It probably seems like a given, but I can’t stress how important Saturday Night Live was to my upbringing. I vividly remember a family game night at my grandparents’ house one Saturday night. I was up much later than I was normally allowed, and the News was on the TV in the other room. At least it looked like the News – it sounded like something else. It was Dennis Miller’s Weekend Update, and *this* News had laughter.
Jan Hooks, Dana Carvey, Kevin Nealon and of course Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman – I had no idea what was going on, and I was sucked in. For the tail end of my elementary school years, my Saturday night’s were a quest to stay awake long enough to watch the show.
In fifth grade, The 15th Anniversary Special blew my mind. I knew this was a funny show (although I struggled to understand most of the jokes), but I didn’t know its history. Here were MOVIE STARS celebrating their time on this show I loved, and I had had no idea. Ghostbusters and Amigos looking young and thin and mustached. It was bizarre. To me, it was like discovering your parents’ photos from college – I had NO idea you had a life before I got here.
Nick at Nite started playing the reruns, and I discovered John Belushi, Andy Kaufman and that I had fallen in love with Gilda Radner.
Over the next three years, I was lucky enough to have SNL (past and present) and also find SCTV, Kids in the Hall, Monty Python and hours and hours of stand-up. They helped me get through some very awkward and painful moments in my life. And whether I realized it or not at the time, I was “going to school.”
I did impressions in middle school, knocked off sketches at summer camp, and had my own Saturday Night Live dreams. I read books and dug deep, splintering off into learning about National Lampoon and Second City. This was a show, an ever-growing cast and a legacy that felt like family to me. Through stand-up, I’ve had a chance to meet and work with a few writers and performers from that show’s past. Jon Lovitz once paid me a compliment so personal, so amazing (whether he honestly meant it or not) that I will cherish it until the day I die.
I don’t really have Saturday Night Live dreams anymore (I *have* submitted writers packets, but that’s as close as I’ll get). I see friends who’ve had way more training, more talent, more access than I have get pretty close themselves. I’ve had other friends who have gone to tapings or have even made it backstage.
The show brought me comfort, it challenged me. At times, I know it made me smarter. We’ll be tuning in tonight to celebrate #SNL40.
As far as dreams go, going to a taping still sounds like fun. Just as long as it could somehow miraculously be during the fall of 1989. Or 1976. Or 1993…