Loaded for laughs

This week, I just want to take a minute to appreciate a couple of things about television comedy. I’m doing this after watching Jon Stewart give the business to the Donald after Trump made numerous pizza-eating “foe paws” while doin’ some pie in downtown Manhattan with Sarah Palin. Stewart’s mauling of Trump for his lameness in restaurant selection, slice-stacking, and eating with a fork turned out to be pure comedy gold, resulting in a hearty outburst of LOL here in the Neon Babylon entertainment complex.

When the bit was over, I found myself in a grateful mood. Laughter can do that to you. I’ll just begin with the obvious—the two mainstay talents of Comedy Central, Messrs. Stewart and Colbert, are bringin’ it in a major way at an alarmingly regular rate. So much so that I suspect us regular viewers are by now completely spoiled with their wonderfully high level of performance. Well, the reality is that to maintain this level four nights a week, three weeks a month is no easy trick. They make it look easy, yes. But it’s not. There are more laughs in one week of Jon/Stephen than there are in a year of Saturday Night Live, and this week is as good a time as any to give thanks and praise for these two indispensable characters, both at the very top of their games.

Speaking of SNL, I flew through a fun book recently: Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. Yes, the show has had its ups and downs through the years, but while I’m handing out kudos for TV comedy, I should save a few for this grizzled institution. An institution it is, being on the air now for 36 years. That’s a remarkable achievement unto itself, even if at least half of those years have been a little weak. But still, in an industry where a four-year run now borders on the monumentally epic, there is something extraordinary about a show that’s been around for 36. And the alumni list is inarguably blue-chip. The following are those who’ve been introduced to us via SNL

Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jim Belushi, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, Martin Short, Billy Crystal, Joan Cusack, Robert Downey Jr., Randy Quaid, Jon Lovitz, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Dennis Miller, Kevin Nealon, Al Franken, Mike Myers, Ben Stiller, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Chris Farley, Norm Macdonald, Sarah Silverman, Will Ferrell, Tracy Morgan, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey.

Yes, Robert Downey Jr. was indeed a Not Ready for Prime Time Player in the extremely forgettable 85-86 season. And in 92-93, with a cast that included Carvey, Farley, Hartman, Myers, Nealon, Rock, Franken, Sandler and Spade, well—how bad could those shows have been? That is one loaded lineup.