NEW YORK – Lorne Michaels announced that Saturday Night Live’s 2011 season, its 36th, will be the sketch comedy show’s final season.
Michaels, the show’s creator and head producer, cited lack of funds, a diminishing fan-base, and the expansion of websites like Hulu and YouTube as primary reasons for the show’s cancellation.
“There’s no competing with the internet,” said Michaels to a group of reporters outside his New York office. “People would much rather watch YouTube clips on their computers than tune into a real live television show.”
“It’s sad,” added Michaels, “ but the people who call themselves ‘fans’ of the show by watching it online are actually the ones putting us out of business.”
Saturday Night Live, once a mainstay of NBC’s Saturday night line-up, received abysmally low ratings for the past five seasons, prompting NBC executives to put pressure on the show’s producers to boost viewership and broaden its fan-base. In June of 2006, NBC executive Steve Burke threatened to pull the sketch comedy show off the air if it couldn’t increase its Nielsen ratings in five years.
“I saw that the show was headed down the tubes five years ago,” Burke, “and it’s been a financial burden ever since. My only regret is not pulling the plug sooner.”
Saturday Night Live premiered on October 11th 1975 on NBC Universal. Here’s the original cast:
Now in its 36th season, the show is often accused by critics as having “lost its edge” in terms of comedic quality and mass appeal. Here’s the current cast:
“SNL isn’t as funny as it used to be,” said Ray Colomb, a stand-up comedian in New York. “I don’t know whether it’s the writing or the acting or both, but the show just isn’t the same as when Dan Akroyd and Chevy Chase use to hang at 30 Rock.”
Others cited the fact that the sketches seem to go on long past they are funny. “They need a kill switch,” said Moses Johnson, another stand-up.
Yet despite the overwhelming criticism, some fans see no reason to cancel the show because of a few lackluster seasons.
“Saturday Night Live was an iconic television show,” said Gary Longman, a Boston area television critic. “It was an American tradition. It launched so many careers and inspired so many great movies. I’ll be sad to see it go.”
The last episode of Saturday Night Live will air on Saturday, May 14th, at 7:30 pm. A three-hour “farewell” special, the episode will feature hosts Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, and John Goodman, as well as musical guests Lil’ Wayne, Coldplay, and U2.