There is a fascinating documentary to be made about Saturday Night Live, the comedic institution that celebrated its 40th anniversary this season.

But Bao Nguyen's Live from New York! acts more like a primer for newbies unfamiliar with the show's history, giving no real insight into Lorne Michaels' long-running creation.

Nguyen, making his full-length documentary debut as a director, relies on cast members and regular guests of old to do the narration (the riotously funny Leslie Jones is one of the rare members of the current cast to get a chance to speak). Live from New York! hits on all the big points from the past - the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, the failed Dick Ebersol years, the show's reaction to 9/11 - without actually saying anything that a fan of Saturday Night Live, presumably the doc's prime audience, hasn't already seen in various other places.

Michaels knows how to create lore around his show, and there's copious material already about Saturday Night Live - enough to render Live from New York! partially irrelevant. VH1, for instance, occasionally repeats it series of deep-delving SNL docs that focus on decades or specific aspects (the women).

(Importantly, Live from New York! is not related to the immersive oral history of the same name by Tom Shales and James A. Miller. For full immersion in SNL history, their book is the place to start.)

Nguyen, though, doesn't give SNL a pass, focusing tight on issues of sexism and a lack of diversity that have plagued the show nearly from the beginning.

There's an inherent upside about making a documentary about SNL: clips.

The best part of Live from New York! is watching old sketches, whether it's Chevy Chase playing Gerald Ford or Jones reciting her infamous and controversial "slave draft pick" monologue.

Nguyen's cameras were around to capture Jones as she comes offstage (the appearance on Weekend Update also happened to be her on-camera debut). She's ecstatic afterward, beaming with joy and almost shaking with a frenetic energy. This glimpse behind the curtain is totally different from every other retrospective on SNL, and it's a shame there aren't more of these moments.

"I just wrote this joke in my living room in pain, and I just made four million people laugh," Jones says. "How do I top that?"

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