Originally Posted by archiguy
The problem with SNL isn't the on-air talent. That part of the equation has usually been healthy and seems to re-boot smoothly when required. The problem is the writing. How on earth some of these sketches make it to air without somebody, any
body - Loren, Bueller, anyone?
- noticing that they're just not funny
on any level beyond cast members' mugging (which will only take you so far unless your name is John Belushi), is beyond me.
And yet... the most genuinely clever, funny, and entertaining bits are almost always those pre-made short films or fake ads in particular. These rapid-fire pieces have solid writing, short edited bits or brilliant impressions from the players in them (which obviously can be culled from a series of takes, picking the best one for the final edited air-worthy result), and are often non-stop hilarious.
For example just last season there was the Martha Stewart online dating service Match-dot-com fake-ad (starring Kate McKinnon), the flowers-dot-com fake ad, the nuva-bling fake ad, etc. Going back further there was the "Top Gun" out-takes, late-night K-Tel old music CD ad, etc., etc. These are absolutely brilliant... but they are clearly much more time consuming to write and produce, hence why they ALWAYS seem to work. These can be developed over weeks, rather than just a few days, and the absence of time constraint obviously works in their favor.
So they obviously have writers who can put out good stuff. Why that doesn't always translate into weekly live sketches that also work as well, I don't know... although occasionally you do have some novelty in a sketch that is brand new and presented for the first time (or allows everyone to do an impression, like Al Pacino or Vincent Price or Harvey Fierstein or Prince which we'll now never see again).
But sometimes they just stumble into something that REALLY REALLY ALWAYS WORKS, like the "no longer porn stars" ads (e.g. for Hermes) bits with Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong, because these are two very very good comedians. Seems to me to be the product from the same writer(s) who gave us the ads with Jenny Slate selling alarm clocks or door bells or whatever with her heavy New York accent and makeup, since the ideas are kind of similar. These are just always hilarious because the premise is truly funny, the writing is terrific, and the performers delivering the lines are terrific, especially when they have a strong male character to pop in as well to add to the comedy (like Ben Affleck). Whichever writer thought to have Cecily Strong end each bit verbalizing a bizarre inappropriate porn-film act reference while Vanessa Bayer simultaneously says something much more appropriate... genius. Hysterical.