For those of you who have a bit of gray in your beard, you probably remember a time when “Saturday Night Live” was genuinely funny.
For those unable to recall such times, scout’s honor, it’s actually true. There was a generation of talented comedians who bolstered the show for years, such as Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Rob Schneider and Chris Rock, just to name a few.
Alas, SNL may now be guilty of a crime even worse than merely being unfunny. They are, apparently, flaming hypocrites who are every bit the snooty elitists they so often try to skewer.
As COVID-19 restrictions have ravaged all manner of businesses across the country, smaller comedy clubs have not been immune.
But, as The New York Times reported, SNL has managed to avoid those same restrictions by paying their audience members $150 a pop. That technically makes the audience cast members, allowing SNL to circumvent coronavirus bylaws.
It’s as weaselly and conniving as it gets in New York, which is actually quite the feat.
SNL, which often champions itself against the perceived elites of society, seems smugly self-satisfied to pull a page from the elitist playbook by just throwing money at the problem, a solution that is sadly unavailable to most comedy club owners, such as Dani Zoldan.
“From the perspective of a comedy club owner, it’s frustrating, day in and day out, to bear witness to this loss and see that every Saturday night ‘SNL’ is allowed to produce their show indoors, seemingly in violation of the same laws crushing small businesses all over New York City,” Zoldan said, referring to small businesses being shut down by restrictions.
“They have a live studio audience and the cast members are not social distancing,” Zoldan added. “I was watching the show Saturday night and I was so upset that struggling comedy clubs are going out of business while they’re doing their thing and collecting a paycheck.”
To be fair, Page Six does note that an SNL source said the show’s “participants are in complete compliance with the rules and regulations set forth by the government.”
“These protocols include a pre-screening as well as same-day COVID testing of anyone working on or participating in the show. In addition, they must abide by all regulations including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings.”
An NBC spokesperson also told Page Six that “NBCUniversal has implemented extensive safety measures that meet or exceed recommended industry protocols for productions and public health guidelines.”
But whether SNL is following proper COVID-19 guidelines is beside the point. The bigger issue is something similar to what’s being done to other small businesses in the wake of the pandemic.
Namely, places like Stand Up NY and other small businesses are getting waylaid, many permanently, by coronavirus restrictions while the businesses that can best handle those same restrictions are using their resources to flaunt and circumvent the rules.
How is it any “safer” for SNL to have their studio audience because they can afford to pay them? That makes no logical or scientific sense.
And if all it takes to have a studio audience is some extra money, what’s the point of these destructive restrictions in the first place? Places like Stand Up NY should have every bit the green light to open back up if the only difference between SNL and them is a big stack of cash.
Last I checked, $150 doesn’t make anyone more or less susceptible to the coronavirus.
You just wouldn’t be able to tell that by watching SNL skirt the rules.
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