Monday, October 03, 2005

Humor is not supposed to be funny!

This one is for Saturday Night Live fans. I watch very little television, but SNL is one show I've been into for many years. The idea, to me, remains one of the best in television. But as much as the SNL model has become mainstream over the years, today's viewers still seem to think its humor is too edgy for its own good. What the hell?

Like many others, I eagerly anticipated the season premiere (with host Steve Carell and musical guest Kanye West) and wasn't disappointed. I won't go into it bit-by-bit (that would be redundant, and also that isn't the point of this post). Suffice to say, I liked it both for its successes and its failures. That dichotomy is what makes the show so compelling.

Easily the most talked-about sketch of the night was a Girls Gone Wild commercial parody, in which the GGW guys promise water and other supplies to flood-stranded New Orleans women in exchange for titillating glimpses. The girls (who are of diverse ethnicity) respond by eagerly flashing themselves; there's no real sense of exortion implied, and indeed works well as a parody of the real GGW commercials.

As a Louisianian acquainted with both storms, here's where I stand on the sketch: I thought the premise was great and very timely. What everyone has to remember is that the sketch makes fun of GGW, not the stranded people themselves. The only issue I had with the clip was that it lasted too long without expanding on its premise (a typical SNL flaw).

On the SNL message board, however, this one earned almost unanimous scorn from fans. The general consensus is that the sketch was tasteless and offensive, and several people drew a parallel to 9/11 and how the show waited a long time to talk about that. Most of them are demanding an official apology from NBC, though the day SNL apologizes for doing its job is the day I quit watching.

But the debate about the sketch misses the point about SNL in the first place: the show is SUPPOSED to be edgy, clever and controversial. Skits like the GGW commercial are supposed to be outrageous, provocative and questionable. All of the best humor is. I guarantee you that if the show had ignored Kat-Rita, then the critics would have jumped on SNL for its "increasing irrelevance as a contemporary spoof." --Variety

Maybe it's a product of the Bush era, but when did everybody decide that humor should never cross any boundaries? Several Louisiana people asked as much on the message board, with one saying that we've cried enough, and now it's time to laugh. I agree.

What did you think about it?


Joe said...

I didn't see it, but it sounds like just the kind of offensive, divisive humor that I love.

On a side note, I recently heard someone describe the modern SNL as "a mediocre restaurant in a great location". So true, so true.

Michael said...

Forget where I saw it--maybe it was here--but someone already has a website up soliciting donations in exchange for pics. IIRC, it's called something like "boobs for Bourbon St."

Murph said...

Didn't see the skit, but think it's hilarious, more like what you'd see on Chappelle's Show than SNL.

If SNL hadn't done that sketch, no one would be talking about it, kind of like what they were doing for the past few years. Things usually are only funny if someone gets hurt/offended. The delicate art is trying to hurt/offend the least number of people via a distancing effect.

I guess the irony is that while SNL is making fun of GGW's exploitive reputation, GGW is donating proceeds from all NOLA themed videos to charity.

Flamingo Jones said...

Murph's so fact the only complaint I have about that sketch is that it was a little too similar to the "Third World Girls Gone Wild" sketch Chappelle did. But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Funny funny flattery.