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Having not watched SNL between 1982 and 2014, it was a surprise to learn that Bill Hader, a very talented comic actor, was not only a regular on the show but the man was also nominated for an Emmy for his work on Saturday Night Life impressive stuff but what is not impressive on the show is the apparent lost art of auto cue reading. Or cue card reading, or auto prompt, what ever title it given the lines of dialogue to be read by regulars and guests on a live comedy show. As this is the 40th season of the long running comedy series it does not seem too much to ask for the participants to have mastered the ability to read and emote.
Still, the show on Saturday night was entertaining and featured Kristen Wiig, Hozier, Harvey Fierstein along with former regular Bill Hader hosting. There was also a touching moment where the show had a tribute for another regular Jan Hooks who died recently age 57. Ironically the clip used had another deceased SNL regular Phil Hartman who apparently had a special connection with Jan when they both worked on the show.
It is interesting for any fan of the original shows, back in the day of Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, et al to watch all the “new” regulars come back on and host shows. Tina Fey, who graces the television regularly with many examples of her “20,” made her name on the show whilst this writer was on an extended England hiatus and not able to watch the show. Certainly there were opportunities to tune in on various, and continually changing, networks in the U.K. to watch SNL but after time it got too difficult to track down. Still, Bill Hader and his hosting job on SNL was worth watching and he does not appear to have lost the art of reading his autocue at all.
Perhaps the fact that Hader is a recent alumni from the show means that he is still in practice, although Wiig had a few problems when she came out to assist Bill in his opening monologue. As SNL opens go, it was not that spectacular, but as the two are in The Skeleton Twins together it was a nice touch and fulfilled the real reason that both Hader and Wiig were on the show which was to promote their film.
Not having watched the Superbad actor when he was a regular meant that the character of Stefan was not a welcome nostalgic return but a surprise and, sadly, a cause to remember other “characters” back in the day, Gilda Radner’s Roseanne Roseannadanna, Dana Carvey’s The Church Lady and Chevy Chase’s President Gerald Ford. The Weekend News segment was amusing just not in the way envisioned by the show’s producers.
Of course some things do not change and the spoof trailer was very funny, Bill Hader as the king, “or queen, you’ll figure it out,” was brilliant. The Maze Runner parody (The Group Hopper) showed, yet again, just how funny Peter Davidson is. Like Hader, Davidson seems to have mastered the lost art of autocue reading and he is funny, unlike some of his fellow cast members. Apparently SNL has been struggling with its 40th season’s ratings and Bill’s appearance did not do very well numbers wise either. Which is a shame since he can read the autocue without looking like he is doing so and Hader does a pretty good Al Pacino.
By Michael Smith