For all of the heightened awareness of Saturday Night Live this fall, you’d think that perhaps the media or viewers likewise would tune in to see how MADtv is spoofing current affairs. But, ah, ha, no. You would be wrong. Both SNL and MADtv spoofed the women of ABC’s The View on Saturday night, but when The View convened for "Hot Topics" this morning, they didn’t even mention MADtv. It’s as if it didn’t air at all. Talk about a snub. Not that the folks at FOX are trying to get heard or mentioned — as I type this on Monday afternoon, they still hadn’t posted their episode online at Hulu.
Most of the gripes this morning centered not on how SNL mocked them, but rather about how they left out co-hosts Barbara Walters and Sherri Shepherd, with Walters adding later, perhaps it’s for the best not to ask for further mockery. They had SNL head writer Seth Meyers on the show Monday, too, and talked to him about SNL’s politics.
But the fact that both SNL and MADtv parodied the same thing on the same night gives us a chance to compare apples to apples, so to speak. So. How did they break it down and try to make it funny?
SNL: Put men in female roles, Kenan Thompson (Whoopi) and Fred Armisen (Joy), which can be looked at either as sign that SNL lacks strong female comedians in the cast, or on the flip side, that the show carries on in grand comedic tradition of absurdity by having men play women. Either way, Kenan and Fred both shined in their roles. Kristen Wiig (Elisabeth) not exactly on point but OK. Barbara and Sherri overlooked. Instead, show cast Casey Wilson as Jen Aniston and Ben Affleck as Alec Baldwin to round out roundtable. Both did well with what they had been given. Show’s current conflicts heightened, with Elisabeth pictured as someone who gets all of her info from Internet rumors.
MADtv: Erica Ash (pictured as Whoopi) Nicole Parker (Joy), Arden Myrin (Elisabeth) are efficient and proficient, but compared to the guys on SNL, lack a certain spark. (Does SNL automatically get an edge by crossing gender roles?) Barbara and Sherri overlooked here, too, while Lauren Pritchard plays American Gladiator Helga as guest host trying to find her feminine side, which drives the plot of their sketch.
So SNL went with the current political turmoil on the set, while MADtv went broad with physical comedy. SNL’s tactics provided more fodder for watercooler talk and Monday morning emails. What about the MADtv sketch made you want to talk about it on Monday morning, much less the women of The View, who themselves were the subjects of the sketch?
SNL also, obviously, went live, whereas MADtv taped in advance. In terms of energy in the room and onscreen, SNL wins on that front, too. If MADtv wants to grab our attention, then they’re going to need to shake things up somehow. I know the newcomers over there (Matt Braunger, Eric Price, Pritchard and Ash) are doing some good things, but, well, how will everyone else ever know about it?