Carly Rae Jepsen: Below the Top, Proudly

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Carly Rae Jepsen isn’t Taylor Swift. She seems perfectly fine with that. And so am I.

In fact, it’s probably better for everyone that her success, and her goals, are more modest. Jepsen probably couldn’t command a stadium or flaunt a Rolodex of famous pals with Swift’s conviction. And she definitely can’t sell albums or singles at a fraction of Swift’s impressive rate.

But she can sing, she can shimmy and last night at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, she shined.

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“SNL”: Post-Trump, Lots of Grump

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This past week was the worst one in a while for passionate Saturday Night Live defenders like me. In the run-up to this week’s episode, hosted by Donald Trump featuring musical guest Sia, a fervent crowd of SNL dissidents sprung up, as if from hiding, to diminish the cultural importance and creative vitality of a show they either haven’t watched in years or continue to watch while actively rooting against it. (Here are just two of many examples, from critics I otherwise respect: Buzzfeed’s Kate Aurthur and Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson.)

The argument that SNL has never been funny, I contend, is a product of unreasonable expectations. The show doesn’t proclaim to be consistent or even reliable. The live format inherently generates up and down weeks, high and low moments, strong and weak sketches. What makes SNL impressive is the frequency with which it succeeds at being funny despite the difficult production restrictions baked into it — tight schedule, collaborative workflow, competing motivations, high-pressure environment, no do-overs.

But every once in a while, I have to doff my cap to people who have written SNL off, and admit that for all of its highs, SNL is also capable of great lows. Last night’s episode represents the show’s nadir in the last five years, if not longer. And it’s on me, and anyone who watched, for expecting anything different.

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The M&M Report: “Saturday Night Live” Season 41

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On this episode of The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I looked back at the first three episodes of the new season of Saturday Night Live, remarking on the highs of Tracy Morgan’s triumphant return and the lows of Miley Cyrus’s…less triumphant return. Then we took previewed this week’s new episode with a discussion of whether it’s ethical, or advisable, to let Donald Trump host.

Since we recorded, the groundswell of groups urging NBC to cancel Trump’s stint has intensified. The network hasn’t backed down. Meanwhile, the customary promos featuring Trump and cast member Cecily Strong have generated controversy of their own.

Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening!