TV Review: ‘Saturday Night Live’ balances natural chaos, political future

Haley Boston, Columnist

About a quarter way through its 38th season, the sketch-comedy television show “Saturday Night Live” attempted to re-attract a recently dwindling audience with host Louis C.K. and musical act fun. Although guests throughout the season have been promising — such as the adorable actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and talented musician Frank Ocean — “SNL” fans became especially enthused by the news Emmy Award-winning writer, actor, director, editor, producer and stand-up comedian Louis C.K. would host the show. However, diehard “Louie” fans may have found the resulting episode disappointing because they expected too much of a new, inexperienced “Saturday Night Live” cast.

Louis C.K. is most famous for his uniquely dark and comedic mockumentary “Louie,” which walks viewers through the bleak life of a single father in his pursuit of salvaging his deteriorating career while attempting to restart his nonexistent love life. The series became increasingly gloomy with the conclusion of its third season and will not resume again for another year to give the creator a well-deserved break. This episode of “SNL” offers “Louie” fans a final taste of his honest and non-politically correct humor before enduring the sabbatical. For instance, the first skit of the episode centers on Abraham Lincoln (Louis C.K. in full costume) as he mingles with civilians and gets into trivial arguments with his wife, while adopting the familiar “Louie” style. Other skits poked fun at ridiculous interpreters for the hearing impaired, the absurdity of Australian cinema and paying hotel fees.

Shows like “Saturday Night Live” are expected to weave comedy into fresh and controversial topics surrounding pop culture and politics. Because this is the last episode before the presidential election, we would anticipate an overload of skits spoofing the debates or potential electoral outcomes. However, caught between political news and the serious effects of a natural disaster, writers of “SNL” had to make a decision. Similar to what they did during the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, comedic television (“SNL” in particular) creates an acceptable balance between respect and the laughter we all need for healthy recovery. For instance, Louis C.K.’s opening monologue touched upon the personal hassle attached to the task of helping a stranger in need, alluding to Hurricane Sandy with the appropriate amount of attention. “SNL” has done a fine job now and in the past when dealing with this type of predicament.

That said, “Saturday Night Live” is in a period of transition. Each time the show loses a valuable cast member, or group of cast members, fans become skeptical of the show’s potential. It seems unfamiliar and becomes frustrating when you realize you may never see another Digital Short or the hilarious Crazy Aunt Sue again. Although Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg may be irreplaceable, the newbies are fully capable of reaching the spotlight and becoming new household names.