Why 'Saturday Night Live' Just Might Not Be Funny Anymore

Growing up, most Sunday mornings were characterized by watching Saturday Night Live that I had recorded from the night before. I loved and looked up to cast members like Tina Fey, Fred Armisen and Bill Hader who I though were some of the funniest people ever. Even if I didn’t know the host or musical guest (which, as a 12-year-old, was basically anyone other than Taylor Lautner and Kesha), I still looked forward to watching SNL. Looking back, it seemed to be a big part of my middle and high school years.

Recently, Bill Hader, the star of my favorite SNL skit “The Californians,” came back to host an episode of the show. I had high hopes for the show, and although it had some good moments, I felt like it relied on true ridiculousness. It made me wonder if that’s all SNL is good at anymore.

In this political climate, it’s hard for comedy shows to keep up. Day after day, there is another event or situation that they can parody or make fun of. Late night talk shows that run from Monday to Friday like Late Night with Seth Myers struggle to keep up the jokes. Even comedy news shows like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah seem to grow tiring after a watching a weeks’ worth of shows. The reality is that because controversy is happening at such a high quantity constantly, it is easier for show to reiterate cliché tropes everyone is familiar with. SNL is no exception.

It’s almost tradition that the “cold open” for a Saturday Night Live episode has to do with the hot topic of the prior week, and in most cases, that means politics. Since the beginning of SNL, each new administration has been satirized. However, with the latest presidential election political satire seems to be missing from the show. Satire is the use of humor, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. Basically, satire boils down to intellectual comedy that is used to show a truth about someone or something.

If you’ve watched any episode over the last two years, you'll recognize the way Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump impersonation has been utilized. The issue comes when a cold open from a year ago isn’t any different from in the last month. SNL has become comfortable with allowing clichés like Trump’s tiny hand comment and mispronunciation of “China” become a staple in their political satire. Even other people like Ivanka, Meliana and Donald Jr. and Eric have become so overplayed that it is hard to even give it a pity laugh.

I must admit that it is disappointing that as I age and finally understand intellectual, layered jokes, that there seems to be a lack of theme in the comedy world, not just SNL. It appears that shows have lost their courage to push the boundaries, even if the current administration is pushing the line even more.

I say this without a solution; I’m not sure how to “fix” for shows like SNL. What I do know is that I still admire what they do. Trying to create original, funny and interesting skits that push the envelope is difficult. Now more than ever the world is speeding up, and comedy writers and actors everywhere are constantly trying to keep up.

Dear SNL,

You are a beloved show by all. But what we don’t need is more skits about politics if they are just going to be cliché. You — and your audience — both deserve better.