Fourty-one years of Saturday night laughs

Matthew Roberson | Sports Editor | The USD Vista

Over the last 40 years, America has endured several prominent issues and hardships, transformed its social and political landscape, and witnessed the birth of a true digital age. But throughout all the wars, elections, and other current events there has been one constant source of lightheartedness to poke fun at the things we spend all of our time getting worked up about: Saturday Night Live.

Every year since 1975, the world has experienced a weekly tradition, watching a group of comedians gather in New York for twenty or so Saturdays to record the iconic Saturday Night Live. The show has been our country’s pioneer outlet for social satire from the presidency of Gerald Ford, throughout the Obama administration, and now into the upcoming term of one of the often-parodied 2016 candidates. From the initial scene of the Season 41 premiere, which opened with longtime cast member Taran Killam debuting his spot-on Donald Trump impression, it was clear that this would be a season rife with political ridicule.

Trump was certainly not the only politician to earn a reference during SNL’s first 90 minutes of the new season. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton was honored with the familiar impersonation from Kate McKinnon. She also appeared in the sketch herself. Certainly recognizing the show as a platform to showcase her sense of humor, Clinton threw shade at Donald Trump by mocking his tendency to refer to other candidates as losers.

She was also sure to mention that McKinnon’s character version of her was emitting a cool, young vibe before reminding viewers that her campaign headquarters are in the hip, millennial-inhabited borough of Brooklyn, NY. While many are quick to point out that SNL has lost a huge portion of its young audience because of its late night Saturday airtime, Clinton seemed dead set on reaching the age 18-25 demographic.

Junior Kellen Coelho watched the show on Saturday night and spoke about its importance among college students.

“I think it varies from person to person rather than age group,” Coelho said. “Saturday Night Live remains a popular topic in pop culture.”

Another obvious attempt by the show to resonate with young adults was their decision to peg Miley Cyrus as the host of its all-important season premiere. Despite being just 22 years old, the Oct. 3 episode marked the third time she had hosted the show. In typical fashion, Cyrus sported several flamboyant outfits on camera, including a dress and headpiece made entirely out of flowers. In the last of her two musical performances Cyrus was moved to tears by her own song. She sat crying while playing the final notes of “Twinkle Song” on a piano which was topped with a picture of her dead dog, a husky named Floyd. While the internet was lighting up with comments questioning the singer’s sanity, it was oddly refreshing to see such a powerful display of emotion on national network television.

Coelho believes that the show is a reflection of society. He voiced an opinion on the polarizing singer that many young people share.

“Saturday Night Live has had a myriad of weird characters host so I’m not surprised at [their decision to choose] Miley Cyrus,” Coelho said. “I think she lacks the talent of most hosts and it shows in her inclusion in the skits.”

If nothing else, the return of this historic weekend staple will provide moments of hilarity in times that desperately call for it. Apart from the roasting of presidential hopefuls, the first installment of this SNL season also lampooned Pope Francis, Kim Davis, and Taylor Swift fans. It was the start of rookie cast member Jon Rudnitsky’s career on the legendary Studio 8H stage, one that will be remembered for Miley Cyrus licking frosting off his face. Among the usual laughs that come with Weekend Update or fake commercials, standouts Pete Davidson and Leslie Davis also re-introduced themselves to America’s comedic forefront.

Whether Saturday Night Live is still on the radar of USD students, the show is still exceptional at the one thing that they’ve been doing better than everyone for the last 40 years: making fun of things that people care about.

With so much content that will inevitably come with the presidential jostling of the next few months, the 41st season of SNL is poised to be an enjoyable view for people young and old, on both sides of the political spectrum.