Finding a true taste of “real” city life in Jacksonville is like trying to get from one side of the city to the other in less than 30 minutes. Not impossible, but very unlikely. This summer, you can experience the vim and vigor of New York City by watching the world’s biggest comedic geniuses in the official screening of “Live From New York.” Set to show in select theaters, the film chronicles the history of Saturday Night Live. Fortunately, SNL superfan and recent Stanton College Prep graduate, Jenna Levine, signed up to host a screening at Jacksonville’s very own Cinemark Tinseltown theater. Curious to learn more about the film and Jenna’s interest in SNL, I got the chance to talk with her via email.
RONA: What is the film about?
JENNA LEVINE: “Live From New York” celebrates 40 years of Saturday Night Live by exploring its creative evolution and what defines it as a show, an “American institution,” and a “cultural phenomenon” as it is often described. Essentially, the documentary worked to discover what is what that has allowed the program to last for 40 seasons. After a little bit of wikipedia-ing I discovered that SNL is the 3rd longest running series behind “Sesame Street” and “The 700 Club” both of which cater to niche audiences. Saturday Night Live is open to all—toddlers and Televangelists alike and carries such a rich history and impact within these 40 years that I don’t believe the other two quite do. “Live From New York” is not only a documentary but a celebration.
What made you apply to bring the film to jax?
I watch SNL every weekend and mourn during those of hiatus. I have watched all the classic sketches and read all the interviews. I even attempted to get tickets to SNL40 and when rejected, told it was “invitation only,” settled for waiting outside the red carpet of the 40th Anniversary Special in -15 degree weather (Rob Schneider shook my hand but that’s besides the point). Some may call me a “fanatic” or “ridiculous” but I prefer “passionate.” Either way, my motives for this were much simpler. The film was only showing in select theatres across the country, in major cities mostly. I just want to watch the documentary. And this seemed more than driving somewhere else. It also gave me an opportunity to bring a huge piece of American culture to Jacksonville which is awesome.
Do you think SNL has influenced American culture/politics? If yes, how?
I think more than anything Saturday Night Live serves as a withstanding symbol of hope and levity. Although the show has the capacity to arouse controversy, I think it has the same capacity to unite the country through laughter, I don’t care how sappy that sounds. I look at how long it has lasted, through various scandals, crises, and wars, and see it as a beacon of sorts. SNL has undoubtedly influenced the popularization of comedy in our culture and serves to embody a shared sense of humor of our country, evolving with while simultaneously developing American culture. In the world of politics, (I’m not sure if this is how everyone thinks) when I see something absurd in the news I anticipate SNL’s reaction. (also back when I was an uncultured swine I relied solely on late night television for my news coverage, it was an embarrassing time in my life)
How has SNL influenced your life?
It just really fascinates me! (I don’t really want to seem braggy and talk about going to SNL and meeting people and what not) I don’t know what else to say. It gets me goin’.
The film screens Monday, July 6th at 8:30 PM at Cinemark Tinseltown. Tickets are available for purchase here, you can RSVP to the Facebook event here, and if you’re curious to learn more about the film click here.