Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Saturday Night’s All Right For Leaving

Screen shot 2013-05-21 at 6.42.30 PMMuch was made last week about the departure of Saturday Night Live stalwart Bill Hader, and still more was made when word broke just before (or, perhaps, during) last Saturday night’s show that longtime cast member Fred Armisen would be joining Hader in exiting Studio 8H. Add to that the speculation that Jason Sudeikis is a part of the exodus – only a year after show centerpiece Kristen Wiig left the show – and we seem to have a full-fledged panic. Hader, Armisen and Sudeikis – who accrued twenty-eight seasons of combined service on the show – will certainly leave a gaping hole, having portrayed such vital characters as President Obama, Vice President Biden, James Carville, David Patterson, the Devil, and, of course, Stefon. How could the show possibly survive such a great loss of talent, three of their leading men, a trio of go-tos. Losing one, sure, it happens. But all three, plus the farewell of Head Writer Seth Meyers at mid-season? Won’t that just be the end of SNL?

No, no it won’t. Despite some histrionics that seem to point to the opposite sentiment, the show will persist just fine. In fact, this is the circle of life for Saturday Night Live (it’s just Saturday Night Life?). Granted, if Sudeikis does, in fact, join Hader and Armisen, then you would have a more severe than normal bloodletting, but it’s not a lethal loss. The show has always and will always subsist on the infusion of new, exciting, eager talent. This season SNL was without Kristen Wiig, who seemed to have shouldered the load for so many seasons (to the show’s detriment, in our opinion) and it went on unencumbered in her absence, bolstered by noteworthy performances by newcomers Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong, two fantastic young talents who might have not had the chance to breakout if Wiig was still around. And the show has weathered the loss of every great star during its history, with someone waiting in the wings to step up. Chevy Chase leaves after the inaugural season and Bill Murray gets the call. Farley and Sandler leave and we get Will Ferrell. Ferrell leaves but Armisen and Will Forte join the show and Amy Poehler receives more screen time. Every time SNL closes a door it opens a window, a window cracked just wide enough for a talented young sketch comedian to crawl.

And it will be the same with this loss, which should better be classified as a transition than a remaking; it’s certainly nothing as a dramatic as the turnover before Ferrell’s first season. Bobby Moynihan, who had a stellar season with his “Weekend Update” appearances as Drunk Uncle and Anthony Crispino, has already been doing much of the heavy lifting, appearing in cold opens, monologues, parodies, and Update visits, performing as straight man as well as Guy Fieri. He’s certainly more than capable of being the show’s anchor in his sixth season. Likewise of Taran Killam, whose squared-jaw good looks and Baryshnikovian dance moves make him possibly the show’s most valuable not-yet-ready-for-prime-time-player, and who is due for his breakout season. Then you have Kenan Thompson, who has only improved with age, as he shook off his All That trappings and grew into a reliable SNL presence, and Tim Robinson, who had a strong, confident debut season, and Jay Pharoah, who is an incredible mimic but still looking to find his groove, despite getting the nod to play Obama this season. Not to mention the fresh new talent they might recruit to replace the departing cast members. And add to that the terrific female players that we already discussed, and you have a dynamic, hungry, inspired cast ready to make their mark and define their era on SNL. If the show is guilty of anything over its last 38 seasons, it’s of being lazy, relying on the old standbys. With the old guard on its way out, SNL just might not have that luxury next season, and we might be better off for it.

Yes, we had to say goodbye to Stefon, and that was very, very sad. But Stefon had to move on, and so do we. Because there’s another Stefon out there. There always is. We just don’t know him yet.

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Filed under Analysis, Be careful what you wish for, Makes You Think, Saved by the Bell

Parting Shot: Electile Dysfunction

Ladies and Gentlemen, we now project me, Brian Williams,  to be the 45th President of the United States. 

 

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Filed under Checks & Balances, Huh?, Parting Shot

WOMP: The Best ‘SNL’ Sketch of the Season

This is that time of the year when blogs across the countryweb sit down and decide on the top five or ten or seventeen sketches from the recently concluded season of Saturday Night Live (and we’ve done this too).  But, for us, there was one sketch from the 2011-2012 season that stood head and shoulders above the rest.*  It was simultaneously the best political satire and pop culture parody and was damn near perfect.  And it made us so happy.

*Obviously any Stefon segment is exempt because he’s already been granted emeritus status.

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Filed under Checks & Balances, Good Humor, Saturday Night Live

And Now the Long Awaited Debut of ‘Kieran’s Korner’: More Thoughts on ‘SNL’ & Scarlett Johansson

We’ve made a concerted effort on this blog to do things just a little differently, to present our material in a way that is somehow unique from the dozens of similar sites out there, whether that be reviewing The Office from the perspective of the series as a whole, or comparing Conan O’Brien to President Obama, or finding any excuse to link to an episode of Pete & Pete (like right there, for example).  But sometimes, no matter how hard you to try to keep an eye on the bigger picture you get lost in the details, and you can’t see the forest for the trees.   That’s why it’s always great to have a loyal reader (and good friend) who can fill in the blanks.  And for us, that person is Kieran Walsh.

And, once again, Kieran replied to one of our SNL posts with his own excellent thoughts, expanding on a couple of our points and suggesting some ideas we might have missed.  We’re grateful to have Kieran around reading our posts, clarifying our arguments and providing his own keen insights.  So, without further ado, we’re proud to bring you what we hope is the first of many visits to Kieran’s Korner:

It’s kind of painful to say this, but I think Fred Armisen is now moving into eclipse while Bill Hader is on the ascent.  Manuel Ortiz is a good example.  It’s barely even a sketch – more of a gimmick, and not a particularly funny one, either.  For that matter, it’s waaaay too reminiscent of “What Up With That” to be comfortable (talk show constantly interrupted by dance routine, etc.)  Meanwhile, Bill seems to have found a new level of accessibility by crafting more user-friendly breakout characters (Stefan!)  Perhaps these are the side-effects of dating a scientologist.  Not entirely his fault.  The pop culture pendulum swings wildly.

Don’t really understand Scarlett Johansson.  I mean, in general.   She must be incredibly easy to work with because I don’t really know why SNL and Woody Allen keep going back to her.  I dunno.  She’s just excruciatingly limited.  On the one hand I get the sense that she’s up for anything – but that’s incredibly different from being genuinely good at anything.  Clearly, she’d like to get laughs, but, jeez…

Yes.  Bayer had an incredibly strong show, particularly with the Stars of Tomorrow sketch.  She’s got definite potential.  Pharoah, too, but he really needs his own thing.

I think it’s definitely time for Andy to leave.

Very astute observations on both the Armisen and Johansson fronts.  Regarding Fred, perhaps that’s why he seemed so unenthusiastic during the “Mike’s Busteria” sketch.  And perhaps his character’s recalcitrant disposition on “Update” was a reflection of Armisen’s current displeasure with the show.  Perhaps he feels like he’s stranded at sea with a shrill, prickly Jewish wife.

And as for Johansson, Kieran hits it on the head, and gracefully encapsulates the point we attempted to make in our earlier post.  She’s beautiful.  And it’s not as if she’s January Jones out there (boy, Jones is never going to live that down, is she?).  But as Kieran’s so eloquently notes, Johansson is “excruciatingly limited,” so she must just be a person SNL enjoys having around.  Or maybe she drives up the ratings.  Let us not forget that it’s always about the bottom line.

But, then again, sometimes it’s about the byline.  So look out for more Kieran authored posts in the near future, and maybe a Snark-Walsh debate.  Because if we blog on the web and no one is around to respond does it really post?

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Filed under Kieran's Korner, Krebstar, Saturday Night Live

The One in Which We Compare Conan O’Brien to Barack Obama

Sometime around the beginning of this year I pondered the similarities between Conan O’Brien and President Barack Obama (and teased an upcoming blog post on the subject via Twitter).  With Conan’s new show premiering on TBS tonight, following the Republican tidal wave that swept into congress last week, and in doing so affixing a bold question mark onto Obama’s presidency, it seems like there’s no better time to finally revisit the parallel.  This comparison is perhaps more relevant, and possibly more darkly prescient, than ever.

When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 a collective sigh of relief escaped young voters across the country.  Actually, it was less a sigh of relief and more of a giddy shout.  Hope had won out.  Yes we could.  We had a charismatic leader, the sexiest president since JFK, who was certain to reverse the damage done by eight years under George W. Bush’s tyrannical reign.  And just like how JFK utilized his good looks and immense charm to capture the nation’s heart in the first televised presidential debate, badly outshining a sweaty, swarthy Richard Nixon, Obama used new media, most notably the internet, in a way no President had before.  He was a star for sure, but in a way we had never seen.  He galvanized the young, tech savvy populace, the early adopters who proclaimed their support on their Facebook and MySpace pages.  MTV had been encouraging late teens and twenty-somethings to Rock the Vote for many years, but in that election we truly had a rock star to endorse.  We were fed up with the Bush regime, with Republican rule, and we were energized, we were motivated, and we had Barack Obama, the son of a Kenyan immigrant, as our shining ray of hope.  And in that time it was a symbiotic relationship.  Obama inspired the poor, the hungry, the unemployed and recent college graduate masses, and they banded together to have their voices heard, to provide Obama with the spirit and the mandate.  He gave us hope, and we gave him our vote.

And then on that Tuesday night in November our prayers were answered.  Celebrations erupted on the streets of Williamsburg, citizens went wild in Chicago, and Hawaii cheered their native son.  We had won.  We had our guy.  And he would lead us to the promised land.

Or would he? And what does all this have to do with Conan O’Brien. Grab a snack and read on.

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Filed under Analysis, Interweb, Local Flavor, Makes You Think, Talkies

‘SNL’: Hamm & Cheese and A Bublé Disposition

PUNS!!!

Jon Hamm SNLIn yesterday’s SNL appetizer post I surmised that last night’s show had a 50% chance of being funny.  However, immediately after making this less than bold proclamation I realized that I should have at least given the odds at 51%, and more accurately probably around 75%.  With SNL returning after a week off, having proven they perform best with a little rest, and under the capable reigns of Jon Hamm, the odds were certainly in their favor.

And had I thought it through yesterday and gone with the 75% estimation I would have been right, as about 3/4 of the show was (surprisingly or unsurprisingly, I’ll let you decide) solid.  From the moment Hamm stepped out onto the stage for his monologue you knew you were in good hands (sorta like the way I feel during the opening credits of any Quentin Tarantino movie).  Obviously the easy thing to do here would be to compare Hamm’s hosting performance to that of his Mad Men co-star, Ms. January Jones.  Of course, that’s entirely unfair, because Jones was clearly over-matched and out of her element, and Hamm has already demonstrated his hosting prowess.  There’s really no reason to compare a Picasso to a Bazooka Joe comic.  We already know which is going to come out on top (well, I guess in that scenario it depends on the criterion, if we’re talking about which is the superior work of art or which serves as a better gum wrapper.  But I digress).  However, we’ll indulge that comparison briefly, because, like Jones’, Hamm’s monologue employed some Mad Men parody, and to far better results than the “Mad Mennies” bit in Jones’ monologue.  As Hamm’s big break has been his role as the mysterious, stoic Don Draper, he showed some clips from his earlier “roles,” but in each of these Hamm maintains the personality of the debonair Draper.  The first clip, a Saved by the Bell parody titled “Late for Class,” was the best (if only for the spot-on opening credits.  Oh, the early 90s!), but the second, Hamm on QVC giving Kristen Wiig the same tough love treatment that Don gives Betty Draper, and the last, Hamm as Draper doing Def Comedy Jam, were nearly as good.  By the time Hamm said “stick around, we’ll be right back,” he didn’t need to.  We were sold.

Read on: A funny and incisive cold opening?! Pork and Champagne?! Serigo?! Plus: the bottom 25th percentile.

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Filed under Analysis, Good Humor, Saturday Night Live, Saved by the Bell

An ‘SNL’ Holy Trinity: Politics, Jon Hamm & Sports: AKA An ‘SNL’ Hamm Sandwich

Earlier this week comedy.com published their list of the 10 Funniest SNL Sketches Inspired by Presidents and I wanted to share it with you for a number of reasons.

1. As was the impetus for the list in the first place, it’s relevant, as it was uploaded in anticipation of President Obama’s State of the Union Address this past Wednesday night.  Now I don’t have much to say about the address, as I only saw about the last 20 minutes of it, and it was closed-captioned at a bar, but I feel pretty confident that on tonight’s SNL they will lead with a parody, mining jokes from Joe Biden’s seal clapping and Nancy Pelosi’s emphatic, frenetic applause.  Sorta like this:

2. In my recent list of the Top 10 SNL Sketches of the 00s, I decided to only include one political sketch, so the comedy.com list rather fills that void (and saves me from doing more work).  If I were to add one more in, it would probably be a debate, but in terms of personal preference I have a real affinity for this Obama commercial:

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3. This is something to whet your appetite for tonight’s new episode, featuring the return of, you guessed it, a beardless Jon Hamm!  First hosting last decade, in October of 2008, Hamm proved that he’s more than just a handsome face, just as skilled at comedy as he is staring into the nothingness, drinking whiskey and smoking a cigarette, and looking dashing doing it.  I’ve already included many of the sketches from his last go-round, so here’s one from later in the show that I have yet to employ:

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4. On Sunday night NBC goes back to the well and serves up another SNL compilation special, this time, in honor of the Super Bowl and in lieu of a game, it’s SNL Sports All-Stars.  Like the Christmas special, a show made up old sports-themed sketches is nothing new.  However, also like the Christmas special, Sports All-stars will be “hosted” by characters who originated in the last two seasons and are already over-exposed.  In the Christmas special it was Gilly, whom I’ve already wrote many words about hating, and whom I thought might actually ruin Christmas.  This time around it’s ladies’ sports commentators, Pete Twinkle and Greg Stink (Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte respectively), with Twinkle always finding a way to plug the latest feminine hygiene sponsor and Stink being generally clueless, unprepared and often a bit creepy.  When these characters first debuted in Ladies’ Billiards last October, I thought it was a success, an unorthodox sketch that Sudeikis and Forte made it work.  The kind of sketch that comes late in the show for a reason.  So I was alarmed when the sketch turned up again so quickly, this time in the form of a Bowling final, and again two weeks ago in the Sigourney Weaver episode in the guise of a darts competition.  It was a fun sketch to start, but now they’re stretching it thin, showing it three times in half a season, and it’s only a matter of time before they exhaust these characters.  However, I will say that Twinkle and Stink are a much better choice to host a compilation show, and I’m actually interested/excited to see how they might expand these characters.  Can’t be any worse than Gilly.

And here’s one of my favorite sports sketches, an all-time classic that I assume will be included in the special:

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And don’t forget: Jon Hamm tonight.  There’s a 50% chance it’s going to be funny!

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Filed under Other people's stuff, Saturday Night Live

It’s Just Another Muppet Monday

First Monday of 2010 and already we have enough Muppet material to last a month.  Talk about setting the bar high right off the bat.

Most notably, the Muppets appeared on last night’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (which begs the question, at this point, does EMHE really require the “Home Edition” designation.  Do people even remember the original Extreme Makeover, a less dirty, less Foxier version of Fox’s The Swan?).  Even better than renovating a home and changing a family’s life is that the Muppets got to work with Sam Champion, who boasts the 2nd best weatherman name, just behind Storm Field (interestingly, however, Champion might be the front-runner for best overall name.  It’s fascinating and complex how these things work).  As usual, the Muppets demonstrated their unique brand of mayhem, as well as their extra-large hearts inside adorably tiny bodies.  Coming on the heels of their work with Habit for Humanity, the Muppets now seem to be the go-to team for carpentry (speaking of which, as it is now 2010, make sure to check out Disney’s “Give a day, get a day” list of participating programs.  Surprisingly, being an extra on The New Adventures of Old Christine is already all filled up.  Even more surprising is that Disney considers being an extra on a CBS sitcom an acceptable form of volunteerism).  But really, will ABC just give the Muppets their own show already?  Yes, Muppets Tonight didn’t set the world on fire.  And yes, America’s Next Muppet didn’t make it to air.  But just because that didn’t work out doesn’t mean that the Muppets don’t deserve another crack at it (and, please, the opportunity should be on ABC, not The Disney Channel.  And if not on ABC, maybe they should put Kermit and Co. in a gritty cop drama and send them to FX).

Check out the full show here, and an exclusive clip below:

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In other news, it was just announced last week that the Muppets film debut, The Muppet Movie, was included on the list of features to be added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.  Finally, the government takes a real step to preserve a national treasure (also, many thanks to my roommate who righted a wrong and gave me The Muppet Movie on DVD for HanuChristmas.  I’m embarrassed to say that I only had it on VHS (although, I might as well just have waited until they perfect/release the technology to imprint it on my brain)).  I guess, unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama cares about the Muppets.

And, finally, I thought it really fitting/kinda sad that Amazon offered me these recommendations today.  It’s not that they’re wrong.  It’s that they’re so right.

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Filed under Century 21 Reality, Mickey Mouse Club, Muppet Mondays, Muppets