Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rank And Smile

Speaking of Saturday Night Live, Rolling Stone magazine, which has been reporting on the show from the start, now has a piece ranking each cast member from top to bottom.  Quite a task, and, of course, I have many disagreements. I don't have time to go through every one, so I'll discuss some of the lower-ranked, and then list the top 25.

The lowest, at #141, is Robert Downey Jr.  He didn't make much of a splash and definitely deserves a low ranking, but I think RS put him here for name recognition/shock value.

Most of the bottom ten, including Jim Breuer, Victoria Jackson, Gilbert Gottfreid, Colin Quinn, Norm MacDonald and Randy Quaid, are ranked way too low.  Watching old shows, in fact, Jackson often comes across pretty well--there were other talented women on at the time, but she added a different note.  Maybe the magazine is punishing her for coming out as a conservative Christian.  Gilbert Gottfried was one of the best cast members in the early 80s--indeed, this part of the list should be made up mostly of his castmates.  Randy Quaid may come across as a nut today, but he was a solid performer in his year there.  And Norm MacDonald as the second-greatest news anchor the show ever had (they call him Dennis Miller without the jokes) should be in the top fifty.

They put Michael O'Donoghue at #113.  Okay, as a performer--compared to his work as a writer where he helped create the ethos of the show--he wasn't great, but they say his Mr. Mike character is dated when it's still a potent concept.

They put Danitra Vance at #100, and say she got shoddy treatment.  Maybe she did and maybe she didn't, but her work on the show wasn't much and they're giving her too much sympathy.

Present-day cast member Bobby Moynihan, one of a long line in the fat guy role, is actually pretty good, and should be ranked higher than #98.  And I'm not a big fan of Cheri Oteri or Chris Kattan, but is #94 and #95 fair?

They put A. Whitney Brown at #79 for his commentary.  I found him mostly annoying, and how he can be ranked above Norm MacDonald is bizarre.

Julia Sweeney at #76?  She's one of the better women in the history of the show, and she's in the bottom half?  She should be ranked higher than most of the women above her, such as Jenny Slate, who's at #75, or Gail Mathius at #74 (rather than the bottom ten where she belongs).

They also make excuses for Ellen Cleghorne, saying she got insubstantial roles, but I still think she's ranked too high at #69.

Brad Hall at #67.  He was maybe the most obnoxious guy ever on the show.  (Or as RS would put it if they understood, Chevy Chase without the talent.)

Kevin Nealon was there a long time, and was consistently mediocre.  #59 might be a bit high.

Paul Shaffer at #56?  No.

I don't think Lorne Michaels should be on this list, but if he is, it shouldn't be up there at #54.

Pamela Stephenson at #51? They call her a bright spot in a weak season, but she was the most forgettable member of her cast.

Darrell Hammond was in the Dan Aykroyd tradition of great utility player.  He deserves better than #49.  On the other hand, Tim Meadows is too high at #48.

Julia-Louis Dreyfus at #45?  Tell me she would have cracked the top #100 if she hadn't had such a memorable post-SNL career.

Vanessa Bayer has talent, but I've never quite cottoned to her.  #43 is too high.

Don Pardo is #38. Like Lorne Michaels, Rolling Stone is being cute listing him at all.

Some overrated names in the 30s, including Dennis Miller, Ana Gasteyer and Tim Kazurinsky.

Jan Hooks is #26. Not bad, but as one of the best women ever--I'd rank only Gilda Radner and Kristen Wiig higher--she deserves better.

Top 25:

25.  Jason Sudeikis
24.  Laraine Newman (I like Laraine, but she was one of the weaker players in the original cast, and this is probably too high)
23.  Fred Armisen
22.  Andy Samberg
21.  Chris Rock (sorry, but Chris Rock wasn't much on SNL--not a top 50 player)
20.  Al Franken (not important as a performer--maybe not even top 100)
19.  Jon Lovitz
18.  Maya Rudolph (what is she doing here?--get her out of the top 50)
17.  Adam Sandler
16.  Rachel Dratch (I've met Rachel and find her very talented, but she isn't a top 50 player)
15.  Chris Farley
14.  Kristen Wiig
13.  Bill Hader
12.  Will Ferrell
11.  Dana Carvey
10.  Chevy Chase (He was only on a year and a half, but it's hard to overstate his impact--maybe should be even higher)
9.  Gilda Radner
8.  Amy Poehler (way too high--probably somewhere between 25 and 50)
7.  Phil Hartman
6.  Bill Murray
5.  Dan Aykroyd
4.  Mike Myers
3.  Tina Fey (important as a writer, but not so much as a performer--good, but not top 20)
2.  Eddie Murhpy
1.  John Belushi

4 Comments:

Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I agree with almost all of your revisions.

I was surprised not to see Dennis Miller (maybe he refused the invitation), considering they allowed Norm MacDonald back (I think he has been identified as a closet conservative). I actually thought Miller's news anchor was in the top five. Did they rank Michael Che - he has to be the worst ever!

I thought of LA Guy during the ode to "breaking up" during a skit. I recall your admonishment to not ever give into the temptation, even if the audience seems to find it funny.

Do you know whatthe inside joke was about Jon Lovitz being dead? Also, I believe Adam Sandler was not on the opening list of participants, so I was surprised when Opera Guy showed up. SInce his song referenced not getting paid, I wonder if he held out to get paid and then gave in after the credits had been credited?

I though of all teh characters Bill Murray had, the lounge singer was a poor choice - especially since unlike his classic Star Wars song, he didn't really sing to the music from the film Jaws - it sounded like he was making it up on the spot.

In general, I think a bunch of them were quite drunk - including Robert De Niro. And I'm worried about Chevy Chase's health. And why was Jack Nicholson there if he never even hosted, let alone

11:47 AM, February 17, 2015  
Blogger LAGuy said...

The reviews of the show haven't been great. I think most people feel it might have made for a tight two hours, but three and a half was ridiculous. Of course, with its high ratings, NBC isn't complaining.

Both Chevy Chase and Eddie Murphy, the two people who dominated the show as no one else ever did, came out and did nothing. Like some of the other names--Nicholson, De Niro--we were supposed to just enjoy their wattage, I guess.

Some of the RS rankings included several people in one slot, and Che, I think, was part of a gang ranked not too high.

The Lovitz bit could have been done with anyone, but I guess they figured it'd work best with him. For all I know, he suggested it. (It's a good gag, thought it's been done before.)

I liked the digital short about breaking on the show, mostly because they mocked it. Sure, audiences eat it up, but I'm hardly along in despising it. In fact, I've got Shakespeare in my corner: "...though it make the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure of the which one must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of others."

2:00 PM, February 17, 2015  
Blogger New England Guy said...

I don't know. I liked it a lot and being drunk usually improves that kind of show. Everybody has their favorite parts and their least favorite ( I could live without ever seeing Justin Timberlake or The Californians again and why Kanye West?). I agree with whoever said you tend to like best the Saturday Night you grew up with (pet peeve- it was called Saturday Night originally - Saturday Night Live was a Howard Cosell show.

Eddie Murphy bombed but had the most relevant line about it being like a big high school reunion (where almost everybody got old and fat). I am happy Chevy didn't die on stage and I liked the silly Jaws song. Jane Curtin was actually funny (I didn't always think so in the 70s)

I would rank Amy Poehler higher and Bill Hader lower (he's OK just not key and I don't like Stefon)I posted earlier on this but it disappeared so I guess the universe is giving me a sign

2:48 PM, February 17, 2015  
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