Lesson #132: "Using SNL to Make Fun of Yourself, So People Will Stop Making Fun of You"
So you’re a celebrity. And so you’ve very publicly done something dumb and/or embarrassing, and you’re getting endlessly railed on every time you open a magazine or turn on the television. Something must be done to reverse this potentially career-damaging negative press – and fast! Thank goodness for a little program called Saturday Night Live.
You see, ever since Lorne Michaels’ seminal late night comedy program decided to stop being funny and start being Access Hollywood, celebrities have been given the wonderful opportunity to appear on the show, lightly parody themselves and their latest hi jinx, then be absolved of any sort of wrongdoing or scandal in the public eye. It’s a strategy that works, over and over again.
1. Drew Barrymore – After appearing bra-less on the Golden Globes (the "least supported actress", as it were), Drew Barrymore knew that she was facing a lot more than the catty comments of viewers who caught her performance on the show. What better way to combat the endless "worst dressed" lists and tabloid criticism than by taking the offensive and inexplicably showing up in the middle of Weekend Update with big, floppy boobs as if to say, "Yes, I realize I should stop being such a hippie and start using a bra next time I’m going to be broadcast to millions of viewers. Leave me alone."
2. Mike Meyers – When Kanye West abruptly shared his opinion of President Bush with the world during a live telethon for Hurricane Katrina, a genuinely shocked Meyers stood silently, wearing an expression of sheer helplessness and confusion. People talked about his lame reaction almost as much as they talked about West’s bold statement, so in order to make up for his surprising lack of humor, Meyers showed up at SNL a few weeks later when Kanye was on the show to re-live the moment once again.
3. Paris Hilton – At the height of her sex tape scandal, Hilton appeared on Weekend Update to do a bit where Jimmy Fallon ostensibly calls her a slut. Actually, this didn’t do much to repair her reputation, she just likes being on TV.
4. Paula Abdul – After being accused of having a "conflicting interest" (that means they were doing it) with an American Idol contestant, Abdul showed up on Weekend Update to make fun of herself. The scandal was subsequently forgotten, and millions of people continue to tune in every week to watch the "fair judging of legitimately talented performers".
5. Lindsay Lohan – With seemingly endless tabloid reports of her hard-partying, anti-eating ways, LiLo showed up to do a "Teen Mentoring" segment with Amy and Tina on Weekend Update. By the end of the bit, she’s managed to convince the audience that she’s actually a virginal health-nut who enjoys quiet nights at home reading before her 9pm bedtime.
And these are just a few examples of how SNL isn’t a comedy show so much as it is a Celebrity Public Image Repair Shop. Coming soon: Tom Cruise’s appears on Weekend Update and has a threesome with Amy and Tina.