Do you know what I’ve discovered? Sometimes it is better to ask forgiveness than permission. So I’m asking forgiveness for not posting a blog on Saturday night because I’m hoping you’ll understand that I was having a good time as part of the studio audience of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE!
SNL Logo|image from frankocean.com
What a weekend this has been. My husband WW (“White and Wonderful”) and I have been fans of SNL ever since its inception (especially WW). We’ve stuck with it through thick and thin (Lorne in, Lorne out, and Lorne back again in ’85), and I finally got a chance to fulfill a decade’s long dream of WW’s to be a part of a SNL audience.
As we barreled up to New York City on the train the morning of the show, WW and I talked (more like whispered because we were in the quiet car) about how this was his major Christmas present from me, along with his La-Z-Boy sectional for his man cave, and the Blu-ray player, but those are separate themes for a much more pedestrian story later on.
WW: Well, you outdid yourself this Christmas, Cutie. I couldn’t ask for a better present. Didn’t I turn you onto SNL?
ME: Uh-huh, that and Monty Python. I fell in love with sketch comedies then, and I’ve been hooked ever since. But it didn’t take much coaching, because I love just about any format that will allow a genuine showcase for solid, edgy humor. When you grow up thinking your first name is “Demon,” your middle name is “Seed,” and your nickname is “A-Whore-Like-Your-Mother,” humor either becomes an intravenous line to your heart or you become hooked on something—anything—so that you don’t end up killing somebody—anybody or yourself—who comes across your path.
Most children display a sense of humor early on, and it is usually seen in their response to slap stick, and I was no different. When I was four years old I can remember waking up in the middle of the night because my sister had wet the bed for the third time that night, and an army of bedbugs were eating me alive. I didn’t want to sleep on the floor because, even at such a young age, I knew that rats frequently traveled from one end of the room to another, so I grabbed a pillow and some dirty clothes, stuffed them into a dresser drawer, and built myself a nest. The next morning when one of the adults of the house came to wake Pee-wee and me, she found a pint-sized kid snoring up a blue streak and tucked away in a half-open dresser drawer as snug as a bug in a rug. The baby-sitter started to laugh until tears were running down her face and so did I. At four years old, I “got it.” I understood the absurdity of my plight and it was hilarious. My sense of humor was born in that drawer that day.
WW and I witnessed the awakening of our grandson’s sense of humor on the same SNL trip. We got to New York without a hitch and checked into a lovely hotel near the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Baby-boy arrived in time to eat lunch, make a raid on the giant Lego store with his grandpa, and return with time enough to explore our suite in a way that only four-year-old little boys can do. As he came upon a door that didn’t seem to lead to the hallway, my grandson opened and closed a connecting door to another suite, but could not unlock the door immediately behind it. I tried to explain to him that behind the other door was another room and I thought I had gotten the concept across until after the fifth time of opening the adjoining door and staring at the four-inch space between the two doors, said grandson asked no one in particular but with great exasperation: “Who lives in that room—a mouse?” As all the adults in the room laughed in one accord at Baby-boy’s joke, I watched a light go on in his little head as a smile spread across his face and I saw him recognize his sense of humor.
It’s important that we recognize our sense of humor early on and cultivate it to keep it healthy and strong because it is God’s gift to us in a very cynical, sinister, and fucked-up world. As Henry Ward Beecher once said, “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.” I have known people without a sense of humor and they were all crazy.
Jamie Foxx as a “Ding Dong” protesting “snack profiling” by Hostess who he feels gave Twinkie (“my snack brother from another batter”) more attention (“Y’all act like Twinkie is the only one with a delicious, creamy filling”)||nbcsnltumblr.com
Our seats for Saturday Night Live were some of the best in the house and our guest host was Jamie Foxx and the musical talent was Ne-Yo! Some of the skits were so-so, one almost stepped over the edge but didn’t, and the show really took off after Weekend Update. Jamie did a great job and was in almost every skit which reminded me of his sketch comedy days in “In Living Color.” Ne-Yo was fabulous although not as good as Usher, but I still had to restrain myself from embarrassing WW by not screaming out like a teenage girl at the top of my lungs: “I love you, Ne-Yo!” The band is better than they come across on TV—in fact, they are superb, the studio is really, really tiny (who knew!) and the choreography of the crew and cameramen to manage 90 minutes of sketch comedies and musical guests and dancers in so limited a space with so many sets was worth being there for, and Lorne Michaels looks much older in person than on the giant TV in our man cave. Everybody in the audience laughed uproariously and was very engaged—nobody and I mean nobody seemed distraught at any time over the humor. They all understood that it was humor—edgy—sometimes good, sometimes missing the mark—but humor all the same. And then I came home and all Hell broke loose
in the media over the SNL performance WW and I saw.
Jamie Foxx|image from snl.wikia.com
Depending on what side of the political spectrum the reviewer and the blog commenters embraced, the SNL skits were either a racist debacle or the best SNL show of the season. According to the Houston Chronicle blogger (Therese Odell) who brought this to my attention in her post “Saturday Night Live: That’s not Racial Transcendence,” Blacks were offended by the stereotypical roles played by Foxx (“the angry black man, a pimp, and a hip-hop-appreciating Ding Dong”). Whites were apoplectic about Jamie Foxx’s opening monologue that celebrated being Black (“Black is the new white”) which was the undertone of a riff (“how black is that”) attached to everything from the suit Foxx was wearing (it was black and it was sharp) to the actions of his character in the newly released Quentin Tarantino’s pulp movie, Django Unchained, who, as a former slave, “kills all the white people” in the movie who kidnapped and raped his wife. All the hysterical people heard was, “Jamie Foxx wants to kill all the white people because that’s how blacks be rollin’ these days since they’ve got a black president—we knew this day was coming.”
Since I was there (clearly a black woman) and I sleep with a white man, here is the scoop: Nobody was offended, including me and the white man I went home with because I asked him. Maybe you had to have been there but the audience “got it.” Some of the skits that night weren’t SNL’s best which made the writers guilty of poor writing but not of racism—if you want to beat them up for anything, beat them up about their shitty writing. Things picked up with the Ding Dong sketch and the second half of the show might have been one of SNL’s best this year, IMHO. But in the words of Therese Odell: “Get over yourselves.” The only character I left longing to see was Stefon doing a monologue on “this club has everything”—that would have made my day. But then again that would have been playing to a stereotype—right?
I am discovering that the world needs to laugh more—everybody from one to one hundred and one. We’re taking ourselves much too seriously these days. Actually, I think we Americans really need to up our game and make a concerted effort to laugh more and get angry less. I’ve traveled to parts of the globe where the people aren’t nearly as blessed as we are and they laugh more easily at the absurdities of their lives. I wonder why. Is it because they know they have no control over their lives, which ups the absurdity quotient, and we think we have complete control over our destinies and thus it tends to render us humorless?
“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.”—Mahatma Gandhi
“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”—Bill Cosby
“There is hope for the future because God has a sense of humor and we are funny to God.”—Bill Cosby
Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.” – Drew Carey
From a scale of one to three (one = funniest), things that made me chuckle or laugh out loud this week—maybe it will do the same for you and lighten your load, or then again, maybe not. Maybe you’ll think my humor is sick:
image from www.bizarro.com
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