The downside of the SNL upside

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  • The downside of the SNL upside

    As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on SNL: The changing world is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, as I pointed out yesterday, the internet has been a boon for SNL. However, it has not been so kind to cast members post-SNL. What do I mean by that?

    The trajectory was always get on SNL, become a stand-out, leave and become a movie star. Or, at the very least, become a long-running sitcom or late night star. Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Mike Myers, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Chris Farley, David Spade, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Myers, Billy Crystal, Kristin Wiig, Amy Poehler — just to name a bunch.

    But today there are very few comedy movies being made. There are no major comedy movie stars — not like Eddie Murphy or Jim Carrey or (back when we wrote for him) Tom Hanks. Especially now, post COVID, studios are making blockbuster comic book movies to lure people back into movie theaters. Comedies and Romcoms are being made by streamers. And they don’t have the same impact. A studio is not going to make $100 million on the opening weekend of a Kate McKinnon movie. So Kate McKinnon has not become a "star." Tina and Amy have tried that route. Didn't happen. Not since BRIDESMAIDS or THE HANGOVER can I think of a blockbuster break-out comedy. In decades past there was always a GHOSTBUSTERS or SOMETHING ABOUT MARY that would be a box-office sensation.

    Studio “comedies” have become animated pictures. Those are the new franchises. And SNL alum may voice them, but it’s not the same.

    Similarly, good luck launching a mainstream big hit sitcom these days. Everything is niche. And even there, animation is king for the moment. Maya Rudolph provides a voice.

    So leaving SNL for untold riches isn’t the endgame anymore. Not to mention the increased competition among cast members. The Not-Ready-For-Primetime-Players were seven or eight, not twenty-four. Now cast members can’t even get on every week. It’s harder to become Chevy Chase.

    The internet giveth and the internet taketh away.


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