Anyone as old as I am might remembers when Saturday Night Live actually made people laugh. Anyone much younger only knows the current SNL, the one that features idiot-stupid-unfunny attacks on Republicans and conservatives that even silences the laugh track. Not that Republicans and conservatives don’t do things that others might find laughable, especially if a talented satirist parodies it.
Humor must be based on some sort of truth to be funny. If the skit depicts things the subject did not do even a great satirist can’t make it hilarious. SNL has for several years tried to build an audience for comedy aimed at a real person but not at something that person actually did. The result is flat. Nobody laughs unless they force it. The comedy is in the deliberate exaggeration of actual events for comic effect. The humor of something real not only makes us laugh, it also gives us deeper insight into the event that is being parodied. It helps us see into the heart of matter. Abraham Lincoln called it the “Nub of the matter.” As a trial lawyer that’s what he wanted a jury to see. He often used subtle humor to help them do that. That’s part of what made him a great trial lawyer.
Another great humorist was Jack Benny who skillfully used self-deprecating humor to the delight of his audience. They laughed at him and they loved him. His butler Rochester got laughs by exposing in few words the folly of something Benny said or did. It was just brilliant. I’m so glad I’m old enough to have enjoyed it as I did. I feel sorry for Millennials who are too young to have seen it. They would benefit it they’d get some DVDs of those old television shows.
Adam Schiff tried to parody President Trump and it fell flat because nobody believed Trump had committed the acts Schiff was trying to parody. The events to which Schiff referred existed only in his own sick mind. Those who knew even a little about what the Democrats were accusing Trump of doing found it tedious, not interesting and certainly not funny. It was not a real parody. It was simply a vicious insult.
There is something stirring out there. SNL might to be attempting a move back to real comedy.
If so, it appears the Democrats are going to be the object of ridicule. This makes sense because Democrats being themselves are already laughable. You’d have thought that SNL could have figured this out years ago, but oh well. If they’re doing it now it’s most welcome.
They still need the laugh track. Their parody of the Democrat presidential debate is good but they still don’t know how to make real people laugh. It’s too new to them. Maybe they’ll get there. At least they’ve moved into new territory. It’s a target rich environment of people who do strange things the rest of us can laugh at.