I’m probably one of the few remaining people who actually try to watch Saturday Night Live, live if possible. I’m a stubborn fan. In college while applying for an internship with SNL I wrote in my cover letter that, “I was the cool kid in elementary school whose parents let him stay up and watch SNL, and in high school I was lame kid who stayed home on Saturday nights to watch it”. Today, I guess I’m a bit of both.
In any event this past Saturday was Kristin Wiig’s last show. There was a nice farewell to Wiig at the end of the show with Mick Jagger, Arcade Fire, and the cast dancing to She’s a Rainbow. It was very touching, but as when anyone leaves SNL I found myself wondering, why?
Despite its ups and downs Saturday Night Live seems like the most fun thing of which anyone could hope to be a part. With tears in her eyes, Wiig was clearly s ad to leave the show that made her a star as well as all of her cast mates who will stay behind to haphazardly attempt to fill the massive void left by the departures of such sketch icons as Penelope, the Target Lady, the third sister on the Lawrence Welke Show. Clearly, good times were had so why leave?
Because of the SNL precedent of peacing out after a cast member has achieved some modicum of fame. Pretty much every successful cast member has done this, but whether Wiig will follow in the footsteps of Fey, Farrell, Sandler, and Murray or those of Forte, Oteri, Mohr, and Piscopo remains to be seen. It seems like unless you’re Tim Meadows, you have to move on.
Tim Meadows was an average cast member who debuted on Saturday Night Live in 1991 and stuck around until 2000 when I think Lorne Michaels paid him $35 to leave. You probably don’t remember him from anything aside from being the black guy on the show who wasn’t Chris Rock or Tracey Morgan. For a long time I thought Meadows was a genius. He refused to allow some obligatory social cue dictate his life. He had a good thing going on SNL and he wasn’t going to leave. But then everyone else did.
Whether by abdication, firing, or being Chris Farely (RIP), the cast around Meadows changed and continued to change until he probably felt like a less funny version of Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused. As steadfast as he remained, the SNL Meadows loved still changed around him and by the time he realized it all he had was some nasty dreads and the unread script for The Lady’s Man 2: Ladying in DC, Slick Willy Returns.
|How has this movie not been made yet?|
Whether Wiig wanted to or not, she had to leave because her recent success has given her the best chance to achieve some personal goal. If one of her goals had been to have stayed on SNL forever, it wouldn’t have been possible. Old cast mates would have left, new ones would have arrived and it wouldn't have been the same SNL she had come to love.
I still haven’t signed anything for Mizzou (not that I’ve been asked) nor have I told my boss that I’m leaving, which has allowed me to harbor the possibility of staying in St. Louis if only as the faintest of options. I know I won’t, but I often think about if I would and what I’m giving up here for an uncertain future there. But like most things in life, this can be equated to Saturday Night Live.
As much as I love my life and the people in it right now, it won’t stay the same forever. That’s the simple and sometimes sad axiom of life. People get married, they leave town to take dream jobs, they leave town to take not dream jobs, lives unabatedly change and as much as I might want to trap these moments inside of some diabolical snowglobe, I can’t. The word spins madly on and we all must be willing and prepared, if not excited, to change with it. All I can do is relentlessly pursue my dreams and hope that somewhere along the way there’s a place where things aren’t in such inevitable flux and that maybe I can get there some day.
Leave it to the lady who routinely vomits while dancing on camera to give me some perspective—or at least provide me with an analogy to continually restate my perspective…