Talking 'SNL' and the other 'not ready for prime time' players, the Knicks
On Saturday night I checked off an item that had been on my bucket list since long before the phrase "bucket list" entered the vernacular: I was an audience member at "Saturday Night Live." While the sports world was focused on the breathtaking dysfunction of the New York Knicks, I was enjoying championship-level satire from a show that often takes the same heat as a pro team, with players coming and going and every single performance critiqued on a grand stage.
My obsession with "SNL" began as a young girl, staying up late to join my parents on their king bed, a giant silver bowl of popcorn between us as we watched. So many otherwise fuzzy memories from my childhood become clear around the characters and episodes of "SNL" I was watching. At my best friend Tori's house, singing along with the Sweeney Sisters, turning a junior high presentation into my own version of "The McLaughlin Group" or stretching out on my grandma's couch quoting the best lines from my "SNL: Best of Eddie Murphy" VHS tape.
For as long as I can remember, being a cast member on Lorne Michaels' creation has been the dream (present tense: I refuse to give it up). I even moved to Los Angeles after college and did the whole improv conservatory at Second City, where "SNL" greats like John Belushi, Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner and Mike Meyers cut their teeth. After a lifetime spent imagining what it would be like to perform live from Studio 8H, just getting to walk through the doors on Saturday night was a thrill.
It was an especially good night to be at 30 Rockefeller, as Saturday's show averaged a 7.2 household rating and an 18 share, the best marks in six years. "SNL" is experiencing a renewed relevance, due in part to Alec Baldwin's killer portrayal of President Donald Trump. Political satire has always been a strong suit for the show, which has been skewering major political figures ever since Chevy Chase's bumbling Gerald Ford.
The buzz made it all the more thrilling to be there live, watching Michaels make last-minute notes before the start of a sketch while stagehands changed out sets and flipped through cue cards. As Melissa McCarthy threw her leg over the edge of the podium to show off a sparkling high-heeled shoe and Kate McKinnon channeled Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction," we all knew we were witnessing superstar performances that would dominate headlines the next day.
In that way, it felt a lot like the Knicks game that would tip off just down the street the next afternoon. Hours after Baldwin & Co. said their goodnights, all eyes were on former Knick Latrell Sprewell, sitting courtside with beleaguered owner James Dolan. Not long ago, a Sprewell return to the Garden seemed about as likely as Chevy Chase being welcomed back to Studio 8H. Was Dolan feigning reconciliation to give himself a much-needed dose of good PR? Would fans continue their chants of "Char-les Oak-ley" in protest of the legend's undignified removal Wednesday night? Would we see yet another Phil Jackson subtweet of star Carmelo Anthony? Sunday's upset win over the San Antonio Spurs was all but buried by the team's larger dysfunctions.
New York City is a great place to be when your star is shining; if you're in a slump, the spotlight can burn. Right now the Knicks have taken over the role of the Not Ready for Primetime Players, while the cast of "Saturday Night Live" is showing us what being clutch is all about.