Why Can't Online Have Its Own 'Saturday Night Live'?
You can say or do virtually anything—make that just plain everything—online, a fact that leads to videos of beheadings and beatings and sexual assault to vicious bullying and homophobic
rants, but also to some perfectly edgy comedy.
Laugh or Die ain’t the half of it.
But last month, Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” gave a fond goodbye to John Oliver, who is off to do his own show for HBO; CNN talks about creating its own topical comedy vehicle, and I think, “That’s good that’s a perfect place for it" and then I think, “That’s bad, Jeff Zucker, who is missing a crucial comedy chromosome, it seems, would be the person who decides to put it on the cable network." So that could be dangerous.
But at a time that news moves rapidly and people have moved into psycho-political silos (see “Duck Dynasty,” for example) there’s hardly a place better than online for a daily/weekly version of “Saturday Night Live” or “Daily Show. ”It’s a worldwide platform, unfettered by censors or advertisers (who don’t seem to care).
“SNL” is now a crispy 40 years or so, and while a venerable institution, it is also a show that for at least 20 random years has presented seasons that viewers thought were bad enough to doom it forever. My point: It’s really pretty well-liked, but not thoroughly loved. You can’t say, about “SNL,” that it “can't do wrong,” because pretty clearly, it can.
(I note today that China will begin airing best-of clips of “Saturday Night Live” there; you’d think they might be afraid to show how the Western world belittles and berates its leaders. Perhaps, however, Chinese officials weren’t so afraid “SNL” was so counter-cultural after all.)
But obviously, "SNL", or a format like “That Was the Week That Was” used a long time ago, could be a potent 10 or 15 minute daily franchise online.
Online video does have the Onion Network, which is, for my money, just about perfect. But like Colbert—also perfect—it’s not totally about a real world but a bent, invented version. Online, particularly because it’s being consumed in ever great quantities on mobile devices is waiting for its Carson/Letterman/Conan/ Fallon/Handler, and someday, maybe this year, it will get him/her.