Jennifer Aniston’s SNL Potential

10 Feb

In 2008 Vanity Fair published an article called Who Says Women Aren’t Funny? It’s about the new generation of comediennes who are writing as much of the material as they are performing it. While giving it a re-read this evening, one line in particular caught my attention—it had a tinge of irony.

Only last week, I learned that Lorne Michaels offered Jennifer Aniston a spot on SNL at the same time as she was contemplating playing Rachel on Friends. Both comedic gigs, but very different types. SNL isn’t the most subversive humour in America (well, maybe?), but it certainly pushes the boundaries more than Friends. But the main difference is that the players on SNL are expected to come up with original characters and sketches, and contribute to the show as writers. And Friends, of course, is a standard sitcom with its own set of writers separate from the cast members.

In the article, the writer is making the distinction between the great comediennes of the past and the new group of women blazing their own trail in comedy—women like Tina Fey who write the material, not just perform it. And in creating this distinction, the writer says the actresses in the past “were great comic actresses on-screen, but they had about as much to do with the joke writing as Jennifer Aniston or Courtney Cox did on Friends.”

Funny that she singles out Jennifer Aniston, when Aniston herself very well could have been one of those trail-blazing women. It makes me wonder what kind of comedic chops she’s been hiding that Lorne Michaels offered her a job. And it made me think even more about how different the world would be if Aniston had taken the SNL gig. Seriously. Think about it.

Would Friends have been same? How would it have shaped SNL? Aniston would have been around for Adam Sandler’s time in the sun. What would that collaboration have looked like?

And what about the “cool” Rachel bob that defined a generation of women’s hairstyles? What about the influence she had on Brad Pitt and, subsequently, Angelina Jolie? Those are three pretty powerful people—in the real world and in Hollywood. It’s unsettling (and fascinating) to think about how much a 20-something actress’s decision could shape so much of pop culture and the world.

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