Last night, NBC’s Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th anniversary of taking a satirical look at American life, especially pop culture and the media. In a measure of just how far the show has fallen, its anniversary special cast totally ignored the biggest media story of the month in its celebration — leaving the subject of Brian Williams’ apparently serial fabulism to two guests. First, Jim Carrey created this uncomfortable moment with Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie — rumored to be a potential Williams replacement — by asking where they were hiding the face of NBC News:
“I just want to say something in his defense,” Carrey continued. “If the helicopter in front of me gets hit, I’m taking the story.”
Sounds like a storyline for a sequel to Bruce Almighty, actually. Maybe they can get Tom Brokaw to play the Lord instead of Morgan Freeman.
At least that was just on the red carpet. Jerry Seinfeld actually took up the point during the show itself, right at the top of his set:
“You know there are so many things about Saturday Night Live that people don’t know. Like for example, I just found out that one of the original cast members in 1975 was Brian Williams,” Jerry Seinfeld said when he took the stage at SNL’s 40th anniversary show. “I don’t know if that’s true, but I never heard that. It doesn’t sound true.”
Note the nervous reaction to this opening. Seinfeld had to have planned out the set — watch all of the interactions with celebrity audience members who have been on SNL over the years — but it’s telling that SNL didn’t have its current or former cast members deal with the issue. On the other hand, Sarah Palin was a good sport and joked about getting paid by Lorne Michaels to run for office, even offering to have Donald Trump as a running mate to sweeten the pot, which got more laughs than the Williams joke. In that case, Seinfeld replied, “I don’t think there’s a number too big.”
Martin Short seemed to offer a sideswipe at the Williams scandal here:
For a show that supposedly features edgy satire on current events, this was rather tame. And rather lame.