I’m surprised I haven’t spoken more about Bill Hader by now—and while there will be a Hidden Gems/Cast Chronology of him sometime in the future (*coughSUMMERcough*), he’s hosting this week, and this is what I have saved in the archives. Then again, why should I say anything about him, considering that he was one of those rare cast members who cannot be (largely) criticized no matter how hard you try? Yeah, he had his fair share of giggle fits—ESPECIALLY in the later years of Stefon & elsewhere—but the guy is probably the 21st Century combination/emulation of Phil Hartman and Dana Carvey; Carvey for his impressions, Hartman for his durability. Even at his worst, you couldn’t find any fault with the guy; pulling through in the clutch when a scene was obviously flatlining. So when he returned to host for the first time in 2014, he did so with the audience retaining a sense of fondness that could only be after leaving the show for a little while—absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say…I wish I could say the same for someone else who happens to show up in this episode……



Bill Hader/Hozier (Original Airdate: 10/11/2014)




KIM JONG UN: No offense, but those have got to be The WHITEST Koreans I have ever seen in my life…seriously, for all the fuss people have been making about a lack of diversity on the show, let’s see if we can get some Asian cast members next…but that’s another rant for another day—Though on the plus side, I’m glad they didn’t do any stereotypical Asian accents in this one, and instead opted to go for “American Anime Dub” style voices. It feels like forever since we’ve seen Bobby in a leading role of some kind, which is unfortunate because for all the praise I keep giving him for stealing scenes in bit parts his major roles seem to invoke a lot of scenery chewing. Not that he didn’t try here, something about his performance seemed a little “Lou Costello-ish”—if not slightly over the top. I have a feeling this might have been switched out after dress, but then again I’ve been so accustomed to seeing Domestic politics open the show that seeing something Foreign related was……uh…foreign to see. But as always, as long as it’s not an Obama opening, it’s always a plus.


SCORE: 6 out of 10 POWs forced to perform in Plays dedicated to “Dear Leader”.



EDITOR’S NOTE: This sketch, BTW, I alluded to in the review of Amy Adams’ episode while looking over the “Asian American Doll” sketch. The point remains, SNL SHOULD hire more Asians…or Any Asians for that matter; Leo Yoshimura’s not gonna live forever. And since we’re on the subject of North Korea; since it looks like the Infected Q-Bert is going to meet up with Kim Jong Un sometime in the Spring, and the show will more than likely spoof the meeting taking place, may I recommend stuntcasting with Ken Jeong? Guy’s hilarious AND he’s an actual Doctor! Just a thought. Also of note, look for a Pre-Cast Member Mikey Day in the Background, back when he was just a humble writer.




MONOLOGUE: Love the energy from Bill, including his story about how he got discovered for the show And the “Skeleton Twins” joke…but then, lord have mercy on us all, Wiig Shows Up. But to be fair, at least her presence tonight is thankfully limited to just this and another sketch, so I remain cautiously optimistic for the rest of the show. And let’s add Harvey Firestein to the list of Random people who I would NEVER expect to appear on the show in a million years, (especially after all the times Lovitz Lampooned him) His appearance was largely pointless and had a feeling of WTF—and not in a good way. As for the “Singing” itself…well…it’s there. Yeah, there’s not really much to defend here (whether you’re a Hader fan or not).


SCORE: 4 out of 10 times I just wanna be loved (is that so Wron-gah!).


EDITOR’S NOTE: Also not unlike Adams’ episode, the amount of times Kristen Wiig cameoed since she left the show in 2012 was starting to boarder on desperate—but it was Adams’ episode where it reached critical mass, and thankfully (with the exception of her hosting in 2016), the cameos have largely died down. Again, I don’t want to knock her talents, she’s got a lot to spare. But you can’t leave the show only to keep coming back over and over through the years. Jon Lovitz tried doing that once, and he wound up being the butt of this 1991 opening. Moderation, guys!





HERB WELCH: Despite the mic joke and the Death fakeout being older than dirt, It was good to see this  again. The only thing that can make these “different” each time are the kinds of insults that Hader would dish out to the people he interviews—my favorites include “I don’t take orders from Manniquins”, and his choice words towards Cecily. Also, I’m glad somebody other than Sudeikis is feeding him the straight lines this time (either that or they blew the cameo budget on Wiig this week—Firestein came cheap, I assume). Even though it was the same joke over & over, I can never really bring myself to “hate” these sketches; Hader’s still funny in them, and sometimes that’s all that matters.


SCORE: 6 out of 10 more decades until Herb Welch can collect his pension.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This trivia probably boarders on “Captain Obvious” but for those who still don’t know, the Herb Welch sketches were based on an actual incident on local TV here in New York many years ago. I’m gonna give you a second to watch the video and let the scene speak for itself…(*WAITS*)…That being said, yeah, this sketch really wore out its welcome after the first few times. Hader was still amusing in them, but the formula is so “Lather, Rinse, Repeat” that even if it was still a little charming, we already know what to expect. Thankfully for the show, this marked the beginning of a period (still going on today) where they don’t have to depend so much on characters (Baldwin’s Trumpster Fire & Update people notwithstanding), and instead focus more on actual comedy. On the other hand, it’s Hader! How could he NOT do any of his greatest hits?




THE GROUP HOPPER: I mentioned this on the “Movie Parodies” list a while back, and I still think it holds up as a solid parody of just how confusing some of these movies are—whether you read the Book they’re based on, or not. One new thing I can say about them is just how much Hader throws himself into it as the dystopian queen that’s obviously a hybrid of Hunger Games, Divergent, and maybe a little Harry Potter thrown in. When it came time to review this for the first time, I couldn’t believe how many people were ragging on it—not even the AV Club could be swayed by how obviously sharp a parody this was. I thought it was spot on, and also a good chance for then-newcomer Pete Davidson to flex a little. It still holds up, moving on…


SCORE: 8 out of 10 Chosen Ones.





HOLLYWOOD GAME NIGHT: OK, Standard Impression Showcase Procedure time, let’s rattle them off…Nice to see Kate’s “Jane Lynch” improve greatly from when she did it in “Family Feud” the previous  year, It’s about time Cecily actually did her Sofia Vergara AS Sofia Vergara (unlike that “Men’s activist” sketch with O’Brien), Taran as Christoph Waltz was unusually off-target, Jay as Morgan Freeman was decent, Beck as Nick Offerman was kinda lost on me (again, not a big “Parks & Recreation” watcher, so I wouldn’t know much about his mannerisms…though his ID’ing a Snickers bar as a “Healthy Stool” was Juvenile but still funny.), Hader will Always score as Pacino—especially that line about a hooker’s address, and (*ANNOYED SIGH*) Wiig as Kathie Lee continues to just be unnecessarily mean—I mean, yeah, Gifford may seem like a bit of a Diva if you ever see her in person (which I have not), but she doesn’t seem like the “Stone Cold Bitch” type…a little power driven maybe, but certainly not a bad person (on purpose…jury’s still out on that Sweatshop thing). Granted, it’s just a “Character” Wiig does, but something about it has always rubbed me the wrong way. As for the sketch itself, Who cares, it’s pretty much the same old Game show trope of people messing up the answers. We tune in for the impressions, and that’s it.


SCORE: 7 out of 10 lawsuits between this and “Celebrity Name Game” with Craig Ferguson (check your local listings…while you can).




HELP FUND: It’s about time somebody made fun of these kinds of commercials—still waiting for a Sarah McLaughlin/ASPCA parody, BTW. Granted, the joke about 39 cents not going a long way isn’t exactly a new joke, but it’s the way the variation on the joke can be made that makes it worth watching. Hader is trying his best to fend off the criticism from the others over just how mis-managed charitable organizations can be sometimes. Jay & Sasheer do their parts well, and after the influx of Kenan we got in the past two weeks, I’m glad that this is not only his Only appearance this week; but because of the added benefit of being filmed, he doesn’t act like a total spaz here. Also, Hi Leslie, Still waiting for your name to be a part of the Montage (We ALL Are…fingers crossed for a January berth). The only thing I would complain about this one was that maybe Jay, Kenan, Sasheer & Leslie might have been a little TOO stereotypical in their portrayals—they ARE supposed to be refugees, right? Not people who live on 125th street?


SCORE: 7 out of 10 times Sally Struthers ate all the food in their village (Yeah, that’s an old joke too…No, Older than that.).


EDITOR’S NOTE: Jonsey would finally get her name in the Credits by the next episode with Jim Carrey.




LOVE IS A DREAM: (*SIGH*) Yes, we now need to be reminded of some sadness. It was during the week of this show that the great Jan Hooks passed away, and this was the sketch they aired as a tribute (one that I covered a few years ago in our “Tom Time” sub-section, so let’s save a step). But sketch aside, it was at this point that I started to notice that something may be a little “Off” about this season…and if you read the beginning of my Season 20 list, you’re probably way ahead of me in that a lot of things that happened in that season seem to be happening all over again in this season. In this case; Hooks passed away in the middle of a show week, killing whatever momentum was building…the same could be said for the late Michael O’Donoghue who passed in the middle of a show week in ’94, thus killing That episode’s momentum…I really have no reason to bring this up aside from sheer coincidence and the fact that I’ve already spoke about this sketch at great length. For now, let’s just enjoy an all-time classic one more time…





UPDATE: (Although Stefon was the highlight, here’s Parts 1 & 2 anyway)

Colin’s Best: Heroin at Daycare.

Michael’s Best: Gay Marriage, New York Comic-Con.

*Pete strikes gold (chains) once again, though a lot shorter than his first one.
*And honestly, what can be said about Stefon that hasn’t already been said? My favorite bits included “Spanish Seinfeld”, Dan Cortese (times 3), Prozac Doobie Brothers and Human Defibrilators…Also, a Major Plus for not having Seth stop by and cameo.


At this point in the show, Jost & Che were still testing the waters, and the fandom were continuing to write off Jost as a bit of a drag. Fortunately in this show, Jost’s delivery still leaves something to be desired…something like ANYTHING for instance…but otherwise I honestly didn’t hear a “Bad” joke from him. Che ultimately had the better night; but then again, he was even newer, so we had to give him just as much of a chance first.

UPDATE SCORE: 7 out of 10 WXIA’s (NBC in Atlanta)



PUPPETRY CLASS II: (*SQUACK, THUD*) I see SNL has decided to kill another Golden Goose, but considering we probably don’t have to see this again (unless Hader hosts again), I’ll watch with an open mind. The “Sesame Street” joke and the “War Flashback” at the end were the ONLY things that kept this from being a 100% carbon copy, which is fine by me—as long as there’s SOME variation, it’s still entertaining. Taran, Bobby & Cecily were pretty much interchangeable in Seth MacFarlane, Kenan & Vanessa’s roles in the first one (save for a few subtle differences). The one thing that kinda confused me was the fact that the puppet was blowing smoke out of its mouth again…but Where was the Cigarette?! Puppets aren’t THAT Magical.


SCORE: 7 out of 10 times you can be as Loud as the Hell you Want on “Avenue Q”.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Again, Since it’s Hader, he/the writers felt the need to break out the “Greatest Hits”. But the Original puppetry sketch was so unique by itself, a 2nd was beyond necessary. Quite honestly, I would’ve been happy with another “Greg the Alien” sketch, and since Hader is hosting in the middle of March Madness, maybe we might get that chance again.





GOOD NEIGHBOR – INSIDE SoCAL: This was a couple steps Better than the first one, mostly because it was less of a Party atmosphere and more of a “2 idiots with a camera” kind of thing. The addition of Pete as a reporter was a good move, and Hader fit in pretty well as well. This continues the kind of mentality they had in things like last year’s “Class President”, in that it deftly parodies just about any Male, Non-Geek, Non-Athletic High School Student from the mid 90s to now. I guess Good Neighbor has a special affinity for Slackers.


SCORE: 7 out of 10 “Ocean Pacific” T-Shirts.



CAT IN THE HAT: (*INSERT OBLIGATORY “AT LEAST HE’S NOT MIKE MYERS” JOKE HERE*) Now that we got That out of the way, I’ll give them credit for capturing the style of Dr. Seuss on a shoestring budget and for getting the make-up right unlike that abomination of a Movie tried to do, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’ve seen this kind of “Absentee Ex” thing so many times before. Hell, Jimmy & Tina did it a year after he left, and it wasn’t that funny back then either. As much as I appreciate the effort from Hader—who carried this one like Atlas & the Globe, this still looks like something a Fanfic writer would put together. All that’s missing is mis-spelled words, bad grammar and more sex, and it would be pretty on par with your common “SlashFic” (Please don’t ask how I know about that).


SCORE: 4 out of 10 dishes of Green Eggs & Ham




FINAL SCORE: 63 out of 100 (63% WATCHABLE)



FINAL THOUGHTS: Despite a certain pall of sadness around the studio that week, this episode was well beyond better than the first two shows of that season. Hader hit the high marks—as usual–and despite use of Wiig, the show wisely used some of its most familiar material to keep us (or at least myself) entertained. Looking back, there were probably one too many things that repeated (Seriously, the First Puppetry Class was a classic, a 2nd one wasn’t necessary), but it still remained a sigh of relief.



That’s it for March, Here’s April:


*That 1999 Retro Review I promised, but then got sidetracked due to the weather wrecking my house…in fact, they’re talking MORE bad weather on Tuesday/Wednesday, so I’m going to need the extra time anyway.

*Definitely want to get a cast member “Appreciation” out of the way—especially before the summer (Plans of which I might also reveal next month).


*And, we’ll return in 2 weeks with something that’s been a LONG time coming…my absolute Favorite sketches of all time.



The Top 8 SNL Sports Hosts (who only hosted Once)

To be an athlete is a demanding task; you’re charged with representing your team to the best of your ability–if you do well, you get hailed as a champion; if not, the most you could hope for is a position as an analyst on ESPN or FS1. The pressure is immense; but if you manage to get past the nerves, you might be able to pull off a few plays once in a while…To be that same athlete and try to attempt not just comedy, but acting in general, that takes a different kind of pressure, yet similar in the fact that you can still humiliate yourself in front of a live TV camera. Charles Barkley somehow managed to accomplish this four times without losing his nerve; yet all the other SNL athlete hosts who have only hosted once have experienced mixed results. Not all of them were awful or anything (this list would be pointless if I pointed out the “Bad” ones…on purpose), but let’s just say it’s a good thing some of them had multi-million dollar day jobs. So with that, let’s take a look at some of the people who managed to successfully (more or less) cross over from sports into comedy…



*They have to be funny (Or at the very least, a decent enough actor).

*As the title says, They had to have hosted One Time Only (Sorry, Sir Charles…and to an extent, Dwayne Johnson; but ONLY if you consider that kind of Wrestling a “sport” to begin with…this means you too, John Cena–even though you hosted once and could possibly do so again in the future).

*This will not be exclusively judged on the episode they hosted as a whole, but mostly that person’s hosting ability. Bonus points if the sketches they appeared in have become “Iconic” in some way.

*There’s gonna be a LOT of gray areas here, but for the sake of argument, I’m going to try to aim for actual athletes on this list; though in a pinch, I’ll also include “General Sports figures” or “Former Athletes Turned (OCCUPATION)” if I’m REALLY stuck. Again, it depends on humor/acting ability in the long run.




  1. CHRIS EVERT (11/11/1989) – Not unlike some of the other hosts on this list, she was still able to make fun of herself a number of times in the episode. From Trashing her dressing room at Wimbeldon & Post-Monologue, to Trying to One-Up Martina Navratilova (And Thank YOU, Chris Evert’s official Facebook page for having the clip available!), to explaining to certain Hill People what it’s like to “go on a walk” (read: Primitive Sex Euphemism) with an expert on courts of clay. Even some of the Non-Tennis parts Evert did were beyond satisfactory. So why is she at the bottom of the list? Maybe because she played everything a little too plain—not bland, mind you, just “Plain” (a point that’s telegraphed accordingly in the “Big Dramatic Scene” sketch). Like she really wanted to break out of her shell at some points in the episode, but I think she might’ve been a little too reserved while doing so. Nevertheless, at least she put in some marked effort…which is more than I can say for certain others who I won’t even bother mentioning by name (*coughFOREMANMOSLEYARMSTRONGBRADYcough*)……must be that flu going around.




  1. LEBRON JAMES (9/29/2007) – It’s easy to see King James now as someone who is more than willing to steal a few scenes in some movie cameos, but when his one and only SNL appearance (so far) took place, you could tell he was a little green in terms of acting…then again, what athlete on this list Isn’t? That doesn’t mean there wasn’t any talent to be found; it just didn’t quite emerge just yet. Sure, he had that series of commercials where he pretty much “Eddie Murphies” himself for Nike (which makes an appearance in the monologue), but as is the case with many of the people on the list, this was his formal first time acting as well; so there’s going to be a lot of “Learning Curve” going on. He barely scrapes onto the list thanks to putting Sudeikis’ bitter stagehand to task, nerding it up alongside Will Forte’s “Lyle Kane” (Remember that?) and for becoming a Solid Gold Dancer (I would’ve included “High School Musical 3” as a highlight, but then I remembered having the source material lobotomized from my head).




  1. WAYNE GRETZKY (5/14/1989) – If you read the “Summer of Starmaker”, you know that the tapes were pretty instrumental in the development of my sense of humor—the Billy Crystal tape was my first, but the “Wayne’s World” tape was in my Top 5 of Favorite tapes, so hopefully you can forgive me for this (and another one later) being a slightly biased pick. Having said that, even though Gretzky was stilted in some places, it doesn’t mean that the stuff he did wasn’t memorable. There was “Wayne’s World” back when the sketches were still in their infancy (No clip/script available due to excessive use of “dream weaver”), There was fishing opposite Hartman’s Anal Retentive (*INSERT OCCUPATION HERE*); and of course, everybody’s favorite Non-Kaufman tribute to Elvis, “Waikiki Hockey”. Of course, that’s just what was on the tape, the rest of the episode was surprisingly lacking in 99’s presence—save for an impression showcase where Hollywood’s who’s who try to pitch movie ideas to Gretzky in the LA Kings locker room (Also Not Available), but he barely contributes. Also, not to dust off old chestnuts, but based on this interview with Conan a few years ago, it kinda sounded like he didn’t want to do the show. But he did it anyway, and did so as great as the Great One could try.




  1. GEORGE STEINBRENNER (10/20/1990) – One of the unwritten rules of comedy is that you gotta laugh at yourself once in a while. Not necessarily “Laugh at your own jokes”, I mean come to terms with the fact that you might come across as a bit of a “Notorious” figure in your given field, and then have fun with it (Isn’t that right, Mr. President?). That, and considering the circumstances that may have led to this episode in the first place, perhaps Steinbrenner was just looking for something to do. Earlier that summer, Steinbrenner (although still the owner) was banned from Day to Day operations of the Yankees because of Dave Winfield related reasons; he wouldn’t return until 1993. So, what do you do when your career becomes toxic? You try to rehabilitate your image, and SNL seemed like the best place to start. As is the case with some of these hosts, Steinbrenner appeared as “Himself” in most of the sketches; save for a few. One being “Attack of the Colossal Lincoln” where he plays a General trying to stop the statue of Lincoln from destroying the world…you heard me. And of course, the brilliantly self-deprecating “Carl’s Quick Stop” where Steinbrenner pretty much says to the audience “Yes, I know, I’ve fired a LOT of people over the years, but I’m not proud of it” (A point he also sort of makes in a spoof on Slim Fast alongside various Dictators). Although Steinbrenner is Clearly NOT an actor, true credit for why he turned out better than I remember goes squarely to the writers; whose material was solid enough for even a Billion dollar “Everyman” type to pull off…and Speaking of the Yankees…




  1. DEREK JETER (12/1/2001) – Sure, he was the A-number-1 reason why I became a Yankee fan to begin with; Sure, he helped lead the team to 5 of their championships in the past 20 years. And sure, this particular episode aired at a time when people needed to rally around New York in general, and Jeter is one of the great ambassadors for the city (in spite of how overrated he’s become to some, ESPECIALLY in his last season)………….But does that necessarily mean that he can act? While there were a number of moments where Jeter had to be a good sport about certain things; Truth be told, the reason why he’s ahead of everybody so far is because of that old standby, dressing in drag. Keeping in mind, it’s one thing if someone for a cheap laugh—but it’s a whole ‘nother story when the person doing it is someone who you’d suspect would NEVER do it in a million years. He was also willing to dress as a mariachi player for the sake of selling Tacos (Which I can’t show because, screw you Hulu & The Beach Boys!), he sported a bad perm (Of which I can only show a Getty Image), and he also put up with a Young Seth Meyers’ grief as a (then) suffering Red Sox fan…and boy, that tune would change in a few years. Jeter hosting—despite losing the World Series to the Diamondbacks that year—was a much needed distraction in late 2001, and we thank him for it.



  1. (TIE) THE “STEINBRENNER SEASON” SPORTSCASTERS (1984-85) – I swear, I’m not trying to invoke the Yankees on purpose, but I digress. Looking through the seasons, the 1984-85 “Steinbrenner Season” holds a unique distinction of having more Sportscasters (Let alone Sports Figures) host the show than in seasons before or since—I would’ve added Hulk Hogan to this entry; but again, the notion of whether McMahon style wrestling counts as a sport remains debatable. Since 2 out of 3 of them were actual athletes at some point in their lives, however, that’s why they’re here. Bob Uecker was actually a lot more durable an actor than I remember him being, especially in pieces like “Little League Trade”, “Lost & Found” and “Fresh Squeezed Baseball”…though I could take or leave the blackface he put on opposite Billy Crystal in the “Baseball Players” film (and I see NBC is too ashamed to post That sketch). As for Alex Karras, Betcha forgot he used to be a star Football Player & TV Commentator before he played Mongo and a George Papadopoulos who DIDN’T have ties to Russia…though to be fair; if Tina Turner wasn’t his musical guest, he would’ve been just another footnote/aging rapper…not much of a highlight, I know, but then again “Mongo only Pawn in Game of Life” (Though I do give him credit for trying to upstage a sweating Billy Crystal). And then there’s Howard Cosell; The mouth that roared, The Mellifluous master of Pugilistic prose; and quite honestly, somebody I’m surprised they haven’t done a biopic about yet. Incidentally, I want to think Cosell hosted because of Dick Ebersol’s connections to ABC (where he used to work before moving to NBC in the 70s), but that could simply be a coincidence—that and Cosell was all but fired from ABC by this point, so not unlike Steinbrenner, he might’ve needed something to do…like put on an Ed Grimley wig or neck with Billy Crystal for the sake of comedy. And of course, the ultimate coincidence that 10 years after it debuted, this was the 2nd show Cosell hosted in his career that had the title “Saturday Night Live”. These hosts not only did more than an OK job, but I think all 3 of them are actually a testament to how well-versed Ebersol would later be in terms of running NBC Sports; it takes a sports guy to put on sports guys, it’s practically a no brainer.




  1. MICHAEL JORDAN (9/28/1991) – MJ’s show is probably one of a handful of shows in the 43 year history of the program that still holds up to this day in spite of how dated some of it is (coughPUBLICENEMYcough). That, and at the end of the day, this was probably one of the show’s best cases of striking while the iron was hot. Jordan had just won the Chicago Bulls’ first NBA Championship, and his popularity just hit the first of a number of highs—though I’d be lying if I didn’t think this particular year was the beginning of his Zenith. I’d also be lying if I didn’t say that owning a certain video tape and watching it over and over again in my teen years didn’t shape my opinion of the episode or Jordan’s performance…I speak of course, about the time when I got a copy of “Space Jam” for my 12th birthday…oh, and also the Starmaker “Celebrity Spots” tape with Jordan hosting. While the stuff on that tape were instant highlights, it kinda does a disservice to a sketch that they failed to include; “The First Black Harlem Globetrotter” is probably one of the show’s all-time best “Period Pieces”, though an assist by Hartman helps (Ooh, another Gem I should’ve added). I would also, also, also be lying again if I didn’t think the reason why this episode was fondly remembered was not really because of Jordan himself, but because of the recurring sketches he found himself in. Strip that away, and he probably would’ve been tied with LeBron on the list. Nevertheless, the fact that Jordan was at peak popularity certainly helped, and if it weren’t for this episode, there would probably never have been a “Space Jam”………….I assume……….Poorly.





  1. PEYTON MANNING (3/24/2007) – Once again, this was an instance where I very nearly had to flip a coin. Both MJ & Manning put on some very memorable shows; but when you come down to it, Even though MJ had a stronger show thanks to excessive use of characters, Manning was the better performer overall. Maybe because this is a “Recent” show (If you call 11 years since it aired “Recent”), but Manning’s appearance in ’07 Still remains fresh to this day thanks in part to the sketches he was willing to do, and the mid-western (though technically, he’s from Louisiana) charisma that helped carry them—and we ALL know how much Television loves to cater to Middle America. Sketches like “United Way” and “Locker Room Pep Talk” (*ahem*) certainly helped, but so did sketches like “Mercedes 550 for Meatloaf Lovers”, an NCAA selection sketch where he battles wits with Amy Poehler (who made fun of Manning’s—then—lack of Championships), and a “Coffee Chat” with a then-subtle Kristen Wiig. Hell, Manning probably went one step further than he had to and made even “Bronx Beat” and “Penelope” sketches watchable. Yes, there were other non-Manning sketches that ultimately made this one of my favorite episodes of that season, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that among all the athletes/sportscasters/personalities who have hosted over the years, Manning might’ve been the only one who was able to get it 100% Right—He gave his all, he was able to make fun of himself without steam blowing out his ears, he had a good time while doing so; but most importantly, the audience ate it all up like a Papa John’s Pizza (Oh wait, Strike that.).








FRAN TARKENTON (1977) – Many years ago when Brandon Tartikoff ran NBC, he once wore a promotional T-Shirt that stated the network’s philosophy; “First be Best, Then be First”. This applies to the former Minnesota Viking who happened to be the show’s First Athlete to host, but by no means was he great. Yeah, “Team Saturday Night” was a good runner, but sketch comedy didn’t quite fit him otherwise. Thankfully, he’d find better success doing commercials, co-hosting “That’s Incredible” and even start up a business or two, but that was largely because he was being “Himself” there. On the plus side, at least the show could only improve their use of athletes from there…well, almost…


OJ SIMPSON (1978) – (*COVERS SELF WITH EVERY PIECE OF PROTECTIVE GEAR THAT CAN BE FOUND*) For the Love of All that is Holy, Hear Me Out! Yes, he has become one of History’s greatest monsters. Yes, he will probably Never be “Beloved” ever again even if he was reincarnated into a sainted goldfish. Yes, the show made a LOT of jokes at his expense and has even fired somebody because of it. And Yes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t think of him WITHOUT thinking of all the things he (Allegedly, but almost certainly) did in passing years…But speaking only (and STRICTLY ONLY) on this episode alone; hard as it is to admit, but the Juice wasn’t That Bad. He was OK and he was willing to do things few people wouldn’t want to do for the sake of comedy (a point he sort of made fun of on the 15th anniversary show)…though the notion of him playing Belushi’s Brother in “Samurai Night Fever” was a little confusing to watch as a kid–It also would’ve helped if I had seen the source material at that age—Apparently the line “I don’t want to be Black anymore” takes on a double meaning if the priesthood is involved (Also, I’m astonished NBC would keep that sketch up considering the number of Bee Gees songs that are in it). Moving on…


JOHN MADDEN (1982) – By the time this aired, he successfully transitioned from Coach of the Raiders to TV Commentator/Beer Pitchman (one particular commercial he makes fun of in the Montage-o-logue was a figurative and literal 4th Wall break). There’s also a good story in Shales/Miller about how he was going to walk out on the show after Dress, thus almost giving Ebersol a Heart attack…until Madden reveals he was just messing with him—as you do.


JOE MONTANA (1987) – No disrespect to the late Walter Payton (who co-hosted this episode), but Joe was the better half of the duo; largely thanks to one particular sketch, but one good sketch isn’t enough to get a pass (Being a little too stiff through the show kinda hindered that). A shame, really—I thought he was at least “OK” in the various commercials he did over the years.


ANDY RODDICK (2003) – Maybe because he bore too much of a resemblance to Stiffler from the “American Pie” movies, I kinda forgot that the former Tennis star was pretty decent in the midst of an already lousy season. His “Battle of the Sexes II” with Fred Armisen is worth a second look.


ELI MANNING (2012) – He’s certainly not Big Brother Peyton, but at least he tried (OK, to be fair, I’m also a Jets fan, adding him to the main list would’ve been enough to grit my teeth down to nubs).

RONDA ROUSEY (2016) – Let’s face it, any athlete who hosts the show isn’t going to win any Acting awards (maybe an ESPY at best). But for the most part, Rousey herself was OK if not somewhere in the middle among every single athlete who has ever hosted. Obviously, Rousey is No comedian…or Actress…or Performer…or any other occupation that would require memorizing lines, but Damn if she doesn’t surprise me a little here.




NEXT WEEK (and a Half): The 1999 Retro Review we had planned for next week was actually supposed to happen this week, but the Nor’Easters we got last week and as we speak kinda messed things up at S.O.S.N.L. HQ (Lot of Heaters & Water Pumps to get back up and running…several times.), so we’re pushing that off to April, and moving on to Bill Hader’s 2014 appearance on 3/17.

Beautiful Monster: Part 2

And now onto Theron’s 2014 appearance, where during that summer, she got to pal around with Seth MacFarlane in “A Million Ways to Die in the West” (I honestly don’t know who the luckier one is in that casting arrangement). After spending filming time with an inherently funnier person, perhaps hosting SNL Now might actually be a step backwards…Then again, considering (1) she had won an Oscar 3 years after her first appearance, and (2) how well “…West” did while in theaters, it might’ve been a win-lose for her—incidentally, the same kind of “Win-lose” feeling could be said for her more recent role in “Fate of the Furious”; which once again proves my newest theory: Unless you’re Tom Hanks, Oscars Mean Nothing…but (surprise, surprise) I digress…




Charlize Theron/The Black Keys (Original Airdate: 5/10/2014)





MOTHERS DAY MESSAGE: Sasheer does a reasonably well Michelle Obama, but considering Vanessa did most of the lifting, Sasheer is still delivering most of the straight lines (Save for the end). I’m still not sure if I can buy the notion of Vanessa as Hillary. She seems too expressive…and youthful…and manic…and southern sounding compared to the actual Hillary. Nevertheless, she plays Hillary the same way that Others have played her before; Power Hungry & Long Suffering under somebody else’s shadow. For the most part, I think Vanessa needs to tone it down a little—especially if Hillary DOES run in 2016, and Vanessa winds up with Job Security. And of course, we have yet another Tandem LFNY. Since the cast is Huge at this point, I honestly don’t mind it (even though it’s been happening a LOT this year). It’s supposed to be an ensemble show, so why not? It’s not like the person who says it is the Star of the Evening or anything, right? Also, when was the last time Pardo introduced a Sketch?


SCORE: 6 out of 10 states Hillary will win on Super Tuesday 2016.


EDITOR’S NOTE: It seems like an eternity ago; but yes, Vanessa Bayer actually played Hillary Clinton for a few years before Kate McKinnon told the world to hold her beer. Also, Yes, Bayer portrayed her completely backwards. Maybe it’s because Vanessa had too much of a sweetness to her personality to pull off the impression, maybe because she smiled too much to play such a political figure, maybe it was the fact that Kate was still on the learning curve and Vanessa was a veteran of the show at the time; for whatever reason you want to use, In spite of all her other success, ‘Nessa’s HRC will probably go down as one of the show’s great casting misfires.




MONOLOGUE: Seriously, how the hell has Ms. Theron Not aged a Day in 14 years? She doesn’t seem like the Botox/Surgery type (except of course for “Monster”, but that’s beside the point). Instant Minus Points for use of/variation on the “I was so good ## years ago…” line (I hate when long ago hosts do that, no matter how Iconic they are). And I was about to take off even more points for it being a Song-and-Danceologue, when I realized that I don’t think they’ve ever done this particular angle before. Oh, sure, there have been singing monologues done intentionally by people who couldn’t carry a tune to save their life (coughcough…TOM BRADY…coughcough), but I think this is the first time where a host not being able to sing in a song-and-danceologue is actually part of the joke. So on that merit, I’ll give a Little credit back (Also, an extra point back for the “Gemini’s Twin” flashback). At the end of the day, however, it’s still a musical number that we can all do without.



SCORE: 4 out of 10 Tuning forks that will have died in vain because of this Monologue.




MOTHERS DAY GAME SHOW:  Though by no means a “Great” sketch, I can see this popping up on Kate’s inevitable “Best Of” reel. Complete with Mom Jeans & Vest on Loan from Tina Fey, Kate seems to capture the stereotypical “Funny Mom” pretty well. Aidy & Bobby continues to be the resident scene stealers this year, and Ms. Theron played it straight alongside Brooks & Milheiser (who I’m glad to see get screen time, but I have a feeling it might be the beginning of the end for both). It’s Cheesy, it’s Corny, but then again, so is Mother’s Day & Mothers in General (Love ‘ya, Mom!).


SCORE: 6 out of 10 Handmade coffee mugs I made for Mom when I was 5 years old.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Slight correction, that’s NOT Jon Milheiser in the sketch, it’s Kyle Mooney; an easy mistake to make considering this was the year 492 new cast members joined the show, and it was hard to keep track of everybody (Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if NOBODY knew who Jon Milheiser was; Isn’t that right, Luke Null?). Also of note is one Brooks Wheelan, who among the newbies hired that year actually put in some effort, only to get the ax—and also memorably laugh about it on his twitter page once he found out (“FIRED FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT!!”).




GIRLFRIENDS TALK SHOW: This sketch has been all over the map this year in terms of quality/likability, but in this case I think it’s pretty stabilized. As usual, it all falls on how the guest interacts with Aidy & Cecily; and in this case, Ms. Theron makes me feel nostalgic for this woman I used to know…except she was Blonde compared to Ms. Theron’s red hair, but she was practically the same person. Anyway, Aidy, as usual, tries to pull this sketch from the brink with her character’s awkwardness, but there’s only so much pulling that can be done before the rope breaks. Cecily’s character continues to be clueless—as is the case with most teenagers male or female. And Ms. Theron has a lot of Balls for copping a feel at Aidy near the end. Like many “Girlfriends” instalments, this one was hit or miss, this one fell right in the middle.


SCORE: 5 out of 10 Lisa Frank stickers (Yeah, I’m out of touch with today’s teen trends)




DRAGON BABIES: Well, for all the times we clamor for something “Different” on the show, this is Certainly That at the very least. I’m also glad O’Brien is getting a little more attention, but he can’t just be good in Short Films alone if he’s gonna stick around. Further, he’s paired up with Cecily again as his wife, which once again makes me ponder “Them? A Couple?” in the same way Michael Bluth wonders, “Her?” But thankfully the idea of a Fairy with a Chicago cop’s accent is just crazy enough to work (O’Brien’s Chicago accent on a Baby Dragon works just as well, too). I also applaud the effort that goes into the CGI in between the takes—Certainly not “Dreamworks” caliber, maybe “Blue Sky Studios”. Then when you get to the whole AA Sponsorship/”Shot a kid 10 times” part, it takes an uncomfortably dark turn and a little momentum is lost. It’s not the best short film they did this season, but it certainly has enough effort for it to be reasonably good.


SCORE: 7 out of 10 movies “Blue Sky Studios” will need to make in order to catch up with Pixar (Creatively & Financially).


EDITOR’S NOTE: Speaking of people getting the ax at the end of this season, a word about Mike O’Brien; who despite being a talented writer (Including creating “AP Bio” premiering March 1st on NBC) really lacked in acting ability for most of the one season he was on as a cast member. Granted, he was good in this, but having one good moment out of countless other not-so-good ones isn’t exactly a stellar track record. Also, yes, it was Heavily rumored that He & Cecily Strong were actually dating at the time, and looking back on this now it makes you wonder if it speaks highly of him or lowly of her? Especially since they don’t seem to have that much chemistry on screen to begin with.




HESHI: In the immortal words of Will Forte’s “Andy”, Ohhhhhhh Nooooooo! Again, I’m not against Nasim having a recurring character, per se. But must she constantly invoke my eternal hatred for Cheri Oteri levels of annoyance with the people she plays? Furthermore, did this REALLY need to be given a second chance? Everything about this was obnoxious, the gratuitous sound FX, the vague, mysterious accent Nasim used, and the fact that it tries to be funny, but the aforementioned wind up overshadowing any/all attempts at it. The TWO saving graces I will give this is the fact that even at her frumpiest, Ms. Theron Still looks Amazing (and is actually the funnier one in this), and also random use of “Street Fighter” & “Mortal Kombat” sound bytes. Otherwise, I still think Nasim is fighting a losing battle here.


SCORE: 2 out of 10 Soundboards I can find online.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Nasim left the show after this season to do John Mulaney’s sitcom; and considering how that turned out, maybe she could’ve used another year.





Cecily’s Best: Rob Ford in Rehab, Champagne/Viagra Ice Cream 

Colin’s Best: Target CEO, Latino Catholics, Hooters

Commentaries: By default, the Barbara Walters montage (featuring the ONLY Cheri Oteri impression I ever Liked, BTW) as well as the Real Barbara showing up was the best part of this Update—largely because I like it whenever the Nostalgia Goggles are activated, and we get to see a time when the show still had integrity—albeit briefly. Of course, for Ms. Walters, this is a “Full Circle” moment considering she started at NBC all those years ago as co-host of the Today show. The “Breaking Nudes” bit was a Corny non-sequitur, as well as the first time Colin & Cecily have “Interacted” with each other (in a miniscule way) It was also a Step in the right direction in terms of Jost being more than just a Joke Teller, unfortunately, it was a step too small. There’s only one show left in the season; and if Colin doesn’t do anything to really make him stand out, he will be doomed to carry the “Seth Lite” label for the rest of his days at the desk. And somehow, I had a feeling “Drunk Uncle” would not only be back (5 months later), but he would also pull a “Harry Caray” on Colin and call him “Seth”—despite minimal audience reaction. He’s just as nonsensically funny as ever; but as I said last week, since Jebidiah Atkinson has become my new favorite Update character, Bobby needs to catch up a little.


SCORE: 7 out of 10 Barbara Walters’


EDITOR’S NOTE: That moment when you realize 4 years seems like a longer time ago than you remember. Yes, these were the not quite beginnings of Colin Jost at the Update desk; and for the first 3 months he was on, the general consensus was that he was too nervous, too stiff, too “Seth-like”, and considering how fair and just the internet is, we were all ready to write him off……oh, how the tides have turned—which is something I could also say about Cecily at the desk during her brief year there (though to this day, I’m still not sure if she decided not to do it anymore, or if the decision came from on high). Knowing what we know now about Jost, watching his Proto-Updates seems more like a case study than it is awkward. Sure, he’s only slightly stiff these days, but at least he has better chemistry now with Michael Che than he ever had with Cecily. This would also be a good time to talk about Taran Killiam and his Magnum Opus character “Jebidiah Atkinson”; a colonial era (?) critic who would simply destroy everything he watches left & right followed by a dismissive NEXT! I really enjoyed the character, and despite just how harsh he was, the fans seemed to enjoy him too—which sort of makes you wonder why if said character was so popular, it seems to disappear from the face of the earth after this appearance; and then “Drunk Uncle” would soon become the Alpha Update character—tastes are fickle, I guess.




BIKINI BEACH PARTY: I mentioned this sketch 2 years ago near the bottom of our S.O.S.N.L. page, but I’ll mention it again. The buildup to the punchline was just OK, with Aidy being the scene stealer once again. But then you get to the (First) whale blowing up, and I honestly did not expect it to be so Bloody. Nor did I expect that one moment to be the funniest one of the night…which is weird, because you know it’s coming, you know what’s going to happen, and yet when it does, it still gave me a big laugh. Of course, they had to squander that moment by having a Second whale blow up (Less is More, people!). But at least the initial shock of the whale blowing up is good enough for me. The ending was kinda weak, but again, the first explosion kinda eclipses everything else. Also of note, I want to say that the “Inspiration” of this sketch may have come from this Ancient news footage of an actual whale blowing up in the 70s.



SCORE: 7 out of 10 viewings of “Blackfish” (+1 Bonus point for Ms. Theron staying “In Character” while introducing The Black Keys; a similar occurrence happened the previous 2012-13 season when Kristen Wiig hosted and introduced Vampire Weekend after a sketch about acupuncturists)





WHISKERS ‘R’ WE: And now, we’ve reached our Weird/Awkward sketch of the evening, a sketch that I can easily see Kristen Wiig doing in Theron’s place. For what it’s worth, both Theron & Kate play Cat Ladies pretty on target. Of course, as WC Fields once said, “Never work with Kids or Animals, they’ll steal the show”. Yes, the kitties are cute, but that doesn’t necessarily make the sketch funny (with the exception of Ms. Theron calling a kitty a Dumbass, rubbing Kate’s arm, and Kate calling one cat a “Feline Sociopath”). This one felt a little too low key for me, not to mention the fact that they actually accomplished only what “Monster” could and make Ms. Theron look incredibly plain & ordinary…which was somewhat distracting.


SCORE: 6 out of 10 cans of Friskies


EDITOR’S NOTE: Irony of ironies, not only is this sketch one of the very few that seems to recur on the show these days; but sure enough, Wiig wound up doing one of these sketches with Kate when she hosted in 2016; thus the torch was properly passed down.




TOURISTS: I don’t Think this is “Good Neighbor”, it doesn’t have their usual one-word title card. So instead, we have another one of those semi-serious “Schiller-esque” films that makes us think a little. It’s also another one of those pieces where the cast that’s involved seem to go up to random people on the street (I.e. “Monster Pals”), which also makes me wonder if the people they come across on the street are actually in on the joke or not (At least I Think so; wouldn’t they have to sign a release form in order to be on camera?). Mooney, Kate & Beck have the straightest parts, Ms. Theron, Jay (who just NOW decides to show up in the episode) and Bobby have the funnier moments. Also, hats off to whoever convinced Ms. Theron to wear a fat suit. The piece itself is not out-and-out “Hilarious”, but it is quirky, sweet and bittersweet at the same time…just like Tom Schiller was back in the day.



SCORE: 7 out of 10 lessons at Berlitz the tourists could’ve benefitted from.


EDITOR’S NOTE: I believe this was the work of “Matt (RIP) & Oz”, but I’m not 100% on that. It certainly fits their style better than Beck & Mooney.




FINAL SCORE: 58 out of 100 (58% WATCHABILITY)



FINAL THOUGHTS: Once again, Ms. Theron gave it her all, and there were a number of sketches tonight that were almost very good. If this were any other show during any other time of the year, I would certainly be cool with what I was given. But considering the fact that the season is almost over, and the show should be giving us their A-Game, this is yet another disappointment for the year. I just hope that said disappointment doesn’t cause Ms. Theron to wait another 14 years to host the show, she seemed to be game for just about anything that came her way—whether it’s becoming frumpy, wearing a fat suit, having fake whale blood gush all over her, etc. She’s more than welcome to come back, and I hope the delay isn’t a big one next time.





TPTB were kind enough to leave us a few Dress cuts; there’s a “Mornin’ Miami” sketch (yawn), something called “Cocktail Hour” which I’m guessing is supposed to be a spoof of “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf” (Quite honestly, “American Dad” did it better); and then something called “Viper”, where we actually get to see what Jon Milheiser looks like.



And that’ll do it for February; gonna take a week off, and then we’ll be back with:

*The Top 8 “One Time Only” SNL Athlete Hosts.

*A Retro Review from 1999 for certain–If anybody else pops up as a host next month and I covered one of their previous shows, I’ll re-review that too.

*MAYBE a Cast member Profile; Not a “Hidden Gems” mind you, this is more along the lines of another Kaz-style “Appreciation”.



Until then, remember; it’s only a matter of time until they make a “Roller Derby” version of Speed Skating.

Beautiful Monster: Part 1

NOTE: Between NBC’s site, the SNL Transcripts page and the Dark Web, there may be one or two sketches I was unable to locate, so context might vary in places for this show, and there might be a few “Incompletes” to be had. Other sketches I do remember vividly, so those will be graded properly—small price to pay for not having the foresight to save TV recordings, but whatta’ya gonna do? Otherwise, don’t be disappointed if this isn’t a full and/or fair critique, this WAS 18 years ago. Now onto the show…



Natalie Portman’s recent appearance is just the latest in a string of something that seems to be happening on the show a LOT lately; that of a certain famous person hosting the show for a second time, but that second time seems to have a wide gap in years since their first appearance. This is nothing new; Hell, the trend can go as far back as 1984 when SNL’s first host George Carlin hosted his 2nd time a mere 9 years after the fact. It is also there where probably one of the laziest lines in all of comedy was first used; something along the lines of “I was So Good ## Years ago, that they decided to bring me back” (Or “The Carlin Line” as some fans have come to call it); granted, it hasn’t been said as often as you think, but the spirit is there every time somebody comes back out of nowhere after such a long time between shows. Going by memory, not only is Portman (2006 & 2018) & Carlin (’75 & ’84) one of these hosts, but so are people like Bob Newhart (‘80 & ’95) Jeff Bridges (‘83 & ‘10), Sigourney Weaver (‘86 & ‘11), Jim Carrey (‘96, ‘11), Bruce Willis (‘89 & ‘13), Woody Harrelson (2nd appearance in ‘92, Wouldn’t appear again until ‘14) Elton John (MG in ’82, host in ‘11), Martin Short (’86, ’96 & ’12), John Goodman (2001 & ’13), to an extent, Tom Hanks (’96, ’06 & ’16), and even a certain sex fiend who shall remain nameless (’97, ’06) among others I probably forgot about.


And of course, the subject for this week’s retro reviews; the embodiment of human sunshine inasmuch that you shouldn’t stare directly into the two suns on her chest without getting slapped in the face, Charlize Theron. She too waited a long time between gigs; hosting in 2000, and again in 2014, yet never looking a day over 30 on both shows. Her not hosting more than twice I especially  always found to be a little dubious; because watching both of her shows again for research, I thought she did just fine on both, and I always felt she was capable of adding a few more appearances along the way…Then again, a few years after her first appearance, she won an Oscar for “Monster”—so perhaps she didn’t really “Need” to host the show after that, and that her ’14 appearance was simply to plug an NBComcast owned movie (Yay, Synergy!). Nevertheless, it’s still easy subject matter to look into, so let’s look into it.


REMINDER: Old thoughts are Blocked, New in Blue, and all Grammar mistakes are going to be unchanged…as the theme to “Candid Camera” once told us, “It’s fun to laugh at yourself, it’s a tonic tried & true”…Especially at this point in my life when my writing could be mistaken for someone with “Special Needs” (Further Reminder: I was 15 going on 16 at the time).



Charlize Theron/Paul Simon (Original Airdate: 11/4/2000)


ALSO: Since this first sketch is the first of a 3-parter, I’m going to show you the critiques of ALL 3 of them right now since the other 2 pop up later in the show…





Opening: (If this review gets out before election day,
take this word of advice… FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T
VOTE FOR BUSH!!!!!) I have a strong feeling that this
is what’s going to happen IF bush get’s it. What the
F**ge was he talking about with the ostriches?— F


If Gore was president: Sure he’s a boring guy, but
he’s a hell of a lot better than Bush. I thought that
those big machines were powering gore to talk at
first. Good to see Clinton yet again, but not quite.
He wasn’t LOL like he usually was, but it was
enjoyable anyway.— B-


If Nader were president: (snickering) excuse me for a
minute… (Starts laughing hysterically) Ok, Ok, Ok,
I’m good now. It’s just the thought of having
(Snickering) Ralph as president… Pigs will fly, and
hell will freeze over. But what about the other omens?
Such as:

When Heaven and earth collides
When the Simpsons get Canceled
When Strom Thurmond turns 100 in a day
When NBC get’s a better Monday lineup etc.

I hate to be repititous, but if you vote nader, your
voting for bush too.— B+


EDITOR’S NOTE: We begin with Ferrell’s Dubya pretty much showing us what life would be like under a Cheeto-dusted presidency 18 years from then. But thankfully things weren’t as bad as depicted in the first sketch…a little tenuous, maybe, but to this date, no bombs have dropped…yet. Being a no-nothing teenager back then, I probably didn’t “Appreciate” Ferrell as Bush quite yet, but I certainly wouldn’t flunk the sketch now. I also want to think this episode was watched by future Dubya Will Forte when he was still working as a story editor for “That 70s Show”; hearing Ferrell go “This job is HAYYYYYYYRRRRDDDD!” must’ve struck a chord in Forte 4 years later. The 2nd piece with Hammond’s underappreciated Al Gore was probably weaker than I remember, but still amusing; and Fallon as Nader was an OK throwaway, but I don’t exactly see it as a scene topper (Save for the visual aides of pigs flying and devils being cold).






Monolouge: So Charlize is an African american, this
was actually a good idea, But tracey needs more
airtime. between you and me, I think Lorne is keeping
tracey from doing anything period.— C-


EDITOR’S NOTE: Quick Geography/Civics Lesson, 15 year old me; Yes, Ms. Theron was born in South Africa. Yes, She lives in the United States so she can make movies. As of 2007, she is Officially an American citizen; so yes, we can officially refer to her as an “African American” now. One other bit of Trivia; the year 2000 was an incredibly busy one for Theron, who happen to either Star, Co-Star or was in the middle of filming 5 Major movies that year—Bagger Vance (which she’s promoting), Reindeer Games, Sweet November, The Yards and Men of Honor–not bad for a 24 year old. Now that we got that out of the way, this seemed to be a parade of stereotypes rattled off between Theron & Tracy, but it looks like it’s being done in good fun (Though use of Newport’s & Kool’s might’ve been a bit too much). That comment I made about Tracy needing more air time would soon come to fruition; Looking at this again, you could see this was the beginning of the Tracy we know & love coming out of his shell a little after Tim Meadows left the show that summer to try and salvage Michael Richards’ ill-fated sitcom. While what we saw here wasn’t quite “Peak Tracy Jordan” just yet, you could tell that something good was about to emerge.



TRL: Yes, We all know that Carson is a massive tool in
real life. Damn were those girls hot! That plus their
“singing” was the reason this sketch was


EDITOR’S NOTE: Ah, yes…Gemini’s Twin. The pseudo pop group that takes more swipes at Beyoncé & two other women than………well, this (and this)…but that’s another place & time. If you saw what I thought of Ana, Maya & (INSERT GUEST HERE) from the Lucy Liu episode, you already know what to expect here—which was actually the first time they did the sketch. Unfortunately, there’s no Video/Transcript/Dark Web available for this one (Actually, there is, but I’m not climbing over a Hulu Paywall to watch it), so we’re going to have to issue the first of our “Incompletes” for the show…but then again, it’s Gemini’s Twin; the formula to these sketches are pretty standard—Ana & Maya are the talent, whoever’s hosting is the looks, and Carson Daly is a Massive Tool (though I’m certain he’s a nice guy in real life). If I do find the sketch in the future, I’ll fix this. Until then, moving on…






Blair Witch Goth Talk: This is what they’re doing for
their token “One time a year” apperance? The only
thing that was remotely good, was the being scared to
poop, and the witch in a jersey. Other than that, they
should kill the Goths off next season.— C-


EDITOR’S NOTE: …And they Did! Considering Molly Shannon would leave the show that February, there was no need for the “Goth Talk” sketches anymore. Speaking of which, dear GOD were the “Goth Talk” sketches stupid! I don’t know, I always thought they were a “Wayne’s World” rip off—though to be fair, the only major similarity is that both shows are Public Access Cable productions. At least Wayne was cool, “Goth” just felt a little “Wiener” to me—which stands to reason considering Kattan (*THUNDER*) is playing probably the biggest wiener of them all in the form of “Azrael Abyss: Prince Of Sorrow”. While further discussion of these sketches will have to wait for another time/place, the main subject of this sketch was “Book of Shadows”, the inexplicable sequel to “The Blair Witch Project”; which is starting to get a reputation as a “So Bad, it’s good” movie, but still has a way to go to earn that reputation. I’ll give them all the credit in the world for this sketch being a vast departure from the usual “Goth Talk” format, but considering Jim Brewer had been away from the show for about 2-ish years at this point, and his constant interference was the sketch’s secret ingredient; the sketches wound up lasting 2 years longer than they should’ve…so Of Course they had to stretch for ideas. I also give credit to Ms. Theron for not only carrying the weight of the sketch, but also for clearly trying to do a Selma Blair impression. More credit—and I can’t believe I’m saying this—goes to Horatio Sanz for a DGAF performance that looks to be ripped out of the Belushi playbook…though I’m not sure if he’s trying to emulate John or Jim. Unfortunately, Kattan’s constant whining nearly cancels out any chance the sketch has to be unique from all the other ones, but hats off for at least bowing out with some dignity…except for that Dairy Queen story (*SHUDDER*).






ALREADY!!!) Smigel is just waisting his time. This Mr.
was worse than the one from last season. Let’s just
stop there.— F


EDITOR’S NOTE: Hmmm…Me angry about a Smigel piece? I wonder what would’ve brought that up (Aside from being an angst filled teen back then)? I mean, the “Mr. T” shorts (all 2 of them) weren’t THAT bad—Hell, they actually got the Real deal to do a commentary about it on the TV Funhouse DVD, so I can’t imagine what the dust up was. Anyway, I know I throw around the words “Tracy Morgan” and “Underappreciated” a LOT around here, but this is probably one of his better impressions as T & the team continue to look for work in the midst of a SAG strike (Wait, There was a SAG strike in 2000?…*WIKI CHECK*…Ah, commercial actors upset that more famous people were taking their jobs, got it.). It goes as well as you think it does; but let’s face it, the best part of both instalments was T’s constant reminder to everybody to (AHEM*) Stay In School! Drink Your Milk! Don’t Do Drugs! Eat Your Greens! Brush Your Teeth! Et. al. until the very end of the short where he randomly mixes them up (Stay in Drugs! Don’t Do Milk! Eat Your Teeth! And such). I also recall this one being shorter than I remember, which might explain the misplaced anger; maybe I wanted to see more?…Nah, two were enough.





Marylyn & Joe: Being a man, This one I did like. Jimmy
was once again “All over it” tonight. “The Line of the
night” award goes to “No good, I think I can see her
patch.” I think all of you guys can agree when I
say…”My peni just went ‘Huh?'” (And If a woman is
reading this, sorry for the emotional damage.)



EDITOR’S NOTE: First, You were NOT a man, 15 year old me, you were still a fetus. Second, I’m starting to regret posting this review—largely because of how misogynistic I sound, but also because I wish I was more detailed when I was younger. I mean, yeah, the thought of seeing Ms. Theron in her undergarments pretty much helped me get through to Christmas, but that was then. Even though Marilyn Monroe is an iconic figure of a bygone era, I kinda have a feeling a sketch like this wouldn’t fly today…………and so ends the PC portion of this review; take all that away, and the sketch is still pretty damn funny for Fallon’s reactions, and Hammond’s Germanic dialogue (“Crotchenboxen” sound like the spin-off to “Stachenblocken”). Minus points to Fallon who, although he Tries to play DiMaggio, kinda sounds more like a generic gangster. Meanwhile, Ms. Theron might’ve looked the part, but her MM might’ve been a little too ditzy. Most of the male cast has their chance to take a peek under Theron’s uncanny valley, but once again, Horatio is the best of the bunch playing a random passerby who just goes and gropes her—the strange part there is that she seemed OK with it. The tag at the end with all of MM’s (shall we say) “Suitors” might’ve been funnier if they kept out the real ones (Including Several Kennedy’s) and throw in a bunch of joke names—even dead people need dignity. Even though I probably shouldn’t be objectifying women in this day & age, hats off to Theron for at least wanting to do things this way.


SCORE: Didn’t give one on the original for some reason, so…B+



Update: This is the only worthwhile thing on SNL these
days. Here is a partial list of what was good this


that is all… Oh, you want me to be more specific?
OK.There was the “Suprise Wedding”, The “Hugh Fink”
guy, Jimmy messing up, Jimmy Vs. GQ. Jimmy Jimmy
Jimmy! (oh yeah, tina was good too)— A+



EDITOR’S NOTE: See, even back then, I wanted to be more specific…so, let’s…


Favorite Jokes (Which you might want to follow along Here):
*The Opening bits about Bush & Cheney’s Drunk driving histories
*The “Close Vote” joke (still holds up Today, BTW)
*The “Eternal Flame” joke.
*The Botched Stephen King/John Mellencamp joke (Yeah, it’s a Fallon giggle, it didn’t reach epic failure just yet.)
Commentaries: For some reason, only the “Surprise Wedding” piece is what’s available on NBC’s site, but I’ll take it. For those who don’t remember there was once a time Reality TV was force fed to us worse than the inmates at Titicut Mental Hospital (look it up…you won’t eat for about a week). One of these shows was something on FOX called “Surprise Wedding”, where I’ll give you three guesses what the premise was. I vaguely remember the show even existing considering I had a far more interesting PS2 to play with at the time; but honestly, you don’t even have to have seen it to get what’s happening here—Dratch is asked to do a story, she comes out in a wedding dress trying to propose to Jimmy, Jimmy says no, hilarity ensues…at least I THINK getting jilted is funny, but you have to be pretty deep into schadenfreude to think so. The next commentary (which I couldn’t find, but the half-transcript reminded me) is Jimmy going on a rant about GQ Magazine’s selections for their “Men of the Year” issue (Shaq, Pierce Brosnan, Matthew Perry)…though I forget what the punchline to the rant was—I wanna say he replaces the selections with a list of “Lesser” men. I also forgot that show writer Hugh Fink tried to be a thing once (as did other former writer Kevin “I was Sarah Silverman’s First…no, really, read ‘The Bedwetter’” Brennan, but we’ll get to him as necessary), but since I can’t locate that commentary and the only thing I know about it is a blurb from SNL Transcripts saying that Fink was giving his thoughts on Joe Lieberman, this too is an incomplete sketch to review, but unlike Gemini’s Twin where I have Zero to work with, I’m going to give this a “Conditional” grade (Think “Pass/Fail” in Gym classes); it too will not affect the final score.





Mr. Peepers’ Bedtime stories: This was one of those
moments where there’s too much to explain, but I’ll
try my best… Let’s start with the fact that Kattan
should really calm down a bit.


EDITOR’S NOTE: …and for some reason, that’s where the review of the sketch cut off. I’m not sure if I was in mid-thought but then had to finish homework that weekend, but even this would be an insult to the word “Vague”. Anyway, it wouldn’t be a Late 90s/Early 2000s show hosted by a beautiful woman without Kattan trying to do as many scenes with her as possible in an effort to show off what little masculinity he has; and with his passable “Mr. Peepers” character, at least he can maintain a little bit of his dignity. Even though there’s no video/transcript to be found (Except once again for a Hulu Paywall); Mr. Peepers sketches are pretty interchangeable, and the awkward 3-way between Kattan, Theron and Molly always stuck out in my head for some reason. The thing I remember the most from this sketch is just how into it Ms. Theron is getting—especially when Kattan does that “Apple Trick” where he spits it everywhere, including on her. Unfortunately, I can’t quite remember the other stuff that happened in the sketch, but not unlike “Gemini’s Twin”, Peepers is beyond formulaic enough to have at least some recall of it…but it’s not enough to be fair with.






The Dancers: You may remember last season when I said
that this sketch was the entire 1980-81 season of SNL
in just 5 minutes, Well… this is NBC’s 1979 ’80 &’81
seasons in just 5 minutes. Poor Paul Simon, why did he
have to suffer being in it?— F (Bomberman award of
the week)


EDITOR’S NOTE: For a while now, I’ve made periodic complaints about NBC cutting certain sketches online because of the ample use of music in some of them (and come Hell or High water, I WILL finish That article someday). But on the flipside of that, sometimes cutting something because of music can actually help save the day. Case in point, the sketches that cause me to hear K.O.’s “Worst Person in the World” music in my head whenever I think about them; The DeMarco brothers. Led by Chris Parnell and “Oh, God, HIM AGAIN!”, their shtick was that they want to be professional dancers for various MGs on their respective concert tours; Problem is, They suck…like MAJORLY suck…Like suck to the point where you Almost want to applaud them for their persistence, but then you recoil in horror anyway once you see their “Moves”. As is the case here with the one and only Paul Simon (who I’m surprised didn’t go up to Lorne after the show and say “Don’t invite me back until something Important happens”…cough), who surprisingly actually WANT the DeMarcos to perform at sketch’s end—something that also happened when they did their thing for Eminem later on in 2002 w/Kirsten Dunst. So, I gotta give credit that at least there were happy endings to the sketch once in a while (Which is why I’m going to give this a favorable grade); but I’m sorry, as long as Spazzmaster 3000 is dragging Parnell down with him, I can never truly find any joy from watching these sketches…ever……OK, maybe the time Bon Jovi dicked them around a little, that was funny (Why else would a screen grab from HIS sketch be the only one available).




Robert Goulet sings Rap: This was more like it. I’m an
avid fan of rap, and now I know what the hell they’re
saying. The only thing that stopped it from being an
A+, was that staredown between “Goulet” and the


EDITOR’S NOTE: The Goat was the Best Part, 15 year old Me! God, What even were Your Tastes?! Anyway, I once again ask you to look at the Lucy Liu review, because both this sketch and the other version of it are pretty much the same give or take use of Jay-Z in the other. But this was the first, and—laughably enough—this sketch had a little bit of controversy attached to it when Ferrell as Goulet left a number of these songs (shall we say) lyrically intact…and that includes–but is not limited to– Ferrell’s use of the N-word. Of course, you also have to throw in context and the whole thing becomes a gray area; but that matters not because out of all the things Will Ferrell did on the show, his Goulet was probably his most unheralded and most inexplicable role. It also helped bring accidental relevancy to the Real Goulet in his twilight years; in fact, it’s probably not out of the realm of hyperbole to think that because of these sketches, Goulet wound up singing Jimmy Kimmel’s theme song.


REVISED SCORE: Soild A…and it’s thanks to the Goat.




Buena Vista Social Club: Ah the good ole 12:50 sketch,
hasn’t been good once this season. This is no
exception.— F


EDITOR’S NOTE: Another sketch that’s a little awkward to talk about in this particular climate…but not by much. For those who don’t know, the Buena vista Social Club are (and I quote) “an ensemble of Cuban musicians established in 1996 to revive the music of pre-revolutionary Cuba.” Also looking at their website, the gentlemen of this so called “Social Club” seems to be “of a certain age”; so reading the transcript to this one again, it’s actually kinda harmless. Horatio and the severely underused Jerry Minor play the members of the band trying to make the moves on Ms. Theron while her date (Ferrell) helplessly translates all the sexual advances they’re singing. Theron thinks it’s fun, Ferrell clearly does not…at the same time, I know I’m at the end of the episode, but am I the only one who noticed just how…uh…Sexually “Open” Ms. Theron was throughout the show? There’s this sketch, Gemini’s Twin (to an extent), all the guys going under her Marilyn Monroe dress, and even pretending to tolerate Kattan in the Peepers sketch…Clearly My 20s were horribly mis-spent. Anyway, the sketch would’ve been a little better if there was more of an ending; Sanz & Minor seem to want to have their way with Theron against Ferrell’s wishes, but then it just “ends” (Then again, it was the last sketch of the night, maybe time was up). Though to be fair, at least the sketch doesn’t abruptly slam cut to an establishing shot like so many other sketches do these days, Don Roy King!





FINAL SCORE: Inconclusive due to missing sketches, but…


FINAL THOUGHTS: …This was more positive than I remember it being. As is the case with shows from this long ago, there will be more “dated” pieces than there are “evergreen” ones; especially since this happens to be the show that aired right before the long contested 2000 election. But even the “Dated” stuff holds up—sometimes a little too well, I.e. the “Possible Future” sketches. The rest of the show was a blend of silly/goofy, mixed with the fact that Theron was more than willing to get herself out there to get the laugh—in spite of Kattan trying to be the center of attention, just about everybody had something to contribute to the show with few others trying to hog the spotlight; this honestly felt like the kind of “ensemble” episode the show wishes it could be on a more frequent basis Today. Theron alone wasn’t too funny, but it’s a good thing the cast was there to lift things up. In other words, it’s an “OK” episode that probably would’ve passed for “Above Average” in today’s era…Which stands to reason because…


TOMORROW: …14 years later, Theron Rides Again.

The Top 8 WTF Moments of SNL Season 23 (1997-1998)

There have been many a publication devoted to either lauding, bashing, or altogether “Meh”-ing SNL over the years; incidentally, there seems to be a common consensus among them…that one doesn’t truly become an SNL fan until they reach their teen years. Avid readers know that my fandom actually started at 9 years old, but you should realize that when one’s age is in the single digits, that young person’s comprehension skills are not quite 100%, especially when it comes to getting things that are “Adult”. So with that, and the fact that I became a teenager circa 1998, this would be the perfect time to talk about SNL’s 23rd season (1997-1998). By all outward appearances, it was a pretty good year with a fair share of great moments that were (unfortunately) overshadowed by some not so good ones…And then, there were also moments where even as a teenager, you have to stop and ask yourself……HUH?! Now keep in mind, these are not necessarily “Bad” moments, or “Awful” ones, or anything of a negative connotation (save for one of them). If that were the case, the debut of “Mango” that year would be front & center. These were really more moments that stuck out like a sore thumb, moments that didn’t quite fit on the show, moments where if you scratch your head so hard you’re surprised your fingers haven’t ripped through the scalp.


There is really one rule for this list; as long as it’s Weird, but still doesn’t skew too much in a good or bad direction, it’ll count. In that spirit, I’m NOT going to include the deaths of Chris Farley & Phil Hartman—which happened during this year. Again, this is just more “Out of the ordinary” nitpicking that always sort of bugged me about that season, but not in a way that would make me turn off the TV.



  1. “CENSORING” SMIGEL – In March 1998, the TV Funhouse cartoon “Conspiracy Theory Rock” would air, highlighting all the joys/pitfalls of media consolidation in a way that made me wonder if Robert Smigel didn’t secretly come up with the expression “Woke”. For the most part, Media mergers were/still are in the news, so from my point of view, at least I understood it; and of course, “School House Rock” will always be good for all generations; so all in all, I thought the short was harmless………And then, the Peacock laid the hammer down. In subsequent broadcasts of the episode, the short was never to be seen again…for reasons…various reasons…far too many reasons to even wonder if any of them are valid or not:

“NBC Thought it ‘wasn’t Funny’”

“NBC Thought it hit too Close to Home”

“In the wake of the ‘Norm’ Scandal, maybe the show was flying too close to the sun to make jokes about the network in the first place”


And so forth…which brings me to why I put quotes on the word “CENSORING”, as well as why this entry is low on the list; the question of “if something airs just once, it doesn’t count as censoring in the first place?” It’ll probably count as “Reclusive” in the eyes of History, but at least it was seen—and based on how much this video makes the rounds on Non-YouTube related sites, it will remain seen for a time to come. I think in light of some other stuff that happened this season, everybody was already walking on eggshells, so to be fair, there was no sense in rocking the boat. It aired, then it didn’t, but has since become an underground sensation that Media professors like to use as visual aides. Otherwise, I always took it for what it was, and “Adult” version of School House Rock done right…unlike some OTHER sketch shows that were just blatant about it.



  1. THE SUDDEN RETURN OF “SPECIAL GUESTS” – If you already read my piece on the history of SNL Special guests, you know where I’m going with this. But to recap, it started as a slow trickle in the 1996-97 season with the likes of Penny Marshall, Dana Carvey and Howard Stern among others. But then, seemingly out of nowhere in the 1997-98 season, we suddenly had an influx of guest stars that would earn OCRE (“Opening Credit Real Estate”). Nothing wrong with that per se, but the selection of some of the guests were even odder than the fact that SGs were even happening in the first place. Dan Aykroyd was a credited guest when he & John Goodman embarked on their “Blues Brothers 2000” suicide mission, and the great Robert Duvall got credited alongside Garth Brooks to plug “The Apostle”…But once again, from out of nowhere and otherwise unannounced in the previous week’s teaser (*SLIPS INTO PARDO VOICE*) Dana Carvey (again)! John Hurt! Bob Hoskins! Tenacious D! To be clear, I don’t think there was anything wrong with the guests they brought on, I just found it strange that the show found it necessary to make such a big deal about them coming on in the first place, ultimately ending with Shaquille O’Neil the following season. Many years later, they realized “Hey! Maybe the Special Guests should be more of a surprise to the audience!”, and that has remained unchanged to this day—in spite of Mr. Baldwin’s secret loft apartment at 30 Rock where he’ll stay in case they need him to Orange things up that week.



  1. THE ODD SCHEDULING OF MUSICAL GUESTS – The Mid 90s saw the show in the middle of major re-tooling after hitting a bump in the road around 1994 (think I might’ve written a thing or two about that). But in the midst of all the change that was happening the following season and beyond; the one thing that remained a constant was that there were Two musical performances (Three or a medley depending on who was performing); One Before Update, another before the last sketch of the night. That’s how it’s always been, and will always be…Season 23, for whatever reason, wanted to do things a little differently. Looking at the SNL Transcripts listing for this season, it kinda struck me a little odd how on a number of shows, there would only be ONE performance from a given artist; while for Most of the season, that first/only performance would come on AFTER “Update” (Further, there were maybe one or two episodes that had the MG performance, Followed by a Sketch, and THEN Update). The reduction of performances I MIGHT understand if, say, certain artists had really only one hit to sing that the respective record companies wanted them to do, or if the show wanted to have more comedy. But to place the song After “Update” is a major logistical problem. The Musical act is supposed to come on Before Update because in the space of a 90 minute show, the MG is the End of act 1, Update is Act 2, and the rest of the show post-update is Act 3; it’s practically staging 101. Placing what’s supposed to be an act closer somewhere else just ruins the momentum of the show. Thankfully, this was the only season where this happened, they came to their senses the following year (Though the “Single performance” still popped up here & there).



  1. THE COBRA SKETCH (2/7/1998) – Let me precede this by saying that this is what I’d like to call a “White Whale” sketch—Something that one comes close to madness trying to seek out, but to little avail. In other words; I can’t find this sketch, a transcript or even a screenshot of the sketch anywhere (Not even in the Dark Web); so for the most part, this is a hearsay account of it. Long before Samuel L. Jackson (who incidentally hosted in this season, but doesn’t appear here) had his own problems with Snakes on a Plane, the show put their own spin on it first…which reminds me…(*CHECKS “SNAKES IN A PLANE” ENTRY ON IMDB*)…Nope, none of the writers of the movie wrote the sketch; so to whoever wrote this sketch, take your piece of the pie! Anyway, not to be confused with “Cobras Vs. Panthers” from ‘96, something about this one was a little off. Maybe it was Will Ferrell’s calm, yet graphically detailed description of what the passengers are trying to survive that made this weird, not to mention maintaining that calm even after being bit by one; maybe it was the bizarre ending where a Snake puppet (Voiced either by Cheri Oteri or Molly Shannon…I forget) is heeding a word of caution to the viewers, maybe it’s the sight of Tim Meadows in a puddle of Fake!Nervous sweat while (host) John Goodman tries to calm the passengers down, but something about this sketch never quite sat well with me…and yet, Something about a sketch taking a somewhat dark turn felt unusually funny to me—Not unlike another sketch Goodman & Co. would do the next year.



  1. FATTY FALLS DOWN, SKETCHES GET CUT – I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about Chris Farley’s Death, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to talk about the episode he hosted before he died…again. To recap, Farley was pretty messed up by the time he hosted that year’s Halloween show—but as a naïve 13 year old, I didn’t have a clue at the time–I just thought he sounded a little hoarse, I legitimately never thought Drugs were a part of the equation until I saw the story on the news a few months later—Hell, at the time I just though he died from a regular heart attack. While I mentioned a few of the sketches he did on that episode as previous hidden gems (and deservedly so), what I didn’t mention was a blurb in “The Chris Farley Show” book mention that Farley was so messed up that in future reruns of the show (Or at least the 60 minute version—the 90 is still intact), the opening sketch, the monologue, the goodnights, and (bizarrely) a performance from The Mighty Mighty Boss-Tones were removed altogether—It just started with the vertigo inducing title sequence (Which I’ll get to in a sec), and then Boom! First sketch. All things considered, it was an awkward situation for everybody; does it mean the rest of the episode was awful? Well, that depends on who you ask. When I first saw it as a kid, I just thought Farley didn’t miss a beat. Watching it with hindsight, there’s obviously going to be a few awkward moments, but that doesn’t mean the show itself was bad…just bittersweet.



  1. THE GO LORDS – In light of the sudden popularity of Smigel’s cartoons in the previous year, the show thought that Maybe the time was right to do Other “Filler” sketches the same way Mr. Bill did back in the 70s. The thing about “The Go Lords” is, the bigger the endeavor, the more likely that endeavor is doomed to fail—especially if people have the idea in their heads of lighting striking twice. Lucky for me, I at least heard of the Thunderbirds by the time this aired; but My Father was a Diehard fan of them when he was a kid, so to see this more “Adult” version of them happening—seemingly—every other week was a genuine treat for him. Unfortunately, they wore out their welcome pretty fast, and people were sort of turned off to the otherwise graphic nature of the sketches…either that, or people simply weren’t ready for them. The format goes thusly; World is in Trouble, Go Lords theme song plays, various instances where Sex and a LOT of violence takes place, World is saved, the end. Perhaps it was because there was Too Much Puppet sex/violence that these sketch only lasted one season; but have someone else put it on the big screen, and it’ll make Millions of Dollars………which also raises the question, how come sketch writer Andrew Steele hasn’t tried to sue Trey Parker & Matt Stone yet (Either that, or the differences are too vast for there to be a case)?




  1. THE OPENING MONTAGE – (Before we go any further, MAJOR THANKS to RetroJunk.com for archiving [almost] all the opens from all the years, finding footage would’ve been nearly impossible if it weren’t for them…unfortunately, they don’t link the videos separately, you have to click on them to see it) When you think of SNL’s Title sequences over the years, you think of one thing, and one thing only…New York City and all the fun that’s in store for everybody on a Saturday Night (or any night for that matter). As a matter of fact; a few years ago on the 40th Anniversary special, the montage that design firm “Imaginary Forces” used to open the show went into painstaking specifics on just how common yet varied each of these sequences were (Though strangely enough, that one knew how to use rapidly moving colored lines the Correct way)—There would always be shots of the Empire State building, the Statue of Liberty, City Traffic, Awe inspiring Skylines, Taxis, Cops, Firefighters, the Subway, People dining out, People doing stuff on the Street, a couple of couples hooking up, and of course a shot of 30 Rock at the end. Point is, the SNL title sequence does more to capture the spirit of New York than any travel brochure……………Which raises the question, what the FLYING FUCK were the graphics firm they hired in 1997 thinking when they made the montage during this season? Not only is this the ONLY time in show history that exactly 0% of New York is shown in the titles, but I think the designers probably went out of their way to give us early on-set Epilepsy. Either that, or (to be fair) this was probably meant to be a prototype/incomplete version of the montage they wound up using from 1998-2000; one that despite still using moving lines at least used images of New York. At either rate, the part of the show that’s supposed to gear everybody to tune in wound up giving us a headache; and thankfully cooler heads prevailed the following year…



Speaking of which, I’m gonna throw in a Bonus #2A that has me harnessing my inner music nerd again – SNL diehards might’ve noticed the theme music on the first two shows of that season being vastly different than the one they ultimately used for the rest of the year—one that ultimately made it onto a Lot of the Best of shows/DVDs of the late 90s. Though incidentally, the arrangement from those first two episodes eventually made it into the 1998-2000 montage……AFTER another odd arrangement appeared for episode 1 & 4 of the ’98 season (see: Season 24 open to hear it, then compare to Season 25)…Confused?! Well…so am I, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t nitpick even a little.



1……….Say it with me now…….

THE WEEKEND UPDATE DEBACLE – Yes, I know, I’ve mentioned this incident not once, but twice already thanks to profiles of Colin Quinn & Norm MacDonald. But considering just how big a shadow it cast over the year, 3rd time’s the charm. Since that’s the case, I’m going to use another Deferral to let someone else tell the story; take it away, internet!



And really, that’s all you need to know about the subject from the people who experienced it…But now I want to speak as a viewer/fan. Like I said, Norm remains one of my all time favorite cast members (despite what other so-called “Publications” think). For some, he was an acquired taste. For others, you “Got him” right away in spite of just how strange his brand of humor was. But also speaking as somebody who works along 6th Avenue and also letting 20 years go by since it happened; I kinda see now why they did it; it was a business decision and those are often made with great haste, but also that it probably should’ve been handled better. They simply should’ve waited until the end of the season to make the switch…which might’ve stood to reason considering the “Clinton/Lewinsky” scandal was right around the corner at that point, so who knows if Norm & his team would’ve been recharged over fresh, non-OJ material and ultimately bought themselves a stay of execution (Coulda, shoulda, woulda)? I still think Norm’s funny as hell; but let’s face it, nobody was meant to do Update forever (Not even you, Seth Meyers). It’s a job that’s meant to be passed down to the next generation and beyond like any other Late Night talk show, and if somebody was there for a lot longer than they should be, any goodwill you gain could simply go away. I’ve said this before, but I want to repeat the wise words of Ms. Carol Burnett “Sometimes it’s best to leave before you’re asked to”. At the same time, I don’t want to discount Colin Quinn, who was pretty much thrown into a position he was clearly not ready to do, but damn if he didn’t give it his best shot. The whole thing wasn’t so much bad for the show, but rather just embarrassing for the network to handle/understand; especially after the audience reacted so adamantly…but it’s not like NBC would ever have problems managing their talent again after that, right?



Anyway, the rest of Season 23 wasn’t too bad despite what I just mentioned:


*Tina Fey joined the show as a Writer


*Smigel ramped up the quality on TV Funhouse.


*“Deep Thoughts” made a surprise comeback as “The Lost Deep Thoughts”; and Jack Handey didn’t miss a beat (Except for that one time when he was Subpoenaed by Will Ferrell’s Kenneth Starr—which, BTW was a great running gag on the episode where it aired). Also, Note To Self: Talk more about SNL “Filler” pieces in the future.
*“Clinton/Lewinsky” caused a sudden boost in their political humor in the 2nd half of the year (Resulting in a record number of Cameos from John Goodman)

*Favorite Hosts include Matthew Perry, Farley (despite the problems), Jon Lovitz, Nathan Lane, Helen Hunt, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear, Steve Buscemi, David Duchovny, and I especially liked the Rudy Giuliani episode because it reminds me that even pure evil has a human side (FRIGIN’ GIULIANI!).

*I became a Ben Folds fan for life thanks to his appearance in ’98 (Despite ONLY performing “Brick”), in spite of the fact that I still Fast Forwarded through MG performances.

*This would be Jim Brewer’s last year…….Never really cared for the guy, but I’ll always remember not just his Kattan/Twilight Zone story, but also this gem on trying to say hello to Jack Nicholson when he cameoed on that year’s Christmas show.



An Above average season, flaws notwithstanding.


NEXT WEEK: A Pair of Retro Reviews from yet another host with an obscenely wide gap in between appearances (Guess).

The Hidden Gems of Phil Hartman

What can you say about Phil Hartman that hasn’t already been said either in his recent biography, various True Hollywood Stories, or testimonials from a seemingly endless gallery of close Hollywood friends? The man is as much a legend as he is beloved to this day, and no SNL Hall of Fame would be complete without mentioning at least a few of his best sketches. Yes, the “Glue” that held the show together from 1986 to 1994 + 2 Hosting appearances in ’96 will probably go down in history as one of the most durable, most dependable, most reliable cast members of all time—it also helps that he was one of those types that was funny without really trying. All he had to do was use his unique showman’s voice in the right situation, and he wound up owning the scene. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that even 20 years after his passing, Phil’s presence can still be felt in a handful of sketches that have aired since 1998. Every once in a while, a sketch (or sketches) that were big in the ’86-’94 Silver Age would pop up…and so would Phil’s voice to introduce it. Whenever “Wayne’s World” would make a latter-day cameo, it would still begin “You’re watching Cable 10…”, “The Continental” would begin with Hartman setting the mood as always; and of course, Hartman will Always let us know “…And now it’s time for Church Chat”—probably because it would be too awkward for Darrell Hammond to re-record. Point is, Glue, like many other adhesives, manages to last long after the tube is thrown away so to speak.


So, with only ONE “Best of” show to his name, you’d think it would be easy to find Hartman sketches that often go overlooked. But then again, Belushi, Gilda and Farley only did about 4 to 5 years on the show—Hartman did 8; so, the Quantity of the Quality is a little more demanding this time, and this is more than likely going to mean I had to cut a few picks for space purposes; literally HUNDREDS of sketches to choose from; but at the same time, I want to make sure this stays UNDER 10 pages on Word. So with that, please don’t get mad if I leave out one of your favorites, but feel free to chime in if I did—which I’m more than likely going to do on purpose here…sorry.




*Non-Recurring (though I will allow some “Unofficial” ones).
*Main/Supporting roles only, No Bit Parts.
*Nothing that has already appeared on a “Best Of” show (Except for sketches that appear in Montages).
*Chronological Order except for the last one.
*This is a new rule, but since we’ve been doing this for a while now, I’m going to TRY not to feature sketches I have featured previously elsewhere anymore……intentionally.




QUIZ MASTERS & TEN WEEKS IN JAIL (10/11/1986) – Considering that the previous season 11 had most of its cast lacking in any energy, Hartman hit the ground running in his first episode by playing your average, run of the mill game show host; which in spite of how straight the role was, had a sense of it being tailor-made for Phil to play—especially with several years of doing TV & Radio commercials under his belt, coupled with his natural baritone. The sketch really belonged to Carvey & Hooks, but you could tell from the get-go that Phil would act not as “Glue” just yet, but rather as the Mortar that held the bricks that Jan & Dana laid. Incidentally, “You Might Remember Me” has a brief blurb about how Hartman Almost replaced Johnny Olsen as announcer on “The Price is Right”…a job that he later revealed that he was relieved he didn’t get it; though as a believer in parallel universes, one has to wonder if Announcer Phil would put up with Drew Carey’s lack of professionalism today…but—say it with me now—I digress.  Also from his first episode, the opposite end of the spectrum as well as an obviously stronger performance. We just saw Phil play the “Fun-lovin’” type, now you see him act Hard as Nails in this commercial parody/social commentary on just how bad Crime and the so-called “Revolving Door” prison system was in New York in the mid 80s. The sketch is short and to the point, “Commit a murder = 10 Weeks in the hole”. But it’s the way that Hartman played the detective that sold the piece; mainly if he took his Chick Hazard character from the Groundlings, gave him a Bronx accent and put him in present day. The whole thing just works, and it was a smart way for Phil to make his debut—play to both sides of the coin.




MACE (1987-1991) – Technically, this is not an OFFICAL recurring character, although it has appeared a number of times during Hartman’s tenure. The best way I could describe “Mace” is that he was SNL’s version of Snake/Jailbird from “The Simpsons”; he always commits crimes, but somehow he always gets caught—sometimes in foolishly idiotic ways all while still maintaining a “Tough Guy” façade. His first appearance, not so much as Kevin Nealon keeps trying to overpower him. Then a few months later, we see Mace with a Hooker only for Nealon to be a peeping tom. Then……nothing for a few years until much later when he’s seen chatting with Rob Lowe, and then sharing a jail cell a year later with Hannibal Lecter (Jeremy Irons). So why all the fuss over a character that was on so infrequently? Because I’d like to think that the character reached its TRUE conclusion when Hartman made one of his Final appearances anywhere on “3rd Rock from the Sun”—Yeah, the character wasn’t named “Mace” on 3rd Rock, but I’d like to think it was him after he was sprung from jail and going by his birth name, “Randy”…but that’s just me. Point being, the mannerisms of the character are present in that appearance, and it was a good way to close the book on the character—intentional or otherwise.




GREG VS. HIS MOTHER IN LAW (4/18/1987) – If you’ve ever seen a sitcom in the past 70 years of Television history, you’re probably way ahead of me. The sketch begins with Greg (host John Larroquette) sniping back and forth with Jan Hooks’ mother (Hartman) the way they in-laws do on most sitcoms. But then Hartman plugs in a Toaster that Larroquette is trying to fix, and electrocutes him. This leads not only to one of the stranger fist-fights I’ve seen on Television, but ultimately an admission from Hartman that ever since his/her character’s husband left her, s/he’s become a “Bitter, Spiteful Bitch”, to which Larroquette simply replies, “Yes” Before ultimately making up. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Dressing in drag is as much a comedy crutch as it is a thankless duty from the person who performs that way. Phil deserves a lot of thanks for giving a performance that I can only describe as “Bea Arthur in her 30s”. Thankfully, it was more toned down by the time Hartman started playing Barbara Bush a few years later. There was also a sort-of-sequel to the sketch a year later with Carl Weathers, but that clearly took on a far different tone…it also makes me wonder if the Electrocution Larroquette suffered in the previous sketch led to some diagnosed internal bleeding.




SENTIMENTAL VALUE PAWN SHOP (2/20/1988) – This one I always thought was one of the sweeter sketches I’ve seen; though I’d be lying if (1) some of the items of sentiment were thrown with a little shade, and (2) I didn’t think this was either a sequel/follow-up or rip-off to 1980’s “Dave’s Variety Store” with Bob Newhart (I think the set pieces might be similar). Nevertheless, it’s different enough to be unique. Phil plays a kindly pawnbroker who will take just about any item as long as it has a sentimental value; and that’s really all you need to know plot-wise. Phil’s performance would mark another one of the staples in his repertoire; that of the “Everyman” character—Hell, with the straw hat, I thought the Pepperidge Farm guy was moonlighting. Nice little slice of life, especially if you’ve ever tried to make peace using something you’d buy at a CVS…though coincidentally, that kind of sentiment wouldn’t come up until decades later.




BEAUTY & THE BEAST (11/12/1988) – For those who think Disney came up with the idea of “Beauty” first…First of all, read a book. Second, the sketch was based on a show that aired on CBS in the 80s (and then later, a HORRIBLE reboot on The CW…Fuck Reboots.) with Ron “Hellboy” Perlman as the title beast, and Sarah Connor/Future SNL host Linda Hamilton as the Beauty. Not gonna lie, ONE of the reasons why I wanted to include this sketch was because of a certain story the late Jan Hooks had mentioned in Shales/Miller about how she and Phil were so (shall we say) “Deep in Character”, that she wound up accidentally arousing him…and it’s a Story like that which does two things to the sketch; (1) it majorly pulls away from the overall focus of the sketch and/or if we miss out on any good performance because of it, and (2) you just KNOW there’s going to be some pervs out there paying extra attention to the sketch just to see if Hooks’ story had any “merit” or not………creeps. That aside, I’m going to try to judge this on its own strengths. Although it’s really Lovitz who steals the scenes; In the midst of all the prosthetics being used, Hartman commits the HELL out of playing the Beast, all while hanging on to the many nuances that can only come from a date…….(*KEEPS WATCHING*)……My God, those two were really going at it, weren’t they?




UPDATE: GEORGE STEINBRENNER HEALTH WATCH (10/21/1989) – This wasn’t particularly “Funny” or anything (unless you were a Yankee fan at the time…my time wouldn’t come until Jeter showed up), though I will grant that Phil should’ve done more “Update” pieces as himself…or in general…hell, at the risk of making an unpopular statement, HE should’ve been the anchor that followed Dennis Miller instead of Kevin Nealon. But The REAL reason why I’m just posting this one is because……….What the hell is on Phil’s head? I Know that’s not his natural hair, and I know he would wear wigs during the show, but my God that thing on his head looks like something that was badly permed and then dipped in Soul Glo…I dunno, something about that mop on his head was just fascinatingly awkward to see.




DAVID ROCKEFELLER CHRISTMAS MESSAGE (12/9/1989) – One advantage Hartman had over the cast was his age. He was in his mid-late 30s when he joined the show, he was in his mid-late 40s when he left. So naturally, he was the Go-to guy to play either fatherly figures or men of a certain age…ages that would increase depending on how much prosthetic were required. In the case of him playing crotchety billionaire David Rockefeller, age + a hushed tone gave him the perfect chance to quietly assure people that he’s just as evil as the Japanese company that (when the sketch aired) bought his aptly named Plaza. But he brags about his brand of “Evil” in such a muted way, that it could probably be mistaken for kindhearted assurance—not unlike a few roles that one of his fellow Groundlings wound up doing for certain cartoon series’ many years later, but that’s beside the point. The sum of the sketch is that one should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the blackness of their soul. “Merry Christmas…I’m Evil!”




ONLY IN NEW YORK (4/21/1990) – Speaking of age; If you’re of a certain…uh…age and you live in the New York area, chances are you know who Cindy Adams is; but if I were to mention her late husband Joey, even money says that those same people will get him confused with the Girl who was in “Chasing Amy”—those are Two SEPARATE People, so let’s move on. While Nora Dunn does most of the fast talking straight-work as Cindy, Phil plays Joey in what I can only describe as “Aged Bitterness”. I don’t want to say anything cliché like Phil is playing the Yang to Nora’s fast-paced Yin, but that’s pretty much the sketch—Nora dishes the gossip, Phil gives us a plate of rejected Borscht Belt zingers…some of which are only funny because of just how brash Phil is delivering (“Construction Worker comes home and says HONEY I’M HOME! And the wife says SO AM I!”). Sort of a laugh in a “Groaner” kind of way, but I’ll take it.




U.S. FON (11/23/1991) – If you’re wondering about the lack of clips from the 80s, the reason is simple (aside from keeping this list short)…I think the 1991-92 season was where we saw Phil at his Zenith—not only was he taking more charge in his roles, but he was also willing to be more of a lead actor than an ensemble performer. Case in point, this commercial parody that shows that Phil was willing to play things a little darker than normal sometimes (another sketch later on is probably a better example of that). Phil plays a nervous wannabe phone scammer trying to take Julia Sweeney for a ride so to speak. Sweeney then calls Phil out on the scam by letting him know the number he’s calling from; at which point he declares out of nowhere “Now I’m gonna have to kill her!”. This sketch reminds me of a similar idea that happened about 10 years later with Will Ferrell, in fact I think I mentioned that one years ago. Same basic concept; set up seems obvious, a 180 is made, and the whole thing is told in under a minute without belaboring things. Phil’s nervousness is just gravy, moving on…




PEARL HARBOR HEADLINES (12/7/1991) – Sometimes the best Phil performance is one where he flips his lid; but even more so, Phil also excelled in playing people from the 1940s. This one combines the best of both worlds. Phil tries to convince the staff of a small town Newspaper that the attack should be the front page, even though no convincing should be necessary, I mean, it Was “Pearl Harbor”. Yet for some reason, stories about local basketball teams, minor school vandalism and possible tornadoes take higher priority; thus leading Phil to epically freak out over what everyone’s priorities Should be. This sketch should’ve been all levels of ridiculous, But as someone who hails from a small, middle of nowhere town with its own newspaper, this surprisingly hits closer to home than I remember—Granted, we do at least TRY to stay on the cutting edge, but sometimes (Just like in the ending) a major national story gets buried on page 42 or something—Go figure. Coincidentally, this sketch aired on the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, so points to them for being somewhat relevant.




MR.BELVEDERE FAN CLUB (5/9/1992) – Oh, how I’ve wanted to talk about THIS sketch for a long time. I’ll get to Phil’s performance in a moment, but aside from just how insane the overall plot of the sketch was, it also has the odd distinction of being a “Special Feature” on the Mr. Belvedere Seasons 1 & 2 DVD Boxed set—which considering the show was produced by Fox and aired on ABC, that must’ve been one hell of a legal wrangling just to get that one sketch on the DVD—go figure, again. Now that that’s out of the way, the sketch is about a bunch of “Devoted” fans of The Guy Who Played Mr. Belvedere (For the record, his actual name was Christopher Hewett), and just how “Devoted” they will be if they ever bump into him in person. They do this by giving him a nickname only the fans would know (Brocktoon!), as well as going through exercises that keep the line between reality and (downright creepy) fantasy unblurred. These fantasies get progressively creepier as time goes on, but it’s Phil that gives us both the creepiest and the funniest; as well as his ONLY major line of the sketch…

“I should want to cook him a simple meal, but I shouldn’t want to cut into him, to tear the flesh, to wear the flesh, to be born unto new worlds where his flesh becomes my key.”

To which a perplexed Tom Hanks simply replies …”Good”. You can’t be versatile without wanting to do something a little unhinged once in a while. Phil largely plays things straight during his tenure, but it’s moments like this that keeps us on our toes. Even more so, no matter how big or how small the role was, Phil was there to swoop in and run away with it.




THEY WANTED TO FLY (5/9/1992) – While we’re on the subject of this episode, this one was a more subtle performance of Phil’s that was still a little on the odd-ball side—and don’t let the thumbnail fool you, Phil’s as much a part of the sketch as Mike Myers & Julia Sweeney are…in fact, he downright steals the sketch just because of how oddly he’s narrating the story and highlighting the story’s sponsor, “Nice Ass, Baby!” pantyhose (“When you hear ‘Nice Ass’, chances are, it’s ‘Nice Ass, Baby!’”). It doesn’t matter that Myers & Sweeney never actually fly in spite of the obvious guide wires behind them, it matters that this is a nice slice of bizarre with Phil as the icing on the cake—especially when he took his mustache off for no apparent reason at the end of the sketch. Sidebar; if you come across Phil’s “Best of” DVD, you’ll see a blooper of this sketch done at Dress Rehearsal; a crew member walks in front of the camera while Phil is talking, and without missing a beat, Phil just casually asks “Friend of Mine?”




CANADIANS GLOAT ABOUT THE WORLD SERIES (10/31/1992) – Above all else Phil did on the show, he was first and foremost one of Canada’s greatest sons. So, naturally when the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series for the first time that year, there was cause for Phil to celebrate (On top of an already happy cheer from Hartman in the Goodnights the week prior). So, alongside fellow Canadian comedy icon Catherine O’Hara, they spend a few minutes rubbing it in our faces—but still in good fun…it probably would’ve helped a little if I ever spent any time brushing up on Canadian culture, but let the locals have their fun.




BOOKS ON TAPE (1/14/1993) – Of all the times Hartman played Charlton Heston, his “Soylent Green” sketch remains the best, but this one is a close second thanks to four stoically said words: “I Like My Vagina”. And quite honestly, that’s all people really remember about this one….even stranger, Hartman’s Heston doesn’t really appear in the sketch that much, Danny DeVito and others do most of the gruntwork, but because Heston is pretending to be Madonna, he steals the show by wondering what it would look like if it didn’t have any hair. And before you go nuts; for whatever reason, Hartman’s interpretation of Mr. Guns & Moses was never listed as an official “Recurring” character in any publication I’ve ever read, so it counts here.




HEADGAMES (12/11/1993) – Another Game show host (as well as another Honorable mention I forgot to mention); but unlike his first one in ’86, this one is a lot more nuanced and passive-aggressive, as he quizzes his own family about their day to day lives, only for him to mess with their heads (hence the title). I don’t know why, but when I first saw this sketch as a kid, it was a little infuriating to watch—I mean, who would do that to people…but then I grew up a little, watched the sketch again and thought “Ah, now I get it, that’s how life works sometimes.” (Your Mileage may vary).




SO LONG, FAREWELL (5/14/1994) – I know the SNL diehards out there are thinking that this is probably cheating bigger than the Patriots on any given Sunday (Super Bowl or otherwise), but in my mind, this counts as something “Hidden”. I’m writing this list, I’m editing it, and I had to go to some 3rd party blog site just to find the video because heaven forbid NBC pay some lip service to the estate of Rogers & Hammerstein, so Dammit, I’m calling this a Hidden Gem!! More so, While this sketch doesn’t appear on Hartman’s “Best Of” show, it features prominently at the end of Chris Farley’s…but since I already covered his hidden gems months ago, consider this a “Two Birds, One Stone” kind of thing. And why not? Even though Hartman did Practically nothing in this piece aside from introduce and close it, the fact that it’s Hartman and Farley that share the final spotlight is an image that has become as eerie as it is iconic considering both would pass away within months of each other…Of course, this wasn’t the last we’d see of Phil, nor was it the last time he took a victory lap…




MONOLOGUE (3/23/1996) – Truth be told, between this and his 2nd—and ultimately, final—monologue in the same year, this is a patently stronger piece…partly because his 2nd monologue has a bit of an eerie aftertaste to it—but I digress. In this one, Hartman returns to 8H to a rousing ovation…but then quickly realizes that in spite of all the characters he ever did, nobody really knows the “Real” Phil (Maybe he should’ve done that while “Not Phoning it in Tonight” after all). This leads to Hartman abandoning the monologue and holing himself up in his Dressing Room. Enter the much unheralded Tim Meadows to save the day by pepping Phil back to form (“Do It for Joe Piscopo!”), followed by the non-sarcastic slow clapping for Phil that’s usually reserved for the end of Sports movies. Maybe because I used to watch a lot of said movies as a kid that I really enjoyed this one, but also…yeah, we never really got to see what the “Real” Phil was outside of the show; even more disappointing is the fact that we had to wait almost 20 years after he died to truly find out (But seriously, if you haven’t yet, go find “You Might Remember Me” either at Amazon or a bookstore near you).




BOBBY COULTSMAN (3/23 and 11/23/1996) – IMO, this feels like a character that Hartman always wanted to do, but for whatever reason, it always got cut from the show when he was a cast member. It also makes me wonder if this too is based on someone or something he saw while training with the Groundlings…though I doubt it considering how laid back LA based comedy can be. Thankfully for the 2 times he hosted in ’96, Phil was able to give us one of the most Pretentious acting teachers who ever lived…yes, even more than James Lipton. Hartman accurately displays the kind of pretentiousness that certain kinds of “Actors” tend to express—and when I say “Certain Kinds”, I mean those who had (at most) a 7 second appearance in a TV Commercial and milked that moment for dear life. That pretentiousness is then magnified thanks in part to the incessant amount of name-dropping that the actor will do. Top it off with the urge to be a dick to his students by putting them through agonizing torture disguised as work exercises, and the acting school course is complete. Having taken a handful of acting classes as a teen before ultimately going to college for a real career, it’s scary how accurate Phil’s performance was here—acting is not for the weak, and if you ever have to put up with a teacher like the one Phil plays AND Survive, you’re a better one than I.




SOLDIERS NOT COMING BACK (11/23/1996) – What would turn out to be his Final sketch is also dripping with irony; Everybody else in the sketch would essentially be coming back in real life…Phil Wouldn’t—but then again, we didn’t know that at the time. For this final performance, though, Phil does one of the many things he did better than others on the show…he got the jokes out while being subtle about everything AND he did the best he could with so-so material. It doesn’t matter that this was pretty much a “Same joke over and over” kind of sketch that probably would’ve bombed if any other person were hosting; but because Phil was there to lead the way, his gravitas helped the sketch be better than it actually was.





And my Favorite Hidden Gem of Phil Hartman is…


THE SUBWAY BEGGAR (12/19/1987) – “You Might Remember me” mentions this sketch as one of the pieces Phil did that best described how Chameleon-like his performances can be at times. Watching this again, this almost feels like an improv exercise Phil would’ve done when he was training with the Groundlings—or, to a lesser extent, a primordial version of the “Hollywood Director” game on “Whose Line”. That is to say, take a basic scene, then repeat that same scene with a different quirk/variation/gimmick each time just to keep the audience on its toes. Even though this is clearly scripted, you could tell that Improv’s roots are showing; and with it, Hartman’s natural talents truly get to shine authentically, in spite of already being on the show for a year and a half at this point. In less than 4 minutes, Phil goes from a homeless Vietnam Vet, to an Actor playing a vet, to a psycho trying to get to Bellevue, to eventually someone who flat out Robs everybody—All without breaking a sweat or his stride. Hartman may have been the “Glue” in most of the sketches he was in, but he was just as good—if not better—when he was largely flying solo, like here for instance. All in all, whether he had the sketch all to himself or if he was a small part of the ensemble; the thing about Phil that was the most enduring was that even if a sketch was obviously tanking, Phil would somehow manage to give a performance that would be hard to forget—in spite of some of these sketches slipping through the cracks. Phil would’ve been 70 years old this year; and if he were still with us, I’m certain he could still run circles around the current cast, but do so with the kind of fatherly guidance that made the ‘86-‘94 “Silver Age” just a little more Golden.



Once again, If I forgot any Non-Best Of sketches, please let me know in the comments—with 8 years of material to choose from, I‘m more than certain this is going to be a revisited topic at some point. And since I mentioned Hartman & Farley’s shared moment earlier, and just how ironic that shot wound up being, I can’t think of a better subject for next time…


NEXT WEEK: The Top ## WTF Moments of the 1997-98 season…I’m honestly not sure if I can find my standard 8 for this one, but I’ll try.


Eagles, Good luck, you’re gonna need it.

PROGRAM NOTE (1/20/18)

Hey-yo! Has it been a month already?


So, it’s time to be a little honest with you—I was originally going to come back this week with “The Hidden Gems of Phil Hartman”, and while that WILL remain the next thing I’m going to post, I’m looking ahead at the calendar and the thought has occurred to me that SNL is actually going to be off the air for pretty much ALL of February thanks to the Peacock’s coverage of the (Possibly Nuclear) Winter Olympics in Korea—save for a show on the 3rd.


So that got me to thinking, why come back a few weeks only to be sidelined with no shows for another month? Further, why stick to a regular schedule, it’s not like people are setting their watches to what I write or anything. As much as I like a good work ethic, there really is No set schedule to these things. Further still, I also have a job outside of this blog, and this is the time of year where things tend to ramp up—producing commercials for said Olympics, various Football games, Oscar season, etc. I can write/finish these things whenever I can, but the real world does take priority before anything else. So with that, we’re going to take just a few more weeks off to catch up on the stuff I’ve got planned and the stuff at my actual source of income. We WILL be back the weekend of 2/3/18, and then we’ll be non-stop through the month.


In the meantime, please enjoy this gif of Matt Foley getting us back on the right track.