Though there was no appearance by Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, last night’s launch of a special series of prime-time Thursday editions of “Weekend Update” from NBC’s Saturday Night Live was a comedy success anyway.
In fact, the inaugural Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday was as funny as its title was unwieldy.
The show began with a cold open, a presidential debate skit that doubtlessly would have opened SNL this weekend had a rerun not been scheduled. The imitations of the candidates, and of moderator Tom Brokaw, were strong, but the overall presentation was even stronger. Bits poking fun at the town-hall format, and the in-the-round setting, drew the biggest laughs from that segment. (See video below.)
The rest of the half hour was, as advertised, nothing more – or less – than a standard “Weekend Update” segment, with fake news, occasional guests, and a commentary or two.
Most impressive: the news items read by co-anchors Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers. Maybe because of the added pressure of prime time, or the relief at having a weekend off, the show’s writers responded with the strongest string of laugh-out-loud “Update” items I can remember. If you seek out the segment on NBC’s website (or on Hulu.com) pay close attention whenever O.J. is mentioned. Or cats, or Bollywood, or Sarah Palin.
For the premiere, everyone involved proved they were, without a doubt, Ready for Prime Time Players. I was worried these Thursday specials would dilute the SNL brand – but the opener, at least, was a full-strength, tasty dose.