A Little Verklempt: Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special

It’s a good thing I get President’s Day off, because otherwise I’d be taking a mental health day today. The SNL 40th Anniversary Special had me up to my eyeballs in feelings. I knew it would, because I remember how it felt watching the 25th Anniversary Special as an SNL-obsessed toddler teenager. Obviously we were primed to love everything on our screens last night, but here’s what I loved the most of the most:

Opening Musical Number with Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon

Did you start off counting the throwback references and quit because the number was so jam-packed? There were shout outs to Lazy Sunday, Dick In A Box, the Ambiguously Gay Duo, Matt Foley, the wild and crazy guys, Debbie Downer, the cheerleaders, the “don’t make me dance” lady, the Blues Brothers, cowbell, Mary Katherine Gallagher, and a bunch more.

The Opening Credits

The only thing missing was Don Pardo. Yes, I’m talking about the list of people who would appear in the show. During our high school masses sometimes they’d roll out the litany of the saints, where the school chorus would just bust out a list of Catholics. The opening introduction of SNL 40 was the closest I’ll get to a personally relevant litany of the saints. But with Sarah Palin in there also.

The Bass-o-matic

Do you ever have that dream that you’re on stage and you’re supposed to be performing a play you were in years ago? And you worry that you’ll screw up your lines and blocking, and in the good version of the dream as soon as you’re out there it all comes rushing back. I bet this felt like a real-life good version of that dream to Dan Ackroyd.

Jeopardy

ALL of my favorite Jeopardy idiots in one go? AMAZING. From Kate McKinnon’s spot-on human piddling puppy Justin Bieber, to Sean Connery’s filthy misreads of Let It Snow and Who Reads (Le Tits Now and Whore Ads), it was hilarious and – success! – went on for exactly the right amount of time.

Audition Reels

If there’s one thing that makes me verklempt (and there are a billion things, we did a whole week on it), it’s seeing successful people during those little tenuous moments before things started for them. Just the idea that they were living a normal-isn life and couldn’t know how much things would be changing is so sweet. The one that really got me was seeing a baby-faced, slightly nervous looking Amy Poehler. Andy Samberg as a jogger from 1982, Jimmy Fallon looking like he took a cab over after junior high, Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig debuting some of their most famous characters – it was like when you see baby pictures of people you’ve only seen as adults.

The Californians

Everyone I know loves the Californians, and I only ever just liked it. This one was different. Laraine Newman cracked me up, Betty White making out with Bradley Cooper was the best thing I’ve seen in weeks, and even Taylor Swift’s wacky accent and hair-mustache were hilarious.

WEEKEND UPDATE DREAM TEAM!

Highlight of the night, here. I had hoped for a Tina/Amy reunion, or a Tina/Jimmy, Amy/Seth showdown, but I hadn’t even dared to dream we’d get Jane Curtin. Watching the clip reel of past Update moments, it’s really clear that some people are just better at it. They have the right combination of charisma and crisp, sharp delivery to make the jokes land hard. I’m not here to name names of the people who weren’t as good (though let’s just say that everyone I listed was amazing, and I think Cecily Strong had the makings of being darn good too). Anyway, whenever anyone starts the job, I think they should sit in a room and watch tape of Jane to see how it’s done.

[Sidebar: my favorite Jane Curtin story is also a Gilda Radner story. Compared to the coked-out masses of the early Not Ready For Primetime Players, Curtin was always very straight-laced and diligent. She had a stable marriage and was basically just normal. Gilda would go over to Jane’s house just to watch Jane and her husband Patrick Lynch make dinner and act like regular people. Jane felt like it was a little weird, but of course she let Gilda keep coming over because she so loved seeing regular, happy people in their natural habitat. So while Jane Curtin pulls off the stern, ball-busting news anchor thing, she’s a giant sweetheart at the same time.]

The celebrity tributes to their favorite characters was an adorable way to bring back Roseanne Rosannadanna (Emma Stone, who nailed it and looked like she was living a Gilda fan’s dream) and Matt Foley (Melissa McCarthy, physical comedy for DAYS). They were perfectly framed not as an attempt to replace Chris Farley and Gilda Radner, but as recognition of what all fans did growing up, impersonating recurring characters. And of course, no Update segment would be complete without the return of Seth Meyers and Stefan and the land shark at the update door.

Maya Rudolph as Beyonce

With appearances by Garth and Cat, Marty Culp and Bobbi Mohan-Culp, Opera Man, What’s Up With That, the Love Theme from Jaws, and the Blues Brothers.

Jerry Seinfeld Q and A

The audience Q and A is a classic SNL opener, and this one with an all-celeb audience was great. Ellen Cleghorne really stole the show though, didn’t she?

Tracy Morgan

Yes, I shed a little tear when Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin introduced a clip of Tracy Morgan, who is still recovering from last year’s car accident and couldn’t be there last night.

Digital Short: That’s When You Break

Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler are a perfect pairing, and it felt so right to celebrate the many times cast members have cracked up over the years. But mostly Fallon and Sanz.

In Memoriam

Look. I cannot watch Gilda Radner without my heart breaking and singing at the same time. I knew that part would make me cry a bit, and it did. There are some other cast members, like Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks, who were taken far too soon. But I was especially touched to see the tributes to the crew members who have passed on. Next time you watch SNL, pay attention to one non-performing aspect of the show, whether it’s sets or costumes or props or cue cards. The show wouldn’t have made it 40 years if they didn’t have one of the best crews in television. It felt so special to acknowledge their efforts, especially in a room full of performers from all different eras who knew firsthand how important these workers were. It was also fitting to end with a moment of levity, mourning the untimely loss of John Lovitz.

Mega-Goodnight

I should probably watch the goodnights in slow-mo, because it was like a Where’s Waldo of awesome people who I love. The whole night was, really.

 

 

All Hail The Queen: Famous People On Amy Poehler

Happy Amy Poehler Day! In celebration of the birthday of our favorite comedienne/life guru/producer/queen, we offer a collection of things other celebrities have said about Amy. After all, the best way to know that a person is awesome is if everyone who knows them says so (but let’s be real, those opinions hold a lot more weight coming from a famous person. No offense to your non-famous friends; sure they’re great). In case you’re wondering, the second-best way is for the person to just straight-up tell everyone that they’re awesome. Or, I guess just to consistently be fantastic and see if people catch on. poehler

Let’s take this September 16 to remind ourselves to live in such a way that this is how people talk about us behind our backs:

Aziz Ansari

I have found that she is as kind and caring a person as she is hilarious. Simply put, Amy Poehler is my hero.

Vanessa Bayer (describing her first night on SNL):

Yeah, I was so emotional. I started tearing up. It was so surreal. I actually stayed on stage because I wanted to hug Amy Poehler. She was the host that week, and I wanted to thank her because she was such a wonderful person to work with. So I gave her a hug, and I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I said something like, ‘It was amazing to do my first show with you,’ and she held my hand and walked offstage with me. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. She was so kind and generous.

Matt Besser:

These days you don’t think of Amy as a female comedian, you just think of her as a comedian, and I think that’s a plus. And she didn’t go for that whole notion that women are not treated fairly. She was just like “I’m just going to do my best and not give a shit,” and it worked. She didn’t care about being pretty and dainty on stage, or charming, or all those things you might say about a successful sitcom actress, a prototypical one. She could be weird or nasty or ugly or whatever. Those are things that guys more typically do. But really it’s what a comedian should do and that’s why she is.

Rachel Dratch (when asked about the “inordinate” amount of page space devoted to Amy Poehler in her book, Girl Walks Into A Bar):

I guess she just has a good aura. People gravitate to it. She’s very supportive and she’s got a good combo of being cool enough that she’s one of the guys, but she’s also sensitive and wise.

Tina Fey (in Bossypants, a book that was a decoy answer on Million Second Quiz this week. If you’re reading this more than 2 months in the future, maybe Google what that was. Jimmy Fallon objected to a gross bit Amy was doing and she totally shut him down):

With that exchange, a cosmic shift took place. Amy made it clear that she wasn’t there to be cute. She wasn’t there to play wives and girlfriends in the boys’ scenes. She was there to do what she wanted to do and she did not fucking care if you like it. I was so happy. Weirdly, I remember thinking, ‘My friend is here! My friend is here!’ Even though things had been going great for me at the show, with Amy there, I felt less alone.

Kathryn Hahn

It all starts with [Amy] Poehler. She’s such an incredible number one to have on a contact sheet, on a cast list. Cream just rises. She’s such a stud and such a nice person. She’s a goddess. I worshipped her before, and I worship her even more after seeing how she behaves on a set

Mamrie Hart:

I love women with balls, and Amy’s got the biggest sack swinging in Hollywood at the moment. She really doesn’t give a shit if people don’t agree with her on a subject.

Rashida Jones:

I would go gay for her. It doesn’t seem fair that I get to work with her. I love her unconditionally.

Mindy Kaling (describing the time during her brief, not-awesome guest writing gig on SNL when Amy made her come out with the other writers and actors):

But when this popular, pretty genius made this kind gesture to me? That’s the moment I started adoring Amy Poehler. She knew I was going to be a coward, and she was going to have to gently facilitate me into being social… When I said something even a little bit funny, Amy cackled warmly. (This sounds weird, but that’s the best way I know to describe Amy Poehler’s laugh: a warm, intoxicating cackle.)

Seth Meyers:

  • We started together on the same day and we just hit it off right away. On our fourth show, we did this scene called “Little Sleuths”—they were like Encyclopedia Brown solving real murders—and we thought it was going to be this big franchise and were already seeing the Little Sleuths action figures in the NBC Experience Store. It got cut from dress, like, five times and it never aired again. We always said that the one case the Little Sleuths couldn’t solve is what the fuck happened to the Little Sleuths.
  • She’s this incredible combination of warm, silly, and smart, which I think makes her such an engaging performer… There’s just no meanness to anything Poehler does. Her outlook and attitude about how to work, and how to be funny, are contagious.

Nick Offerman (referencing multiple FNL characters in a transparent and successful attempt to make me fall in love with him):

I met Amy in the early 90′s and she is like a superhero mixed with both Coach and Tammie Taylor from FNL, as well as Tim Riggins and a little Landry.

Jim O’Heir (while campaigning for Amy as Best Lead Actress In A Comedy Series):

Amy’s awesome. Yeah. You know, I guess when you get the most lines on the show, you get nominated for awards. Put another one on her shelf… How about someone saying Hey Jim, How’s it been for you, Jim? Amy’s awesome. And I’m rooting for her to get that Emmy. I hope you win… you son of a bitch.

Aubrey Plaza:

She’s already kind of my girlfriend, and I’m not saying that in a jokey way. We had a moment last year, late at night, when we decided we were gonna end up together. For now, we have to let boys come and go, but we’re kind of in love.

 Bill Poehler (Amy’s dad):

She would just jump in and succeed or fail—it wouldn’t matter. Once, in the fourth grade, the principal was on stage and he had the mike up high. Then little Amy walks across, goes up to the mike, grabs the little knob, twists it, pulls it down, and I said to myself, Oh my God, she has no stage fright whatsoever.

 Eileen Poehler (Amy’s mom):

We recently went to “Parks and Rec,” and our biggest thrill is hearing how much the crew, from the girl who cleans the trailer to the driver to the director, like working with Amy. How good she is to everyone. She’s the same girl. We’re really proud of that.

Chris Pratt:

I disagree that talented people are nice to be around. No. I’m serious. Especially when they’re number one on the call sheet. It’s the truth. Most of time when someone is really talented and they’re the top dog actor, the first name that comes up on the screen, basically, Amy’s position on this, they’re not always nice. And the fact that you are, and the fact that you made everybody feel good, and you always laugh at jokes, I’ve never seen you in a bad mood, it all rolls down hill. This whole family vibe and everyone getting along well, it comes from you. It has always come from you.

Maya Rudolph:

If you go to eat with Amy, it’s like, “Alright, let’s order. Does everybody know what they are going to get?” She’s in charge, she’s the leader, she’s like, “We’re not wasting any time, let’s do this.” And in the most loving way, I can say, she’s incredibly bossy. And I fucking love that about her. And I love the combination of the fact that she is a teeny tiny person and she’s really tough.

Retta:

Well, Mike Schur is the boss, but we call Amy our fearless leader. I think whoever the lead of the show is dictates what the set is like. Amy is always planning nights out for us. She’s just so cool, she’s not a diva. English directors when they come in want to do tons and tons of takes. And I can tell she wants to wrap it up but she just says “sure” because she wants them to be comfortable.

Andy Samberg:

Amy is beloved by all. That’s her secret move. No one doesn’t like her… I came in when Amy was kind of in the middle of her run. I would say her and Seth, maybe more than anyone, really looked out for me and took me under their wing and made sure I was doing OK.

Michael Schur:

There is exactly one thing in the entire range of acting that Amy Poehler does not do well: impressions. So we make her do them constantly.

Adam Scott

It was intimidating at first, but she’s so cool and down to earth, that it immediately went away. Still, when I’m working with her, I’m, you know, taken aback by how good she is and how hilarious she is and quick and all of that. It sounds kind of lame to say, but I do learn from her a lot, you know, when we’re working together. She would think that’s lame, but it is true that I’m kind of in awe of how great she is.

Mike Scully

Amy Poehler is the funniest person on TV, period. The fact that she’s the nicest is a bonus.

Emily Spivey

Amy’s a hero. I cannot think of anyone who’s done more, in my opinion, in front of the camera and behind the scenes for ladies than Amy. If I could make a lady comedy flag, it would have Amy Poehler’s face on it. She’s just amazing. She’s a little blond girl, but she’s gonna fucking get this done. And everyone’s in love with Amy. She has a way just making everyone- boys and girls- feel so comfortable and confident in not only what she’s doing but what they’re doing.

Taylor Swift (on Poehler’s shortcomings as a human being in general):

There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.

Casey Wilson:

Amy Poehler’s like a cheerleader—kind of like a mama bear. She wanted the other women to succeed and that’s trickled down to Kristen, and then trickled down to me. I think people want there to be some sort of feud or tension, but it’s like “Why can only one of us do well?” One time I remember we were doing a “Mad Men” sketch, and I was playing the redhead. And I had a funny bit where basically I came in and dropped off some papers, but I didn’t have a line. It wasn’t even Amy’s sketch, but she piped up and said to the writers, “Let’s give Casey a funny line when she comes in.” She didn’t have to do that.