Dan Ruth - Among the Collectors

Dan Ruth - Among the Collectors

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Betty White Live


Who on earth wouldn’t give Betty White four thumbs up for her performance on Saturday Night Live? In a world riddled with computers that can jeopardize the world economy in the blink of an eye, and on a show that far too often fails at getting even one solid laugh per sketch, Betty White, in all her simplicity, was a revelation. For once, it seemed that the show’s often sluggish writers had finally stepped up to a challenge. The challenge wasn’t ideas for material, I’m certain the table was full. The challenge wasn’t even Bette White’s age, or her potential ability (or lack thereof) to memorize lines - the current SNL cast has proven time and time again that they, themselves, can’t memorize lines either. The real challenge for the SNL writing staff was to write sketches that would not fail their host. They had no choice but to add her into nearly every sketch, simply because she’s Betty White – a legend at 88, and every bit a star now than she was in her prime.

The show came out with guns a’blazing. It takes some serious balls to open SNL with a musical number, starring an 88 years old actress who’s not known for singing. Like any sketch comedy show, there were stinkers, and although Betty and Kristen Wiig had me in stitches from the start, White’s stand-out performances truly began as the Grandmother of MacGruber. Even though this sketch hardly deserved to be made into a major motion picture, it was very smart of SNL to hit the sketch three times. Regardless, here comes Betty out of no where, firing off the first memorable line of the evening; when MacGruber kneels to propose to his aging Grandmother, her responce was simply: “Are you out of your f*cking mind?” Yes, it’s fun to watch Betty White use profanity and it’s not because she’s a “dirty ol’ bird, but because she knows timing like the back of her hand. The woman is funny – period. What’s more is that she’s adorible. I would watch "CSI Sarasota" every week.

Every tepid sketch they seemed to throw at Betty White, she gave it her all and rose above the material. The latin sketch bombed, but there was Betty in a fright wig. The internal during Weekend Update bombed, as did the ill-faited worked-to-death inmate sketch starring Kenan Thompson, but once again, there was Betty, giving it 120% and firing a simple “Wizard of Ass” upon her exit and stealing the scene. White was a real trouper during the NPR one-note sketch about her “muffins” and another sketch starring Tina Fey as a Cencus worker, could have soared to the rafters. Like many other sketches last night however, it fell short of hitting a grand slam, even though White scored another homerun with “Ascertain? That used to be my stripper name." The touched and tickled White was more than gracious at the show’s end and I couldn’t be happier that I saw her. Watching tonight’s Saturday Night Live left me with three solid thoughts; that MacGruber will bomb at the box office, I will always love Betty White and finally that JZ should never do covers of bad songs with white guys.

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