The Night Shift – Quick, Who's Funnier: Will Forte's Ted Turner, or Any Current SNL Character?

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I ask the question in all seriousness, as someone who has been left aghast by this truly abysmal season of SNL.

As one host after another has been squandered, as one irksome recurring character after another has killed time, Saturday Night Live has grown increasingly lazy and uninspired. I now tune in for Weekend Update and Andy Samberg’s digital short, and wait patiently through the remainder. So why the decline between 2010 and 2011? May I suggest Will Forte, who is no longer a daily presence on the SNL set? In recent weeks, he’s returned to TV via Conan, where every other week he plays a confused, irritable, archaic Ted Turner caricature. In the process, he reminds us of what SNL is missing. Three videos after the jump.

Sporting a shoddy fake mustache, rolling onto the set via faux aluminum buffalo (being pushed by a stage hand), Turner/Forte’s 4-minute spots have become one of the funniest recurring bits on any late night show (followed closely by Jimmy Fallon’s thank you notes and Craig Ferguson’s puppet intros).

The Turner rants are almost always the same: He mocks Conan for his youth and claims the host is trying to destroy the legacy of the network, before then spewing a drawly tirade against redheads (“prepubescent roosters”), Conan’s stoner fan base (all your fans like doing is “smoking a doobie full of hippie lettuce and playing Angry Birds on the governments dime”), and anyone who would dare question the virility of his stuffed buffalo (he won the medal of honor for his heroic acts at Pearl Harbor).

It’s absurd, funny stuff…utterly predictable, but successful because the zingers land — which is more than can be said for the bloated SNL skits that take marginally interesting characters and then give them nothing interesting to do.

So here’s the question of the day, late night enthusiasts: Outside of Weekend Update and the digital short, is there a 4-minute skit from this season’s Saturday Night Live that is funnier than any of these Ted Turner scenes (listed here chronologically)?

Forte: SNL needs you back!

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