NewsFeed talked to Chevy Chase a few weeks ago for an extended interview that touched on his comic influences and his long career. During the interview, we had to ask him about Saturday Night Live. He had quite a few thoughts about the subject. Here’s what went down.
Everyone has an idea on how to fix SNL. What’s yours?
Over the last several years, I’ve really enjoyed their cast. It’s a big one, on the other hand, and big means a bit more writers and more writers means worse scripts.
Why is that?
One of the great things about Lorne [Michaels] is he doesn’t seem to be able to fire anybody. [Laughs.] And he does hire. I would go over the writers tooth-and-nail and start parceling them out, and I would throw away a lot of old stuff, where nobody can quite play that or do this. Just get rid of it, and not have to go through on a whole Wednesday read-through in order for the guest of the week to make choices.
Another thing is, you get a little too full of yourself. I’ve always loved the Weekend Update people. I think they do a very good job, but it’s a massive production. I don’t know what the hell that became.
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Well, there’s The Daily Show now, so they have to compete with an entire show that does the same thing they do.
I suppose. It’s gotten now to the point where the whole show is about Weekend Update. I think if it had just gone back to, frankly, a parody of a newsman, which is what I was doing: a parody of an anchor, with a camera and a little chyron area. And not make it as long, and not have guests on. The first time I saw Adam Sandler on there as Opera Man, I almost told Lorne to fire the guy. It was just the worst thing I’d ever seen. I saw no reason for it to be on a news program. I have to say, though, that Fred Armisen’s unfortunate imitation of [New York Governor David] Paterson is just one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life.
I think that might be my favorite character he plays.
How physical are we now, when the guy is now sliding back and forth close to the lens, not knowing where he’s supposed to be going? That’s just too good. I think Fred is great. To me he’s their top guy. I want to see more of that. I want to see more of the getting away with stuff
I can’t say the show is perfect, I can only tell you my opinion. I have never in my whole life said anything bad about the show, and I’m not now. I’m not trying to say that the show’s bad, I’m trying to say the way the show could be improved a little.