Saturday, December 13, 2008

December 13, 2008

Saturday Night Live
December 13, 2008
Host: Hugh Laurie
Musical Guest: Kanye West

Dave's wife Raina here, guest-blogging again while Dave is away on family business. Sorry we missed updating last week; we were actually out on a Saturday night. I know, weird. But we caught a lot of the sketches online.

Cold Open.
I missed it.

Christmas songs medley! Should've been longer.

Bronx Beat.
So, are Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolf officially on the show again? Or is that the joke? I always enjoy this sketch--New Yorker ladies never fail to crack me up. They do no have ladies like this where I am from. Hugh Laurie is a funny foil to their characters.

Christmas Dinner.
This sketch didn't really have a point, but I feel like I've been to a few too many dinners like this one. "It was your tone."

Culhane Wedding Speeches.
Wow, Fred Armisen pulls off the 90s burnout look pretty well. I shouldn't be laughing at Kristen Wiig's character, but I AM. Will Forte looks like Owen Wilson in that wig and glasses. And, come on, give those new girls something to do or say that's longer than a single line or an annoyed look.

Kanye, Act 1.
Everything he does I am judging against Stephen Colbert, of course. He looks like Lionel Richie meets Michael Jackson in this outfit--I'm guessing this is intentional? His singing during the verses is kinda flat but the song is okay, and the snowstorm setpiece is neat.

Weekend Update.
Oh lord Fred Armisen looks WAY too much like Governor Patterson. Ha ha ha! Aw, Amy Poehler! Tearing up while saying good-bye…and Armisen keeps walking into frame. Hehe.

Lamp Store Musical.
Ridiculous enough from the outset that I like this sketch just fine. Less funny past the 'dark' twist, but I'm still impressed they made those costumes.

Christmas Letter from a Dead Cat.
Cat Ladies are crazy? Hugh Laurie looks like he doesn't actually know how to type.

Layoffs Meeting.
Oh look, it's Kenan Thompson. He should be on this show more.

Kanye, Act 2.
Setpiece projection: iPod Ad, Plus.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November 22, 2008

Saturday Night Live
November 22, 2008
Host: Tim McGraw
Musical Guest: Ludacris & T-Pain

Hi, this is Dave's wife Raina, guest-blogging for the evening. I've been watching SNL pretty consistently since about 1993, when Kevin Nealon was hosting Weekend Update, and Wayne's World was in its heyday.

Cold Open.
Financial bailout meeting. Maybe this is TOO timely--I'm not finding it especially funny.

Opening Credits.
I don't know much about country music, but Tim McGraw is driving home the ol' cowboy hat stereotype. I'm surprised his quick song was as sincere as it was--maybe now that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are gone from the show, there's no one to write wacky dancing ladies into the guest's opener.

Clear Rite.
A dental sketch! Yay! Kristen Wiig does affected characters well. I know how her character feels. Whoa, and one of the new girls is in this sketch. I still have no idea if she is funny or not, after 20 seconds of screentime.

Dateline: Real-Life Crimes.
I'm not even sure who Bill Hader is impersonating, but it's funny.

Turkey Escape.
I was hoping for a Sarah Palin turkey-pardoning parody, but no dice. Actually, the real thing was parody enough.

(Real actual commercial.)
Tim McGraw has an actual cologne! I'm guessing it smells like cowboy hat.

James Bond.
We were just watching Dr. No last night, and we watched Casino Royale last week, and I was pondering whether they always play cards in JB movies. Verdict: I guess so. Bill Hader plays the part surprisingly well. Throwing a redneck with a camera phone into the mix is mildly amusing.

Musical Guest.
Aw, classy to advertise the release date of your album before you start rapping! At least he introduced T-Pain. The chorus is very 1992; I'm digging it.

Weekend Update.
For a split second whenever Daryl Hammond does his Bill Clinton impression, I have to check whether it's actually Bill Clinton or not. That's how ubiquitous it's become. New girl's Ariana Huffington impression: not bad. Remember Zell Miller? Didn't Will Forte used to impersonate him and go red in the face? It was more enjoyable when Zell Miller was actually newsworthy. Vote Clementine Dimpleflibby!

Ludacris Recording Session.
Dave asks, "Didn't they already do this? With Ludacris?" Ludacris and T-Pain need to be in more sketches, they're pretty great.

(Dave likes to flip channels during commercials, which only confirms to me that there is NEVER ANYTHING ELSE good on TV on Saturday nights.)

Sex offender/mental escapee goes to Thanksgiving dinner.
Oh, Will Forte. Sadly a sex offender character plays to his strengths. Dave says, "I'm glad YOU'RE blogging."

Prank Phone Calls on CD.
This one's an eye-roller. I guess Southerners are funny?

Musical Guest Round 2.
Weird Tron statue women dancing. Their metallic hair is freaking me out. I'm not even paying attention to the song.

Uno Pizzeria Bartender.
Oh boy, Dave's FAVORITE character is back. The Peppa-Up-In-Heah character made Dave cringe immediately upon the season opener, and yet somehow it's gotten funnier after marinating for a couple months. Oh, life.

Closing Credits.
No cowboy hat!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Night Live, November 15, 2008

Saturday Night Live.
November 15, 2008
Host: Paul Rudd
Musical Guest: Beyonce

Cold Open.
It probably would have been funnier if they got the real Joe Biden to come out and say almost the exact same stuff. As it was: it felt more true than funny.

Opening Credits.
Included two new 'featuring' players who were barely used this episode. I didn't get a chance to write their names down and they don't seem to have bios on the SNL site just yet.

Commercial Parody: Sproingo.
I liked it! A perfect compliment to the Boner Juice commercial from a few years back.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone in Baseketball was the first time I remember two guys making out on camera for the sake of comedy. It's been quite a few years since then, but I still appreciate comedians who aren't afraid to lock lips for laughs. Paul Rudd always seems game for anything and made for a great SNL host overall.

Scared Straight Sketch TAKE 2.
I don't remember if all of Kenan's examples were movie references last time he did this character. I think I laughed at least once last time, this version not so much. Nothing against Teen Wolf or Bill and Ted references!

Digital Short: Paul Rudd and Andy Samberg painting each other.
A good example of taking a silly premise and pushing it as far as possible. The ending could have been a cop-out but they went the extra mile and threw in as many gags as possible. Great job!

Slow-Moving Country Song.
Singing about a package delivery to an apartment is funnier in concept than execution, but I found the bit mildly amusing. I'm easily sold on musical sketches and the cutting over to reaction shots from Will Forte was nice touch.

Road Trip version of the re-occurring sketch where dudes sit around and tell messed up stories and then sing the chorus to songs.
This sketch always feels like a weak version of one of the oldest Kids in The Hall sketches. The addition of the moving landscape over the usual bar setting was an improvement…but not by much.

Musical Guest.
Beyonce gets angry. I wasn't into her new song, but I think Beyonce is a better singer and performer than any other female singer who has been on SNL this season.

Weekend Update.
Isn't it time to take Amy Poehler out of the credit sequence? Is it a contractual obligation to keep it for the rest of the season?
I was thinking "does anyone even remember Snagglepuss?" and then my wife asked, "was that a real character?" I guess she didn't grow up on Hanna Barbera cartoons like me. I give them points for superimposing a miniature Great Gazoo. My favorite quote: "Barbara Walters is easily fascinated." Why Justin Timberlake? Thanks for randomly coming out to make fun of SNL's most predictable aspects. I smiled at his impersonation of Fred Armisen's Nicholas Fehn character though.

Beyonce video shoot.
From the line "We're warmed up like biscuits," I was sold. This sketch was pretty much perfect from start to finish and had the biggest laughs of the episode. It even had a funny ending. Justin Timberlake earned his keep, and Bobby Moynihan gave his best performance to date. And it wasn't JUST seeing guys dancing around in leotards; there was actually some good lines and delivery too. Even Beyonce had some good moments. Was the woman with the slate one of the new featured players or just a random extra?

Having Will Forte repeat the word "don't" through a megaphone until people get annoyed doesn't seem like a great way to make people laugh.

Musical Guest.
I assume Beyonce was just performing to a lip-synched chorus and was singing the rest?
Those outfits sure were something.

Prop 8 commentary.
Could have been a typical "gay joke" sketch but ended up being pretty cute thanks to the fun performances by Paul Rudd and Bill Hader and the almost sincere ending.

A Short Film.
Repetitive words. No No No No. Yes. Yes. Yes. Lots of editing and zooms.
I'm impressed that they convinced someone to film something so pointless.

Nice of the cast members to point at the two new girls who barely appeared on screen the whole episode.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday Night Live November 1st 2008

Saturday Night Live
November 1st, 2008
Host: Ben Affleck
Musical Guest: David Cook.

Kind of a low-key episode with some solid moments.

Cold Open.
I always enjoyed John McCain's many appearances on SNL, and thought he was a great host (loved the McCain Sings CD ad). He's a natural comedian and it's the context in which I like him best. The QVC follow-up to Obama's paid programming was an inspired idea and well executed. Creepy cameo by Cindy McCain modeling McCain's Fine Gold (cute pun).

They FINALLY show a commercial parody after the monologue and it's a repeat from earlier in the season? They really need to make some new fake commercials!! And bring back TV Funhouse!

The View.
An okay sketch made great by really funny impersonations by all the players. Kenan's Whoopi stare is priceless.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
Keith used to be a pretty tongue-in-cheek personality, who I equated with John Stewart and Stephen Colbert. But considering how intense and over the top he's gotten lately, he's pretty ripe for parody. Because as much as I agree with a lot of his politics, he's been hard to watch go off the handle on a daily basis. I imagine Ben Affleck and Keith Olbermann are on good terms and Keith won't lose too much sleep over the parody. It reveals how much political TV I watch, that I mostly appreciated Fred Armisen's imitation of Newsweek's Richard Wolf.

[I can't believe I just saw a commercial for the notoriously delayed Guns n' Roses album, Chinese Democracy. Is it a sign of the apocalypse? ]

Return of the Target Lady.
For a second, I thought Ben Affleck was reprising Bobby Moynihan's Pepper Sketch character. It was kind of creepy. I like the Target Lady's reaction to having a day off, "They make me take one!"

Staten Island Zoo.
The Giraffe with a forked tongue made the video worthwhile. I forget what animal they did a similar video for last time.

David Cook.
SNL makes it darn near impossible not to say something snarky about their musical guests lately. I kind of feel bad about being out of touch and not knowing who they are…and yet I can't imagine ever sitting through them again.

Weekend Update.
It's felt weird not to have a co-host for Seth Meyers, until I remember that Weekend Update only had one host for years and years! But for some reason Seth comes across as nervous and unsure without Amy there. I’m glad John McCain came back to show off his new campaign strategy, "The Sad Grandpa."

I started rolling my eyes at Will Forte and Fred Armisen doing another one of their stupid songs. But this one was better than most.

She used to annoy me, but much to my own surprise, Kristen Wiig's reoccurring Aunt Linda is actually starting to grow on me.

Night School Musical.
A decent idea that just barely came together. I liked Andy Samberg needing a time out and Bill Hader's narration. Always nice of Darrel Hammond to make a cameo on his own show.

Disney Pitch Meeting.
A solid character showpiece for Bill Hader. I liked it.

Times Square Coat.
Another funny idea, that wasn't all that funny to watch. I liked the idea of the coat turning into a tent. Two guys screaming at the screen with Austrian accents gave the sketch echoes of Hanz and Franz.

Tina Fey looked awkward around Cindy McCain. I was sad Obama didn't do a last minute surprise cameo.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Night Live October 25th, 2008

Saturday Night Live, October 25th, 2008
Host: Jon Hamm
Musical Guest: Coldplay

I found this to be the least consistent episode since this season's premier.

Joe Biden and John Murtha on the stump.
The weakest of all the political sketches they've done so far this year. It felt like they used up all their good ideas on this week's Weekend Update Thursday. Nothing said in this sketch is as crazy as what was said by the real people involved and not enough of a twist was added. The whole thing just felt awkward.

No Commercial Parody.
So I'm complaining about it.

Sex Offender for Halloween.
Will Forte tries out a new character, what? It's surprising how little it takes for Will Forte to come across as creepy. I'm not sure why the sex offender had a catch phrase, but for the most part the sketch had some good laughs.

Andy Samberg as a Rasta guy.
It was definitely something. I don't know if it was funny…but it was definitely something. On a personal note, Andy Samberg looked like my hippie cousin Dan. So extra points on that personal note.

Mad Men 2/A-holes Crossover.
I was nervous at first because I still haven't watched Mad Men. Then I was nervous because the return of the two A-hole characters did nothing for me. I certainly enjoyed their first two appearances but now it feels like they're stretching the schtick way too thin.

Obama Variety Hour.
It was nice to see Maya Rudolf back on the show, even if her impersonation of Michelle Obama didn't seem that accurate or funny. Some cute moments like Bill Clinton singing "Don't You Forget About Me" and Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers performing together. Also a better use of Jason Sudekis as Joe Biden with the foot in mouth gag.

Another Mad Men parody.
This sketch definitely worked better, even without any knowledge of the show. "Blow people away any time you say anything" is great advice.

Coldplay song 1.
Did Chris Martin always dance around like the guy from Midnight Oil? Their current rock outfits with mismatched armbands and toast patches look like fashion school rejects. Especially since they follow in the footsteps of My Chemical Romance's marching band jackets (a la Sgt. Pepper) which made more sense for them, since their album was called the Black Parade.

Weekend Update.
Seth Meyers hosts alone because Amy Poehler is having her baby. Congrats! I'm impressed she made it this far into the season. I wonder if there's time to make a Robo-call costume for Halloween? Bill Hader does a great Ralph Nader, and sock puppets are always comedy gold. My admiration for Fred Armisen's Nicolas Fehn political comedian continues to grow. I can't believe he can still get mileage out of saying so much nothing time after time.
Kenan can really sing! A surprisingly sincere end note as he and Maya Rudolf sing a sweet love song to Amy and her baby. Very appropriate since Maya herself was pregnant on the show for quite a while before finally taking a leave.

Vincent Price Halloween Special.
A friend of mine pointed out how little Bill Hader's impersonation actually sounds like Vincent Price, so I spent most of the sketch focusing on it and eventually agreeing it's too nasal. And yet, I want to like this re-occurring sketch for some reason…even though it doesn't do much for me.

Jon Hamm's John Ham.
Inspired. Further proof that SNL's best bits are often further into the show.

Coldplay song 2.
I liked their second song better.

Finger in Butts.
Um. Sure.

Coldplay song 3.
It's been a long time since a band has gotten to play a 3rd song. I guess Coldplay is the biggest band that's been on the show for a while? "Yellow" still holds up as one of their better songs. Barack Obama!


SNL Weekend Update Thursday October 23rd, 2008

SNL Weekend Update Thursday
October 23rd, 2008

Opening Debate Sketch.
I'm not sure why, but I was hoping that Will Ferrell would come back and play George W. Bush for old time's sake. Seeing it happen is sorta like comfort food to this longtime SNL fan. And as a bonus, it frees Jason Sudeikis up to play Todd Palin again. He just has to let the goatee do the talking and it cracks me up. Now if they could just have Dana Carvey come back and play George Bush Sr., I'd be a happy camper. The sketch felt a bit more partisan than any of the openers so far, and considering how close the election is getting, that's FINE BY ME. Great timing since a lot of the news today focused on McCain trying to distance himself from W.

Weekend Update part 1.
Fred Armisen's interactive electoral map reminded me of a Daily Show bit, but it won me over by the time he moved Oregon so it was surrounded by water (dangerous). My favorite joke was about Madonna's adopted child heading off to Baby Yoga, but I don't know if it was smart to end on a retread of Kenan Thompson's "fix it" financial expert. It was cute the first time, but not strong enough to milk again without something good to follow it up.

Weekend Update part 2.
Andy threw up on Jorma! It's always nice to see cameos by the writing staff.

It's lame that Amy and Seth say that they'll be right back just so we are forced to watch commercials until they return to say the show is over (I guess a lot of other shows do that, too these days--but I don't notice it as much). I guess it's worth it to see Tina and Will be silly on the set pieces.

And what's this about an SNL Presidential Bash on November 3rd?


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday Night Live October 4th, 2008

Saturday Night Live October 18th, 2008
Host: Josh Brolin
Musical Guest: Adele

Even when their "surprise events" are highly publicized beforehand, SNL still manages to live up to the anticipation. It's been exciting to see the show become so relevant again not only in pop culture, but the world at large. I guess the trade-off for Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin is they get to plug 30 Rock, which will hopefully benefit from all the exposure (since Emmys don't seem to help ratings).

When all eyes are on SNL, why do they always choose to do more McGruber sketches?
I spend too much time wondering how long ago McGuyver was even on TV.

Easily Excited Woman.
More solid character acting from Kristen Wiig. The sketch wasn't as funny as I wanted it to be, but it certainly made me laugh, so it's hard to complain.

Suze Orman show.
I actually learned about Suze Orman through Kristen Wiig's impersonation last year. So now whenever I see her on TV (which, as they accurately mentioned, is ALL THE TIME) I laugh and have a hard time believe she's a real person.

Mark Walberg redeems himself.
After his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel this week, I hoped that Mark Walberg was setting up a joke appearance on SNL. It was either that or the guy had no sense of humor at all. I was glad to be proven wrong. Another great cameo and I'm glad they mentioned Josh Brolin was in Goonies. Because any Goonies reference is a good one.

I'm No Angel.
Josh Brolin with a mustache looking into the camera and saying "perfect" = my new favorite thing ever.

Musical Guest: Adele.
I guess it really is a trend right now for female singers to sound like they are from the 1920s. With husky, sultry singing of non-memorable songs. Between Duffy, Lily Allen, and whoever sang the song in the Chevy commercial that followed the performance…I have a hard time telling the Amy Whinehouse wannabes apart. Adele's no Tracy Turnblad.

Weekend Update.
I thought they missed a good opportunity to have Sarah Palin play Tina Fey and co-host the beginning of Weekend Update as a nod to the old lineup. But I figured the less Sarah Palin the better...until she came back. It would have made me sad, if not for the excuse to see a pregnant Amy Poehler rap. Holy crap, why are SNL cast members (and Natalie Portman) gangsta rapping on SNL always so good? This thing is going to be all over the internets, for sure.

The first time Will Forte played Tim Calhoun I thought it was a slow build but eventually funny (I still laugh when I think of his Chinababy). That said, I would happily sign a petition to make sure he never shows up ever again. Jean K. Jean is Kenan Thompson's most high concept character and it never ceases to amaze me. Just thinking of Kenan reading up on French culture to write the material cracks me up.

I don't even know what to think about this sketch. Some sketches tend to get funnier to me after I digest them for a while, but I'm not so sure this one ever will.

Narc School.
Great idea. Even if 21 Jump Street is as old as McGuyver. Nice of Darrel Hammond to make a single appearance this episode.

Timely satire of stock trading commercials. I like how they whispered "sell drugs."

Interesting and well-filmed set up for a pointless musical performance by Fred Armisen. I would have rather seen "Sciencefinger."

Fall Foliage.
Sure were a lot of sketches about businessmen in this episode. Wasn't sure if this sketch was going to save itself from its one-note, but Kenan's "Oh he was nice about it" was another one of the best-delivered lines of the evening.

Closing thought
I'm surprised the SNL site didn't have some official clips up IMMEDIATELY afterwards considering the Sarah Pain stuff is probably already viral the minute it aired.

EDIT: Looks like as of Sunday 1L09 AM it's on some of the political sites:

-there was a great response in the comment section:

Sardonica says:
"Oh my god - that weekend update sketch is unbelieveable. The VP candidate for the REPUBLICAN PARTY was sitting and nodding her head to a pregnant Amy Poehler rapping in front of eskimos and shooting at a guy in a moose costume. I am glad I did not watch this while high."


Thursday, October 16, 2008

SNL Weekend Update Thursday October 9th, 2008

October 16th, 2008

Opening Debate Sketch.
It's a little strange that Chris Parnel came back again to play a different presidential debate moderator. I worried for a second that they were repeating the same sketch from last week. I very much enjoyed the business about the notorious Joe the Plumber being John McCain's imaginary friend. It was just the right amount of silly and timely.

Weekend Update part 1.
Weekend Update felt consistently stronger than it has in the past few weeks. We liked it!
Especially the video games vs. MRI gag, and the bit about pumpkin racing.
The highlight of course was Kristen Wiig as the crazy woman from the McCain rally. I hope Obama DOES change the White House to a pyramid.

Weekend Update part 2.
So short of a segment, it almost felt pointless. Although, I liked the gag about the follow-up question as to whether or not people would vote for a black president.

I’m glad there's a new episode of the full show this week.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

SNL Weekend Update Thursday October 9th, 2008

Opening Debate Sketch.
Not as funny as the previous debate sketches, but hard to complain when there's a Bill Murray cameo--and hey, it's new content mid-week! McCain pacing about in the background and calling the audience members by their wrong names were nice attentions to detail (if you watched the debate, of course!)

Weekend Update.
Two segments that made up the rest of the half hour special. Sadly, not a lot of memorable bits, especially compared to your average episode of the Daily Show and Colbert Report. The "Really?" bit might be funnier to people watching SNL for the first time in a while.
But I did like the "Oh, my god are you serious" twist.

Will Forte and Fred Armisen performing their Hall and Oates political song was the highlight of the evening for me. Especially Fred Armisen. "Okay, I'm back, you convinced me!"


Monday, October 6, 2008

Saturday Night Live October 4th, 2008

SNL Season 34, Episode 4
Host: Anne Hathaway
Musical Guest: The Killers

A consistently enjoyable episode with some of the most memorable bits so far this season.

Opening: Vice Presidential Debate.
This wasn't just good…it was CATHARTIC. Queen Latifah was a delightful surprise as moderator, Gwen Ifill. I loved her shilling for her new book and her large-eyed silent reactions to Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. Jason Sudeikis' Joe Biden still isn't a great impersonation but I liked the running gag about how he'd take a bullet for John McCain. Both VP candidates closing remarks were enjoyable as well, as was almost everything about this sketch. It was exactly the kind of spot-on commentary that helps me stay sane in this crazy world.

Predictable yet unavoidable parody of Anne Hathaway's embarrassing relationship with a con artist.

Lawrence Welk Show.
Kristen Wiig filling Rachel Dratch's role of pushing the limits of how gross and unattractive they can portray themselves. The bit seemed mean-spirited, since there wasn't any point beyond laughing at people with birth defects--which never really leaves you feeling great.

Economic Bailout Sketch.
Perfect impersonations of Nancy Pelosi by Kristen Wiig, and Barney Frank by Fred Armisen. Is this the first time Jason Sudeikis has played George Bush instead of Will Forte? It was a good trade-off, as I liked Forte as the billionaire left in charge of the economy.

Weekend Update.
Nothing too memorable this week, but I always enjoy Amy Poehler laughing at her own jokes.

Digital Short.
Almost pointless and yet COMPLETELY enjoyable series of silly competitions in a Monty Python-meets-Wes Anderson style. Add 2 points if you are fan of Kristen Wiig and Awesometown--which, I am!

Mary Poppins.
It's fun to see Anne Hathaway parody the role made famous by her Princess Diaries co-star, Julie Andrews. And Bill Hader was a perfect Dick Van Dyke. The sketch wasn't all that clever but the great performances made it memorable.

Mark Wahlberg talks to Animals.
Despite the obvious overtones to Tracy Morgan as Brian Fellows, you can't help but laugh at Andy Samberg's take on the Mark Wahlberg persona. Say hello to your mom, indeed!
I imagine they'll do a variation of this bit in weeks to come--so hopefully Samberg can find a creative twist to build off of.

Gay Best Friend.
It's nice to see yet another tightly written, traditional-style sketch on SNL, following up last week's Beer Garden/Ex-Boyfriend scene.

The less Provocative Songs Of Katy Perry (I Kissed a Girl parody).
This was the funniest thing I've seen from featured player, Casey Wilson so far. I haven't even heard the original Katy Perry song, but all her variations on it were hilarious. My wife and friend who saw it with us have been singing, "I held a cat" and "I saw a boat" ever since. A masterstroke of randomness, closing out a very enjoyable episode. In fact, this week was the first time in a while where I've noticed people talking about sketches beyond the political parodies, so hats off the writers and cast for one of the most balanced episodes in a long time! I'm very much looking forward to Thursday's special episode.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday Night Live: September 27th, 2008

SNL Season 34, Episode 3
Host: Anna Farris
Musical Guest: Duffy

More Tina Fey = more YAY! And she is more "adorable!" Still, I hope people don't elect McCain president because they like seeing Sarah Palin sketches. Tina has her own show to work on!

I don't know if I've seen Anna Farris before except in commercials for the House Bunny.
She reminds me of Britney Spears crossed with Courtney Love.

Driving Home.
Best ending to a pointless sketch ever! I also liked the line about suicide puns.

It took me about a minute before I remembered Chris Parnel is no longer on SNL!I like that he KEEPS coming back though!
I was glad they did a bit about last night's debate because it shows that SNL can still write a sketch in less than 14 hours. If you watched the event it was a pretty good parody of it, and I liked the running gag about McCain trying to come up with alternatives to debating. And it was good they threw in some jabs at Obama to avoid seeming too biased. Fred Armisen’s impersonation is getting a lot better.

Lake Singing.
Gossip Girl, she's always gossiping! This was a super cute sketch and that would have been FUNNY ENOUGH but the singing took it over the edge to ACTUALLY FUNNY! Great lyrics and perfect delivery. I could actually watch this one again! It kind of reminded me of the Tracy Morgan homeless guy sketch with Britney Spears. Hope that doesn’t make me racist!

Musical Guest: Seemed like Amy Winehouse without the catchy hooks. When I squinted my eyes I thought I was watching Charo. I don't enjoy being snarky about musicians I've never heard of, but I wasn't impressed.

Weekend Update.
A pretty great Weekend Update overall. Darrel Hammond as Bill Clinton is always enjoyable and this week, extremely relevant. It built off Chris Rock's material in two completely different ways. I can already see this clip showing up on a lot of political pundit shows. I love Kristen Wiig, but I think her Judy Grimes character freaks me out.

Moderately funny sketch, but I found all the obvious reading of teleprompters distracting.

Deep House Dish.
This is one my favorite Kenan Thompson re-occurring sketches. I just wish the performer's songs were longer. “GRRL PLEASE” is my new favorite song ever. Goodness throughout.

Slightly stained wedding dresses.
PVC pipe is comedy gold. And in SNL tradition, they found another way to sort of curse and not get censored. By this sketch I felt like I was okay with Anna Farris and will look forward to seeing more from her.

Beer Garden
Astoria Represent!
I thought this was a great sketch that most everyone can relate to it on some level with a great visual gag as its climax. A genuine laugh-out-loud moment to end a completely solid episode.

Closing thought: With this episode it feels like the SNL cast and writers are finally hitting their groove. But no commercial parodies or Digital Short? Are they still doing TV funhouse?


Saturday, September 20, 2008

SNL: September 20th, 2008

SNL Season 34, Episode 2
September 20th, 2009
Host: James Franco
Musical Guest: Kings of Leon

This episode certainly felt better than last week's. Not many laugh out loud moments, but nothing really made me cringe so that’s always a huge plus!

A subtle satire on negative campaign ads. It mostly worked thanks to Bill Hader as the announcer with the most sarcastic voice. The examples of commercials didn't feel too far off from the truth but they were still funny!

James Franco was on Freaks and Geeks, therefore he is awesome forever. I'm easily amused by his stoner smile and delivery. Although, I never noticed how much he's got that squinty eye thing like French Stewart. Go K-Wo!

The Cougar Den.
Glad they didn't cut commercials. I can't remember how many times they've done these characters, or how many sketches there are of TV shows where Kenan plays the straight person off camera. Okay sketch, with a sort of random Cameron Diaz cameo. Mmm, shapewear. James Franco makes a good Chris Gaines and I liked his saggy boobies gesture.

Agent 420.
What if James Bond was replaced by a stoner? Wouldn't that be hilarious? If high school students conceived this sketch 20 years ago, I wouldn't be surprised. Somehow James Franco managed to come across unnatural as a stoner. How is that possible?

OJ Jury Selection.
A much better performance from James Franco in this one. Him screaming "Wait, am I…?" cracked me up. Kristen Wiig made me laugh from the moment she was on screen (not really a surprise). The rest kind of petered out, but it was an okay premise, and they didn't drag it out, thankfully.

Digital Short.
Pretty low-key short with not much content to discuss. But I appreciated the serious tone and it made me laugh at least once.
Not sure if I got the 'man voice' from the Gossip Girl.

The Looker.
I love that Fred Armisen didn't say anything till the end of the sketch. Just total deadpan Penny Marshall performed with subtle brilliance.

Musical Guest.
I don't think I've ever heard Kings of Leon before. I already can't remember what they sound like…but I think I liked their second song better.

Weekend Update.
Wearing a barrel--how old-timey! Rosie Perez as Dora was great--and ironic since she does a voice on the spinoff show, Go Diego Go. I've never seen him but my wife claims Fred Armisen's portrayal of the American Apparel owner is very accurate. It kind of reminded me of a funny Will Ferrell sketch.
I wonder who's going to replace Amy as anchor in November? I hope it's Kristen Wiig!

New York Times.
Not exactly an unfunny sketch, but it didn't make me laugh so I was disappointed. I'm sure the folks at Fox News will love to see the liberal media making fun of the liberal media. Polar bears don't seem to be as funny as regular bears.

Of Mice and Men.
I spent the first part of this sketch wondering how many variations/parodies of this book SNL has done and how they shouldn't try top the John Malkovich episode. I'm not sure I really understand what they were going for but by the end I was reflecting on the "do you smell the Peppa up in here?" bit from last week.

Yankee Stadium Stories.
Cute, throwaway video featuring the second Rosie Perez of the evening (more convincing when it's just a vocal impression). Fred Armisen does a good Scorsese. This ended up being a good showcase episode for him, overall.

Bill Hader vs. Andy Samberg, Round 2.
This sketch was super silly and I liked it a lot. Bill Hader is dead on as Willem Dafoe and I like when he makes fun of Andy Samberg (which was sort of a retread of their first Weekend Update appearance). Everything about the scene worked for me. A good note to end on. But I can't get used to the fact that Showtime at the Apollo doesn't follow SNL anymore!

Monday, September 15, 2008

SNL: September 13, 2008

SNL Season 34, Episode 1.
September 13, 2008
Host: Michael Phelps
Musical Guest: Lil’ Wayne

OPENING: After weeks of cracking out on political coverage, I was really excited about the season premiere of SNL. And like many others, I had my fingers crossed that Tina Fey would do a cameo as Sarah Palin—and ideally face off against Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton. Much to my delight, the opening sketch was EXACTLY what I wanted to see. Fey’s delivery was spot on (love the accent!) and there were lots of great gags.
Palin: Can you believe it, Hillary?
Hillary: I CANNOT!
Hillary: I probably should have wanted it more.

I really WANT Tina Fey to come back for more!

MONOLOGUE: I usually don’t pay close attention to monologues and don’t expect much from the guest, except for them to not come across as a jerk (see Ashton Kutcher’s recent monologue). Michael Phelps certainly passed that test, and seemed enthused enough. POSITIVE NOTE: Amy Poehler as Phelp’s mom was cute.

COMMERCIAL BREAK: I’m always cranky when the first commercial of the show is a REAL one and not a parody. It’s a lost opportunity.

QUIZ BOWL: With so much anticipation about a new season of SNL, in part due to all the political news and my ongoing desire to see the show hit new creative heights, I couldn’t help but be disappointed when I saw the first sketch was ANOTHER game show about stupid contestants. A million new viewers checking you out and this is how you want to lose them? It wasn’t a horrible sketch, but it felt like a parody of SNL itself. POSITIVE NOTE: Kristen Wiig and some funny answers from the home schooled contestants.

LOCKER ROOM: This was like a dare to change the channel and stop watching the show forever. They already did this exact same sketch last year. Changing the sport and celebrity guest doesn’t warrant doing it again! I know it’s a long tradition of SNL to bring back popular characters and scenarios. But I somehow doubt the Peyton Manning bit was so beloved that people were begging them for more. And to start the show off with such derivative material is a bad show of faith from the writing staff. This sketch may have been the death nail in my growing dislike of Will Forte. I think he is a funny guy, but he is currently most guilty of beating the same jokes and characters to death (Tim Calhoun, McGruber, The Falconer). POSITIVE NOTE: Glad Michael Phelps got to dance—but it was too little too late.

I SAID WEEE! Last year, Kristen Wiig became my favorite cast member on SNL. But this ugly girl character doesn’t do it for me. It feels too derivative of stuff by Gilda Radner, Cheri Oteri, and a million others. Just slurring words and being short tempered isn’t enough of a twist on an old formula. It also felt more mean-for-meanness’-sake than funny. This sketch would have felt more at home on Mad TV but it still would’ve been a waste of talent. POSITIVE NOTE: Reaction shots of Kenan Thompson looking terrified.

COMMERCIAL: Not their best, but I’m always glad when they have a commercial parody.

MUSICAL GUEST: Didn't watch.

WEEKEND UPDATE: I can’t believe how little political humor there was! Will Forte as a Lumberjack and then the next thing you know it’s all bizarre local news and whatnot. After a whole summer off, this was all the news they had to comment on? I was very disappointed. Andy Samberg as Cathy was okay, if not completely dated. Not a lot of people keeping up with comic strips these days (sadly). But he gets points for the sweat drop reference. POSITIVE NOTE: Fred Armison’s political commentator character always surprises me in a good way. I usually roll my eyes when I see him, and then find myself very impressed by how many variations on the beginnings of sentences he can do. I’d love to read his script for these bits.

CHARLES BARKLEY SHOW: Always good to see Kenan Thompson in anything. This sketch had good moments but never really found a groove. Darrel Hammond as Béla Károlyi was a solid impersonation of my favorite Olympic personality and yet kind of wasted because he had no good lines. I did like the gag about the Jamaican runner coming and going too fast, and Barkley reflecting on his Olympic memories.

DIGITAL SHORT: As a fan of randomness and power ballads I wanted to like Space Olympics. But adding the word "space" to things doesn’t guarantee it’s funny (ask the Jetsons...or Astronaut Elementary). So even though it made me smile toward the end, the overall vibe it gave off was pointlessness. If Space Olympics was a random clip on Awesometown it would have been OKAY, and not memorable. But in the context of SNL it just feels out of place and more of a let down.

PEPPER SKETCH: This ALMOST made me laugh in between the moments of agony. “Come on, let’s just go see The Women” may be the most forced dialogue ever. POSITIVE NOTE: I always give new performers the benefit of the doubt and give them a few weeks to find their footing. I hope this pepper/hostess character isn’t the reason why Bobby Moynihan got hired. I’ll be very happy to never see that again. My sister pointed out that Moynihan looks like a young Artie Lang.

T-MOBILE COMMERCIAL: This should have been right after the monologue, or at least a lot earlier in the show. It was one of their strongest sketches because everyone who saw the commercial about “who’s in your five” probably had the same reaction to the dad character. This is the kind of funny-because-it’s-true observational humor that goes over very well! Much more so than Will Forte dancing for 10 minutes. NEGATIVE NOTE: the commercial is kind of old at this point.

MICHEAL PHELPS’ DIET: Not really much to comment on this one. I’m sure some people found it cute. Definitely belonged at the end of the episode.

CLOSING THOUGHTS: I’m really surprised that Casey Wilson is still a featured player considering how much screen time she got! I hope Amy Poehler’s baby isn’t due until at least mid November!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A blog about Saturday Night Live and sketch comedy.

I pretty much still watch SNL every week. Mostly for the “you just never know...” factor. And because I’m a huge fan of the sketch comedy format. It probably started with You Can’t Do That on Television and Turkey Television as a kid! I remember other kids quoting Hanz and Franz in elementary school and feeling left out for not knowing who they were. And when I finally started watching I fell in love with Dana Carvey, John Lovitz, Phil Hartman and the rest of that cast. And it wasn’t long after that they started showing classic episodes of SNL in 30-minute chunks on Nick at Night (I think?) and soon I was fan of the entire SNL legacy. And that spun off into SCTV because of the cast crossover and misc. related projects and films (Three Amigos?) I didn’t have HBO as a kid but once I was in a hotel and caught an early episode of the Kids in the Hall, it totally blew my mind. Soon my dad was renting me compilation tapes of Monty Python, and my obsession with sketch comedy never wavered.

Going to college in New York City during the late 90s I discovered the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and got to see amazing live comedy for five dollars a show. The best part about going there is watching new comedians get their break, develop their skills and end up in various places. Rob Corddry from a group called the Naked Babies ends up on the Daily Show, and Rob Riggle from Respecto Montalbán ends up a cast member on SNL (and then later the Daily Show!)which makes me very happy! And that leads me to one of my favorite things about Saturday Night Live. Watching performers start out as “featuring,” then finding their footing, creating new characters, and becoming huge stars. I’m USUALLY rooting for them. If they came from the UCB or some other venue, then doubly so. Every now and then there’s a performer who I end up hating and hope they get no screen time on SNL. This is the closest thing I have to being a sports fan.

Most of my friends say they USED to watch SNL, “Back when it was funny.” For me the show never really stopped being funny. I fully admit there are dry periods. Weaker casts, weaker writers that come and go over the years. But what may be considered a golden age for some viewers is considered totally unfunny to others. A lot of time people don’t realize how much overlap there is between the good and the bad. Even during the seemingly worst times, there are still some amazing sketches in the mix. The commercial parodies and Weekend Updates are evergreen in their consistent quality. And because of the show’s esteemed history, you never know who is going to come back for a cameo, or an unannounced celebrity guest that will show up just for something silly. Tom Hanks joining the 5-Timers Club is still one of my favorite moments ever.
And I admit to having a teenage nerdgasm when Aerosmith was in Wayne's breakfast nook. That kind of stuff never happens anywhere else on TV. And when someone screws up a line or improvs because of the live format ALL THE BETTER! Is it worth suffering through the especially unfunny game show parodies? Maybe not! And yet I still do! Because I’ve already invested so much time into the legacy of SNL and I like that it’s something I’ve consistently watched since my childhood. Like a hardcore Mets fan who sticks with his team through thick and thin. Luckily I don’t watch a lot of primetime TV shows during the week, so an hour and half Saturday nights is not a huge investment of time for me! Plus I’m a pop culture nerd who doesn’t like to party. So if 1-3 sketches really hit, then I’m stoked. Judge me all you want!

Since I spend a lot of time thinking about the ins and outs of SNL, I figured I’d start a blog with reactions to episodes. And I figure I’ll also write about other sketch comedy I watch (currently enjoying the Human Giant Season 1 DVD). I don’t have a lot of people to talk about this stuff with, so all comments are welcome!