He’s Chevy Chase – and he sure is no fan of “Saturday Night Live.”
The famously crotchety comedian, 74, unleashed a torrent of criticism on the current state of the sketch show that launched his career back in the ’70s, and threw in some special jabs at series creator and producer Lorne Michaels.
“First of all, between you and me and a lamppost, jeez, I don’t want to put down Lorne or the cast, but I’ll just say, maybe off the record, I’m amazed that Lorne has gone so low. I had to watch a little of it, and I just couldn’t f--king believe it,” Chase said in a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post.
The show, which in recent seasons has played largely into politics by consistently mocking the Trump administration, has maintained steady ratings in recent seasons – not that that means anything to Chase.
“That means a whole generation of s--theads laughs at the worst f--king humor in the world,” he said. “You know what I mean? How could you dare give that generation worse s--t than they already have in their lives? It just drives me nuts.”
Chase, along with comedy legends like John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner, was one of the show’s original stars when it premiered in 1975.
He served as the original Weekend Update anchor, and popularized the phrase, “I’m Chevy Chase…and you’re not” before leaving the show in the middle of season two.
“I’d have to say, that after the first two years, it went downhill,” Chase said. “Why am I saying that? Because I was in it? I guess. That’s a horrible thing to say. But certainly I never had more fun. I really loved it and enjoyed it. I didn’t see the same fun thing happening to the cast the next year.”
“Saturday Night Live” has produced some major stars over the years, from Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers to Bill Hader and Amy Poehler.
But not all managed to tickle Chase’s funny bone.
He thinks Will Ferrell as George W. Bush was “just not funny,” and that while he liked Tina Fey, he didn’t understand what “all the folderol was about.”
Chase did, however, in his particularly Chevy Chase way, heap praise on Kristen Wiig (“I liked her a lot”) and Eddie Murphy (“I thought Eddie Murphy was funny”).
Regardless of Chase’s take on the show’s quality, “Saturday Night Live” is still kicking, and walked away with five Emmy Awards at Monday’s ceremony, which was hosted by Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che.
The comedian has returned to the Studio 8H stage to host eight times since his exit, with the most recent time in 1997.
The “Fletch” star told the Post that he asked Michaels six years ago if he could return as host once again – and Michaels said no, citing his age.
“I didn’t get it. ‘You’re too old’? We’d had many people older than me hosting,” Chase said. “What did he mean? I’ve never understood what he meant. Because I’d be very good, and it would be fun for an audience to see me doing that .… It’s like denying that I was the guy who made this show really go that first year. It’s like taking all that away from me.”
Chase added that he believes Michaels’ rejection was rooted in “pure regret and anger” over Chase’s decades-old departure, but according to Michaels, it was simply the wrong place and time.
“They were literally waiting for him to walk (his daughter) Cydney down the aisle,” Michaels recalled. “And he said, ‘I’m ready to host again.’ All I was saying was, ‘We have to stop this discussion now. You’re old and annoying.’ ”
He did, however, admit that Chase’s “shock stuff” type of humor would be more forgivable for a twentysomething than it would be coming from a 50-year-old or 60-year-old.