If "Saturday Night Live" was as consistently funny as its writers are onstage, we might have a show that earns its reputation as the most famous sketch comedy series in the country.
Last night, two its brightest writing talents took the stage for a supposedly sold-out (there were a lot of empty seats up front) show at the Pavilion, the recently built concert venue at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. “Weekend Update” host Seth Meyers headlined, and Colin Jost opened the show with an inspired set that was arguably as funny as the main attraction’s. He satirized Florida’s image as a hotbed of criminal crazy, suggesting a local-news drinking game in which you take a shot every time you hear the words “kidnap,” “gator,” “voodoo” and “cannibal.” He then took gentle ribs at “NCIS” and “True Blood.” But his best material consisted of skewering ITT Technical Institute for its antiquated commercials and the bizarre jobs it fosters – “a degree in VCR repair!”
Meyers followed with a rapid-fire, enthusiastic 45-minute set that touched on barfights, relationships, living abroad, Internet porn and, of course, politics. He discussed his two memorable conversations with President Obama and his performance at the 2011 White House Correspondent’s Dinner, which took place the very night SEAL Team Six was assassinating Osama bin Laden. Meyers joked that the event stole the national-news thunder from his own comedy set at the dinner: “10 years, and you waited until tonight?”
Meyers’ comedic style is best identified as elaborate storytelling colored by astute detours and footnotes, including the longest, most elegant setup to a fart joke I’ve ever heard. Even material that didn’t appear to inspire hilarity ended up landing in the realm of the funny, thanks to the strange, vivid, archaic caricatures Meyers created through his diction, voice manipulation and physicality (including spot-on impressions of Matthew McConaughey and Owen Wilson).
Unsurprisingly, political humor was the comedian’s strongest area of expertise, beginning with the 2012 Republican presidential candidates, like Michele Bachmann (“She had the eyes of someone who just found out Michele Bachmann had been elected president”); Herman Cain (“America isn’t ready for a black president with a cowboy hat – not for hundreds of years”); Rick Perry (“People say he was Bush 2.0. Isn’t he more like Bush 0.5?”); and Ron Paul (“I think Ron Paul still thinks he’s running for president”). He also found comic inspiration in the unusual nature of Barack Hussein Obama’s name: “It would be like someone running against Roosevelt with the name ‘Stalin Bitler.’”
Judging by audience reaction, Meyers had at least a dozen jokes that could have easily functioned as closers. But he picked a bona fide winner to finish the set: a selection of “Weekend Update” jokes, read from index cards, that NBC had deemed too offensive to air. Laced with lacerating social commentary, each one was funnier than the best jokes that actually make it on “Weekend Update,” hinting at just how brilliant the show would be if Lorne Michaels let the inmates run the asylum.