MM: Character Assassination

SNL MOJO FINAL

So, if last week’s adventures in rule breaking were any indication, you would Think that Mojo’s list of Actual Recurring characters would do a 180 and focus on sketches that aired only one time. Happily and Thankfully, we’re not that unlucky—Mojo does focus on characters here, and here’s what they have to say…

 

 

Not gonna lie, there were some good picks this time…but then again, I too did a Top 10 list of characters a while ago, and…

 

 

10 STEFON (2008-Present) – …Their Number 10 Pick was My tie for Number 1; nothing wrong with a difference in opinion, especially considering just how many characters have made it on the air in 5 decades. But considering just how big a phenomenon he would become, placing him at only 10th place seems a little dubious. I recently visited the NBC store across the street from where I worked just to get a little air conditioning in 100 degree heat, but also to see what new stuff they had on the shelf. When going through their SNL section, I noticed that they had T-Shirts with various SNL Logos, slogans, and of course, Characters—The ONLY ones that I saw that were either on a T-Shirt or some other collectible item there were either Ferrell’s Cowbell guy (who only appeared twice—if you count his “Queens of the Stone Age” cameo in ‘05) a Debbie Downer “Womp Womp” shirt, one or two others from the 70s to the 00s who I’m blanking on, a few “Update” characters, and of course, Stefon…which is both fair and sprinkled with irony—it’s the show’s most popular character in the past few years, and he’s good enough to get his own T-Shirt…and yet, 10th place…Go figure. Maybe on the perspective that he’s still fresh in everybody’s minds, I can see why WM put him at the bottom—give it about 5 to 10 years or so when they inevitably update the list, he’ll climb up a few notches.

 

MOJO: 0
BLOG: 0
PUSH: 1

 

 

 

  1. OPERAMAN (1991-1995) – Adam Sandler’s body of work over the years is incredibly Touch & Go—his characters can range from Funny & Goofy to downright insufferable. Operaman might be the one thing he’s ever done that was 100% “in the middle”; it was goofy, had only slight annoyance, but still a bright spot on the nights when he appeared. As the story goes in Shales/Miller (or other interviews), Sandler’s inspiration for the character largely came from a guy in his neighborhood who sang all the time in an operatic voice no matter what his mood or the subject was. Hence, Operaman was born. It’s your basic “draw from life experience” kind of thing that put Sandler on the map; and most importantly, it didn’t overstay its welcome (and even took a rare step outside its “Update” comfort zone once).

 

MOJO: 1
BLOG: 0
PUSH: 1

 

 

  1. SPARTAN CHEERLEADERS (1995-1999) – ………(*SILENCE*)……….C’mon, I spoke about them last week…………(*MORE SLIENCE*)…………Fine, you want more? I guess the one thing I COULD credit them for is the fact that when the show was looking to reinvent itself in the mid 90s, this was the first recurring sketch to take advantage of that situation………(*STAGEHAND WHISPERS IN MY EAR*)……..oh, wait, “MKG” started October of ‘95, Spartans started that November, my mistake. Anyway, over time they (or at least One of them) turned out to be annoying as hell, but I’ll take annoying over “Not Funny” or “Not Entertaining” any day of the week. At the very least, they tried………Also, the ones with Jim Carrey, Tom Hanks, RDJ and Neve Campbell always stuck with me for some reason.

 

MOJO: 2
BLOG: 0
PUSH: 1

 

 

MOJO_CONEHEADS

  1. THE CONEHEADS (1977-1979) – You know, all these years and I’ve barely mentioned them…so, lets. The Coneheads were the kind of characters that could only fit in during the 70s; especially during those first few years where (with rare exceptions) there was no such thing as a bad idea. They were aliens living in New Jersey trying to fit in with everybody else, and that’s really all you need to know…But having said that, the idea actually wears a little thin after a while. As they try to fit in, they do so bizarrely (mostly through “Consuming Mass Quantities” of food & beer); and if anybody is wise to them, they just say they’re from France…The end. Further, there’s no way in hell that the Coneheads could be a thing Today—not unless they added some heavy-handed subtext about illegal immigration (The 1993 Movie already did enough of that, thank you!). Still though, the sketches weren’t bad by any means, just a little one-note after the first few times. Exceptions to the rule: The “Family Feud” episode, and the “Cone Encounters” parody with Richard Dreyfus. Nevertheless, I’ll let them slide since they seem to have an unusual amount of staying power—not just the movie, but an animated special in the 80s, and those “State Farm” commercials just a few years ago……I’ve honestly seen stranger career trajectories.

 

MOJO: 3
BLOG: 0
PUSH: 1

 

 

  1. THE BLUES BROTHERS (1978) – (Sorry for the screen tilt, you know how NBC feels about music) That’s a Flat No, Mojo. The Blues Brothers Never appeared in sketches. Whether you want to count “King Bee” or not is up to you, but Buck Henry never explicitly introduces them as BB in that piece, just “Howard Shore and his All-Bee Band”…this is gonna be highly debatable, but I say that doesn’t count, end of story. Otherwise, they have only ever appeared as a Musical Guest twice, they did not do anything that would entice laughter (not counting the movie) or tears (Not counting “Blues Brothers 2000”). They were a legitimate musical group that released two albums, and the frontmen for the group just Happen to be comedy performers; and Aykroyd & the estate of Belushi owns the rights to the characters instead of NBC, Lorne or Broadway Video. They. Are. Not. SNL. Characters. PERIOD! Next topic…

 

MOJO: 3
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 1

 

 

  1. MR ROBINSON’S NEIGHBORHOOD (1981-1984) – Now that the dust has settled from last week’s list, I can talk about these sketches a little more thoroughly…….except for the fact that I already did years ago. But since Mojo & I are only off in our opinions by one list position, It’s all good. The Robinson sketches are a good example of how sometimes the show would raise a cracked mirror to the faces of its viewers, and show that not everything they see is tinted with rose colored glasses. The early 80s were a tough time for Urban America, and Eddie Murphy was simply telling it like it was (I assume, I wasn’t born until the mid-80s), and that sometimes you have to hassle and hustle just to make it to the next day. But again, I have to wonder how Murphy’s Robinson would do in the passing decades—especially in more recent times. Did he ever get his life together? Did he ever get out of the Ghetto? How would he handle Gentrification? Would he become a “Black Lives Matter” advocate? Or, Did he just stick to dreaming & Scheming through the years? Questions like these are just some of the reasons why I wish Eddie would do something relevant enough in his career so that he may FINALLY host the show again—a fan can dream.

 

MOJO: 4
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 1

 

 

  1. THE FESTRUNK BROTHERS (1978-2013) – (Yes, I know, I’m using a clip from a Steve Martin TV Special—still a Broadway Video production, so I’ll allow it) You would think that something that has only aired a handful of times would be ranked a little lower on the list; but then you’d be underestimating the power of 1978. Not only was this one of the show’s most invincible years, but it was also the year Steve Martin became a comedy God—yeah, he was already pretty famous a few years earlier, but by ’78 his status as star was cemented by an unprecedented–and still not duplicated–3 appearances in a single season (4 if you include his November ’78 appearance). And during each of those appearances, he & Dan Aykroyd portrayed the ultimate “Fish out of water” characters—a pair of brothers from the Czech Republic trying (sometimes in vain) to fit in with the fast moving Western culture. They do so by latching on to the most basic of terms—often incorrectly—and engage in certain customs with the best of intentions, yet done in completely the wrong way. And yet, they’re still endearing. So much so that when they made cameos in the 90s and the next millennium, it almost didn’t matter that they were a relic of their time. They were, and still are, two wild and crazy guys…though lord help them both if they have to trot out the characters again when they hit their 80s.

 

MOJO: 5
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 1

 

 

  1. MATT FOLEY (1993-1997) – One of the dangers of a recurring sketch is trying to figure out the right moment when enough is enough. The first “Foley” sketch belongs in just about every comedy hall of fame you can think of…….But THEN you factor in The Law of Diminishing returns; something starts out so popular that when the formula inevitably gets duplicated, it also gets diluted a little bit more, Every. Single. Time. Once you notice the established formula to something, and you see it happening over and over again, it’s a little hard to muster any enthusiasm afterward. The reason why these sketches are exempt from the rule is because no matter what scenario was being presented, Chris Farley powered through them the only way he knew how; being loud and falling down—and as a teenager watching those sketches for the first time, physical humor appealed the most to me no matter what the scenario was each time.

 

MOJO: 6
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 1

 

 

  1. SAMURAI FUTABA (1975-1979) – I’ve said it (and a Lot of the below) before, and I’ll say it again—one of the most difficult things to pull off in showbiz is doing comedy with limited dialogue. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but when the medium you’re working in establishes both a “Show” and a “Tell” at the same time, it’s hard to separate the two sometimes. Belushi’s Samurai was good at straddling the show/tell line, partly because he was the punchline to whatever the heavy (most often, Buck Henry) wanted out of him. Alan Zweibel, who wrote 99% of the Samurai sketches, lamented in “Shales/Miller” that all he was really doing was writing a combination of stage direction for Belushi and Straight Lines for whoever the straight man was; nothing really special about that on paper. But it was what Belushi did with that stage direction that made all the difference. Anybody can write down “Belushi cuts a Tomato”, but only Belushi could give it the necessary flourish the visual needs in order for it to become a valid joke…which I think might be as close as some have ever been to actually “Improvising” on the show. This was the case in about 99% of the Samurai sketches; the exception to the rule being “Samurai Night Fever” which was lacking in self-destruction of props, and more about Belushi being transplanted in the Travolta role………with OJ’s help…………(*cough*). I’m not sure if Kurosawa would’ve been “proud” of this portrayal; but at minimum he’d be cool with it.

 

MOJO: 7
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 1

 

 

1.WAYNE’S WORLD (1989-2015) – Few people might know that the character of “Wayne” actually began as something Mike Myers did on Canada’s MTV, “MuchMusic” back in the 80s; one thing led to another, and here we are. The thing about these sketches that I will always admire—aside from them being a Gen X touchstone—is just How they became as popular as they did; Famously beginning as the last sketch of the night one night in ’89 with very little fanfare, The sketch slowly (but surely) crept its way earlier and earlier in the show until it was perched either as an opening or post-monologue sketch–Stefon had a similar path, though the closest it ever got to the front of the show would be “Update”. If you were a Gen-Xer, you gravitated to these sketches immediately; if you were slightly younger than that, then you had to play catch-up either by watching the two movies or the Special Edition Starmaker tape that acted as a “Starter Kit”. Would I call this the “Greatest character of all time” the way Mojo does? Certainly not (My list only has them at #4). But because they helped keep the show relevant during the early 90s, you can’t fault them for trying. Everything about these sketches are still quotable as hell to this day; and even on the rare occasions when it makes an appearance in Modern times, the sketches are still remembered fondly despite Myers & Carvey looking “Older But Wiser”.

 

 

FINAL SCORE:

MOJO: 8
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 1

 

 

Mojo redeems itself this week (with some exceptions), and in comparison to the list I wrote 2 years ago, they matched 4 out of 10 of my picks—but not quite their positions…which is far better than I thought (also, to be fair, I had a bunch of “Update” characters, and Mojo has their own Update list…but we’ll get to that later). That’s the thing about these lists that I’m OK with; that you can agree to disagree with what they say as long as they have a decent understanding of the subject matter and they’re not too overly vague about their own rules…Which is why the next list we’ll look at is another example of “They don’t know what words mean”.

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MM: Sketchy Details (Part 2)

SNL MOJO FINAL

Sketches.
Part 2.
The Second One.

 

They do preface this by saying they’re excluding “Update”; but as you’ll see, that’s actually the Least of our concerns…

 

 

 

 

Last week in Part 1, Mojo featured only a few things that were “Recurring”, but since they didn’t exclude them, some of them were fair game in my eyes—like if they mentioned a SPECIFIC sketch in that collection (I.e. “Olympia Café” or “Celebrity Jeopardy”), it would’ve been OK. I chose not to count the Digital shorts because I felt they were more of a “Segment” of the show, like Update or the Monologue. In the case of this list, however, there’s only so many recurrences I could take; especially considering the aim of the list should’ve been to include sketches that aired once—so I’m just gonna get this out of the way now before I hear the complaints; If Mojo’s list features a character without a “Specific” mention of one airdate in the collection, it will be an automatic push.

 

In short; This one’s gonna hurt…

 

 

  1. MacGRUBER (2007-2010) – And we begin with exactly what I just said; WM saw it fit to mention ALL of the sketches instead of just one, so I gotta give this the neutral treatment. Yes, the MacGruber sketches SHOULD belong here; but because there were so many of them, I kinda feel that selecting the Entirety of the sketches gives this a bit of a “Stack The Deck” disadvantage to other “One-off” sketches that might deserve to be on here…To be fair, however, you can’t fault these sketches for being popular—and certainly moving Will Forte from an “On the Map” talent into a full-fledged star with a not-quite-well-received but still decent enough to be a “Cult hit” movie under his belt. Sidebar: I’m probably not the only one to have ever noticed this in these sketches, but the timer to most of the bombs in these sketches have a “Start/Stop” button…Yeah, the sketch would’ve been over in 10 seconds if everybody realized it, but that would spoil things, wouldn’t it?

 

MOJO: 0
BLOG: 0
PUSH: 1

 

 

 

  1. BABA WAWA (1976-1980) – Another character…and again, Why go through the redundancy if you’re only supposed to be pointing out Individual Sketches? They don’t here; showing not just the first Wawa sketch, but also subsequent editions. I’m just glad they limited things to Gilda’s portrayal of Walters, and not Cheri Oteri’s, Rachel Dratch’s or Nasim Pedrad’s, otherwise it’ll seem like the character itself has lasted for 40+ years. Again, it’s funny, but the fact that there have been at least a dozen instalments kinda cancels things out.

 

MOJO: 0
BLOG: 0
PUSH: 2

 

 

 

  1. THE FESTRUNK BROTHERS (1978-2013) – Are you SURE this isn’t supposed to be a Characters list? I mean, These are CHARACTERS, they have appeared on the show MULTIPLE TIMES! They even go through the trouble of showing the times they appeared After the 70s. Maybe because they didn’t appear as frequently (4 times in ‘78, one in ’98, one in ’13) that I guess Mojo could at least let this one slip. It doesn’t change the fact that they are still officially listed as recurring characters (who for the rest of the list I will refer to as “RC’s”) in various publications, so it’s another push. Then again, these characters probably did just as much for putting Steve Martin into the stratosphere as “King Tut” did that fateful night in 1978, so no fault there.

 

MOJO: 0
BLOG: 0
PUSH: 3

 

 

 

  1. MR. ROBINSON’S NEIGHBORHOOD (1981-1984) – OK, I’m starting to get annoyed here. How many times can I say “I like the Character, but it’s not an individual sketch”? A shame really, because the “Robinson” sketches were a bright spot in dark times—then again, just about anything Eddie Murphy did at that time were bright spots; in the grand scheme of things, however, Mr. Robinson was Murphy’s “Smooth Criminal” vs. Buckwheat as his “Thriller”…Which I guess makes Gumby his “Remember the Time” (which I say coincidentally considering Murphy was in that music video…but I digress). Point is, another RC is making this list a little tough to write.

 

MOJO: 0
BLOG: 0
PUSH: 4

 

 

 

  1. PALIN/COURIC (9/27/2008) – FINALLY! A single, individual sketch—never mind the fact that Tina’s Palin could be considered an RC in some circles, Mojo is actually singling out one particular sketch this time instead of blanketing everything. I’ve already spoken a little bit about this sketch in my College Paper a few years ago, but it goes without saying that this was one of many “Game Changers” the show has ever put on. It especially changed things for the not-so-good in McCain’s campaign, as well as the notion that Anyone can be elected to a public office without really trying.

 

MOJO: 1
BLOG: 0
PUSH: 4

 

 

 

  1. SPARTAN CHEERLEADERS (1995-2000) – OK, now this list is starting to piss me off…not because they’re listing another RC (though, granted, that doesn’t help), but because I now have to talk about human mosquito swarm Cheri Oteri. I’ve got no problem with Will Ferrell dressed as a male cheerleader—hell, that idea alone would’ve kept things going for another few years after Oteri got the ax—but she’s the reason why I can never 100% “Enjoy” these sketches (never mind the fact that they’re an Honorable mention elsewhere…Ferrell balanced things out, so it can’t be ALL bad). I can take “Abrasive” comedy, but there’s a fine line between being abrasive and being a Spaz—Oteri (IMO) was neck and neck in the Spaz Olympics next to Chris Kattan (*THUNDER*). Again, not that these were entirely “awful” or anything, there was just only so much of this that I could take…even in Small doses.

 

MOJO: 1
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 4

 

 

 

MOJO_SINATRA

  1. THE SINATRA GROUP (1/19/1991) – Another Paradox; technically this is still another “Official” RC, but because they are only pointing out a single sketch, that makes things OK…And rightfully so, since this was probably Phil Hartman at his best. Granted, his portrayal of Sinatra was famously more mean spirited than Joe Piscopo’s, but maybe that was the point. Everybody has a certain image in mind when it came to Sinatra; I don’t think Phil ever truly Intended to play his Sinatra this way, but instead it was the intent of whoever wrote the sketches. Doesn’t make it any less funny, though. To this day, completely at random, I find myself saying “I Have Chunks of Guys like you in my STOOL”…I honestly don’t know why, other than it’s a funny line.

 

MOJO: 2
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 4

 

 

 

  1. SPROCKETS (1989-1997) – This list is giving me a headache…and don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy most of the entries on this list (including this one), but CLEARLY Mojo doesn’t know the difference between a single sketch, and a series of sketches involving a character—it practically defeats the purpose of the list, and it almost makes their Actual “Characters” list seem like a moot point once we get to it. So let me say this about “Sprockets”; as funny as it was, I think they are a series of sketches that could ONLY have worked in the late 80s/Early 90s—after all, communism came to an end, the Berlin Wall fell, Germany was unified. I see these sketches (and particularly, Mike Myers as Dieter) as a way for Germany to readjust itself after the iron curtain fell; trying to fit in with “Western” society while still clinging on to the things that made Germans reserved in the first place. It’s certainly a far different culture there Now than it was 30 years ago.

 

MOJO: 2
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 5

 

 

 

  1. WAYNE’S WORLD (1989-2015) – (*SIGH*) Just move on before the vein in my head pops. I’ll talk further in depth about them on a later list, I just don’t have the energy.

 

MOJO: 2
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 6

 

 

 

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

 

 

CHURCH CHAT: Recurring Character, Next!

 

ROXBURY GUYS: Characters, Next!

 

DEBBIE DOWNER: NEXT (though to be fair, the first one was the Best one)!

 

BARRY GIBB: NEXT!!!

 

WHAT UP WITH THAT?: THIS LIST CAN BURN IN HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

MOJO: 2
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 11

 

 

 

  1. MATT FOLEY (5/8/1993) – Since they are ONLY pointing out the first time this sketch was done, I’m not only going to allow it, I’m going to welcome it with open arms…………..or at least I would were it not for the fact that Mojo actually wanted to fill the slot with the Japanese Game Show sketch; meaning that instead of giving an actual one-off sketch some recognition, they instead go with something tried and true…even though this was technically the first time the sketch was done. In that regard, I can’t be mad with Matt Foley—he was one of the first sketches I’ve ever seen, he was one of the first characters I could imitate at school, he was the one that turned me into a Chris Farley Fan (aside from the other sketches). So on the basis of sentiment alone, Mojo got this one 100% right…which is FAR more than I can say for most of the other choices on this list.

 

 

FINAL SCORE:

MOJO: 3
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 11

 

 

You Damn well better believe that their Mojo was misplaced this time around. With very few exceptions, this list was pretty much ALL Recurring characters. How fair is that? Even more so, this was Mojo’s 2nd chance at making this list, and they Blew it Big Time—proving once in for all that just because the people demand a sequel to something, it doesn’t mean that request should be granted (“Scary Movie” & Co, I’m looking in YOUR Direction). 43 years worth of sketches to choose from, and they squander it by taking the easy way out. And again, it’s not that these were bad selections; it’s just that the choices would’ve been a better fit for an Actual list about Characters. The fact that they went ahead and did a characters list anyway just raises further questions…

MM: Sketchy Details (Part 1)

SNL MOJO FINAL

The fact that a show like SNL has been on for as long as it has is arguably a gargantuan feat—though something that’s larger than gargantuan is just exactly how many sketches the show has pumped out over time. Using (VERY) rough mathematics, say each show has enough room for 12 sketches on average. Multiply that by roughly 850 total episodes (not counting clip shows), and we’re looking at slightly north of 10,000 sketches that have ever aired. Narrowing that field down to 10 is beyond impossible to do without careful thought—and yet, WatchMojo seemed to have found a way with seemingly little thought. And while some of the sketches they select here are indeed Pop Culture touchstones, It kinda does a disservice to the remaining 99.99% of the  sketches that either go un-noticed or are So recent that we don’t know as of yet if it’ll stand the test of time. So with that, in spite of what will otherwise be “Popular Opinion”, you should DEFINITELY take this list with a grain of Salt.

 

 

We begin once again by letting the WM people speak first…

 

 

 

And now, we speak…

 

 

MOJO_BUHBYE

  1. TOTAL BASTARD AIRLINES (3/19/1994) – I’m probably in a slim minority here, but I never really “Liked” the sketch the same way that others “LOVE” it; I don’t mean that it’s a “Bad” sketch by any means (that wouldn’t come until its sequel months later in season 20), but considering there are FAR funnier sketches to have aired before/since; this one seems like a Black Sheep to me (David Spade pun not intended). Mojo claims that the sketch has “Staying Power”, and I guess that’s true—especially if you say “Buh Bye” once or twice in your lifetime. They also state that there was a serious dislike for these sketches when they first aired, but they later grow on you over time……..I guess? I just see this as one of Many sketches where a single joke (no matter how many variations there are for it) runs itself into the ground deeper than a pneumatic drill.

 

MOJO: 0
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 0

 

 

MOJO_BROWN

  1. JAMES BROWN’S CELEBRITY HOT TUB PARTY (11/5/1983) – The strange thing about this sketch is that this wasn’t actually the first time they did it. Only a diehard fan would remember a version they did roughly a year+ earlier called “James Brown is Annie”—same basic premise, minus the Hot Tub. Nevertheless, this is the one Everybody remembers, and it is rightfully a classic—then again, 99% of what Eddie Murphy touched turned to gold back then, so it wasn’t THAT hard to make it memorable. Mojo credits this sketch for both quotabiity and sense memory; implying that you can’t think of a Hot Tub without thinking of James Brown (and vice versa). Sure, CeeLo Green tried to become synonymous with Hot Tubs once, but that was just weird–also, that was another show altogether. The sketch (or at least the constant shouting of “HOT TUB!”) is definitely an earworm, and it still holds up.

 

MOJO: 1
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 0

 

 

MOJO_CHEESEBURGER

  1. OLYMPIA CAFÉ (1/28/1978) – WM usually gives stipulations to their lists at the beginning (I.e. “For This List…”); they did not in this case, so this is why it’s OK to include some “Recurring” characters here & there—in spite of the danger of them being Crutches. Thankfully in this case, they only focus on the first installment, and Not the ones that followed; something that will be the case for a few more entries later on. The sketch rightfully earns quotability points, and is probably one of the simplest premises they could come up with at the time; the menu is limited, write jokes around it, The end. Unfortunately, the quotability also sparks a high-yielding repetition problem. You know how if you say a single word more than enough times, it’s either going to sound weird or lose its original meaning? Try doing that with the word “Cheeseburger”, your senses will dull in about 18 seconds. Nevertheless, the sketch remains Iconic, not just for content, but also for historical context as the sketches were based on several cast members’ trips to the “Billy Goat Tavern” in Chicago. Bonus Trivia: They actually have a 2nd location in Washington DC; and having been to That location, I’ll let this choice slide because they really DO act like that—though their menu is far more expansive than just Cheeseburgers. Here’s just some of the memorabilia they had on their walls…

 

 

MOJO: 2
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 0

 

 

 

  1. COLONAL ANGUS (2/22/2003) – Well, I was going to save this for when I did a Retro Review of the episode it comes from; but since the subject has been raised, I’ll cut to the chase. And I quote…

 

Colonal Angus or “The South shall come again!”

Get it? “South?” “Come?” Ha-ha! Anyway, In the long history of SNL, a lot of sketches have used Plays on words, dirty words and even plays on dirty words. Nowhere was this more evident than in the famed “Lord And Lady Douchebag”. This sketch also used an element from the 70s shows, Do you remember…

DON PARDO: Weekend Update is sponsored by “Colonal Lingus’ Fried Chicken” “It takes a lickin…'” 

This is just taking that joke and stretching it to a point where Fried Chicken isn’t even necessary. From a male standpoint, I thought this was funny because…Well, I’m a guy, and as a guy I often have a tendency to think dirty. So for me, this was Really funny, Especially all of those “Down South” Jokes.

Diagnosis: A+

 

Once again showing off the dazzling intellect of an 18 year old. Yes, the sketch was funny, and it has also stood the test of time some 15 years after it aired………but A+? It’s just a bunch of carefully crafted Pussy jokes. Not exactly the Harvard Lampoon or anything……..heh, lamPOON. But in all seriousness, this is really more of a “Guilty Pleasure” than it is a Comedic Masterpiece (regardless of Tina Fey writing it), made all the better by Christopher Walken being game for just about anything. It’s harmless, dirty fun otherwise, but I wouldn’t go enshrining this one any time soon. By a very slim margin, Mojo missed the mark.

 

MOJO: 2
BLOG: 2
PUSH: 0

 

 

MOJO_BASS

  1. SUPER BASS-O-MATIC ’76 (4/17/1976) – I already talked about this one years ago, but after hearing WM’s perspective on it (what little there was, anyway), it’s time to freshen up mine. This still remains one of the greatest things the show ever did—shameful sequel on the 40th anniversary show, be damned! It was probably one of the best Early examples of how “Out There” the show was willing to be, and how they clearly did and didn’t give a damn simultaneously. Aside from Manhattan Public Access cable, where else on TV in the 70s could you get away with chopping a Bass into a Blender and then (simulate) drinking it? SNL and this sketch made it safe for “Weird” to be common.

 

MOJO: 3
BLOG: 2
PUSH: 0

 

 

  1. CELEBRITY JEOPARDY (1996-2009) – I hear the redundancy alarm going off in my head, so that means I’m not going to waste too much time talking about this either—I’ve already made my thoughts clear about these sketches elsewhere. One NEW thing I’ll say about them, however, is that if nothing else, it probably made the Actual Jeopardy itself a little more fun to watch in passing years; especially when they let a few SNL references slip through the cracks once in a while.

 

MOJO: 4
BLOG: 2
PUSH: 0

 

 

  1. DIGITAL SHORTS (2005-2012) – (*BLOWS REF WHISTLE*) 10 Yard Penalty for Stacking the Deck! It’s especially unfair that they blanket ALL of the shorts into one entry considering they (and I) have a separate list of them elsewhere–and yes, I’ll cover Mojo’s picks at some point later this Summer. I’m not gonna deny that the shorts helped keep the show relevant at the turn of the century; but here’s the thing…Celebrity Jeopardy sketches are simply that, they’re sketches. Digital Shorts on the other hand, have always been (to me, anyway) a separate, independent, almost autonomous part of the show. And if WM is going through the trouble of making a separate list of These sketches, including them on this list is completely unnecessary. This one’s an automatic Push based on technicality; yes, they’re funny, but this is just plain greedy; I would’ve been fine with it if they picked just ONE short…particularly the one above.

 

MOJO: 4
BLOG: 2
PUSH: 1

 

 

MJOJ_CHIPPENDALES

  1. CHIPPENDALES (10/27/1990) – No question here, an Iconic sketch that earns even more points considering this was a “Coming of Age” sketch for yours truly…Granted, I first saw the sketch some 5 years after it first aired on a “Best Of” show, but it still counts. Yeah, Farley moving around like that was the unmistakable highlight of the sketch, but that’s a skin-deep assessment. To get right to the bone, I think the TRUE strength of the sketch lies in the more subtle moments, like Kevin Nealon & Co. genuinely looking agonized over making a tough decision even though the answer is blatantly obvious to the rest of us; or the fact that Farley & Patrick Swayze seem to genuinely want to root for each other with great comradery; Or even the fact that Farley takes his eventual defeat with as much dignity as there is dejection. It’s OK to laugh, but the laughs are made a little stronger when you throw in some good old Pathos.

 

MOJO: 5
BLOG: 2
PUSH: 1

 

 

  1. DELICIOUS DISH/SCHWEDDY BALLS (12/12/1998) – I may have said this a time or two before; but I think the REAL reason why this sketch works the way it does is because of HOW it’s presented. Since this is a TV show, most of the time you need to use visual elements in order to get a point across—AKA “Show, don’t Tell”. Schweddy is the opposite of that for a major reason; the fact that this takes place at a radio station. The next time this sketch comes on at Christmas (or if you click on the link to the sketch to watch it now), try to watch it WITHOUT actually Seeing the video. Not only do the jokes have a bigger impact, but it also allows the viewer-turned-listener to use their imaginations a little more vividly. That impact diminishes greatly when you see the sketch, partly because they bring out a platter of Balls onto the set; yeah, the joke and the implication is still there verbally, but once you actually SEE a tray of ball-shaped pastries in front of you, there’s no possible way to confuse them for genitals. If the conditions were right back in the day and there was no network censorship, this sketch would’ve fit in with the Golden Age of Radio alongside Hope & Benny…besides, any individual sketch that could inspire a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream flavor has to be doing SOMETHING right.

 

MOJO: 6
BLOG: 2
PUSH: 1

 

 

MOJO_COWBELL

  1. BEHIND THE MUSIC/MORE COWBELL (4/8/2000) – Do I REALLY need to say anything else about this (aside from what I once said about it years ago)? Well…I guess I have to, but I do so with great admiration. If they weren’t already household names by the year 2000, this was a sketch that single-handedly changed the careers of (at least) one Cast member, one host and a dormant rock band from the 70s, and all because of how (otherwise) silly the premise is. If it were any other date or time, this sketch would probably be ridiculed over the fact that basically one joke keeps repeating. But it’s the WAY they repeat that keeps this sketch feeling fresh every time. First, the questionable playing of the cowbell, then Ferrell “Exploring the Space” with his too-tight shirt, then playing the cowbell angrily quiet in Chris Parnell’s ear. As if that wasn’t enough, Christopher Walken, in all his Walken-ness, punctuates the sketch as only he can; begging for More Cowbell in some of the most awkward line readings of All Time. Add a dash of some Fallon & Sanz giggles, and the fact that even members of BOC themselves got in on the joke at some point years later, and you’ve got something worth burying in a time capsule.

 

 

 

FINAL SCORE:

MOJO: 7
BLOG: 2
PUSH: 1

 

 

So, Mojo was (mostly) right this time around–thanks to the lone Push, we’ll say they’re 75% right. Sure, there have been more iconic sketches before/since the ones featured here, but the ones they highlighted were pretty well versed in people’s memories. So much so, that when the commenters on the video complained that Mojo left out so many more iconic moments, they sort of felt a little pressure to add on to the list…………So they did………..but that’ll have to wait.

MM: A Good Cast is Hard to Find

SNL MOJO FINAL

Welcome to the first in our summer series “Misplaced Mojo”, where (in case you missed it), we take a look at the many, many, many, many, MANY, many SNL related lists the infamous listmakers have come up with, and see if they truly have any merit whatsover. Buckle up, folks, we’ve got a LOT to cover these next 3 months. We begin with an “As Promised” list of who WatchMojo thinks are the Greatest cast members to ever grace Studio 8H…Keep in Mind, this list was first published in 2014, so DON’T freak out that “Current” cast members aren’t a part of it.

 

 

Some ground rules before we begin; For Most (if not All) of these lists, the main focus is to see what WM Got Right, Wrong or just “Half Right” about some of the rankings on these lists. If I agree 100%, they get a point in their favor; if they’re Wrong, the point goes to us. “Half Right” (Or a “Push”) would be something like Agreeing with the selection on the list in general, but not necessarily with its overall positioning on them (this also goes for any “Honorable Mentions” they might have from time to time). Also, to be fair to them/give them some extra advertising, I will post the video Before I get into my comments. Like I said, think about this as an oversized version of “Point/Counterpoint”. With that said, here’s what THEY say about all-time greatest cast members.

 

 

 

Now, here’s what WE say…

 

 

MOJO_BELUSHI

  1. JOHN BELUSHI – Having him (and a number of others) on ANY SNL related list seems like a mandatory requirement no matter what the category; at the same time, I can understand why people might go apeshit over the fact that he is ranked last on the list…but I don’t quite see it the same way. In the entire 43 (going on 44) year history of the show, there have been near/around/slightly over 150 Cast Members; so try not to mistake Belushi’s position here as being “Dead Last”, Instead think that he finished in 10th place out of a possible 150+; mathematically speaking, that’s still a strong finish. Then again, compared to a slightly more definitive, yet controversial list like Rolling Stone’s 40th Anniversary list (Which I’ll lay the hammer down on eventually), they place Belushi at Number One…Is even THAT considered justified considering there are people just a little more talented who would eventually join the show’s ranks ever since? Truth be told, as much of an Icon as Belushi has become (and Lord Knows how much I’ve spoken about him already), he still did comparatively less than other cast members considering he was only on for 4 years; yet his output was decidedly more potent than—say—Kenan Thompson’s or Darrell Hammond’s. It’s basically a question of Quantity Vs Quality in the long run. So with that, this is one of those “Half Right” selections; Belushi certainly deserves to be on this list; but just as certainly he deserves to be in the top 5 instead…just NOT number one. And at the risk of being TOO redundant for the rest of the list, there’s gonna be a handful of these entries that share the same sentiment…

 

MOJO: 0
BLOG: 0
PUSH: 1

 

 

MOJO_GILDA

  1. GILDA RADNER – Same Story as Belushi, she Deserves a mention on ANY “Best of” list, just not in this position…a little higher, maybe. There’s going to be a few instances here where I will direct you to something I wrote previously on certain people; because quite honestly, what else is there to say about them that hasn’t been said already? Gilda is no exception; she was versatile, she was physical, and she would do just about anything to get the laugh…she deserves MUCH Better than 9th.

 

MOJO: 0
BLOG: 0
PUSH: 2

 

 

MOJO_CARVEY

  1. DANA CARVEY – The first “Agreeable” ranking on the list; he certainly made the show worth watching when it was going through its 2nd round of troubles in the mid-80s, but because he was part of a cast that functioned as well individually as they did in an ensemble, being number 8 out of a possible 150+ is kinda comfortable. And While I hope to do a full-fledged article on him some day, I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version now; Every SNL cast NEEDS at least One good impressionist to help balance things out or to save the day whenever things tend to flag a little. The 70s had Belushi, the Early 80s had Piscopo, the Mid/late 80s had Carvey, and he helped pave the way for Hammond, Fallon, Hader and far too many others since ’86.

 

MOJO: 1
BLOG: 0
PUSH: 2

 

 

Saturday Night Live

  1. DAN AYKROYD – This is probably the most painful call to make, but Even though he’s a certified legend, I personally feel that Aykroyd might’ve been a little Too serious in his performances sometimes. Maybe because there’s a bit of stoicism in Canadians that tend to make them a little stiff, but with the exception of a few moments, the split between straight man and goofy might’ve been 70/30 with him. I’ll grant that Fred Garvin, Irwin Mainway and half of the “Wild & Crazy Guys” were chances for him to break out of his shell once in a while; but If you REALLY look at the work Aykroyd did in his 4 years, he predominantly played it straight…which considering it’s a comedy show, that’ll ultimately do damage–Ask Christopher Guest & Michael McKean if you doubt the claim—not unlike them, however; Aykroyd is still funny where it counts…just not here. If you love the guy, more power to ‘ya; I just “Like” him, and I wish he loosened up a little bit more…Either that, or I need to drink a lot more Crystal Head……….Just as Soon as it’s actually available for Sale outside the NYC Metro Area (Seriously, did Aykroyd lose a bet with Andrew Cuomo or something?)

 

MOJO: 1
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 2

 

 

MOJO_HARTMAN

  1. PHIL HARTMAN – Another fair position; and not unlike Carvey, his ability to save sketches justifies his position—but perhaps it’s because Hartman was more of a “Senior” performer versus Carvey’s relatively young talent that Hartman has the upper hand; he already had years of stage work, TV/Cartoon work and even a few bit parts in movies under his belt; Carvey (at the very least) had an uncredited cameo in “Spinal Tap” and a Mickey Rooney sitcom under His belt before making it big (MAYBE Carvey’s role in “Tough Guys” counts considering it was released one week before he started doing SNL…but I digress)—Clearly, Hartman had the advantage. Again, I don’t want to be too redundant with this entry either, so if you have a moment, take a look at his “Hidden Gems” once again, and you’ll see why his spot on the list is fair.

 

MOJO: 2
BLOG: 1
PUSH: 2

 

 

'Masterminds' film premiere, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 26 Sept 2016

  1. KRISTEN WIIG – I know I’m probably BEGGING for Hate Mail for saying this, but I NEVER liked Kristen Wiig as a Cast Member and STRICTLY as a Cast member…or at least in her “Later” years on the show when it became evident that she would become a major star by dominating the screen time—sometimes ferociously. Anything else she has ever done, I’m perfectly OK with; Bridesmaids, Lola Bunny, even some of her semi-serious roles in certain movies as of late are worth another look—yet for some reason, especially from 2009 to 2012, she was one of a handful of people that truly got under my skin; and I KNOW I’m not the only one who feels this way. This is not to take away from her obvious talents, I just never cared for her personally once she let stardom get to her head a little (at least when Kate McKinnon’s star was/is still currently on the rise, her performances remained down to earth most of the time). Maybe when enough time passes, my thoughts towards her annoyance factor will cool down a little, but this (IMO) shows off a major problem with these WM lists—Because most of these lists are a combination of popular opinion by their viewers and WM’s editorial guidance, the consensus might be a little tainted. I will grant WM SOME credit for pointing out that some of her characters were (and I quote) “Annoying and Absurd”…The first truly “Honest” thing I’ve heard in this list so far.

 

MOJO: 2
BLOG: 2
PUSH: 2

 

 

MOJO_MYERS

  1. MIKE MYERS – I should probably remind everybody that WM is a Canadian based content house—so perhaps, they wanted to give a little Home Field advantage to some of the citizens of the native land (see: Aykroyd). Whereas Carvey helped the show renew its relevance in the mid-80s, Myers had a bit more of a “Coolness” factor that propelled the show into the 90s—Wayne’s World gets most of the credit for that, but let’s not forget about the absurdity of “Sprockets”, the New Yorky flavor of “Coffee Talk”, and even some one-to-two-off characters like “Simon”, and “Phillip the Hyper Hypo” among others. With all those accomplishments to his name, Of course he’s funny…but Not “Top 5” funny. I’d place him in a Tie with Carvey on this one. Partly because I see Myers as more of a Yin to Carvey’s Yang—Carvey was more freewheeling in his performances, while Myers did things at a more “reserved” level (Not to invoke Canadian stereotypes or anything). The two don’t cancel each other out by any means, but they do perform on an even keel.

 

MOJO: 2
BLOG: 2
PUSH: 3

 

 

MOJO_MURPHY

  1. EDDIE MURPHY – No complaints here, Murphy saved the show when it needed saving the most…at least the first time it needed saving, anyway. Murphy is LONG overdue for his own article here, and I’m going to put him in the “To Do” pile. But to sum up, here’s a guy who was literally and figuratively a kid from Long Island when news got out that the show was looking for a new cast. He called them, he bugged them, he pestered them (respectfully, of course); and as a reward for being persistent, he was able to become a Background extra…then a featured player, then a Full Cast Member…All within just a few episodes. The Closest I’ve seen to that kind of fast progression Since Eddie was either when Amy Poehler got the bump from Featured to Full Time in the middle of her first season, or Leslie Jones going from Uncredited in Season 39 to Featured by Season 40–but I digress. Murphy quickly realized that once he had a taste of stardom, he had to hang onto it for dear life; for both his and the show’s sake—the show wouldn’t have lasted beyond the 6th year if it weren’t for him, end of story.

 

MOJO: 3
BLOG: 2
PUSH: 3

 

 

MOJO_FARLEY

  1. CHRIS FARLEY – Another Tough call considering he was one of many that I (and countless millions) grew up watching; but considering his entire career was based on the emulation of his idol (I.e. WM’s #10 Pick), copycatting might actually hinder Farley a little. Yeah, he did it his own way, but the comparisons to Belushi eventually cancel each other out—all the yelling he did from time to time doesn’t help matters either. Back in his “Hidden Gems” piece, I point out a number of performances he did that were both subtle and muted; if he had an equal amount of those alongside his more brash ones, then perhaps he would’ve become more versatile in the long run. Unfortunately, bellowing “SON OF A BITCH!!!” every 3 sketches in his last year kinda ruined things a little. Truth be told, Farley & Belushi should trade places on WM’s list…but that’s just me (Get used to a LOT of “Your Mileage may Vary” opinions this summer, BTW).

 

MOJO: 3
BLOG: 2
PUSH: 4

 

 

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

 

 

ADAM SANDLER: There was once a time (say, when I was a pre-teen) when I considered Sandler to be a Comedy God…but then puberty kicked in, and I suddenly outgrew what others actually consider “funny” at the time–WM got this one right putting him at the kids table.

 

 

JASON SUDEIKIS: He was certainly a Great utility player who pulled through for everybody when needed, but Don’t rank him among the “All-Time” Greats just yet…Give it another 10 years or so for history to settle a little—I’ll call it a Push.

 

 

DARRELL HAMMOND: Honorable Mention?! BULL! SHIT! Granted, his last 3 or 4 years were phoned in more than a Verizon product, but he still was a team player to the bitter end. Hell, he helped give SNL’s Political Humor a much needed shot in the arm in the late 90s/early 00s thanks to Clinton & Gore. Hammond is Beyond honorable, and if this were a “Top 11” list, he would certainly have a more prominent position—WM is wrong here.

 

 

BILL MURRAY: Again, Another certifiable legend. But considering this list is based on SNL performance alone, placing Murray on Any section of the list is a little dicey considering he was only on the show for 3.5 years. I would say he was funny for 2.5 years, but by Season 5, between Meatballs, Caddyshack and holding down 90% of the Male leads in sketches, the burnout was imminent. As long as his output was potent, however, I would put him in Aykroyd’s spot—Mojo’s Wrong.

 

 

BILL HADER: MORE BULLSHIT! Knowing that Hammond wasn’t going to stay forever, they had to groom an heir apparent ASAP. Hader could not only do impressions at the drop of a hat, and not only did he give the world Stefon, but even if you took those elements away, Hader still gave us some of the most chameleon-like performances the show has had in recent memory. I feel like I should be giving him (among others) an article at some point; but for now, he should be taking Wiig’s spot on the list.

 

MOJO: 4
BLOG: 5
PUSH: 5

 

 

MOJO_FERRELL

  1. WILL FERRELL – The internet is a strange place where no two people can agree on anything, yet somehow there’s still a common consensus (Make Sense?). The fact that Will Ferrell is the Alpha and Omega cast member on a number of these lists (including this one) should come to as much a surprise as saying the sky is Blue…Then again, I became an SNL fan around the same time he joined the cast. So for me and MANY others who are my age (and is probably running 99% of the internet) back then, Ferrell was the North Star of Comedy. Not unlike Carvey & Murphy, Ferrell stepped in to save the day when the show needed it the most—Though, in comparison to the first two times the show needed saving, this wasn’t as dire; in spite of Season 20’s flaws, the show wasn’t facing any (major) cancellation threats because of them, it just needed a tune-up and Ferrell was installed as the head gasket in the engine (Which I guess makes Hammond the Gear Shifter, Kattan the spare tire, and Cheri Oteri the blaring car alarm…but I digress). The thing that made Ferrell as beloved as he’s become is not just his talent, but the fact that he’s a human Swiss army knife—He could do impressions, he could do straight roles of varying intensity, he could dial back a performance or crank it up; but most importantly, he would do all of these things without running them into the ground. He (almost) always knew when enough was enough, and then move on to the next thing with little effort needed. Even when things were clearly bombing, Ferrell kept soldering on as though it was no big deal. Simply put, if you were to take just a sliver of the people who have made this list, the sum of the formula would be Will Ferrell.

 

FINAL SCORE:

MOJO: 5
BLOG: 5
PUSH: 5

 

 

 

Altogether, this was a “Neutral” list—though depending on how optimistic/pessimistic you are, you COULD say that Mojo got it 33-50% right. A Lot of Mojo was misplaced in this case, but this was also a little tough to judge fairly—ESPECIALLY considering people can become fans of the show at different points in one’s lives. Mine was the 90s, Other people could’ve came of age in the other 4 decades, and that’s perfectly fine. Not unlike all the other lists that are to come in the next few months, they should never be seen as “Definitive”…especially considering they left a number of people out who were/are FAR more talented. I also found it odd that they didn’t include the following people:

 

Jane Curtin
Laraine Newman
Joe Piscopo
Jon Lovitz
Jan Hooks
Kevin Nealon
Tim Meadows
Molly Shannon
Tracy Morgan
Jimmy Fallon (despite giggling worse than a guy on Nitrous Oxide)

Rachel Dratch
Maya Rudolph (at least in her first few years)
Fred Armisen (Ditto)
Amy Poehler
Will Forte
…and, even though they are “Active” cast members, DEFINITELY room for Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones when the time comes. Then again, they only had room for 10 people in the first place.

 

 

Now while I said that I won’t say which list we’ll do next time, I will say that I want to change the category each time. So with that, the next face off will involve sketches…but what kind? Stay tuned.

 

 

The Future

To the Few of you who have been listening to “TV Tracks” in the past 9 Months, here’s what’s been happening so far, and here’s what’s going to happen in the future

TV TRACKS

Let me begin by saying, “Sorry for the lack of Updates”—Long story short, NEVER become an Adult (in the sense that your life revolves around bills and constant car repairs, the other “Adult” stuff is OK).

Let’s cut to the chase; I started “TV Tracks” for a few reasons; mostly because I love TV, TV is about to celebrate a major milestone; and as long as Nostalgia for it remains palpable, I figured that it would be just as fun to “Listen” to TV as it is to watch it. We officially began “TV Tracks” on September 16th, 2017. For Nearly 9 months, we’ve been playing TV’s Greatest Hits much to the delight of many people around the world. Since I don’t want to name-drop all the countries that tuned in, I will instead show you a Map—The Blue Countries listened, the REALLY Blue countries was just me…

View original post 1,285 more words

The Nicest Mean Girl

With Tina Fey hosting this season’s finale, and my already using up her most recent appearance alongside partner-in-crime Amy Poehler, it’s time to go back a little further to the year 2013 and that year’s 39th Season Premiere; one that can’t quite be understood without a little……ok, a LOT of historical context (*TAKES DEEP BREATH*):

 

2013 was the year that Fred Armisen left the show Much to some fan’s everlasting relief, Bill Hader left Much to most fan’s heartbreak, and Jason Sudeikis left too with Not quite as much heartbreak as Hader, but was still a big loss for the show. Also happening in the middle of this season, Seth Meyers leaving for “Late Night”, which meant counting down the weeks until he moves on and one of the 73 bazillion new featured players could take his place at the Update desk when the time came. In the 2013-2014 season, Six (!) out of an eventual Nine (!!) New Cast members were introduced in the forms of Beck Bennett, John Milhiser, Kyle Mooney, Noël Wells, Brooks Wheelan, and Writing veteran Mike O’Brien. At first glance, they would be welcome additions to the team, but ONLY if they knew how to steal camera time from the already established—and pretty well populated—cast, AND adapt to the occasional misfire in writing. Considering only Bennett, Mooney, and later Colin Jost, Leslie Jones & Sasheer Zamata made it to the next year, it’s nice to know “Survival of the fittest” isn’t a dead concept yet.

 

And as if that wasn’t enough to keep track of (without our brains turning into Sour Cream); Two More Big changes happened that year. Just a couple of weeks before the premiere, it was announced that Cecily Strong—who was only in her 2nd season at this point—was going to be co-anchor at the Update desk; which is one hell of a boost for a “Rookie” cast member to get. Considering how well Cecily had been doing in sketches the previous year, a lot of us had high hopes for her at the Desk…which reminds us all that sometimes it’s OK to be wrong…SOME times, not most. The other big change I was kinda mixed on; previous season featured player Tim Robinson stayed with the show for a little while longer…but not on camera. TPTB decided to make him just a writer instead. Honestly, I’m probably in the minority when I say this, but with the exception of “Roundball Rock” the year before, I don’t think Tim was THAT Great as a performer—nor did he really look the part of playing a performer as well–I know that’s a very vain thing to say, but it IS showbiz, Sometimes looks play a factor. Maybe Robinson is a better Writer than Performer (Tesh notwithstanding), and if he’s happy doing that instead of being on camera, more power to him & the best of luck……Though truth be told, check out Season 2 of “Detroiters” on Comedy Central this summer.

 

And now, onto the subject of this review; Tina has the honors of starting season 39 while also fresh off the end of “30 Rock”, and she was pretty much there to help bridge the gap between the rest of the cast and the Newbies. Also, Arcade Fire is here for the umpteenth time…And I’m just going to go ahead and say it, after all the times they’ve performed on the show previously, I Still don’t see what the big deal is about them.  If you like them, good for you. I just find them “Meh”—this also goes for their attempt at chasing David Byrne’s shadow just a few months ago…But (you guessed it), I digress. Enough rambling, here now is the start of Season 39…

 

 

FEY_COVER2

Tina Fey/Arcade Fire (Original Airdate: 9/28/2013)

 

 

 

 

FEY_OBAMA

OBAMACARE: The big highlight here was the appearance (the night before “Breaking Bad’s” Series Finale, BTW) of Aaron Paul portraying a version of Jesse Pinkman that would be legally binding in the eyes of both AMC Networks and NBComcast (note how they don’t actually say the character’s FULL name in either of his appearances in the show; pretty sneaky, NBC), and if it wasn’t for his appearance here, this would be a pretty standard opening. Taran as Ted Cruz was kinda expected; but based on looks, the show probably regretted demoting Robinson as he has a better physical structure to play Cruz. The fact that this was more ensemble than it was Jay solo was a plus—I especially liked Bobby & Beck’s run, Kate’s Doctor and Aidy at the beginning. Not much of a pace setter for the show or the season to come, but it was serviceable–Pinkman Notwithstanding. BTW, I like the last line he gave (“Wanna Know what Happened to My Friend? “NO!!”) I’m glad to see SNL hates Spoiler alerts like the rest of us…or at least back when it aired (Surely Everybody knows how the show ends by now, right?).

 

SCORE: 7 out of 10 Pre-existing conditions.

 

 

MONOLOGUE: Since this was the first show of the season; I’m ALMOST Willing to forgive the show for starting things with one of their “Song & Dance-ologues”, especially since Tina herself just admitted that it’s a humiliating part of the show (That’s why we Love you, Liz Lemon). As far as “S&D’s” go, this was thankfully brief, not too bad, and I think already have a crush on Noël Wells. Backtracking for a sec, Tina’s spiel about the “Characters” she played was kind of amusing, it kinda reminded me of Dana Carvey mentioning “Mr. Uneven Sideburns” c1996. This might not be a fair representation of the newbie’s talents, but I’m sure they’ll do just fine—and I applaud Tina for making them the focus of the monologue.

 

SCORE: 7 out of 10 Emmys for “30 Rock” that Tracy Morgan WISHES He had.

 

 

FEY_GIRLS

GIRLS: Welcome to the show, Noël (My spell checker and your name will become the best of friends, I’m sure. I’m just going to call you “Wells” if that’s OK). This might be an unfair critique because (1) I have never seen “Girls” before—save for a couple of clips, and (2) I have no intention to see “Girls” In the immediate future…Having said that, this was an OK parody. Wells pulls off Lena Dunham pretty well, all the other girls were OK…I guess. And of course, Tina has to play the Punchline Part—an Albanian immigrant in this case. For barely having seen the show, this was a pretty spot on parody. Bonus points for the fine print at the end of the commercial.

 

SCORE: 8 out of 10 Tattoos on Lena Dunham.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Not sure if this counts as “Irony”, but the real Dunham would eventually host the show later in March ’14, and Wells would foolishly NOT do her impression at any time during the episode. I’m not saying that would’ve saved her job, but it might’ve kept her from doing obscure indie flicks as of press time.

 

 

AIRPORT: For a lead off sketch (especially one to start off the season), this was kinda “meh”. Slice of Life sketches are an acquired taste, and may only be funny if the people watching have actually experienced such events in their own lives. I can give them credit for trying to show off as many New Cast members as possible, but this just felt like something they would put on Post-Update. I’m still trying to tell the new cast members apart, but for now I’ll say the “Children with Small Adult” people, Bobby as the “Proud Farter” and Aidy as the “Clapper” were my favorite parts. BTW, Hi Nasim! What a pleasant surprise to see you quickly walk on/off stage.

 

SCORE: 5 out of 10 Layovers at O’Hare.

 

 

CAST MEMBER OR ARCADE FIRE: I already mentioned this sketch on the “Game Shows” list; but to recap, This was a pretty good way of formally introducing half of the newbies—even if we don’t know their names by heart yet (I’m not kidding, it took me almost 70% of the season to get everybody’s name/face right…blame that on working the graveyard shift and barely staying awake that year). Though really, since Mrs. Wells is the ONLY New Female hire, her part was ultimately pointless. BTW, Hi Nasim! What a pleasant surprise to see you quickly walk on/off stage…Again. The ending with Lorne not knowing who Kenan is was a near-classic joke. Overall, the next time SNL hires anybody new; there should be a LOT more “Get to know me” pieces…as long as we actually get to know their names (I don’t want to keep rewinding to the montage just to place the face with the name).

 

SCORE: 7 out of 10 people I can recognize by face, but don’t remember their names.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yeah, that was kind of odd for Nasim Pedrad’s only two parts on the episode to be Non-Verbal; it’s almost as though she was ready to leave the show by the end of that year…oh, wait…

.

 

E-METH: If you’re a “Breaking Bad” fan, you could kind of see this coming from a mile away…but this was still amusing. It’s too early to tell which New Guy is which without going back to the credits, but whoever it was that appeared half-naked at the end: Congratulations! You have an Early Career Highlight! Of course with Pinkman in the building, you just KNOW they couldn’t just stop using him after the opening, right? His cameo at the end was a pretty decent punchline, and Thank god I binge-watched all the “BB” episodes several dozen times, otherwise this would not have been half as funny. Incidentally, this parody would repeat a couple of times through the season; but by then, Pinkman was cut out of the sketch entirely—I’m guessing they just paid him for the single-episode appearance only.

 

SCORE: 7 out of 10 times Aaron Paul says “Bitch” in a Single Episode of “BB”

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The “Half-Naked Guy” is one Brooks Wheelan; whose sole piece of SNL Trivia will be the way he reacted to getting canned after this season (I said it before, but say it with me again, audience…”FIRED FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT!”)

 

 

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UPDATE:

Seth’s Best: Ted Cruz’s Speech, Geraldo vs. WME, Dog Shoots Man

Cecily’s Best: Mental Illness, Party School, John Stamos

 

Commentaries:

*OK, lot of ground to cover. First, we have Tina “Passing the Torch” to Cecily (even though said torch had been passed to others since Tina left, but whatever). Tina, who looks completely different without her signature “Update” duds, was not necessary, but it was brief & still amusing.

 

*Kyle Debuts  “Bruce Chandling”; and like most Hack Comedians, he bombed the first time; but then, as time went on, we soon realized that this is the character’s intention, and that the awkwardness makes the character almost charming.

 

*And of course, With Stefon gone by this point, Drunk Uncle quickly became the most popular character on Update—not that that’s a Bad thing, he was good as always. And even though the Addition of Pinkman was nothing more than a blip on the map, it was still another good appearance. But once again, I have to ask…Why the hell is Pinkman NOT hosting the show? Maybe the censors are too scared he might say “Bitch” one too many times.

 

 

SCORE: 7 out of 10 Edward R. Murrows

CINEMA CLASSICS: I will give Kenan credit for “Guessing his Wife’s weight” at the beginning…but not much else. The rest of the sketch was just…Odd…Really Odd…so much so that I wonder if Robinson wrote the sketch. Regardless, this seemed like something they would air at 10 to 1; but as we’ll see a few paragraphs, a switch-out seems necessary. I want to say this was in the same vain as Christopher Walken adding Googly Eyes to Plants, but not as funny.

SCORE: 4 out of 10 Stuffed Owls at the Bates Motel (*AHEM*)

 

 

RICK’s MODEL-T’s: Introducing Mike O’Brien as a Cast Member! A lot of people criticized this one because it looks like Mike is relying too much on the Cue Cards, which may be the case, but considering how Tina is delivering her (Much funnier) lines, maybe it’s part of the joke. Tina did have the Bulk of the good material, but I’ll give Mike credit for listing the car’s features, “seats…….” And I will use my “First Show Jitters” card to bail him out this one time, but next time he’s on his own (He thought confidently).

 

SCORE: 6 out of 10 Rocket Powered Model-T Cars driven by a Toddler drinking Beer out of a Jar (Betcha thought I forgot about THOSE Sketches).

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: He never did get the jitters out of his system; O’Brien slowly, but surely realized his talents were best kept behind the camera (*coughAPBIOcough*).

 

 

MANOLO BLAHNIK: Show of hands, who else was hoping they’d say “Mayim Bialik” instead of what they went with? Furthermore, I’m probably off in my statistics, but this is probably a record for the Most Commercial Parodies in an episode (Or at least, most in a show, in a while). Anyway, I’m starting to think they’re reaching for mis-spoken/”danger” words at this point. Otherwise, Now that the sketch has been done more than 3 times, the quality is starting to slide a little…don’t get me wrong, this was still funny. But if you compare this to the other versions, you can tell that they’re struggling a little…and this was only the 4th time it’s been done. Tina didn’t really add too much, copying everybody else’s “My 4th grade teacher…” line. As I said, this (I think) was probably switched out with “Cinema Classics” simply so that they can get away with saying “Glass Blumpkin” at 12:50 AM…but again, it’s just a guess.

 

SCORE: 6 out of 10 Rolls Royce’s…whose name I’m mentioning in an effort to get a free one.

 

 

 

FINAL SCORE: 64 out of 100 (64% WATCHABLE)

 

FINAL THOUGHTS: A long time ago at that fabled fansite that no longer exists, I had mentioned this episode as my favorite of this season. Compared to all the shows that would follow this one, it’s pretty easy to see why; It was the only show of the year that felt like it was put together in a competent way. Not that the other shows were “Terrible” per se, but when someone like Tina hosts the show, they damn well better make sure they do it right. Despite the fact that there were a lot of cast changes made during that summer, and the fact that there were a lot of things we, the audience, had to get used to, This still felt like the most cohesive show of the season. I recall a number of articles during premiere week that stated how Tina was there to “Help Bridge the Gap” between the existing Cast and the deluge of Newcomers, and in a way, she did. All in all, it felt like a pretty solid show, thanks in part to Tina’s presence & guidance…What a shame said presence and guidance couldn’t carry over into the other episodes this year. It’s like as though after the episode ended, Training Day was over and it suddenly became every man/woman for him/herself. Which is why the one thing I will constantly hope for as long as there’s an SNL to watch, is that it someday goes back to being more of an ensemble show based on teamwork & collaboration, and less of a race for some to reach the launch pad for superstardom. At least, I’d like to think that this is the reason as to why the show has lasted as long as it has…that, and decent writing, but let’s cross/burn one bridge at a time.  Also, not to beat a dead horse, but I’m still holding out hope that Aaron Paul does something significant enough so he could properly host the show in the future—nobody gets to 8H by being on a Hulu show……….Bitch!

 

 

And that does it for the season; We’ll be off for a month or so to prep ourselves, and then we start to restore our “Mojo” for the summer. Thanks for sticking around!

The Vagina Monologist

There are many funny women in this world; Tina (who we’ll re-revisit next week), Amy, Gilda, Jonsey, Haddish, JLD, Jan Hooks, Sarah Silverman, Joan Rivers, Lucille Ball, and ESPECIALLY Carol Burnett just to name a few. So where does the sometimes polarizing and…(*PAINED SIGH*)…Emmy Winner Amy Schumer, fit in among these legends? It’s difficult to say at first glance. I saw “Trainwreck” a few years ago, and I’ve caught up with the reruns of her…(*GRITS TEETH*)…Emmy Winning Comedy Central show, and I guess she’s making her bones as an Envelope pusher. But quite honestly, the jury’s still out at this time, especially with her recent effort “I Feel Pretty” getting a lukewarm result at best. With that said, Let’s see how she did the first time among other SNL-ers NOT named Bill Hader………………….OK, look…in all seriousness, It’s not like SNL Deserved the Emmy for Variety Sketch Series in 2015, let alone a nomination. But I’d be lying if I didn’t think “Key & Peele” got SCREWED Big Time that year—I’m glad they Eventually won one the following year, but I’m guessing that was a make-up call…

 

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Amy Schumer/The Weeknd – Original Airdate: 10/10/2015

 

 

 

 

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FOX & FRIENDS: It’s getting to the point where “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” with these, but that doesn’t mean they still don’t have their moments. Taran’s Doocy remains Derpy, Vanessa makes the first of 3952 appearances tonight thanks in part to co-starring in “Trainwreck”, Bobby seems to have cranked the Kilmeade stupidity levels to 11 on this one, and God bless him for it. Pete is actually taking a formidable shot at being a “Character”, though his natural lisp seems to hinder it a little. Despite the presence of Bobby, Kate steals this one with a Wasserman-Shultz that makes her Hillary look less demonic in comparison. And of course, the “Corrections” at the end always acts as a decent life-saver (Though the only one I was able to remember off the top of my head was “The iPad is Not Just for Women”).

SCORE: 7 out of 10 Million Dollars’ worth of advertising the Koch Brothers invests in Fox News…daily.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Anybody miss Bobby & Vanessa?………Me, too.

 

 

 

MONOLOGUE: Schumer was OK here, but “Just OK”, not quite the caliber of stand-up from the hosts of the previous season; though Quite honestly, I was WAY too distracted by her outfit/curves to actually pay attention the first time I saw it. So after watching it a 2nd time online with a busted video card (In other words, “Listening” instead of “Watching”), the material is actually a lot more solid than we seem to be giving her credit for; Especially her bits on Hillary Clinton drinking, meeting Bradley Cooper, and her various self-deprecating body issues. All in all, it was just “OK”; nothing earth shattering, just safe, network TV humor with a few minor chuckles—could’ve done without the Kardashian & Baby Bath jokes.

SCORE: 6 out of 10 “Vagina Monologues” (which I’m honestly shocked Schumer hasn’t tried her hand at yet).

 

 

 

DELTA AIRLINES: I’m always going to be a big fan of Physical comedy—even if the comedy itself is a little weak and especially if a well-crafted special effect or two is involved…Having said that, a few elements kept this one from being good. The fact that 75% of the sketch was shocked, panicked yelling was the biggest distraction, though not half as distracting as Schumer & Vanessa attempting to sing some dime-store Spice Girls routine…and yet, quite honestly, those were the only two bad things about this sketch. Vanessa probably gives her best performance in the 6 years she’s been on the show—no joke. Yeah, she’s still pretty much being Meg Griffin’d here, but at least she’s using her character’s fear/anger to her advantage. Schumer then takes the ball and runs with it by doing more of the physical stuff; and despite Taran’s “3rd wheel” place setting, his brief moments of panic were still amusing. In the end though, the Special effects were the star of the sketch

 

SCORE: 6 out of 10 hour layovers at LaGuardia.

 

 

HOT FOR TEACHER 8: Let’s add this to a list of things I’m honestly surprised they’ve taken 40+ years to do; Yeah, they’ve riffed on Porn a number of times before, but definitely Not like this. The addition of Aidy’s precocious little girl was certainly a move out of nowhere, and was the centerpiece of the sketch in addition to Schumer & Mooney’s intentionally bad porno acting. Not only that, but Vanessa delivers a finishing move with her straight-laced, but clueless banter between her & Schumer (I especially liked the F.U. Wordplay). Bonus points for giving the sketch a “Gritty VHS” kind of look, always like the little technical extras like that. It wasn’t exactly a solid sketch, but Aidy certainly did the lion’s share of making it work—especially on the punchline & her character’s overall innocence. It sort of straddles the line between Cute and Frisky without being too overbearing.

 

SCORE: 7 out of 10 remaining people in the world who still Pay Monthly for “Premium” porno sites.

 

 

GUNS: I don’t want to say that this is sort of a spiritual sequel to the legendary “Show Us Your Guns” film that coincidentally aired on the first show 40 years ago today (as of when I ORIGINALLY Wrote this review in 2015), but it’s one Hell of a coincidence to have in common here. Once again, the abundance & overall acceptance of just how many guns there are in this country takes the spotlight. And Just like that film from 40 years ago, this “Sequel” is a very pointed social commentary that has just the right amount of humor added to the mix for good measure. Only this time, the humor here is more blatantly obvious vs. 1975 being subtle. Not only that, but they utilize the “Fake out” method in executing the joke very well here. Yeah, guns are still a touchy subject; but as long as the humor is executed properly, I have no complaints—the satire’s as sharp here as the original “Guns” was back in ‘75.

SCORE: 8 out of 10 guns pried “from my Cold, Dead Hands.”

 

 

SCHUMER_UPDATE

UPDATE: (Part 1 Here, Part 2 There)

Colin’s Best: American Apparel, NY Comicon.

Michael’s Best: Knicks, FDA, Chuck E. Cheese.
 
Commentaries:

 

*Jost scores big with the opening “Speaker” Mini-comment, but nearly squanders it with the one about Bieber’s “Bieb”. 

 

*The Gun Control Commentary/back-and-forth between the two was pure Gold…and could very well be an Early season highlight whether you’re an Ammophile or not.

 

*Nice to see that Jay still has a few tricks up his sleeve, and that it’s NOT a celebrity impression—though I’d be lying if I didn’t think his “Solomon” reminded me of an Adult Urkel/Blues Singer/Boomhauer hybrid.

 

*The brief “Weeknd” Update was somewhat out of left field, but still briefly clever.

 

*And as much as I enjoy Kate’s stuff, her characters with Accents are probably her Only major weakness—it doesn’t matter if it’s Spanish, Russian or whatever, it’s ALWAYS a foreign person complaining about something.

 

*Nevertheless, this Update belonged to Jost & Che, who (by this point in time) Finally seem to be realizing that they might work better as a team instead of as two solo acts.

SCORE: 8 out of 10 WDIV’s (NBC in Detroit…which now gives me just cause to play This clip.)

 

 

FORD’S THEATER: In variation #5924 of “Person can’t do a Simple Task for the sake of Comedy while Kenan Reacts”, at least Schumer’s energy is enough to keep things from being too dull—which would probably explain the lack of Jonesy so far this episode, maybe Schumer’s doing all the “Loud” parts. But yeah, this sketch is just Schumer being extra loud in trying to “Spice Things up”—and once the initial joke is told, no matter how many times she winds up doing something different each time, she just gets louder & louder causing things to get worse and worse (Save for the uncomfortable humor involving the Black family later on). To be fair, the little goof with Mooney’s mustache near the end was a salvageable moment. Otherwise, this sketch didn’t really do Schumer & Co. any favors.

 

SCORE: 5 out of 10 rough drafts of the Gettysburg Address.

 

 

HANDS FREE SELFIE STICK:  Forgive me for channeling my inner-Norm, but…A butt-plug with a cord that takes pictures for you…and you thought You had it tough. One joke premises like these are tough to judge without pointing out just how one-note the joke is…but at least everybody involved seems to be having a fun time with it. Also, while there was only one joke being the “Stick” getting (shall we say) “All up in there”, Schumer did have a salvageable line in the amazement that the stick takes photos. I could credit the props department for creating something this evasive ‘til the cows come home, but it’s the (surprisingly lacking) comedy that matters here.

 

SCORE: 5 out of 10 duck faces people tend to do in their own selfies.

 

 

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CITIZENS FORUM:  Since this is an ensemble piece, I’m going to bullet point everybody’s individual moment in an effort to keep from making run-on sentences:

*Glad to see Cecily made it in tonight.
*Aidy did a Perfect impression of people who take such town meetings WAY too Seriously.
*Kyle’s Dutch accent gave me a bad Fred Armisen vibe for some reason.
*Kenan’s Halloween guy was surprisingly NOT the worst thing about this.
*Schumer gives her best performance of the night as a rather disturbing (but still on-point) little girl—BTW, starting to notice a trend with this show (I’m starting to think her Cousin, Senator Chuck might’ve been a guest consultant)?
*Jonesy thankfully toned it down a notch (but still scored) for her one appearance this week—guess she needed a rest from the show that aired previously.
*Pete helped end the sketch on a rather douchy note.

SCORE: 7 out of 10 miles of paperwork I need just to add a Stop sign in my town.

 

 

BABY SHOWER: When this aired, some people wanted to compare this to 2007’s epic blight of “Where’s My Purse”, and that is indeed a pretty fair comparison to make. Though I will say, (1) Schumer’s bitchiness here is far less unbearable than Wiig moaning & droning any day of the week, (2) Cecily’s exaggerated Mary Tyler Moore-ish crying was awkwardly amusing, and (3) I’m glad they swept Anderlette under the “5 to 1” rug this week where nobody would watch it…except of course for those who feel the need to criticize…………Hi, there.

 

SCORE: 2 out of 10 Epidurals

 

 

FINAL SCORE: 61 out of 100 (61% WATCHABLE)

 

FINAL THOUGHTS: OK, so Schumer WAS actually funny here…I just don’t think She’s quite ready to be in the same category as the ladies I mentioned at the beginning…at least, not this soon in her career. Then again, like most Women & fine wines, maybe she’ll be better with age, so perhaps this show might be better appreciated when it re-runs…or once Schumer reaches her “Last F***able Day” (Whichever occurs first). For now though, she did reasonably well. As for the rest of the show, Vanessa dominated/easily made up for lost time from the previous year within a single episode, Aidy batted clean-up, and Jost & Che were ON FIRE. The only other thing that might’ve helped this show is if Hader made a cameo…because Vanessa wasn’t the ONLY co-star of “Trainwreck”, you know. In comparison to her most recent show in 2018, however, this show is a masterpiece.

 

 

NEXT WEEK: Pending unexpected cast farewells, The season neither goes out with a bang nor fizzles to a halt with Tina Fey. So with that, we’ve got her 2013 appearance, as well as the debut of some of SNL’s current (or “soon to be former?”) mainstays.

 

Happy Mother’s Day, Ma…Enjoy Thailand, Sis!