I’ve been a fan of SNL or Saturday Night Live since the early years, but not since Tina Fey and Amy Poehler left the cast some years back. Based on what I had heard from family members and the buzz on the internet the current cast of SNL has not lived up to the standards of past seasons. It has been called dull and unfunny as if the writers and production staff are just coasting along in a kind of comfortable numbness. Perhaps the 35th season of Saturday Night Live has finally run out of creative juices? Thanks to a stroke of genius from a campaign on Facebook to get Betty White to host Saturday Night Live this season. In addition, Betty White appeared on numerous talk shows, including SNL alum Jimmy Fallon’s, and other promotions for her upcoming hosting gig. It certainly paid off all around for a successful Saturday Night Live episode, great reviews online and lots of positive feedback for the show.
In the past when SNL had big name hosts who were hyped up in the media the show fell flat with the host based on high expectations such as Jim Carrey in the ’90’s and more recently, Zach Galifianakis in March 2010. Betty White exceeded all expectations and then some when she became the oldest person to host Saturday Night Live on May 8th. In this special Mother’s Day episode they also brought back other SNL alumnae former regulars: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch and Ana Gasteyer. This is exactly what the show needed. The opening sketch normally reserved for the cast members, where the host rarely appears, since they do the opening live monologue actually featured Betty White in a Mother’s Day Lawrence Welk Show. At the end of the opening skit Betty and the former SNL regulars all said “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night.” Amazingly, Betty White appeared in all of the comedy skits giving 110% during this 90-minute program.
One of my many favorite lines from Betty White’s hilarious monologue was telling us “I’m not new to live TV” when she started her career in a 1952 sitcom. Then she added: “Of course, back then, we didn’t want to do it live. We just didn’t know how to tape things.” For a comedic timing pause Betty delivered the punch line: “I don’t know what this show’s excuse is.” When she mentioned Jay-Z was the musical guest the audience went wild. Betty said I can tell you how many dimes I’ve collected when I said Jay-Z, just one! Obviously she does not keep up with the current music scene. Her monologue was mostly devoted to sincerely thanking Facebook as well as poking good humor at it too when comparing this social network to her days growing up. As mentioned earlier Betty White appeared in all of the comedy sketches whether briefly or as the star. She literally showed off her six decades of working in comedy on television as being sweet, sassy and certainly salty. Betty had her game face on.
Out of all the skits my favorites featuring Betty White front and center were the Census Bureau with Tina Fey as the census-taker. Betty was brilliant in her subtle performance as a wacky apartment dweller answering the required questions since she did not mail in her form. Another had Betty starring as an investigator in the CSI spoofs titled “CSI: Sarasota” as the great-aunt to David Caruso. She was trying to solve the death of a 103 year old resident at a Florida retirement community. The death was obviously natural causes, but she wasn’t buying any of that. Lastly, my absolute favorite of all that seems to be a winner for many reviewers, bloggers and TV viewers was the SNL Digital Short film.
The SNL alumnae cast with some of the current members dedicated a song to Betty White for Mother’s Day. It was the theme to “Golden Girls” Thank You for Being a Friend. Of course she was touched, but wanted to do the song her way. She put on a mask and started singing it in death metal form with all the mosh pit style fighting. This had me laughing hysterically. Jay-Z dedicated his second performance to Betty by saying “This is dedicated to the most incredible Betty White.” At the end when Betty was thanking the former Saturday Night Live regulars and current cast Jay-Z was standing next to her with his arms around her shoulders. She also received not one, but two beautiful bouquet of flowers most likely from the cast and crew of SNL. It was a perfect way to end the show.