Another ho-hum effort from SNL this past weekend. Beyond the fact that Drew Barrymore has now hosted the show more times (6) than any other female (breaking her tie with Candice Bergen. However, unlike the recent trading back and forth of the all-time host crown between Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, I don’t think Ms. Bergen will attempt to regain a share of the female lead anytime soon, especially as she hasn’t hosted in 19 years), there wasn’t much of import from this outing. Over at EW, Ken Tucker has a pretty spot on assessment of the show, noting the best moments were Bill Hader’s guest spot on Weekend Update as the ragin’ cajun James Carville, and an ESPN Classic broadcast of a billiards tournament. This sketch found Barrymore and Kristen Wiig in the authentic attire of the early 90s billiard world, loud shirts and well-coiffed pompadours, with Barrymore looking more like a black jack dealer than a billiards star. However, the sketch was focused on the overeager commentators, Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte, and Sudeikis’ frequent plugs for the event sponsor, Tampax. Maybe not great on a paper, but Sudeikis has a way to elevate the thinnest of material (not a Tampax pun).
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Mediocre sketches aside (and to be fair, I watched the show late Saturday night after a very long day, so perhaps I wasn’t the best audience), what bothers me more is the predictability. As it was late, I wasn’t planning on watching the show, but when talking to a friend about the current state of SNL I guaranteed there would be a Gilly sketch in this episode, almost certainly in the prime post monologue slot (we had gone two episodes without Gilly, so it was really overdue). Lo and behold we flipped on the show, fast forwarded past the monologue and, surprise, surprise, Gilly! Sure, they mixed it up a bit by introducing Drew Barrymore as Gigli, Gilly’s Italian doppleganger, but it’s basically the same joke each time, just replacing certain words but never actually heightening the comedy from sketch to sketch.
SNL went right back a “favorite” with the next sketch, another installment of “La Revista Della Televisione con Vinny Vedecci“. Whereas I despised Gilly from the start, I did and still sort of enjoy this character, but again, by doing the exact same format every time they are running it into the ground. Vinne has a guest, he yells with his production crew who are pre-occupied eating spaghetti and meatballs, and his man-child son (played by Bobby Moynihan) ambles onto the set (one positive: every time they do this sketch I think to myself, “boy, does that spaghetti and meatballs look good.” I wonder who caters). Bill Hader is always brilliant in these pieces, quite convincing as an Italian television host, but I’m at the point where I barely need to pay attention because I’ve heard the jokes before, just with different words (however, if he interviewed Alf, as the opening montage implies, then I would hang on every word). Maybe a nice challenge for the writers would be to put Gilly in a church, or Vinnie a guest on an American television show. There’s a reason the people who write SNL write SNL: because they’re funny. I’m not going to argue with that. But every once in a while they need to be creative too.
(On a sorta related note: I wonder if the name Vinny Vedecci was inspired by Matt LeBlanc’s character Vinne Verducci from the failed Married with Children spin-off Top of the Heap.)
One more part of the show worth mentioning, despite it coming from an average sketch: the return of Moynihan’s Guy Fieri. But after two supporting roles, let’s say we see Fieri in a full on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives parody.
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Oh, and if you were curious, the real Guy Fieri is currently touring the country, taking his extreme brand of killer cooking to live audiences via the Guy Fieri Road Show. Get your tickets now!