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‘Not one thing was funny’: ‘SNL’ star feels very strongly about the show’s early seasons

Some things do not age like fine wine, and oftentimes comedy is one of them.

Photo by Bonnie Schiffman/Getty Images

We all know that comedy changes over time. Things that appeared funny when we were kids are kind of cringe now. Well, that is what Saturday Night Live star Jane Curtin felt watching back her old tapes from the show’s early years.

The comedian, now aged 75, was one of the original cast members in the long-running and heavily awarded sketch show. The show has provided numerous comedians with significant career opportunities over the years. Starting back in 1975, Curtin stayed with the show for roughly five years, ending her tenure there in the 1979/1980 series. Since leaving, it was quite some time since she looked back to the good old days, but she told People that when, seven years ago, she did eventually take a trip down memory lane, she was surprised at how unfunny it was.

“We were sent the five-year compilation video of Saturday Night Live‘s first five years a few years ago, and I gave one to my daughter, We were out visiting her daughter one Christmas, and her husband said, ‘Have you ever watched any of these? And I said, ‘God, I haven’t seen them in a long time.’ He said, would you mind if we watch one? And I said, ‘No, great! Pick one!’ So we sat around the TV, and I had that sort of anticipatory, open-mouth grin that people have when they’re waiting for something to happen, that they know is going to be really great. And… it never happened. It wasn’t funny. Not one thing was funny. There was not one utterance of a laugh or a giggle.”

Image via NBC

Comedy styles and tastes change a lot over the decades, and you just have to look back at different decades to see which comedic actors were making bank and how. You had the period of Jim Carey, with his over-the-top physical theatre and amazingly pliable face. You had the aggressive shouting style of Adam Sandler, who appeared continually mad at something. There was the more blunt humor of the everyman, the likes of Ricky Gervais, amongst others, whose characters couldn’t communicate with the stupidity of those around him. Of course, many of their films are still funny today, but their styles had their time, and that is the case Curtin makes for her own work, saying,

“I think it was just one of those, you had to be there in the moment things. That’s what happens with live TV, and with topical TV. It gets dated after a while. Remember, this was almost 50 years ago. But after we rewatched, I was like, ‘That really wasn’t a very good show. It was terrible!'”

SNL often makes fun of things that are currently in the news, of current trends happening, so it makes sense that years down the line, when people are so far removed from what happened that it’s no longer funny. That’s not to say she felt everything was unfunny, pointing out one of Dan Ackroyd’s sketches, “See the Bassomatic, I still think it’s funny.” Likely, another 50 years down the line, we will look back at what SNL is doing today and find it very unfunny, but some gems will still shine through. It’s just the nature of the beast, really.

Laura Pollacco
About the author

Laura Pollacco

Laura Pollacco is Freelance Writer at We Got This Covered and has been deep diving into entertainment news for almost a full year. After graduating with a degree in Fashion Photography from Falmouth University, Laura moved to Japan, then back to England, and now back to Japan. She doesn't watch as much anime as she would like but keeps up to date with all things Marvel and 'Lord of the Rings'. She also writes about Japanese culture for various Tokyo-based publications.