I've grown up on "Saturday Night Live", even before I was allowed to stay up that late to watch it. My first introduction to the world of late nights on Saturday was with Chris Farley, Phil Hartman and the latter years of Dennis Miller.
We lived in the Philippines from 1983-86 we didn't get American television shows, but my dad would see the shows while he was on TDY around the world and bring the humor home before I even knew what it was about. He would always try to pass off the jokes and characters as his own, especially Eddie Murphy.
SNL for me means Farley, David Spade and Kevin Nealon on the Update Desk. Seeing Adam Sandler go from a bashful young performer to a bashful-acting veteran in front of my eyes was the SNL experience for me. During a trip to NYC when I was 14-years-old I got to tour the NBC studios. Part of that tour was walking by Studio 8H and seeing a rehearsal happening.
I still remember to this day the sketch I was watching during rehearsal. It was a sketch where Farley played a bumblebee. That's how much the show meant to me. He put on quite a show that day as we filed by, ranting and raving about being too fat to fit into the bee costume.
As far as Sunday night's 40th anniversary celebration, it was more bitter than sweet for me. To see faces that have forever been frozen in time via reruns age as much as they have really brought mortality into the whole thing. For my 3 favorite moments, check out "Three to See".
It was hard to find two people that have gone in different directions with their post-SNL careers than Will Ferrell and Norm MacDonald. Will remains on top of the world. Norm has to go for guest spot work on sitcoms.
It's hard to find a sketch that's been repeated as much as Celebrity Jeopardy on SNL. Ferrell plays the stoic Trebek to perfection, and MacDonald's and Darrell Hammond's abuse of Ferrell's character has always been a fan favorite.
Aside from the overwhelming sadness I feel for Hammond having heard his life story, I thought the sketch was done beautifully.
Unlike some of the other faces of SNL's past that look like they've been dragged underneath a dump truck through the plastic surgeon's office, Wayne & Garth pulled it off.
Maybe it helps that they weren't part of a cast known for their drug-fueled antics off the air that's kept them fresh-faced, but they looked great.
My favorite moment from this sketch was when Mike Myers got a dig in on Kanye, returning a favor that's been in motion since Hurricane Katrina. If you'll remember, Mike Myers was the shocked 2nd part of that on-air moment.
They also worked in some new lingo and it didn't seem stale, despite being on the shelf for more than two decades.
The Eddie Murphy Reunion That Wasn't
Eddie Murphy's return to the Studio 8H stage has been in the works for 35 years. Eddie revived a DOA SNL and launched his career simultaneously. Without Eddie, there'd be no SNL 40th and vice versa.
With that being said, the reason this moment made my list is because it shows the live aspect of things. While I'm far from informed with the inner workings of SNL's preparations for this celebration, I'd guess Eddie was a diva to work with.
If I had to guess, I'd say Eddie repeatedly sent back the writers' ideas as not good enough until it got to the point where tempers flared and Eddie said he wouldn't do the show if he had to do the material.
That's why, after a fantastic introduction by Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy came out and laid a big, fat, stinky egg on stage. He got the ultimate last laugh. He got invited back for the first time in three decades and he made sure he wouldn't get an invite again until the 50th.
Despite all the build-up and getting nothing in the end, it really showed what makes SNL so great. Not every sketch is going to be a winner. Not every cast member is going to work out. Not every host will pull it off. For better of worse, no matter what goes wrong, it's all there live as it happens.