When I began seriously following Saturday Night Live, it was during an era that featured a memorable cast, and a memorably bad Weekend Update anchor.  For much of SNL‘s history, Weekend Update has been a safe bet for some solid laughs in case the rest of the show was not up to snuff.  But from January 1998 to May 2000, it was always a struggle to get through.  Lately, though, I have begun to wonder: was Colin Quinn really as bad as I originally thought?  VH1 has begun airing SNL repeats, and I caught a few late nineties episodes, and, since Colin does not deserved to be lied to, I must admit that I did laugh a few times.
Maybe it is just a relief to watch somebody at the Update desk who is not current anchor Seth Meyers, the worst Weekend Update anchor (long-term anchor, anyway) of all time, whereas when Colin’s episodes originally aired, he was preceded by the best anchor in the show’s history (Norm MacDonald) and followed by the vibrant and energetic duo of Fey and Fallon.  While comparisons to Colin’s chronological neighbors could only be unfavorable to him, Seth’s notorious run has made it clear that it could have been worse.  Whereas Seth displays no ability (or interest) in interacting with the audience, such a skill was an unquestioned necessity during Colin’s time.  Colin never pulled off such interactions on Norm’s level, but now that I have given him a second look, I realize that what he could pull off made him endearing.  He never did settle into a comfortable rhythm with the timing of his Update jokes, and he knew it.  He also knew that there is a give-and-take between performer and audience on live TV, particularly in a format as intimate as reciting the news.  So he bartered with the crowd, asking that they allow his dumb punchlines and plainly blunt delivery and just enjoy themselves.  And boy, were a lot of his jokes dumb.  But then he would make a goofy face, I would laugh, and I would have to wonder if that dumbness was the point in the first place.
This appears to be a case in which you cannot fully know something until you hold it up against its opposite, or a bad version of the same.  Seth Meyers needs to vacate the Update desk immediately or dramatically improve, and if he wants to improve, he could learn a thing or two from, of all people, Colin Quinn.