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Will ‘Weekend Update’ ever find its groove?





It’s fascinating to watch a few TV shows gain traction courtesy of the man they mock, Donald Trump. Stephen Colbert is overtaking Jimmy Fallon with his sharp political jests, Rachel Maddow is drawing the biggest viewership of her nine years on the air, and “The Daily Show” and “Real Time With Bill Maher” are also experiencing ratings boosts.

And of course “Saturday Night Live” has become a watercooler event once again, with sketches that openly skewer the president, his Cabinet, his family, and his staff. Some of those sketches hit, others miss, but when they hit they go viral and become the Sunday conversation topic for all kinds of lefties.

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The weird thing about the buzz around “Saturday Night Live” in light of the daily news is that the specifically newsy part of the show — “Weekend Update” — is as lousy as it has ever been. I can imagine how hard it is to be a good comedy-news anchor, but still, Colin Jost and Michael Che just can’t seem to get their groove going. It’s not just that they can’t compare to Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Norm Macdonald, or Dennis Miller; they’re simply eye-rollingly bad in their own right.

Sometimes it’s funny when an “SNL” anchor blows a joke once or twice. A good comic can usually turn a bombed joke around. But Jost and Che botch and recover far too much for it to be funny anymore. Not that the jokes are generally very good to begin with, regardless of delivery. I get tired during their reporting segments, waiting and waiting to see if they’ll bring on a good guest to break up the boredom, like they did last week with Kate McKinnon’s Jeff Sessions. After more than two seasons, Jost and Che still don’t seem to have developed a rhythm for the “Weekend Update” segment as a whole, and their interpersonal chemistry ranges from forced to nonexistent.

Oddly, Lorne Michaels has decided to milk the recent “SNL” upswing by giving the pair four primetime specials that will air in August. Maybe by then Jost and Che will figure it out?

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.


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