Just like Saturday
Night Live itself, Saturday Night Rewritten, the weekly show that bills
itself as an improvement on SNL forged through an intense Sunday
afternoon writing session, can have its hits and misses.
SNR, however, does
capture more of the spirit of the original 1970s SNL that sometimes is
lost in the big budget high-profile SNL of today. For example, the
musical guest in this “Best of” revue, singer-songwriter Jim Baron,
resembles the more idiosyncratic music guests of 1970s SNL like Kinky
Friedman and Janis Ian, rather than today’s Britney Spearses and Gwen
Britney, one of the high points of this SNR revue turns out to be a
video parody of her “Chaotic” reality show playing off Spears’ vapidity.
One sketch about a French waiter insulting a husband and coming on to
the wife, develops like an old Chevy Chase sketch and avoid beating the
premise to death like so often happens on SNL now. Another puts Eric
Zuckerman front and center as a character plagued by an omniscient
narrator getting in his way in a sketch with the comedic sensibility of
SNL’s classic “Attack of the Moonies” sketch featuring John Belushi.
Sketches like those
could actually fly in a parallel universe version of the real show,
while others, edgier that SNL itself, fulfill the revue’s promise of
countering “lazy tendencies” in sketch comedy today. One of these,
“Normal Cop,” is stolen by Katie Northlich as the schizophrenic good cop
and bad cop all rolled into one. Others, like “Candy-Off” and “Wrong
Lesbians,” perhaps cross an offensive line that SNL itself no longer
does. Similarly, “Tom Cruise’s Straight Seafood,” a re-working of recent
recurring SNL sketches that featured hosts Donald Trump and Al Sharpton
as proprietors of unlikely fast food joints, slices and dices Cruise’s
professions of love for Katie Holmes in a way SNL doesn’t or cannot do
to hosts who are the center of these sketches.
Other SNR sketches,
like “Teen Wolfowitz Too” and “Weird Al Trial,” seem a little too hokey,
like they belong in a revue like “Forbidden Broadway” or perhaps a more
tourist-oriented “Second City” show. Not what you’d expect exactly in a
revue in a downtown off-off-Broadway theater from a show billing itself
as an edgier SNL.
But the gems tend
to outweigh the duds in SNR, and the show is worth checking out in its
regular time of 8 p.m. Sundays.