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The Van Gogh-Goghs' Fantasy SNL League

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard the news that Buckwheat had been shot. I didn’t know then how it would shape my identity, that it would affect changes in me like so many of the Baby Boomers after the Kennedy assassinations, that it would actually lead me into a different path in life. All I knew then was that the show I was watching was live from New York, and it’s was on Saturday night. And it was funny.

“Saturday Night Live” showed me the viability of sketch comedy as an art form, introduced me to new actors that quickly became favorites of mine, even pushed me into this here sketch comedy group (well, we’re more of a comedy collective now, but I bet we still have a performance or two left in us). Mind you, the show can’t take all the credit (or blame, depending on which side you’re on) for my decision to pursue sketch comedy (there’s a thing called Monty Python and a thing called Spinal Tap, but that’s for another time), but it was definitely the first to make me think how great it would be to perform for a living.

This Saturday, SNL begins its 32nd season, which makes me feel very old. Do you realize that some of the current cast members could be the children of the original cast? (Well, come to think of it, it’s probably more surprising to realize that one of the current cast members (Darrell Hammond) is in his 50s and old enough to be the father of most of his fellow cast members. That’s weird. Encouraging to the aging sketch comedians out in the world, but weird nonetheless). Unfortunately, it seems all the news I’ve heard so far about the new season has been negative. Budget cuts and departures have shrunk the cast, and most everyone I’ve talked to thinks Seth Myers as head writer and Weekend Update anchor will effectively finish the job that Charles Rocket and Anthony Michael Hall and Chris Elliott started: successfully killing “Saturday Night Live.” Boy, that’s a depressing thought. Just forget it. Forget I said anything. “SNL” will still be here, it will, it must, it has to! Now excuse me while I gently rock in a corner, murmuring to myself, “Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

Okay, I’m back.

As I was contemplating the new season, I tried to make the ultimate SNL cast, using anyone that has ever performed for the show. I was having so much fun with that idea, I thought I’d get the rest of the Van Gogh-Goghs into the act. But then I wondered, “How exciting would that really be?” We’d all pick Phil Hartman and Eddie Murphy and the big power players. There may be two or three differences, but each cast would be virtually the same. So, like every other great idea I’ve had in the past three years, I readily dismissed it in favor of working on my fantasy basketball team.

At this point, I’m diving into the NBA stats, trying to decide if Chris Paul or Gilbert Arenas would be a better point guard this year, when it dawned on me: we shouldn’t just name our favorite SNL cast, we should DRAFT our fantasy SNL cast, just like my fantasy NBA league (which I won last year… I’m not braggin’, just stating a fact).

The draft would be perfect. Sure, we’d all love to have Mike Myers, but when and over which other cast members would you pick him? Which newscaster would you want behind the desk?

I emailed the other Van Gogh-Goghs the idea, and everyone else agreed that it would be a fun challenge. Just like that, the VGG Fantasy SNL League was born.

I know you see the problem with this already. We saw it, too. How do you score this? With a fantasy basketball league, you can objectively quantify the benefits and risks of the players. If you need blocked shots, you’ll look at Andrei Kirilenko and hope last year’s shooting percentages and back injuries were a fluke. If you need rebounds, and you’re trying to choose between Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki, you can see that KG grabs more boards. It’s right there in the numbers.

But how do you quantify laughter? Comedy is subjective; you know this every time you meet a Dane Cook fan (is it just me who recalls a Dane Cook who was funny but not a tool? I miss two years of pop culture and now he’s the “coolest” thing around). Is it really possible to compare Dan Aykroyd and Adam Sandler? Gilda Radner and Will Ferrell? John Belushi and Finesse Mitchell? Okay, that last one, maybe you can.

How can we figure out who wins? Well, we can’t. But you can, and we’ll get to that in the coming days.

Before we can decide who wins, though, we have to have the casts. Each team will have six men, three women and a news anchor (more on that later), and can fill the spots with anyone who was a full cast member or featured player. Once a performer has been selected, the performer cannot be selected again. Comedy bits like Mr. Bill and Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey are not eligible to be picked.

As for the news anchors, every actor who has appeared as an anchor is eligible to be selected. Also, the news anchor part of the person is separate from the actor part. For example, if Jason picks Brad Hall as the news anchor, he cannot count in sketches unless Jason also drafts Brad Hall as an actor. If T. Mike picks Chevy Chase as an actor, he can’t use Chase as his anchor unless he also picks him as the anchor. Got it? Good.

The draft is a 10-round snake draft (the order of drafting in odd-numbered rounds is reversed in even-numbered rounds; this levels the playing field in that the one drafting at the end of the first round gets to pick first in the second… trust me, it’s the best way (if you don’t trust me, that’s fine, because T. Mike doesn’t trust me, either)), with our draft order randomly chosen. That order in the first round will be:

Charles (that’s me)
T. Mike (which is probably why he doesn’t trust me about the snake draft)

We’ll begin announcing the results of the draft next week, starting with the first two rounds on Monday. Once the casts have been selected and the requisite comments made, it’s time to settle it once and for all: who has the best SNL fantasy cast?

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