SNL's Chris Rock, Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell
Saturday Night Lives reputation as a breeding ground for the Hollywood comedy industry Murray, Martin, Aykroyd, Chase, Murphy, Myers and Belushi all got their breaks on the show is, frankly, slightly undeserved. After all, the sketch show has recently given us the ho-hum likes of Chris Kattan, Chris Farley and Jimmy Fallon.
But the production line does still work, as these three discs, showcasing the early efforts of a ridiculously young Chris Rock, Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell three of the biggest names in funny flicks today aim to prove.
However, theres one big problem: perhaps due to the pressures of writing and performing for live TV every week, the material is often patchy, overlong, and crucially not that funny. In particular, the Rock and Sandler discs, each just over an hour long, are weak. Rock is not a sketch comedian, his material only coming alive on stand-up rants about politics, crime and race, while Sandlers angry young man schtick is hidden beneath a surfeit of comedy songs that wouldnt have got past the Two Ronnies script editor.
Ferrells disc, though also hit-and-miss, is better. A true one-off, as gifted at physical comedy as he is surreal wordplay, Ferrells versatility and full-on approach gave SNL a rare edge. Check out the utterly barmy Jeopardy skit, or his spot-on take on the ass-licking Inside The Actors Studio head cheese, James Lipton, for early proof that here was a comic talent too big to be contained by a show whose best days are long, long behind it.