The first thing I did when I got my review copy of Stephen Tropiano’s Saturday Night Live FAQ was to squeal in delight and wave the book around excitedly. The second thing I did was to spill tea on it. Not a lot of tea, just a drop on the top edge, but I don’t spill things on books. I am not that person. I never wanna BE that person, and so, Saturday Night Live FAQwas set aside for far longer than anyone can consider professional and for reasons that could easily serve as the basis for an SNL sketch.
I’m trying to be mature about all this, but OMG there’s TEA on the book. Okay, so your copy will not have tea on it as I’m sure you’re a better person than I’ve turned out to be, but the contents will still be awesome. When I think FAQ, I picture a lonely one-page list buried at the bottom of a web page. Saturday Night Live FAQ is not that. Instead it’s a thorough compendium of the show’s history, evolution, ever-changing cast, musical guests, hosts, highs, lows, and everything in between. It highlights each era of the show’s thirty-eight year run, breaking down what did and did not work, and giving us all an enlightening but entertaining walk down memory lane.
The book also includes segments on Weekend Update, the show’s most controversial moments, the characters and catchphrases that took on a life of their own, sketches that made their way to the big screen in the form of Hollywood movies, and as an appendix (just a lil ol’ thing), we’ve got a 120 page episode guide listing the air date, host, musical guest, and highlights of every single show. This book tells me it was April 18, 1992 the day I went to see Wayne’s World with my cousin and came home and watched Annie Lennox sing “Why?” on SNL. That’s kind of what makes this book relevant: Saturday Night Live has long been ingrained in people’s lives and served as a reflection of its times. Sometimes you can totally identify a date by what was on SNL that night.
Even if you only watched for a five year stint at some point in the show’s run, you undoubtedly have pretty vivid memories of those episodes. If you watched reruns, there were probably things that were out of context by the time you saw them. Saturday Night Live FAQ fills in just about every blank you can imagine, and does so in a breezy, readable way. It may be a thick, intimidating tome. This copy may have tea on it. But it’s still an intriguing and enjoyable read.