Never Too Old to Make America Laugh

By Jordan Walker

Betty White didn’t disappoint on last night’s episode of “Saturday Night Live.”

While ratings of last night’s episode of “Saturday Night Live” won’t be released until Monday, it’s bound to be one of the most watched episodes of this season. The much-awaited episode, hosted by legendary actress Betty White, is finally coming to air after months of Betty White fever.

The revival of White fever began with her recent supporting role in the 2008 movie “The Proposal” alongside Oscar winner Sandra Bullock, and continued with one of the most memorable commercials from this year’s Super bowl (she was tackled into a huge puddle of mud in a Snickers commercial).

Betty White, at the glorious age of 88, graced the Studio 8H stage at Rockefeller Center for the first time. With no surprise at all, as she walked out to deliver her opening monologue, she got a warm welcome from the audience, yet remained as humble and sweet as can be. As the audience’s round of applause died down, White first and gave thanks to Facebook for starting the campaign that helped to get her the hosting gig on the show. The Facebook group, “Betty White to host SNL (please?)!,” was created by long time fan David Mathews to see if it could get attention and get the actress on the show. The group proved successful, and had over half a million members as of last night.

As a part of a Mother’s Day themed show, White was joined by former actresses of “Saturday Night Live,” including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch, Molly Shannon, and Maya Rudolph; and every sketch they all appeared in made us wish they were all still a part of the show in some way.

It’s hard for many guest host to fit in with the cast, get good and relevant material written for them, and be able to read their lines from the cue cards that are directly off stage without it being too obvious for the audience to notice. However, White flawlessly pulled off every sketch she was in, as if she was a veteran cast member, not a first time guest. All of her sketches were funny and the writers gave her good jokes, but she didn’t dominate all the jokes. They knew that it was a big episode for her, but they let the other cast members play off of her well. It would have been very hard to tell that this was her first time hosting the show.

The best sketch of the night was undoubtedly one with White, Gasteyer, and Shannon. Gasteyer and Shannon played talk radio hostesses, and White played an 88-year-old muffin cook, Florence Dusty. The sketch started out innocently enough, with an interview of Florence, but the tables quickly turned and the promised raunchiness of Betty White came out on screen. As Florence brought muffins for the host to sample, the word “muffin” quickly turned sexual. Hilarious lines from Gasteyer and Shannon included, “Your muffin is remarkably velvety,” and probably the best joke in the sketch was from Gasteyer to White: “I think we both assumed, and I think wrongfully, that a baker of your generation might tend toward a drier, crusty muffin.” This line made the audience roar in laughter.

White got her big laugh in the sketch when asked about a tangy taste in the muffin: “Is that a cherry?” “Oh no, my muffin hasn’t had a cherry since 1939!”

While there were barely any slow spots in this episode, there was a big disappointment: no “Golden Girls” sketch! Many people anticipated there would be a “Golden” sketch since “Golden Girls” has kept White relevant througout decades. However, the only reference was the “Golden Girls” theme song sung by the shows cast in a Digital Short.

The absence of a “Golden Girls” skit is an even bigger disappointment because former women stars of the past were on the show, which would have given the writers a perfect opportunity to let White play the naïve Rose Nyland one more time, while Gasteyer would have been a shoe in to play Dorothy, Molly Shannon as Blanche and Rachel Dratch as Sophia. What could have been a great sketch turned into a missed opportunity to get a sure many laughs.

The power of the Internet is the main reason why Betty White got the incredible opportunity to host “Saturday Night Live.” White’s popularity was evident leading up to the show with the multiple TV advertisements for the episode, and her popularity did not wane during or after the episode aired. The Facebook group campaign continued to get wall posts after her episode ended, praising her on what a great job she did on the show. And at one point during the show, White was the number one trending topic on Twitter. What other 88-year-old can claim that kind of popularity?

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