Four Ways to Make ‘SNL’ Relevant (Again)

It would take all of a minute to find folks on social media successfully mocking Biden. Consider the high jinks surrounding a single photo that made the rounds on Facebook and Twitter the last few weeks:

vice president joe biden stares out window

Yet the premiere political comedy show of our age can’t come up with one instant classic featuring Mr. “Butt Buddy” Biden?

It’s just one reason why people flocked to see the show’s 40th anniversary special over the weekend for a nostalgia blast., not the sense that the best was yet to come.

Comedy bias isn’t the only problem with the NBC sketch show, but it’s a good place to start all the same. Here are four ways “SNL” can not only survive but reclaim its mantle as comedy’s premiere satirical showcase.

  1. Diversify in More Ways Than One: The show finally hired a pair of black female comics after a crush of articles bemoaned the show’s lack of ethnic balance. One of those performers, Leslie Jones, just got a gig with the “Ghostbusters” reboot. Bully for “SNL!” Now, let’s try some other diversification. Hire Rush Limbaugh as an adviser. Reach out to conservative bloggers for sketch suggestions. Get someone behind the scenes without a faded “I Heart ObamaCare” sticker on their car. An array of juicy new targets will open up to the show’s writers. Suddenly, right-leaning audiences will miss an “SNL” episode at their own peril. “SNL” has a strong legacy of bipartisan comedy, from Will Ferrell’s Dubya sketches to Darrell Hammond’s killer Bill Clinton bits. Let’s bring that back in time for the 2016 elections.
  2. Get Hungry Musical Acts: It’s fine to invite Kanye West or Lady Gaga to perform on the show. Big stars often draw big ratings. Why not mix in some unknown acts? Imagine the intensity from an up-and-coming band who finally gets the “SNL” spotlight? Think they would put on the show of their lives? You bet. If they fail, it could make a viral moment for different reasons. The show is missing a creative spark, the sense that anything can happen on live TV – beyond a featured player cracking up at his or her own joke. “SNL” routinely hires unknown comics and makes them stars. Why not try the same with musicians?
  3. A Nip and/or Tuck: Has their ever been a 90-minute episode of “SNL” that rocked from beginning to end? Why not cut the show by 30 minutes? Better yet, spend those final moments teasing online-only videos that didn’t make that week’s cut. It’ll bolster the show’s web library and give it ammo against the viral video smarties over at “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”
  4. Be a Counter-Culture Force (Again): “SNL” doesn’t just ignore many political topics that conservatives might cheer. It pretends vulgar humor is cutting edge at a time when “The Interview” can be seen in every format imaginable. Why not mock Lena Dunham, the media culture’s darling, by doing more than a “Girls” spoof? What about our politically correct society gone awry? Of course, the show would have to stand behind its button-pushing gags, but that act alone would bring some clout to the show. Right now, “SNL” is as dangerous as a mugger wielding a plastic spork.

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