Tasteless Betty White skits

Betty White certainly made an impression hosting “Saturday Night Live” on May 8. But it wasn’t a good one, in my opinion.

My husband and I eagerly turned on our TV Saturday night, hoping for some smart humor and creative skits. After the first five minutes we looked at each other and said, “Hmm. This isn’t what we expected after all that hype.” I guess we shouldn’t have been so surprised since SNL doesn’t exactly have a reputation for “clean humor”. But we both naively thought they’d change their tune for an 88 year-old woman. After a few minutes, we ended up changing the channel. And then changing it back and forth again. Finally, we gave up hope for at least ONE clever, funny, clean skit and turned our TV off, disappointed and, quite frankly, a little offended.

Call me a prude, but I thought the skits were redundant and tasteless. Apparently, SNL seemed to think that the only way they could draw laughs from the crowd were to portray Betty as a “dirty old woman”. They relied heavily on sexual humor and vulgar language, and even though Ms. White proved herself to be very talented with live TV and showed her quick comedic timing, I think SNL ultimately let her down. They could have easily come up with a better way to present her that would have been funny and made her appealing to the audience without the old “kick in the crotch” approach which, to me, shows lack of creativity and poor writing skills. It’s just an easy sell.

While most of Hollywood is singing her praises, I found at least one person who shared my same opinion. Robert Bianco, writer for USA TODAY wrote this about Betty White’s performance:

“I realize White’s juxtaposition of angelic manner and gutter language has proven to be a sure-fire laugh-getter – but 90 minutes of it? Surely after the first dozen times she says “lesbian” or makes some sexual reference or gets bleeped out for cursing, the routine begins to lose some of its punch.”

After the show, I kept thinking about all the talented comedians out there who choose not to rely on crude or vulgar humor in their routines – and do extremely well!

For example, a few months ago my husband and I bought tickets to see Brian Regan with some family members. He was flat-out hilarious – and didn’t use one cuss word or dirty joke. As we walked out of the theater, my husband looked at me and said, “My stomach hurts from laughing so hard.” Afterward, we had the great opportunity to go back stage and meet him. As we shook his hand, we thanked him for keeping his routine clean. He said,”I don’t think you need that other stuff to be funny. Sex is an easy sell. I like to be creative and keep my routines family-friendly.” And he sold out all five shows.

It just goes to show that it is possible to be successful without being sleazy. And I think SNL sold out Betty White. The writers used her age rather than her talents to draw laughs. And as Robert Bianco stated, “She just deserved better. And after a 35-year wait, so did we.”

So … did anyone else catch Betty White on SNL this past weekend? What did you think?

2 comments

  1. Mary L

    Forgive me I am not a writer. I was surprised to see this article, as lately whenever I see Betty White I find myself disappointed in her. I was never a real fan but always thought fondly of her. The old television shows she was in were very funny and in good taste. But I feel it is a shame that she is giving into the current trend of acceptable dirty humor. I don’t care for SNL myself, but I am disappointed that Betty herself has given into to tasteless immoral jokes. I don’t think its cute at all. What ever happened to growing old gracefully? I hate to say it but I look at her differently now.

  2. Jenny Good

    I am also disappointed with what seems to be Betty White’s willingness to stoop to any level to hang on to her career. I think she used to be a talented actress and it’s sad that she is reducing her talent by being vulgar and crude. There is something to be said for class.

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