10 mins of Iconic Vines
A Bad Lip Reading, “State of the Union 2020”
Instead, they tried to do what they would normally do live on stage with a full audience in front of them. Anyone could’ve seen it was destined to fail. SNL will hopefully work out some of the awkwardness and return funnier. But for now, it’s just a sad reminder of what we’re all facing.