I think that what's interesting about Saturday Night Live is that while it's not as popular as it was in the Rock/Farley/Spade/Hartman days, it still manages to poke its head into pop culture when you're ready to call it down and out.
I would've actually thought that Saturday Night Live stood a good chance of being killed when youtube started becoming popular since both youtube and saturday night live both cater to the audience who wants their comedy in 5-minute sketches but SNL found a way to jump on board the trend with the digital shorts produced by Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaeffer and Jorma Takome (Andy is the one on camera). "Dick in a Box" and "Lazy Sundae" are two that have gone viral on youtube, but there's also "Iran so Far," Adam Samberg's love song to the President of Iran with Adam Levine providing some of the vocals, and a hillarious one with Tom Hanks singing "Don't Touch my Testicles." The "Iran So Far" is probably the funniest thing Andy Samberg has done in my opinion and it's possibly the best thing Saturday Night Live has done all season.
The other smart thing Saturday Night Live is doing that nothing else on NBC is doing is its not giving away all its content for free on the internet. You can't watch an entire episode of Saturday Night Live online like you can for many shows on hulu or their respective network sites. They usually post about 2 or 3 sketches a week but I recently discovered that the people in charge of posting the sketches online aren't picking the best ones. I think this is smart because SNL isn't like a TV show. It does basically the same stuff as youtube. A lot of the funnier material (the stuff that isn't recycled from past skits) is usually in the show and it's that five-minute stuff that you're dying to see over and over again.
I would have thought that the show would have suffered because about 2 years ago they had some serious budget cuts and had to cut 5 or 6 people, and now their cast is much smaller and less experienced. Then again, an astoundingly high number of the members of the current cast are capable of doing a Christopher Walken impression. Check out this skit where you will see 8 seperate members of the current Saturday Night Live cast impersonate Christopher Walken: http://www.hulu.com/watch/16389/saturday-night-live-meet-the-family#x-4,cClips,1 After watching this, I can reach two conclusions: 1) It's very easy to impersonate Christopher Walken or 2) The cast is, in fact, a talented group of comedic actors All I can say is I tried seeing if I could talk like Christopher Walken for a few minutes by playing this skit and trying to mimic the way they talk. It's harder than it looks.
At the same time, one of the show's weaknesses is that they seem kind of lazy in the writer's room. In my next post I will present what I imagine their pitch meeting went like last week: