5 Comedy Franchises to Take Out Behind the Barn
Even beloved comedy franchises have to retire sometime — and isn’t it better to choose to hang ‘em up rather than have someone else decide you’re past your prime? In a world where even an unloved show like The Masked Singer is in its 10th season, we need to step back and evaluate just when enough is enough. Here are five treasured comedy shows that simply refuse to stop — but maybe it’s time for them to live out the rest of their days on a nice farm somewhere. At least, that’s what we’ll tell the kids.
First things first: I’m not going to say The Simpsons sucks now. The show still employs some of the funniest gag writers in the business, and any given episode is good for a few serious chuckles. It simply feels like it’s time to let Homer, Marge and the rest of the good people of Springfield take a little rest. There are only so many weird occupations that Homer hasn’t tried, only so many contemporary crypto-fads to exploit. Just throwing this out there — what if the weekly show retired, only to let the writers focus on a Simpsons feature film every three years or so? Call me crazy, but the last one made more than half a billion dollars in 2007.
Saturday Night Live
By all means, get to 50 years and give Lorne Michaels his flowers and a gold Gilly watch. But after that? Why not shutter the show in its original incarnation, then let Tina Fey, Seth Meyers or Kenan Thompson dream up something better engineered for the next 50?
The show as it is currently produced never really made sense beyond the coke-fueled 1970s run. Why stay up all night writing sketches on a Tuesday? Why give a talented staff of comics and writers only six days to dream up ideas, write sketches, rehearse and then perform when the comics are on the brink of exhaustion? (You can see where that coke came in handy.) It’s not a coincidence that Lonely Island and Please Don’t Destroy have been the most popular parts of the show in recent years — turns out that taking the time to edit a comedy piece and get it right is a good thing. So how about a reboot that keeps the best of contemporary sketch comedy while getting rid of the antiquated practices that drag the show down?
I’m not suggesting putting American Dad out to pasture because it’s past its sell-by date. I am suggesting shelving the show for the simple fact that no one realizes it’s still on. Season eight-freaking-teen? Seriously?
In the not-so-distant past, prank shows were the shit. Punk’d kept Ashton Kutcher in the cultural spotlight. Jackass took irresponsible stunts to a new level. And Impractical Jokers seemed to run all day on truTV with its goofy mix of cringe horseplay. Those shows in turn launched a million YouTube and TikTok channels full of wannabe pro pranksters attempting increasingly stupid and cruel stunts, all in a desperate bid for attention. Many of those guys get punched in the face for their trouble. Could the Impractical Jokers take a hint and shut it down before we snap and strangulate one of them? We need a prank reprieve.
The Daily Show
Let’s face it — even absent a New Yorker hit piece, Hasan Minhaj wasn’t going to save The Daily Show. While Trevor Noah’s run was well-respected, it never generated the water-cooler buzz of the Jon Stewart version, which was very much a product of a specific place and time.
The best parts of The Daily Show were transported to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, shows that have managed to remain on the margins of the zeitgeist while The Daily Show languished. The hunt for the next Noah or Stewart has aroused curiosity, but the show is destined to return to relative obscurity once it settles into a new routine. Maybe it’s time to just let go.