One of the only irritating things about living in the Caribbean is the restriction placed on some Web content from the U.S. and elsewhere. OK, that, and the same restrictions that block Showtime and give us HBO and Cinemax en Español.
You can set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network that masks your IP address, and thus, your location) and get around such issues, but it’s a pain, and not everyone has the knowhow or emotional strength to bother.
I’ve gone to YouTube many times to look up an old show, or film clip, and I get the unhappy emoticon popping up to tell me that the video isn’t available in my region. No es bueno. It can be pretty frustrating for us couch potatoes who eschew the finer outdoor activities in favor of digital entertainment.
One of my favorite shows is “Saturday Night Live,” or “SNL” as it is otherwise known. There are so many classic skits, particularly when the cast can’t hold it together and begin cracking up. Who can forget the wonderful Christopher Walken in the “More Cowbell” skit, along with Will Ferrell and a giggling Jimmy Fallon? Or Debbie Downer with the crew at Disney World when Rachel Dratch absolutely loses it, sending everyone on the table into fits of laughter?
“The Californians” isn’t always one of SNL’s strongest sketches, but Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig falling apart in the face of Fred Armisen’s insane accent is downright hilarious; and speaking of Bill Hader, you can’t have a pulse if you don’t love, love, LOVE his Stefon character.
For obvious reasons, NBC and “Saturday Night Live” have kept a tight rein on access to their content outside the U.S., but now, through the miracle of the App Store and the SNL app, you can see your favorite sketches from the last 40 years of this groundbreaking show. Best of all, it’s free!
How it works
Download it from the App Store and it will ask for some preferences, which you can skip or answer as you wish. All your answers do is help the app make content suggestions; they in no way restrict what you’ll be able to access. You’ll also be asked if you have a favorite performer you’d like to see featured in skits offered, but again, this won’t affect sketch availability.
The app will then start picking sketches at random for you to watch, which you can swipe through, or you can just tap on the “EXPLORE” tab at the bottom of the screen, revealing a search field. Here you can type in anything from a performer’s name to a character name or a sketch you’re looking for. It will bring up all the selections you can watch, and once you choose one, you can go full screen, pause it, repeat it, and add it to your “Favorites” section, simply by tapping on the star icon.
Each sketch has an “i” button in the bottom right-hand corner that gives you further information, like the names of the performers in that skit, who the guest host was, the season and episode. Crazy cool.
To get out of the information section, tap on the “X” in the top right-hand corner, and indeed, to leave that sketch behind completely, tap on it again.
Now, before you start jumping up and down with excitement, there are some limitations with this app, based on our geographical location. When you tap on the three lines in the top right-hand corner of the screen, you’ll get a drop-down menu. Here you’ll find a link to your favorite sketches that you’ve tagged, and that has no problems, but if you tap on “Full Episodes,” it will take you to an NBC app, and that won’t work. Sure, you can download it, but it won’t allow you to stream free SNL episodes. You have to buy them through iTunes.
You can get the SNL Emoji Keyboard by simply tapping on that link and following the instructions, but you’ll be shut down again when you try for “SNL Exclusive Video.” No access outside the United States. “Settings” is, unsurprisingly, available to use.
Something else interesting to note; don’t bother sharing a favorite sketch from this app to Facebook, as only those in approved countries will be able to see it.
When I tried it
I was like a kid in a candy store here. Every SNL sketch, commercial and music video I’ve loved and wanted to see again was so easy to find. At the time of writing of this column, I have not had a single instance of looking for something and not finding it.
I am therefore assuming, until I discover otherwise, that this app gives access to everything SNL produced. Hot dog! I reveled in the watching of “One More Mission” with Phil Hartman and Jon Lovitz; “Super Showcase” with Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph; and “Lounge Singers Darlique and Barney,” featuring Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm.
No more searching endlessly on the Internet for these skits and only finding something the quality of a Bigfoot video on some fifth party website that also pushes dodgy pharmaceutical products! Hog heaven, I’m telling ya.
I honestly wonder how long this service will be allowed. I’m surprised that we have access to SNL sketches because even though they’re available for purchase through the U.S. iTunes Store, this is free streaming they’re offering, which isn’t allowed through NBC.com when it picks up an IP address from the Cayman Islands.
Saying all of this, you have to have a U.S. iTunes account in order to get this app, which the majority of people down here have anyway, either by buying U.S. iTunes cards, or having a U.S.-based credit card.
Maybe this is just a loophole, or maybe the powers-that-be are throwing us Caribbean dwellers a few crumbs. I’m just going to enjoy it until something changes.
- Endless SNL laughs.
- Free app.
- Amazing database.
- You can’t see full episodes.
- SNL: The Official Saturday Night Live App from NBC
- Cost: Free (Yay!)
- Seller: NBCUniversal Media, LLC
- Devices: iOS and Android
- Rating: T for Teen