5 Things We Learned From the New SNL Documentary ‘Live From New York!’

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Saturday Night Live has always seemed insecure about its place in the world. The eternal party line is that the golden era has passed, or that things were different when so-and-so was there, or that you haven’t even watched it in years. And for a show that lives and dies on the live moment, SNL and its hangers-on are obsessed with looking back at what was. In recent years, NBC has churned out clips and cast member-specific specials to satisfy niche audiences or themes (Christmas! Sports!). Some of these have cut through the noise—for many, especially millennials, The Best of Will Ferrell is a staple. But the SNL nostalgia train shows no signs of slowing. February’s mondo SNL 40 special might have tanked without the return of Wayne and Garth or “Celebrity Jeopardy.” Revisiting these old sketches highlighted just how unfunny a newer bit like “The Californians” really is, how it will never compete with other dialect-based franchises like “Coffee Talk” or “Da Bears.” And yet, within 10 years, we’ll probably be watching a clip show of Fred Armisen and Bill Hader in dude-mode, and we’ll probably smirk and whine about how the show isn’t as funny as it was back then. SNL is cyclical in that way. (more…)