Last month, Saturday Night Live celebrated 36 consecutive years of live television. It’s a show like no other, and since the beginning back in 1975 producer Lorne Michaels hand selected stand-up comics and comedic actors to be featured in skits that spoofed everything from presidents to commercials, and in doing so, he launched the careers of some of the biggest names in Hollywood over the course of those 36 years. A lot of SNL recurring characters even made it to the movie theaters, like The Blues Brothers, Coneheads, and Wayne’s World. And this summer Ben and Jerry’s even named an ice cream flavor after both the subject of a memorable skit, Shweddy Balls, and a former Weekend Update actor, Jimmy Fallon, and his late night TV show. And Michaels’s hosts also used SNL as a career springboard, with major actors duelling for “most host” status.
This week’s SNL featured the star behind the Shweddy Balls skit, none other than the brilliant and hilarious dramatic and comedic actor, Alec Baldwin. Unlike Mel Gibson or Charlie Sheen, Baldwin is like Teflon–the guy bounces back from whatever missteps he causes or situations he stumbles into. But going back to his performance as a jerk on 40 episodes of Knots Landing (where he fell off a roof trying to kill his wife), attitude is just part of the guy’s schtick. In fact, if I was working on the re-launch of Dallas that is coming back next year, with Larry Hagman again as J.R. Ewing, I would resurrect Baldwin’s Joshua Rush to take over South Fork from J.R. (recall Knots Landing was a Dallas spinoff).
After his big death scene on Knots Landing the next big thing audiences saw was his role as a kindly husband who met an untimely end with Geena Davis in Beetlejuice. Baldwin is also the only actor able to fill the shoes of Jack Ryan in the Tom Clancy novels. There’s just no better Jack Ryan portrayal than Baldwin in Hunt for Red October opposite Sean Connery. From there Baldwin went on to receive critical acclaim in dramatic roles, usually as over the top, larger than life characters, in Glengarry Glen Ross, Mercury Rising, Pearl Harbor, The Aviator, The Departed, The Good Shepherd, and finally his current run back on network TV on 30 Rock. In The Cooler, he was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor, and his other roles have earned him Golden Globes and Emmys, with dozens of nominations.
As for Baldwin’s relationship with SNL, he is one of the few to belong to the Five Timer’s Club, a group of celebrities who has hosted the show more than five times. As host of 16 episodes, Baldwin has hosted more than any other person, followed by Steve Martin at 15 episodes (if you’re curious about recurring musical guests, two of my faves, Paul Simon and Tom Petty, lead that list). So what better time than now for 10 skits from Saturday Night Live to remind you why we like Alec Baldwin? For a bit of a change we’ve pulled most of the list from skits that didn’t make his “Best of SNL” DVD.
First up, if you don’t watch any other skit, just in time for the holidays, check out this first one from an alternate universe December 12, 2011, featuring Jimmy Fallon and Alec Baldwin, filmed over a decade ago:
Alec Baldwin’s Christmas Carol
The rest pretty much speak for themselves:
Baldwin Hijacks Ben Affleck’s Monologue
An Elf as only Baldwin Could Play
Awesome Infomercial for the Timecrowave
An Uncomfortable Confession with Priest Alec
As Charles Nelson Reilly, Inside the Actor’s Studio
And of course, Baldwin’s best “keep a straight face” skit (and one of the all-time most listed “best of” skits for all of SNL’s 36 years):
NPR’s Delicious Dish features Pete Schweddy