SNL Season 39: Surprisingly Silly

When Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig left Saturday Night Live after the 2011-2012 season, SNL fans were worried. After Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis left at the end of the following season, the fans were devastated. Who would be able to fill the hugely gaping hole left behind by such comedy superstars? Was it even possible to do so? The current season of SNL, the legendary show’s 39th, was branded a “rebuilding season,” and viewers steeled themselves for slow-moving, mediocre episodes. Miraculously, though, this season has been extremely impressive so far. I’ve already become a huge fan of the new cast and the bizarre, sometimes straight-up ridiculous sense of humor that they’re using to prove their critics wrong. Here’s a small taste of what you’re missing if you haven’t been watching.

Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney: You may know these two as the guy from the AT&T commercials and the guy from the number one video on my list of hidden gems on YouTube (shameless plug!), but I have a feeling that these two new featured players, who first started working together on the YouTube channel “GoodNeighborStuff,” will soon become most recognizable for their work on SNL. The stupidly goofy humor their YouTube fans have come to know and love has translated surprisingly well to mainstream television, as evidenced in the following two videos, “Ice Cream” and “Beer Pong.” “Ice Cream,” especially, is a great example of this season’s new type of sketch that leaves you simultaneously ROFL’ing and wondering why Lorne Michaels (creator/producer of SNL) let this nonsensical one make it through the many intense rounds of skit cuts.

The Girls: SNL has always been a breeding ground for America’s funniest women, and this has become even more apparent in recent years (hello, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig…). This season, fortunately, is no different. Kate McKinnon is one of my absolute favorite people right now and her wide range of impressions are always on point. And while I was sad it meant the end of “The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party’s” visits to the Weekend Update desk, the choice to add Cecily Strong as a co-anchor on the “news” segment of the show has been a smart one so far. We’ve come to expect a lot from the women of SNL, and I think they’re up to the challenge. Here’s proof, in the form of a hilarious parody of HBO’s Girls.

Digital Shorts: I know they’re not technically “Digital Shorts” anymore (those ended with Andy Samberg’s SNL career), but many of these pre-recorded clips of the post-Samberg era have been just as outrageously funny as some Lonely Island material. For example, they perfectly captured Moonrise Kingdom director Wes Anderson’s unique and quirky style in their parody movie trailer for “The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders.” Another standout has been “Boy Dance Party,” which gave women everywhere a (probably accurate) peek into the secret world of all-male hangout sessions.

The Hosts: Season 39 kicked off with the flawless Tina Fey as host, and then continued the trend of superstar hosts with Miley Cyrus, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Kerry Washington. Sometimes SNL hosts can be super stiff and very obviously not part of the cast, but these hosts, for the most part, have been more than willing to be a part of the ridiculousness of this season. This was obviously expected from Tina Fey, but the others have done surprisingly well. Ed Norton, for example fully committed to playing one of the weirdest, creepiest characters I’ve seen in a while in “Halloween Candy.”

While there have been a few bumps in the road, this is to be expected with almost half of the cast members being brand new to the show this season. Overall, SNL seems to have landed pretty firmly on its feet, and even seems to be redefining its sense of humor. If you haven’t been watching, start now (Lady Gaga is host and musical guest this weekend!), and if you have, I hope you’ve been as pleasantly surprised as I have!