Amy Poehler was such a titanic presence on Saturday Night Live that it’s going to take two women to replace her. Starting with the broadcast this weekend, hosted by Paul Rudd, Michaela Watkins and Abby Elliot will be joining the cast in featuring roles. Both women have sketch comedy experience, having previously worked in Los Angeles–Ms. Watkins with The Groundlings, Ms. Elliot at the UCB Theater. And if their names ring a bell, that wouldn’t be surprising either. Ms. Watkins has appeared on many television shows, most recently in a guest-starring role on The New Adventures of Old Christine, while Ms. Elliot is the daughter of former Saturday Night Live cast member Chris Elliot.
Thanks to YouTube, we were able to check out part of their respective audition reels for Saturday Night Live, and we can happily report that both women are pretty funny. Ms. Watkins reminds us of a slightly more madcap Lisa Edelstein from House. She’s warm, endearing and clearly good at playing obtuse and crazy. For us, the problem with her reel is that she’s completely outshone by actor Eddie Jemison, better known as Livingston Dell from the Ocean’s movies. If Lorne Michaels is looking to add another male cast member, maybe he can give Mr. Jemison a call. Seriously. Watch this clip and tell us he wouldn’t immediately be the funniest dude on the entire show.
As for Ms. Elliot, it would be very easy to dismiss her for any number of reasons; she’s the daughter of a famous comedian, she’s only 21-years-old and she’s extremely attractive (we believe the clinical term is “hot”). And yet, despite all those comedic shortcomings, her audition tape is hilarious. Ms. Elliot’s impressions of Drew Barrymore and Joan Cusack are spot on, but we found her energy to be the highlight. She has a good nature about her that is positively contagious–it’s the same quality that makes Tina Fey so funny. Ms. Elliot already seems like a natural fit to play against Kristen Wiig’s whispering low-key passive aggressiveness.
Meanwhile, in other late-night sketch comedy news, we’re sad to report that Fox has canceled Mad TV. Currently in its fourteenth season, the show’s creator, David Salzman, said he will try to shop it to a cable outlet. We could sit here and take plenty of shots at Mad TV, but the undeniable truth is this: when it premiered in 1994 no one thought it would last a year. Now, fourteen years later, it’s still on the air… and as unfunny as ever. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)