Robert Smigel is a comedy writing legend. The genius behind some of the best sketches "Saturday Night Live" ever did, at the absolute peak of the show's power. Perhaps the greatest of which was the animated "TV Funhouse" shorts, which were diabolically sharp and hilarious. He also wrote for Conan O'Brien and the short lived "Dana Carvey Show," which is the subject of the documentary "Too Funny to Fail," which I can't recommend enough, so long as you can find it.
So when Smigel went on Howard Stern, it was no surprise that he'd be asked about the iconic Patrick Swayze/Chris Farley "Chippendales" sketch. No one who's a fan of SNL would keep it off their short list of the funniest moments in the show's history. Or in TV history, for that matter. There's zero chance that anyone reading this has never seen it, but I'll post it anyway, just to spread joy to an increasingly bleak, dreary world:
It is objectively hilarious. Farley's performance is a perfect blend of straight acting, deadpan humor, athleticism, physical comedy, grace and even a little pathos. If you showed this to people on Death Row or elderly patients dying in a nursing home, they'd laugh. You don't even have to have ever heard of Chippendales or even speak English to derive happiness from it. And the fact that Smigel had to defend this skit from someone who claimed it "was the first step toward killing" Farley is all the proof we need that the human race is fucked up beyond all chance at redemption.
If I remember correctly, in the Farley documentary that came out a while back, Bob Odenkirk said he was not a fan of it. I believe he said it's just "fat man fall down" level humor. He was Farley's friend, felt it was lowbrow humor, and I respect that. But it's missing the point. For all his personal demons, Farley's greatest gift was the ability to make fun of himself. Which was a gift he gave to himself and us. It was self-deprecation. And we loved him for it. We were laughing with him, not at him. From the Chippendales skit to the Gap Girl stealing fries to "Fat man in a little coat" from "Tommy Boy." Smigel is right when he says him dancing alongside a perfect specimen like Swayze was empowering. If we can celebrate Lizzo and plus-sized models on magazine covers, it shouldn't be hard to appreciate a heavy set guy dancing with his shirt off to make us laugh.
I get that tastes change. What once was funny doesn't stay funny forever. At one time, everybody in America had every line of Eddie Murphy's "Raw" committed to memory. But telling those same jokes today would get you banned. And that's not always a bad thing. But if material like the Chippendales skit stops being funny, than nothing is funny. This world will no longer be worth saving and I, for one, will be rooting for the meteor to come and put us out of our misery.
P.S. Smigel went on to say that his favorite thing he ever wrote was "Clucky the Chicken." He couldn't be more right.
As Clucky would put it, holy fadoly, is this era of the show an insult to the golden days of Farley, Carvey, Phil Hartman and the rest. Ga-ga-ga-going.