Christiana Gaudet

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Paul Simon, Chris Colfer and Lindsey Buckingham Kill on SNL

Another Day Late Dollar Short Hulu Review by Christiana Gaudet

When I was a teenager, staying up to watch the Belushi-Aykroyd-Radner-Newman Saturday Night Live cast of the Seventies was one of my greatest privileges and pleasures.  Many of us remember Mr, Bill, The Nuclear Family, The Lubners, Killer Bees, Land Shark and the Ex-Police as the best SNL bits of all time.

As my friends and I gathered at school on Monday to discuss the wickedly funny skits, I don’t think any of us thought Saturday Night Live would become the longstanding institution that it has.  In fact, many of us didn’t imagine we would still be alive some thirty years later, let alone our favorite television show!

Over the years, there have been better casts and worse casts.  Some years my life didn’t allow me to watch television from 11:30 PM to 1 AM, or to watch TV at all.  I loved Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey in the Wayne’s World bit, and took my kids to see the movies.  Ditto Austin Powers, and every Adam Sandler movie ever made.  SNL has become the proving ground for some of our nation’s best comics, from Steve Martin to Chris Rock to Tina Fey.

I am loyal to original casts.  I hate it when my entertainers change faces.  I resist the new Dr. Who every time.  Nonetheless, I have to say that watching classic SNL clips can be a bit boring.  What we think is funny changes decade to decade.  Humor that is culturally current goes stale with the passage of time.

The basic format of SNL has remained comfortingly consistent over the years.  I love the train station set, where I can see the very train I would often ride.  I love the guest hosts, Weekend Update, and the two musical numbers.

There is one compelling difference between modern SNL and the SNL of my high school years.  The SNL of today has real political power, in the nation and in the entertainment world.  I don’t remember politicians appearing on SNL back in the Seventies, but they do now.  Some political pundits suggest that Tina Fey singlehandedly cost John McCain the 2008 presidential race with her spot-on impersonations of his running mate, Sarah Palin.

Back in the day, we just didn’t see as many A-list celebs on SNL, other than the guest hosts and the musical guests.  Now, part of the fun of watching SNL is to see who might show up unannounced.  It’s like rock shows of a certain era, you would never know what luminary giants might sit in for a few numbers.

Andy Samberg’s digital shorts, often with “The Lonely Island,” featuring superstars like Justin Timberlake, Susan Sarandon, T-Pain and, most recently, Michael Bolton, are hilarious, and a testament to both SNL’s talent and clout.

New York’s Governor Patterson packed a punch as a guest on Weekend Update not too long ago.

That’s why you may not be surprised when I say that, as awesome as he was, Paul Simon was not the hottest musical guest on the 5/14/11 Ed Helms SNL- Lindsey Buckingham was!

That’s right, the show-stopping, spotlight-stealing bit was “What Up With That.”

You may know the premise of this recurring bit.  It’s a BET talk show that features Kenan Thompson as Deandre Cole, a host who just can’t stop singing.  He always runs out of time, and never gets a chance to interview his guests.  The last of the three guests is always Bill Hader as Lindsey Buckingham.  Hader’s Buckingham never, ever gets a chance to speak, but always comes back for the next show.

The skit featured musical guest Paul Simon in the hot seat, Glee’s Chris Colfer (OMG) in the second seat, and, as usual, Bill Hader as Buckingham in the last seat.

Paul Simon’s sense of humor shone.  Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt on Glee, had no real lines, but was a luminous presence on the set.

When Deandre turned to Lindsey Buckingham, I thought Hader’s Buckingham would finally get a chance to speak.  I was excited that one of my favorite Glee stars was there.  I thought either he, or Paul Simon, might accompany Deandre in his endless singing.  I was completely unprepared for really happened.

The real Lindsey Buckingham, dressed exactly as Hader’s Buckingham, joined the set with his guitar.  He proceeded to show his chops, jamming mightily.  As much as I love Fleetwood Mac, I never really considered Buckingham one of the great guitar gods.  I do now.

Watching Kenan Thompson always makes me a little wistful, he was my family’s essential Saturday night companion on “All That.”  Even now, seeing him makes me want to hang out with a nine year old and eat popcorn.  That nine year old is now twenty-six.  SNL has stood the test of time, perhaps better than I have.

Paul Simon has stood the test of time as well.  He is without question an old man now.  Nonetheless, his songs made me want the new album, which was the whole point of the exercise.  He is still viable after all these years.

For me, the star-studded “What Up With That” skit was the highlight of SNL this week, and highlights how far SNL has come over the years.