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Arts and Entertainment

SNL Celebrates 40 Years Of Mocking Los Angeles

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Last night, Saturday Night Live revived some of its most beloved sketches for its 40th anniversary show, including one of our favorites "The Californians." The soap opera riffs off of all the well-worn stereotypes of image-obsessed, blonde Angelenos whose accent is indistinguishable from recovering stroke victims. When it premiered a few years back, Fred Armisen said the mocking in the skit came from pretable-read banter about Angeleno route-talk.

Los Angeles has provided plenty of fodder for the show the over the years. Laraine Newman, a member of the original cast, was maybe the first person to say "bitchin" on national TV in her role as Sherry the Valley Girl. Newman, a Los Angeles native and Groundlings alum, appeared in last night's "The Californians" skit. She played the part of Kristen Wiig's mother and made references to her ditzy Valley Girl character that appeared on the air nearly four decades earlier. Here she is playing the part of Sherry, a self-absorbed flight attendant from Encino with a singsong lilt, who calls out Don Corleone (played by John Belushi) during their group therapy session for "blocking!"

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It turns out SNL's disdain for Los Angeles runs deeps. Vulture dug into the archives to find that SNL was militantly opposed to what Los Angeles represented right from the get-go. When the show premiered, New York Magazine pointed out that it was a big deal that the show was based out of Manhattan and not the show business capital of Los Angeles, where it would have been much cheaper and easier to film.

The producers and writers say they are in New York because of the pace, the hum, and the adrenaline that the city pumps into their veins. “Your mind atrophies in L.A.,” says Chevy Chase, who wrote for the defunct Smothers Brothers comeback show last year. “Nobody reads the papers out there. It’s all one thing - ‘the business.’ In New York, you’re right out on the streets.”

George Carlin, the comedian who hosted the premiere show, observes that “there’d be no point in doing a live show in L.A. It’d be dull.”

Over the years, Los Angeles, particularly Groundlings—where Will Ferrell, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, Jan Hooks, Kristen Wiig and other notable alums got their start—has been a reliable source of talent over the years. But the mocking of Los Angeles and the biz hasn't stopped. We picked out a few of the sketches where Angelenos are the butt of the joke.

Joan Rivers always had a good sense of humor about plastic surgery, but it's funny to hear her poke fun at the plastic ladies of Beverly Hills years before she became the poster child for cosmetic surgery:

Speaking of overdone faces, here's Sheila Choad's "Los Angeles Face" that features expressionless stay-at-home-non-moms discussing their decision to get Botox:

SNL pokes fun at the reality show spinoffs of spinoffs of spinoffs on Bravo, but arguably also Los Angeles' company town status:

Okay, so porn is moving out of Los Angeles but the ongoing former porn star commercials is definitely a jab at beautiful half brain-dead actresses:

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And SNL also took on more serious, newsy topics like the Rodney King beating:

And of course, they also tackled circus that was the OJ Simpson trial. In this skit, Marcia Clark has to break early after jury selection to check out Kato Kaelin playing with Johnny Depp at the Viper Room: