D.L. Stewart web exclusive: ‘Saturday Night Live’ over the hill

There’s probably no better way to be branded an old fogy than to start crabbing about how things today aren’t what they used to be.

But I don’t care, because I’ve been a fogy most of my life; long before I was a crabby old fogy I was a crabby young fogy. So I’m gonna say it:

“Saturday Night Live” used to be a lot funnier.

My guess is that anyone who has been around for all 40 years of “SNL” would agree. At least the ones who still are able to stay awake long enough to make it to “Weekend Update.”

I don’t feel that way about all comedy shows, by the way. I don’t long for the three-network days when we gathered around the Zenith to watch “Leave It to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best.” “Modern Family” and “The Middle” blow those away. I’d much rather watch reruns of “Friends” and “Frasier” than reruns of “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

Humor is a subjective matter, of course. One viewer’s yuck is another viewer’s yawn. But watching the “SNL” 40th anniversary nostalgic tribute to itself Sunday night reaffirmed my opinion that “Saturday Night Live” has become “Saturday Night Comatose.”

Nothing on the show in the past few years seems as funny as Roseanne Roseannadanna, Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood, the Church Lady or Chris Farley living in a van down by the river. Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin still is funny, but not nearly as funny as Sarah Palin doing Sarah Palin. None of the current cast of characters seems to possess the comic gifts of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players. Although, to be fair, that’s what we thought when Chevy Chase was replaced by Bill Murray. And before Eddie Murphy, who was followed by Billy Crystal, who gave way to Dana Carvey, who …

But if crabbing about the decline of “Saturday Night Live” makes me an old fogy, so be it. At least I’m not alone. Because there’s probably a lot of truth in the observation by a reviewer in The Atlantic who wrote after Sunday’s anniversary show, “No matter how old you are, ‘Saturday Night Live’ isn’t as funny as it used to be.”

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