A Word About the Betty White Episode of Saturday Night Live

05/10/2010 10:10 AM |

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It is a scathing indictment of Saturday Night Live‘s current team of writers that muffin, taco, balls, ass, lesbian and crotch massager were the funniest things they could think to have the 88-year-old Betty White say on this weekend’s much-anticipated episode of the show. It was all predictably absurdist, Hangover-style bullshit: “Wouldn’t it be funny and shocking if this old person talked about genitals?” And yes, it probably would have been had they squeezed all those words into one sketch about, haha, an old person saying gross shit. Spread out over an hour and a half—including probably 12 minutes of Jay-Z, plus maybe four minutes of in-show commercials for the MacGruber movie—with every single sketch featuring basically the exact same type of joke, it was a cheap crutch that made the whole thing feel like a missed opportunity.

4 Comment

  • easy to critique but harder to suggest winning concepts – whats ur suggestions for how SNL/Betty White couldve worked better?

  • I agree that the show was basically one long, slightly more risque version of the shtick that Betty White does in movies like The Proposal — The Saucy Grandma — and I don’t get the rest of the world falling over themselves to praise this episode. But I wouldn’t particularly consider it a missed opportunity, insofar as this *has* been Betty White’s shtick for the past decade or two. The whole idea of her hosting was predicated on the cutesy notion that she’s hilarious, and the main reason people under the age of 40 think that is because of a Snickers ad and a crummy Sandra Bullock movie (and no disrespect intended to White; she’s obviously very game and has good timing and for Mary Tyler Moore Show and Golden Girls alone, she gets a pass).

    However, Mike, I still fail to comprehend the level of purity you seem to think SNL should be striving for. So doing a MacGruber sketch two weeks before the MacGruber movie opens that doesn’t mention anything about the movie is a “commercial” for said movie because it… features MacGruber? I mean, MacGruber is a current character on SNL. I didn’t realize they were supposed to abstain from doing a popular character for… how long, a month? Three months? Six months? on either side of the movie opening, as some kind of statement of artistic monkery. They probably, in fact, could’ve gotten away with way more blatant promotion
    (by doing one in the Ryan Phillipe episode last month, or sticking a fake sketch in the commercials, or having some kind of actual reference to the movie), and probably even made it funny, so to complain that the character appeared at all sounds like pure crankiness.

    Also, I don’t think either the aim or the execution of these Saucy Grandma pieces could be called “absurdist.” The census sketch (though a straight-up remake of a sketch from years ago with Walken) was absurdist. The digital short was absurdist.

    I’d love to hear more about your take on the Jay-Z stuff. I found both performances, as well as the timing of his appearance, really kind of strange, but I didn’t know if that’s just because I don’t know enough about Jay-Z.

  • Wow, I couldn’t agree more!

    Carol K.

  • Wow, I couldn’t agree more!