Over the past 40 years, “Live from New York” has become a universally known catchphrase for one of TV’s most popular comedy shows “Saturday Night Live." Ironically on Sunday night, the show celebrated its 40th anniversary with a star-packed lineup.
The amount of famous people involved in the episode is what made the episode’s three and a half hour length watchable. The show began with past-hosts Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake performing a song that referenced famous "SNL" skits such as "More cowbell," “D-ck in a Box" and several others. The introduction titles alone lasted over three minutes, purely the names of show’s special guests.
The show was a combination of new skits and replays of the show’s most popular past sketches. Steve Martin took the stage to talk about the importance of hosting the show as Tom Hanks, Melissa McCarthy, Paul McCartney and Billy Crystal joined him among others. At times throughout the show, the amount of famous people on stage overcame the lack of comedy in the various acts.
An early highlight of the show was the Jeopardy skit in which Will Ferrell played host, Alex Trebek. The contestants consisted of Jim Carrey, nailing the role of Matthew McConaughey and Darrell Hammond playing Sean Connery. The combined narration of a confused Ferrell made the skit even more hilarious.
The show’s purpose was more to celebrate the past 40 years rather than to make the funniest jokes. Jack Nicholson introduced the show’s funniest political sketches through the years. As the clips played, it showed how politically incorrect and daring the show could be. It gave the viewer a greater appreciation for the show.
Other famous skits such as “The Californians” which featured Betty White and Bradley Cooper, and “Weekend Update” with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler made for mid-show high points.
At moments, the show seemed to lack comedy for its depth of stars. Eddie Murphy’s return to the show was hyped up only to lead to his minute long thank-you speech that included no humor.
The show’s length was also problematic at times. The show’s three hour-plus duration provided enough time for all of the actors to be recognized but also dragged on at moments.
The show provided four musical performances from Miley Cyrus, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon and Kanye West. West’s upside-down singing of “Jesus Walks” and new song “Wolves” with guest Sia were the most memorable songs of the night.
Mike Myers and Dana Carver teamed up for “Wayne’s World” which was the night’s best skit. The duo repeatedly reminded Kanye West not to storm the stage as they revealed their top 10 list of "SNL."
The show ended with a performance by Paul Simon as the entire cast came on stage to say goodbye. Seeing all of the famous people that have come from "SNL" highlighted the true skill of the show’s producers at finding talent.
The night included some skits that lacked in humor but most of the sketches worked as they crammed as many celebrities as possible. "SNL 40" provided a well-deserved celebration of the show’s impressive 40-year history.