SNL: Saturday Night… Laughs?

Every once in a while, its nice to know that those who once had it still have what it takes to leave you wanting more.  And if the affirmation happens to come in the form of the legendary Betty White… well, then, so much the better.

On May 8, the former Golden Girl’s guest star appearance on Saturday Night Light (SNL) managed to not only validate her talent but also prove that SNL hasn’t quite lost its touch after all.

“All it took to reinvigorate a 35-year-old comedy show was the presence of an 88-year-old woman,” wrote Dave Itzoff of the New York Times. “The only real disappointment of the night was when the clock struck 1 a.m. and Ms. White and the cast had to step on stage to wave their goodbyes.”

As a matter of fact, numerous critics have not only declared White’s performance as “worth the wait” but several have expressed their hopes for White’s return on SNL .  The veteran comedian’s SNL stint was in the works for months before her debut, thanks in large part to an online campaign launched over Facebook.

 Over 3750,000 Facebook members signed a petition to have White host the late night comedy hour after seeing White appear in a Snickers commercial during this year’s SuperBowl.  In fact, the ad was such a big hit that by the next night, the Facebook campaign had already recruited 85,000 members

“It took on a groundswell,” said Lorne Michaels, the creator of SNL, in an interview with USA Today. “It isn’t something we would have said no to. [But the Internet buzz] validated that, ‘Oh, that’d be fun.’… It was the outpouring of affection from fans, and we feel the same way.”

If SNL’s ratings for the night are any indication, then Michaels made a wise choice.  On top of giving SNL the No. 1 ratings of the night, White’s appearance simultaneously brought in the highest ratings that SNL’s seen in 18 months.

Of course, White wasn’t the sole reason behind SNL’s ratings boost. 

The episode, which aired the day before Mother’s Day, paid homage to the women of comedy by welcoming back many of its female greats, including Tina Fey, Molly Shannon, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Rachel Dratch.

But it wasn’t the return of so many familiar faces that earned the show its Saturday success, though I’m sure they played their part.  The truth is that the real appeal of SNL’s Mother’s Day special was that it was genuinely funny. 

Frankly, it’s been a long time since I’ve managed to sit through an episode of SNL without finding myself falling asleep, waiting for the punch line, or finally giving up and turning off the set.

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