TV

Call for Papers: 'Saturday Night Live' - Comedians, Catchphrases, and (Occasional) Social Commentary

Will Saturday Night Live ever die?

Pitch Deadline: Monday, August 31st

Final Essay Deadline: Monday, September 21st

Please send pitches to: giannini@popmatters.com, cc: zarker@popmatters.com

Email subject line: PopMatters / SNL – Still Alive

Like the late-night creature that it is, Saturday Night Live seems nearly unkillable. Started by Baby Boomers, reborn for a Gen X audience, and still watched by millennials, SNL has managed to stay, if not always relevant, at least on the air.

Seven presidents, two Iraq Wars, and numerous other sketch shows seeking the SNL crown have come and gone since George Carlin hosted the first episode in October 1975. What keeps a show—a comedy show, no less—around that long? The talent? The recurring characters, from Belushi’s Samurai to Cecily Strong’s “A One-Dimensional Female Character from a Male-Driven Comedy”? The commentary (and sometimes controversy) on the issues of the moment? Will SNL ever die? What is this constant human need that SNL feeds? (Or are we feeding it?)

With the 40th anniversary of the first show in mind (and SNL entering its 41st season), we're looking for smart (and we encourage funny) essays (min. 1,200 words) on:

SNL All-Stars: Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wiig, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, etc., and how their work on SNL was instrumental to their careers

From the dead letter office: Forgotten parts of SNL (e.g., the Muppets/Jim Henson on SNL/Robert Downey Jr. and Anthony Michael Hall)

The evolution of Weekend Update: From Chevy Chase to Colin Jost

The Perils of Live: From Charlie Rocket’s F-Bomb to Sinead O’Connor’s papal smackdown

Dr. Evil: The cult of Lorne Michaels

“The most miserable experience of my life”: speculation as to why some performers don't catch on/flourish on SNL, regardless of talent (Janeane Garofalo, Casey Wilson)

Garrett, Cleghorne, and Morgan: SNL's minority representation problem

The Five-Timers Club: SNLs most popular hosts (Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Justin Timberlake)

What's all that noise? Music on SNL (from iconic musical performances, to disastrous performances, to the use of original and adapted music in skits, etc.)

The explosion of the digital shorts phenomenon, from “Dick in a Box” to “YOLO”

SNL's political voice and its ability to both skewer and influence

Shorts: 800 words or so, spotlighting certain recurring skits (Wayne's World, Celebrity Jeopardy, Matt Foley, Miley Cyrus Show, etc.)

Features are a minimum of 1,200 words long (no max.). We will consider shorter articles, which would include videos and songs, as well.

With special thanks to Jessica Suarez.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

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Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

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