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October 6, 2015

Why Abe Vigoda Should Host 'SNL'

by Danny Gallagher, posted May 12th 2010 4:03PM
Abe Vigoda as Fish on 'Barney Miller'Betty White's recent hosting duties on 'Saturday Night Live' didn't just score a coup for a bunch of Facebook friends with nothing better to do than poke random strangers in a completely platonic way. It was a huge for coup for White.

She's a celebrated actress with a long career that most modern TV stars won't even come close to having, even if her popularity re-surged because of a cameo in a Super Bowl commercial for Snickers. Her performance in that ad made for hilarious viewing, though it helped that every other ad stunk on ice worse than a 'Godfather'-themed ice skating show.

But another famous and equally-storied face had an equally big laugh in the same ad. Those of us who were sober enough to remember it might have recognized TV and film actor Abe Vigoda getting a muddy, full-body smackdown as the team's tired quarterback. His appearance didn't have as many lines, but it got just as big of a laugh.

It's hard to make lightning strike twice in the same bottle, but if anyone could do it, Fish could.

He has just as long of a celebrated career as the 'Golden Girl' that stretches to just about every corner of the pop culture landscape from shows like 'Barney Miller' to classic films like the original 'Godfather.' His career is ripe for parody in just about every direction.

He also seems pretty spry for a guy from his epoch. He might not be able to throat punch guys like he used to, but he still has an angry air of respect that surrounds him, an aura of "Don't mess with this old guy." If 'SNL' can't tap into that energy for a sketch, they should just put a bullet in the whole production by the end of the season.

And unlike Mrs. White, he's already got some serious street cred in the modern comedy universe from his punchline long appearances on shows like 'Late Night with Conan O'Brien' and some of the early Comedy Central roasts.

That's really the key to being a successful 'SNL' host. You have to have a really good sense of humor about yourself. You have to be willing to lay your entire career and persona before the public and let the cast and yourself walk all over it while you have a big smile on your face. Abe has that facet in spades. He's appeared over and over again in situations where people make fun of him and he's always the guy in the room with the biggest smile on his face.

And Abe has been the butt of some very mean jokes (I remember Jeffrey Ross once remarked of him during the Drew Carey roast, "My only wish is that Abe Vigoda were still alive to see this" as Abe sat on the dais), but he always seemed to appreciate them for the honor that they are. An 'SNL' host invitation is just about the biggest honor you can get, even if half of the jokes are about him "dying on stage."

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Would someone please teach Danny Gallagher how to write? This article is difficult to read/understand. I have much better writers in my 7th grade English class. Truly very pitiful writing for a "professional".

May 13 2010 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

SNL hasn't been good,since the days of Gilda Radner,Chevy Chase,Jane Curtain etc.I saw the "new" people take over and the show stunk.I haven't watched it since.I'm sure they brought Betty on for the ratings boost,and they got their wish.Now that she's done it,the ratings will sink right back into the gutter.The show is not funny.

May 13 2010 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Phyllis Diller is still alive

May 13 2010 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cloris Leachman just gets weirder and weirder. I'm pretty sure I don't want to see her raising her skirt for an hour and a half.

May 13 2010 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Abe would be at least as funny as half the guest hosts I've seen on SNL.

May 13 2010 at 2:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeffrey H. Baer

I'd love it if someone launched a campaign to get me on "SNL" as a host...

May 13 2010 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do remember Fish from Barney Miller and the spin-off, Fish. I don't know about commercials that are the same in context or content, but just a different face. That is absolutely unimaginative. Anyway, I don't think anybody could touch Betty White in the humor department because she has been blessed with the genuine gift of funny.

May 13 2010 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The author also sems to forget that Betty White wasn't revived because of that commercial. She's been doing cameos in movies like Lake Placid and The Proposal over the past few years. She's been in with the younger generation for awhile. Abe hasn't done anything so far as I can tell except for that commercial.

May 13 2010 at 1:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

think that Cloris Leachman would be perfect for SNL!!!

May 13 2010 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does anyone proofread this stuff? It was a huge coup for White not a huge for coup for White as stated in the first paragraph

May 13 2010 at 12:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to David's comment

well, either they changed it or you read it wrong to begin with

May 13 2010 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The first paragraph has not been fixed.

May 13 2010 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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