So, this week’s “Fun Friday” is kind of fun, but it’s also kind of a rant.
Like most of you, I grew up on “Saturday Night Live.” For me the show was something you watched furtively in the 1970s while parents were sleeping. By the 1980s it was watercooler talk, and that continued in the 1990s and early 2000s. For me the show lost some luster in the later years, but it’s gotten better in the last several.
SNL’s history with YouTube
Saturday Night Live has always thrived through some sort of social media. In the 1970s that meant people talking about a sketch the next day. But, the real wakeup call for modern social media came in 2006 with this (obviously, not completely safe for work) video:
When the original show aired in late 2006, YouTube was only a year old. Most old-school media outlets hadn’t even discovered it. Yet, bootleg recordings of this song were all over YouTube. For some people it was one of the first YouTube videos they saw.
The folks at SNL could have aggressively fought to keep these videos off, but instead they used this opportunity to drive people to watch the show. It took… a little while for this to really work. I’ll argue that there have been ups and downs along the way.
The walled garden
For years, NBC has kept their content behind a wall at NBC.com. There’s a pretty good portal there and it’s even possible to search for a sketch if you know the name of it. Of course you have to go out to the internet to find the name, and you’ll probably find a bootleg version on YouTube.
NBC took their SNL portal and turned it into a pretty passable iOS app, but it seems like they stopped supporting it a few years ago when they…
Finally a proper YouTube channel
For about two years there’s been a proper SNL YouTube channel and you’ll find all the sketches from the last few seasons there. Supposedly there are over 7500 videos but beyond recent years they’re not well organized. But at least they are there.
If you missed the show it’s easy to pick up just the sketches you’ve heard other people talking about. If you want whole episodes, you’ll want to go to Peacock or the NBC app. At least in those places you can find virtually every episode that has ever aired, organized by season.
Why is this so hard?
Here’s what I want. I want to go to an app and type in “SNL Jewish weatherman 1980s” and see the sketch where Billy Crystal reported on the weather dressed as a character called “Lou Goldman.” His delivery of “don’t be a big shot, bring a sweater” still cracks me up and I haven’t seen the sketch in decades.
I want to see some curated lists beyond “best commercials” or “best of Eddie Murphy.” I want to see all the times Jimmy Fallon broke character. I’m guessing that would be a long playlist. Although, few will be better than this one:
This is one of the best sketches of the era, and it’s possible that only one person — Christopher Walken himself — dislikes it. But focus for a moment on Jimmy Fallon as the drummer. He’s enjoying the sketch. While Will Ferrell takes over the sketch, it’s Fallon who low-key kind of owns it.