America has ceded her humor advantage to the Canadians, Betty White, Buddy the Elf, Canada, Canada is world's funniest country, cocaine, coke, Cokie Monster, Cookie Monster, drugs, fellatrix, Golden Girls, has-been, kitsch, Larry the Cable Guy, last surviving Golden Girl, loser, Mike Meyers, Mr. T, New Coke, North Korea is the world's unfunniest country, Party On!, pop culture, repetition ad nauseum, Ron Burgundy, Saturday Night Live, SNL, SNL alumnus, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, the laughs race, the unfunnying of America, United States of America, untalented stars, Wayne's World, Will Ferrell, World War II, write-in campaign, you got a real purty mouth
One of the great surprises in television this year was the write-in campaign for Betty White to host Saturday Night Live. As the last surviving Golden Girl, the honor was certainly due her, and although we didn’t see the episode, we understand it was a big hit.
As in any instance when an unexpected event proves a resounding hit with the fans, SNL’s producers will be tempted to continue with the formula. Fortunately, SNL has always kept itself away from the practice of abusing an amusing premise by wringing from it every last drop of funny and then casting it aside upon the dust heap of pop culture.
But of course people will try. Typing “Dear SNL Please Let Host,” reveals two names most prominently–Ron Burgundy and Buddy the Elf–both characters made somewhat famous by turn-of-the-century funnyman Will Ferrell, himself an SNL alumnus. A cadre of jaded do-nothings is mounting a serious attempt to return Ferrell to television.
This is both dangerous and irresponsible. Whether motivated by pity or a sense of kitsch, keeping Ferrell’s career alive is a benefit to no one, least of all the former celebrity. Repeated studies have demonstrated that exposure to comedians like Ferrell or Larry the Cable Guy is arguably the greatest single factor in the unfunnying of America. Once the funniest country in the world, America ceded first place to Canada sometime in the mid-1980s. For posterity’s sake, and for Ferrell’s as well, let the man’s career die with a modicum of dignity.
Even fictional–although arguably more talented–characters are trying to launch their own write-in campaigns to appear on the comedy program. Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster has an SNL audition tape, and is reportedly very serious about seeking a hosting gig. Privately, industry insiders say that the monster has very little chance of success; a reputation for no-shows and erratic behavior have earned him the nickname “Cokie” Monster.
The great Betty White write-in campaign of 2010 brought a brief spontaneity to television, a medium noted for being anything but. But if we’ve learned anything from such travesties as the New Coke, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and World War II, it’s sometimes best just to leave the original as it is.