Wednesday, May 25, 2011
TV TOPIC: Which Funny Ladies of Hollywood Should Host "SNL" Next Season?
So once that seed was planted in my mind, I started to think of other female entertainers who've yet to grace the "SNL" stage and could possibly hold their own in a few sketches. I went through all of the TV shows I currently watch and all of the upcoming films of the summer, and came up with the ladies in the collage below.
At first, Eva Longoria was on my list, because she is the funniest person on "Desperate Housewives," but I was surprised to learn that she already hosted in 2005, back when she was banging a teenage gardener and the series was hot. Then I added Jane Lynch, but she hosted in 2009, the year "Glee" debuted. So then I remembered how funny Jennifer Aniston was in Just Go With It and in the trailer for Horrible Bosses, but after a quick search, I learned that she's already hosted "SNL" twice (1999 & 2004) at the pop culture peak of "Friends" and the end of it.
As I continued to brainstorm, however, I managed to compile a list of the genuinely funny, grossly-neglected ladies of comedy. Some critics and fans have called "SNL" stale in the last decade and sparsely funny. I think one way they could at least change it up a bit is to have theme episodes. The 2011 Fall premiere episode should be a 2-hr special casting actors from the top TV shows in all of the skits, from Jon Cryer ("Two and a Half Men") to, yes, Leighton Meester ("Gossip Girl"). Think about it. Viewers haven't seen them all summer and "SNL" would be the first place they could.
That said, here's why each of the TV actresses in the collage above should be allowed to guest host (either individually or in an ensemble special):
• Zooey Deschanel (500 Days of Summer) has a new FOX series coming in the Fall called "The New Girl," and even though the promo is hilarious, I think she would benefit from proving to America that she can be mainstream funny and not just indie funny...since Yes Man did a poor job of that.
• Sofia Vergara is one of many breakout stars on "Modern Family," but she had the least exposure and success prior to the series. It would be interesting to see how much range she has comedy-wise. Not to mention, it's obvious she has no qualms about making herself look crazy.
• Lea Michele may be a Broadway-trained singer who plays a naive and enterprising teenager on "Glee," but we've yet to see what she can really do, since most of her resume is from the Great White Way.
• Leighton Meester may play a Queen B on "Gossip Girl," but if Blake Lively was allowed to host in 2009, then I think the funniest character with the best lines should get a shot too. Disclaimer: There must be a Dorota cameo.
• Mindy Kaling is not only a supporting character on "The Office," but also a writer. It would be awesome if she got to host the show and write some of the skits. As for her ability to pull-off surreal and politically incorrect characters, which is the "SNL" trademark, you just have to watch a few Kelly-centric episodes to know that Kaling has no problem making a fool out of herself.
• Elizabeth Banks is one of many "30 Rock" guest stars that insert themselves into the wacky world of Liz Lemon and turn out crazier than she is. But she is one of very few that are almost as funny as the "SNL" alum. Banks has a very eclectic resume, bouncing from TV to film, drama to comedy. She's proven she's malleable and I think, given the right material, she could bring down the house.
• Rashida Jones ("Parks & Recreation") is normally relegated to the girlfriend or best friend roles, playing the straight-man to another actor's absurd persona. But I think she's lived amongst the animals long enough to be able to emulate them.
• Aubrey Plaza is hilarious as the deadpan disinterested Daria-come-to-life character on "Parks & Recreation," but it would be great to see if she has any range. And even if she doesn't, she could totally be Debbie Downer's little sister or even do an Emily the Strange skit.
As for the film actresses, I think, despite Jessica Alba's unfortunate foray into all things lame (Good Luck Chuck, The Love Guru, Spy Kids 4, etc.), she's at least proven that she can do slapstick and that she has no real self-respect. Sally Hawkins was hilarious in 2008's off-beat British indie Happy-Go-Lucky. I'm not sure how many European imports "SNL" has had, but I am sure that if they considered calling on a few of the Queen's compatriots (Hawkins, Ricky Gervais, Rowan Atkinson, etc.) they would at least get to diversify their type of skits. Lastly, there's the adorable Charlyne Yi (Paper Heart), who has carved out her own place in comedy with extremely untraditional stand-up, well-scripted talk show appearances, and innovative concepts. I would definitely tune in for a Charlyne-produced "SNL" episode. In fact, there are actually a few comedians I'd love to see curate an "SNL" episode, including Demetri Martin and Bo Burnham.
Singers have become increasingly allowed to host the show as well, which is probably, in most part, because of Justin Timberlake's success. And for singers who want to start acting, I think it could be a helpful test-drive. There are several current artists who have a certain theatricality to their public persona and therefore are no strangers to acting. Three female performers that should get the full-episode treatment are: Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, and Lady Gaga. They were pretty hilarious when they did a few skits during their musical guest appearances: Katy poking fun at her "Sesame Street" scandal on Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph's "Bronx Beat" talk show skit, Nicki in The Lonely Island "Creep" digital short, and Gaga in the "What's That Name?" game show skit with Timberlake.
Ultimately what "SNL" producers should do is sit down and remodel the entire series. Adapt. They've already embraced the genius that are The Lonely Island digital shorts, and The Weekend Update is a solid offering. But they need to step it up if they want the comedy legacy to continue.