This week NBC’s Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th anniversary. In this day and age, it is rare for a show to have such a long successful run, especially for a variety-sketch show. The show celebrated with an incredible star-studded party. It was attended by previous cast members, musical guests, and hosts. Of course, it all occurred around a three and a half hour live show. It is a marvel how it became so successful and recurred.
Probably one of the first successful shows like Saturday Night Live was the Carol Burnett Show, which ran for an impressive 12 seasons from 1967 to 1978. The Carol Burnett Show also featured an ensemble cast. In addition, the show featured a wide variety of guest performers including Lucile Ball, Carol Channing, Betty White and Steve Martin. The latter two also appeared on SNL and celebrated on Sunday. Not only did it create a massive following for Carol Burnett herself, who was awarded the Mark Twain Award in 2013, but also it set a precedent for Variety shows.
One of the most important things that Saturday Night Live uses is the cycles of cast members. The show began with a small cast of Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris and Chevy Chase. The cast has expanded, and different groups have had different amounts of success in the show. I started watching back in 2005 with performers like Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler headed the show.
The show’s alumni have had continued success, and they usually bring in other cast members to star in their projects. Will Ferrel and Molly Shannon have a famous relationship as contributing to projects together including SuperStar and Talladega Nights. Seth Meyers has his nightly show with fellow cast member Fred Armisen as band leader.
Can it continue?
Short answer is that the outlook is very positive. The anniversary itself was reported by Variety to break 23.1 million viewers and millions of tweets on Twitter. Any criticism they receive they take into account, such as the complaint of lack of minority female presence leading to the casting of the amazing So sheer Zamata. It has been a long time coming, generations can remember their favorite SNL jokes, and it will continue for further generations.