GORDON: Let the record show that I have long been of the opinion that after Community‘s inexplicable tanking shortly after its first season, I became an ardent advocate for the cancellation of the show. While the trailer is intriguing…
GORDON: …AAAAND LIVE FROM LAS VEGAS, IT’S WEDNESDAY NIGHT! Welcome one and all to this delayed installment of Gordon and Evan Talk. Our subject for tonight: How can we fix SNL.
EVAN: [And Toronto! . . .] Because, well, let’s face it. Saturday Night Live is not as good as it could be.
GORDON: Which is a real shame, considering the talent it produced during it’s early years. Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin- I could go on and on until I hit the early 90s.
EVAN: To be fair, I haven’t really watched a lot of the older SNL episodes, and certainly not that far back, but I’ve seen enough glimmers of goodness to know how good the show can be.
And yeah, now that you mention it, SNL used to be a factory that just cranked out the comedy talent. What happened?
GORDON: I really can’t say- I never watched the series religiously enough to be able to point to any specific point or change; I only know that unless you like Adam Sandler (I don’t), by the early 90s the show just wasn’t good anymore- barring the creation of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, for which we give thanks.
EVAN: And that we do. How about this: before we go forward to how it could be better, what do we like about it now? And there’s gotta be at least one thing.
GORDON: Like “What’s Up With That?” or “Celebrity Jeopardy.” The first time was hilarious. The fortieth time, not so much. I also like Steffan, just for the total surrealism, and the commercials can be pretty good. But those are few and far between.
EVAN: I personally love “What’s Up With That,” and it gets funnier each time for me. Kenan’s enthusiasm compounded by Sudeikis’ dancing and grinning gets me every time. I also, and I know there aren’t a lot who agree with me on this, really like Weekend Update.
And I feel like the Minnesota early morning hip-hop show has a lot of potential.
GORDON: I felt these things may have been funny the first time- heck, the first few times- but I really, really can’t stand ’em now. Minnesota early morning hip-hop radio is funny, but there are only so many times you can say the northern edge of the midwest is cold. I feel like they’re going to take it and run it into the ground, like all their other popular skits.
EVAN: So that seems to be a large problem, here. The skits that are funny don’t show up as much as we’d like to, and they continually run the risk of wringing all the life out of them when they are hits.
GORDON: Is that the fault of the writers?
EVAN: Probably a little, yeah.
GORDON: I also feel that it has the same problems The Simpsons do. Each episode becomes more about showcasing which celebrity and “we-want-to-be-Mumford-and-Sons-so-bad-it-hurts” musical guests.
GORDON: Fair enough. But the celebrities. Seems to me that when the show started back in the 70s, the “celebrity” guests were really just there to introduce the show and do a bit of stand-up. Everything else was dedicated to the cast performing skits.
EVAN: The hosts, you mean?
GORDON: Exactly. See- even I get confused about their intent.
EVAN: If you don’t mind me directing this conversation once again, how about comparing SNL to another skit-based show: Key & Peele.
GORDON: Go on…
EVAN: Key & Peele, and I think we can both agree on this, is hilarious.
Not only that, but it’s just two guys who, presumably, do quite a bit of their own writing as well.
GORDON: No doubt.
EVAN: So how could SNL learn from Key & Peele?
GORDON: Maintain a semblance of relevance to the modern world.
Key & Peele is satirical, sarcastic. I watch the show and laugh at it when they take shots at stuff that’s relevant- like fighters trash talking each other prior to a fight.
When’s the last time you watched a show that looked even remotely like “What’s Up With That?” How many of us even know what the Laurence Welk show was?
EVAN: See, I’d say that one of the problems with SNL is that they feel compelled to “stay relevant.” So many of their skits are based on the current news, whatever’s hot right now.
Ex. Lance Armstrong doping, that one guy who got scammed by the fake girlfriend, etc.
GORDON: I wouldn’t say those weren’t funny in and of themselves- I just thought they were lousy as a cold open, and got rehashed in the Weekend Update. Kinda proves the whole “If it’s funny we’ll do it until it isn’t and then for a while longer” strategy SNL employs these days.
EVAN: I think what I like about Key & Peele is that they’re okay with breaking away from current events a little more.
GORDON: Well, we could debate which the more current until the cows come home. Our topic was “how do we fix SNL?”
EVAN: Okay, Way to Fix SNL #1: Don’t drive jokes into the ground. If a skit is recurring, do it maybe four or fives times a year, max.
GORDON: #2: Not every celebrity is funny. Stick with ones who are, and keep their appearances down to the monologue and a few key skits.
EVAN: #3: Find a way to replace Andy Samberg’s Digital Shorts. I know that nothing will truly take their place, but they were what revitalized the show after so many years.
GORDON: #4: Instead of dragging in celebrities who are already popular, go back to giving new comedians a chance- become the talent producing machine that you were in the 70s and 80s.
EVAN: Ooh, I like that one a lot. There’s definitely a conflict between hot fresh names drawing in viewers [Joseph Gordon Levitt], and looking for lesser celebrities, maybe from TV instead of movies [Krysten Ritter from Don’t Trust The B—– In Apartment 23].
I’m not super impressed with the new guy they brought on, but I really like two of the newer girls [Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong].
GORDON: I agree, for the most part. I simply wish they would actually take some people from the pool- nay, ocean- of raw talent the internet has created.
EVAN: THERE YOU GO. You, sir, are a genius.
GORDON: Imagine SNL written by the guys from Dead Kevin, BriTANick, WKUK, and other internet sketch shows. Imagine all the great new actors and comedians we could get.
EVAN: That’s what we really need.
GORDON: That it is.
EVAN: I mean, the fact that Donald Glover made it from Derrick Comedy, a YouTube comedy show, to being a star on Community and other shows says a lot-
GORDON: That it does.
EVAN: And SNL could be that way of getting this talent out there.
GORDON: Absolutely. Would you watch a show like that? I would. I would watch the crap out of that show.
EVAN: I would watch it all the time without stopping.
GORDON: People would die.
EVAN: Yes they would.
Now that you’ve wrapped up this conversation with that masterful suggestion, though, what are we talking about next week?
GORDON: I’d like to talk about guns and gun control.
EVAN: Heh. Heh heh heh. Okay.
My recommendation is . . . um . . . have you watched a lot of Christian movies?
GORDON: I’ve seen a couple. But it’s okay, I’m better now.
EVAN: I kind of want to talk about that. How Christian media is so substandard and it’s the fault of Christians themselves.
Yours is better, though. I am probably going to vote for it.
GORDON: And I like railing on things- I’ll probably vote for yours.
EVAN: Thanks for reading, you guys, and sorry again for how late this is in coming. As always, this has been Evan and Gordon Talk, be sure to vote below for what you’d like us to discuss next.
This past weekend I asked my friends over lunch who the new generation of actors are. Who are this decade’s Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks? Who are the actors who will be representative of these years?
We came to a few conclusions. Nostalgia is a powerful force, and that’s why our Bruce Willis is still Bruce Willis. Leonardo DiCaprio has been acting since Romeo + Juliet in the mid-90s and has continued to go strong with 2010’s Shutter Island and Inception. Newer stars such as Michael Fassbender and Sam Worthington have only really begun gaining recognition in the past five or so years. Name recognition is what matters, and they’re still earning theirs.
Having answered that question, I posed yet another one: Where are all the new non-white actors?
There are actors [using the gender-neutral version of the word] making a reputation for themselves, but they’re men and women like Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield [yes, the leads of this summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man, I think in comic book movies, okay?]. But where are their non-white counterparts? The following are short lists I’ve made categorized by ethnicity-
Donald Glover tops the list. NBC’s Community has done a lot to get him out there, and he’s beginning to become a household name. Idris Elba will be in this year’s sci-fi epic Prometheus and in Guillermo del Toro giant mech vs. alien action flick Pacific Rim. Anthony Mackie took a backseat to Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in The Adjustment Bureau, but will be starring in a number of films both this year and the next.
HISPANIC Édgar Ramirez starred in 2008’s Ché, and will be in this summer’s Wrath of the Titans as the Greek god of war Ares. Javier Bardem has been in show business for quite a while, but will be the primary antagonist [okay, villain] of the next Bond film, Skyfall. Gael García Bernal starred opposite Will Ferrel in Casa de Mi Padre, and will be appearing alongside acting greats Pacino and Daniel Day Lewis in the upcoming years.
Similar to Donald Glover television is where Aziz Ansarfi thrives and he’s gained the most recognition for his role on Parks and Recreation. Russell Peters was in last year’s star-studded New Year’s Eve, and primarily works as a stand-up comedian. Kal Penn [Kumar, of Harold and Kumar fame] will be in the yet to-be-announced Bhopal: Prayer for Rain.
CHINESE, KOREAN, JAPANESE
Ken Jeong has been running around screaming ever since The Hangover; he’s going to keep finding work. John Cho will be in the Star Trek sequel reprising his role as Hikaru Sulu. Daniel Dae Kim continues to be ridiculously good-looking on CBS’ Hawaii Five-0. Really, all of these actors are Korean.
As far as Asian actors go martial-arts movies are not as popular as they once were. In fact, the two most recent listed on Wikipedia are MMA [mixed martial arts] films, starring White leads. Actors of Asian descent must find work elsewhere, and normally this means in comedy movies.
In general non-white actors find themselves relegated to supporting roles, most lacking the clout in the industry that heavyweights like Will Smith have. There’s an immense multiethnic audience out there but few studios willing to cast actors of different ethnicities in roles where names mean everything.
Actors like Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Chow Yun-fat, and Jackie Chan aren’t getting any younger. These are all names that once were, and still are, recognizable by most. One day, however, they will inevitably retire, and once that happens who will be there to take their place?