Saturday Night Live’s 40th Reminds Us – All Stand on the Shoulders of Those Who Came Before


I guess we all know this on some intellectual level. But maybe we seem to forget it at some emotional level.

We did not make it to where we are on our own.

And, we are not the last in the line…

You know the oft-quoted line, from Isaac Newton (first expressed by a French monk in the 12th century, Bernard of Chartres):

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

I thought of this as I watched a portion of the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special last night. And, I read this from The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon, SNL’ 40th Anniversary Review: A Long Night of Sheer Comedy Bliss:

Forget the insufferable and needless think pieces written each year about “Saturday Night Dead,” how the show isn’t as funny as it used to be, then how the show is making a comeback, and then how the comeback is too white, or too male-driven, or too politically-focused or not politically-focused enough. Never has the show lost its importance. Its edge. Its position as a hotbed of talent. Its status as TV’s most demented funhouse.

The first "Fake News" - think of what it has spawned
The first “Fake News” – think of what it has spawned

Give praise to the first folks from Saturday Night Live, and the next folks, and the next, and… But even those first “Not Ready For Prime Time Players” built on the work of comedians and Vaudeville stars and Chataqua entertainers and…

There are few that are genuinely “first.” All stand on the shoulders of those who came, and pioneered, and worked, before us.

In fact, as I watched the portions of the 40th anniversary last night, I thought back to the masterful narrative from Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators. He traced the whats and the hows of the many, over the decades, spanning portions of three centuries, all of which led to the technology we so rely on today. Every person, every breakthrough and development along the way, was crucial to the ongoing story.

Earlier, it was somebody else’s turn.
And, whoever is at work today, it’s just their turn.
It’s just our turn.
And tomorrow, it will be the next person’s turn.

Isaac Newton was not the last to stand on the shoulders of others.

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