Who’s your favorite Weekend Update anchor? And what’s the funniest line or story from WU?
I know it’s tough to beat Chevy Chase; he started the whole thing, after all, and he set the bar high on day one.
But at some point (around Dennis Miller’s time, I’d say) WU kind of morphed from “fake news” to “format for telling jokes about current events.” While the former was probably more clever, I actually prefer the latter just in terms of average laughs-per-segment.
And in that format, I always enjoyed Norm MacDonald. He followed Miller in the Update chair, and kind of kept Miller’s smart-assery, but without the annoying smugness. I’ve always liked Norm’s timing and delivery. The guy just makes me laugh.
A favorite MacDonald line was actually a very silly joke, but not a dumb one, and Norm sold it with his delivery.
(A little setup is required if you don’t remember a band called “Better Than Ezra.” They had a hit song out at the time.)
“In entertainment news, Better Than Ezra scored the number one song on the Billboard charts this week.
Coming in at number two: Ezra.”
Dennis Miller will always be the one to beat for me (that is, until someone beats him. But no one has yet, IMHO).
My favorite lines, which I posted in the “favorite one-off sketches” thread, I’ll re-post here:
Funniest Weekend Update line - The setup - Joe Biden pulled out of the race for the 1988 Democratic nomination due to accusations of plagerism. A few months later, Gary Hart, who had pulled out due to an adultery scandal, returned to the race. Dennis Miller’s line: Gary Hart re-entered the presidential race, saying, “Let’s let the people decide.” A few hours later, Joe Biden re-entered the race, saying “Let’s let the people decide.”
My favorite Weekend Update line, though not what anyone would consider the funniest, was also by Dennis Miller (can you tell what age range I’m in? Sorry…): “This week, the People’s Republic of China announced that its population has reached one billion people. Do you realize how big a billion people is? That means that even if you’re a one-in-a-million kind of guy, there’s still a thousand of you walking around out there.”
The week Vanilla Ice was musical guest, WU opened with the dancing Statue of Liberty they used to have and the distinctive sounds of “ding ding ding da ding da” (or whatever you want to call it ) of the opening of Under Pressure/Ice Ice Baby. Miller looks right at the camera, smirks and says “God, I love Bowie”. Funny, since by that point Ice was getting flak for stealing music (as he should have).
Norm MacDonald is my all-time favorite. Best line: A new study says that people who stop smoking have healthier lungs. Another groundbreaking story from the medical journal “Duh”.
Also a chuckle from Jimmy Fallon: A professor at the University of Wisconsin says he’s found a way to take the bitterness out of cheddar cheese. Now, if he can only find a way to remove the arrogance from Wheat Thins.
Fr.Guido Sarducci’s commentary about “the take at the shrines being down” and the need for “Shrine-mobiles” because “if the people can’t drive to the shrines, you drive the shrines to the people” still cracks me up.
Actually, Kevin Nealon came between Miller and MacDonald, and he went for more of the deadpan, fake newscast style. I liked the way he did it and think he’s underrated, though I think MacDonald is probably my favorite.
Not a line, but when Amy Poehler and Tina Fey did their first WU together, Maya Rudolph came in dressed as a maid. They shuffled papers, avoided her gaze and mumbled nervously as she emptied their wastebaskets, then finally spoke up and thanked her (or something) as she left. It was perfect.
Seth and Amy’s “Really?!?” bit was actually pretty funny, and when they did the one focused on the football player (cant recall which one) who was caught trying to sneak his reefer past the TSA checkpoint at an airport, it was as funny as I had ever found Seth Meyer, who is usually way too smug and self satisfied for my tastes…
my favorite WU moment was when Colin Quinn first took over for Norm McDonald who was popular (for a particualrly dark time for the show) and just fired. Quinn gave a little speech about going to your favorie bar and suddenly there’s a new bartender. The drinks are the same even if the guy giving them to you is different.
Second favorite was when Chris Farley was giving a rant (his quotation marks guy. Just imagine the Matt Foley character punctuating thinks with quotes -Maybe I don’t “WASH THE AREA BETWEEN MY GENITALS AND ANUS PROPERLY” like some people) and he was supposed to be raised into the air and fly over the audience. He got stuck a few feet off the ground when the wires got tangled in the lights. Kevin Nealon and some techs quickly worked to untangle them and Farley sweeped over the audience yelling “I’m flying!” The camera went back to Nealon who said "Maybe the wires “didn’t clear the lights” ladies and gentlemen.
Sometimes WU can be the only funny part of an otherwise crappy show, and nothing proves that more true than the Norm McDonald era. The mid 1990s generally weren’t a good time for SNL, but Norm had some great material to work with. He got the OJ trial, the Clinton presidency, the '96 elections (where he played Bob Dole), and of course, the German love for David Hasselhoff. I love the way he would make outrageous (but usually correct) observations on the stories. Usually things most people would think to themselves or maybe keep to private conversation he would just blurt out on national TV. If only he’d have gotten to cover the Lewinsky affair…