Church Lady returns to SNL with reality stars, Justin Bieber, but nostalgia isn’t kind

Dana Carvey hosted Saturday Night Live last night, and his return included appearances by his characters from the Church Chat and Wayne’s World sketches, and by SNL players as reality stars (skip to the end and watch it first if you want to be surprised) Kourtney, Khloe, and Kim Kardashian and Jersey Shore‘s Snooki. Justin Bieber also had a cameo. But the result wasn’t as awesome as it should have been.

I grew up on Carvey’s era of SNL from 1986 to 1993, and along with other shows from that time like all-time favorite The Golden Girls, it definitely helped to shape my sense of humor and sense of the world. So I’m one of the people the show is targeting when it brings back Carvey and these characters from the time period that’s often referred to as the show’s golden age–which Carvey’s monologue addressed.

But watching this was kind of sad. The Church Lady sketches were enough to make my 9- to 16-year-old self collapse in hysterical laughter, but this was more about waiting for her punch lines to return, which isn’t surprising or entertaining like it was when they were actually surprising or surrounded by entertaining material. Perhaps it’s humor for teenagers, but it seems like the writers decided to bring back the Church Lady rather than having strong writing that justified bringing back the Church Lady.

For me, Justin Bieber was actually the best part, since just agreeing to be in the sketch, never mind the mugging he does, demonstrates that he’s willing to make fun of himself and even be a bit edgy. In 25 years, will he come back, and will all of his fans watch and wonder what they saw in him?

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.