Even before we finished our analysis of last weekend’s Dana Carvey hosted ‘Saturday Night Live’ we had no doubt that this particular episode, this particular crossroads, required additional insight. Perhaps, more than ever, a Kieran’s Korner was needed. As you know, we consider Kieran our elder statesmen when it comes to ‘SNL’ knowledge and personal experience, our very own living, breathing, sweater vest-wearing ‘Live From New York.’ To some degree, the Carvey years, ’86-’93, were always nostalgia to us; we were practically an infant when Carvey debuted, and thus only began to appreciate his talent towards the end of his tenure, largely because of the runaway success of ‘Wayne’s World.’ Our first time seeing the show live came just after Carvey’s exit, the final seasons of Farley and Sandler, and indeed we didn’t become regular viewers until the great cast turnover of 1995 (and, to be fair, like Kieran, we initially didn’t care for that group funny). So while the Will Ferrell era was the first cast we became intimately familiar with, watched week in and week out, the Carvey period came during Kieran’s formative years. We knew then that any effect the last episode had on us, there was a good chance that feeling would only be amplified for Kieran. So we turned to Kieran for his special brand of wisdom, to discover his reaction considering his similar but much more personal relationship with ’86-’93 . And, as usual, he obliged.
Speaking of the death of childhood, let me tell you about the flood of negative emotions I experienced watching the first episode of the 21st season of Saturday Night Live.
The date was September 30, 1995 and I was twenty-three years old. Mariel Hemingway was the host. There was an interminable sketch where Will Ferrell yelled at some kids who were, evidently, on a shed. Filmed pieces included a rather pallid spoof commercial for a “morning” beer named AM Ale. Against better judgment, Mark McKinney tried to import his Chicken Lady character from The Kids in the Hall.
I didn’t laugh.
Continue: Kieran’s Korner or: How Kieran Learned to Stop Worrying and Love ’95-’01. And a hindsight look back at Carvey’s auspicious beginnings…
Before we head into the weekend we just wanted to remind you that tomorrow night’s SNL is a repeat from 2000 with host Dana Carvey and musical guest Linkin Park. New episodes return ne…I’m sorry? What’s that? It’s not a repeat? It’s a a brand new episode? Really? C’mon. Really? With Linkin Park? Nooooo. Really?? Okay. Wow. What, was Crazy Town already booked? Jeez. Alright. I mean, you see why you’d think it’s a repeat, right? Right. But, hey, if it’s new, it’s new…so we’ve just been informed that tomorrow night’s SNL with host Dana Cavery and musical guest Linkin Park is, in fact, a new episode. So tune in to see if Carvey does George Bush and The Church Lady, and maybe catch Linkin Park playing their hit song.
In the mean time, here’s our hands-down favorite Dana Carvey sketch, a performance we’d often recreate throughout elementary school. My friend’s parents loved it.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Alright, that headline is an obvious and deliberately misleading statement, you got me. However, even more than being technically correct, this weekend’s show actually earned the distinction. I previously stated my disbelief over the choice of Barkley, NBA Hall of Famer, current commentator and compulsive gambler, as the first SNL host of the decade. It not only seemed completely out of left field, but even if Barkley was relevant among SNL‘s core demographic, you’d think they would have still chosen someone hipper, funnier and actually from a performing background for the first show. At least save Sir Charles for 2010 week 2.
But I was wrong. What I failed to realize is that Barkley was likely to succeed precisely because of his limitations. It’s the extreme version of Christopher Walken or John Malkvovich, where the fact that it’s the host in a specific role is more of the joke than the sketch itself. And with Barkley being a good sport ex-athlete instead of an eccentric actor, the writing staff was able to even more successfully use Barkley’s personality and performing constraints to his advantage. It’s like the Jets plotting a game plan whereby Mark Sanchez has to just manage the game, hand off the ball for the majority of the snaps and avoid turnovers (bet you didn’t see that sports analogy coming. Well, some of us care about football 3 weeks out of the year. Mostly for the nachos). And this is different from writing for an actor who just isn’t particularly talented when it comes to comedy. Despite her SNL showing, January Jones is still a better acting talent than Charles Barkley; it’s just that SNL could use Barkley’s weaknesses to its advantage. With Jones they could only try to minimize the damage by having her look pretty and leave the funny to the cast.
All those platitudes aside, while it was a surprisingly good episode by SNL standards, it wasn’t wall-to-wall successful, and I’d still rather see a host earn the laughs with natural comic ability as opposed to lack of it. However, Barkley really was impressive, and set the bar high for 2010 (tall guy joke!).
More: Highlights! Racism! Cake! Chopping Broccoli!
Dana Carvey on The Jay Leno Show attempting to break the record for most impressions in a minute. Unfortunately, this brand of humor is a perfect match for Leno’s graveyard. I wish I could get behind this, but it seems like Carvey is just doing impressions of his impressions, and most of which we’ve been seeing for decades. Sadder still is that he has nothing to promote so he just plugged a hair salon instead (sadder still is I’m not sure if this was a joke or it’s actually where he gets his hair cut). I still maintain that Carvey was one of the most talented SNL cast members of all time, but lately he hasn’t been doing much to prove it. Still waiting for your comeback, Dana. Still waiting.
See the video. And maybe Zooey Deschanel