Saturday Night Live finally got it right last weekend. There was a time that they didn’t just go after the most famous star, or best looking, or It person of the moment. There was a time where they pursued funny people. The object was to make a funny show. They had guest hosts like Steve Martin, George Carlin, Buck Henry, Carrie Fisher, Richard Pryor, Rob Reiner, and Lily Tomlin. There were a number of seasons when Steve Martin and Buck Henry hosted multiple times. The reason for this is that they were ridiculously funny and made for a great show. They didn’t try to make Lebron James or Michael Phelps into comedians. They went after professionals and the show thrived because of it. Now, they mainly go after celebrities like Zac Efron or Jon Hamm. Nice guys, I’m sure, but not exactly hilarious. But this week it was like they stepped back in to a place where all that mattered was the funny when Zach Galifianakis absolutely killed as host.
It’s good to see Galifianakis’ career take off like it has since he starred in The Hangover. He was the funniest thing in an extremely funny movie. I’ve been a fan of his for years. I think his stand up comedy is incredibly strange and really funny. I even enjoyed his work in bad films like Out Cold. Just a horrible movie, but he saves it with every scene he’s in. He took bad material and made it a riot. In The Hangover, he finally had good material, and he made that great. Currently, he also co-stars in HBO’s Bored to Death. He plays Jason Schwartzman’s sidekick and steals every scene. The show especially shines when they get Galifianakis and Ted Danson in the same scene. They play off each other very well. He even had a short lived talk show on VH1 called Late World with Zach Galifianakis. It was all kinds of strange. I loved it. But it was probably too weird for society in general. I liked that VH1 gave it a shot even though they pulled the plug pretty quickly. They had good intentions, just no follow through.
I couldn’t believe SNL actually had the foresight to cast him as host. During a season in which we’ve had do endure Blake Lively, Taylor Lautner, and Sigourney Weaver, seeing a pro like Galifianakis take the helm was a breath of comedic air. Right now, SNL has some great cast members like Bill Hader, Jason Sudekis, and Kristen Wiig. All three of them are outrageously versatile. Hader is by far my favorite. All of his characters make me laugh. He’s really weird, in a good way. Same goes for Sudekis. He’s a little more mainstream with his humor, but he always saves the sketches he’s in. Wiig can play anything and the writers know that. She’s in almost every sketch. But SNL also has some severe handicaps and it almost ruins the show. I’ve said this before, but Kenan Thompson is arguably my least favorite person that has ever been on SNL. He’s not funny. He’ll never be funny. And the fact that they keep trying to shove this guy down America’s throat almost makes me not want to watch. Also, I don’t care for Will Forte’s brand of humor either. He’s the opposite of funny. Again, I’m sure the reason they still have jobs are that they are really nice guys. Everybody probably likes them. It doesn’t change the fact that they are the original butchers of comedy. Absolutely horrible.
When Zach Galifianakis came out for his monologue, I knew the tone of this particular show was going to be different. He didn’t come out and talk about how this is his dream to host SNL, or rely on cast members to help save his opening bit. No, Galifianakis came out and did stand up.
It was excellent. Everything worked. From the bit about him being backstage Febreezing his beard, to him saying, “We’ve got a great show, Hoobastank is here. Wait, no it’s not Hoobastank. Oh, we’ve got Vampire Weekend.” It was all gold. Even the sketches he’s in take on a different tone. He’s a very odd guy. He brings a weird energy to everything he does. Personally, I think it’s outrageously funny. He immediately unnerves you because you aren’t sure what will happen next. That’s good comedy. As opposed to Kenan Thompson where you know exactly what will happen next. He’ll talk real loud or dress up as a woman. It doesn’t take a genius to see where his “comedy” will go. It must have been a pleasure for Hader, Sudekis, and Wiig to be able to play off another comedian. Someone who actually brings something to the table besides celebrity.
My hope is that SNL continues to hire comedians to host. Or, if they find someone who works like Justin Timberlake and Alec Baldwin, bring them back a couple times a season. They did this in SNL’s heyday, they can do it now. Or take more chances like Galifianakis. Bring in a Patton Oswalt or Jim Gaffigan. I know why you feel the need to cast Gerard Butler, he’s really popular, but I doubt he’s ever stood in front of a crowd in a small comedy club in Idaho and brought down the house. Go make another crappy movie. Let the comedy professionals handle the heavy lifting.
Galifianakis has a lot of projects coming out soon. That’s good news. There just isn’t enough funny out there. And when there is, they try to shoehorn people like Ashton Kutcher and Brendan Fraser into those roles. It almost never works. Lets put the funny people in the funny movies. We’ll all benefit. And lets hope SNL has learned a valuable lesson. It was a show built on bizarre humor for people who stay up late at night. Lets get guest hosts who understand that ethos. Last week, they most certainly did.