Friday, October 10, 2008

SNL: Thursday night live, take one

Some brief thoughts on last night's special Thursday edition of "Saturday Night Live" coming up just as soon as I give up on being a Cubs fan...

Even in a half-hour format, "SNL" winds up being uneven. (Like Lorne says, that word's going to be on the show's tombstone.)

There were some very funny bits in the debate sketch (McCain wandering in circles during Obama's answers and blocking the camera, Bill Murray pleading for a solution to the Cubs' misery) but the time limit joke was played out well before we got to the end. I recognize that this was, to most people, an incredibly boring debate that might have been harder to satirize, but the larger problem is that they still don't know what to do with Obama and only somewhat know what to do with McCain. It was an improvement on the first presidential debate sketch, but it was no "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy!"

Weekend Update, on the other hand, was terrific. "Really? with Seth and Amy" is always one of my favorite recurring Update bits -- again, Update is much funnier when the anchors are injecting their personalities into it instead of just rattling off one-liners -- and I liked that the AIG retreat forced them to take it up another notch with "Oh My God, Are You Serious?"

I believe this is the only one of the Thursday specials that's going to air in a week when the Saturday show is dark; I wonder how they're going to decide what goes where over the next few weeks.

What did everybody else think?

30 comments:

lungfish said...

I liked the "really" bit too- the lines more so than the delivery.

That Kenan & Kel guy is very unfunny.

Dave S said...

I thought they missed an obvious joke with McCain getting so uncomfortably close to people when he answered their questions.

I also thought that they reused the same four jokes ("That one", "My friends", the time limits and calling people by the wrong name) for the length of the segment and I was bored halfway through. My wife was hysterical though, so they must be doing something right.

We also got a kick out of "Fix it." Which had the opposite effect of using a joke over and over again: it got boring, but then it got much more funny (funnier?)

Matt said...

I have never found the "really" bit funny. It just annoys me to no end. I clicked on in the middle of the "really" section and left after less than one minute. I still probably heard the word "really" 75 times. I can't stand it.

JC said...

Speaking of lamenting the Cubs, gotta love "William" Murray's question to the candidates last night.

Faye said...

Being a reader from the UK, I rarely look at the SNL stuff unless Tina Fey is on (although I enjoyed Anne Hathaway), tho I loved the "really". Also, i've suddenly discovered that Seth Meyers is super hot. Sorry if thats bringing this blog down market though.

Seriously, though, if the satire of this debate was pretty dull - i stopped after Bill Murray - how dull must the original debate have been!!

David J. Loehr said...

It struck me last night that they should have saved the "calling people by the wrong name" joke for "William" Murray, since we all know who he is, and we might not have picked up on or paid attention (or cared) what the other fake character names were.

Not for the first time, I thought the "guests" in the news segment didn't work very well. Repetition isn't always funny. And if you're going to do a musical spoof, try to sing well; did they really need to subtitle that? Apparently, they did.

So they couldn't even muster up thirty minutes of evenness, if not outright goodness? Really?

Ryan said...

I was somewhat amused by the half-hour, but it wasn't outstanding. That said, the Weekend Update joke about the cat was priceless.

jim treacher said...

Is it that they don't know what to do with Obama, or that they know whatever they do will be construed as racist? After all, some people think it's racist that he's being played by a guy who isn't even half-black.

J.J. said...

Think they missed an opportunity during the Murray part of the debate. With McCain getting all the names wrong, he should have called him Chevy.

Jenn. said...

Here's the thing: The AIG stuff merited some outrage. Which, to me, is when the "Really?!?" and now "Oh My God You Can't Be Serious?!?" work the best.

I enjoyed the debate skit reasonably well.

Anonymous said...

Jim Treacher wrote: "After all, some people think it's racist that he's being played by a guy who isn't even half-black." Yeah, when really it isn't racist because they are both part white.

Thought the debate skit was just okay -- it seems weird to me that they are holding back so much on their portrayal of McCain. Update was great. I was a teenager in the 80's so I found the Hall & Oates bit to be pretty funny. I've always liked all of the "Really?" bits, and Kenan put on a clinic on how to make repetition funny.

By the way, I encourage every SNL fan to listen to ESPN.com The Sports Guy's podcast this week with Seth Meyers if you want a glimpse behind the scenes of the show.

Darren

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is it that they don't know what to do with Obama, or that they know whatever they do will be construed as racist?

I doubt it. They've had no problem skewering other black public figures. I just think Obama is too cool (as in "steady and composed," not as in "Fonzie") for them to know how to make fun of him.

But let me ask you, Jim, as the blog's most vocal Republican: how would you make fun of Obama? What about him strikes you as something easy to parody, and/or exaggerate into parody, the way they've done with McCain's impulsiveness, or Bill Clinton's eye for the ladies, W. Bush's malapropisms, Dukakis being boring, etc.? What obvious personality trait or mannerism does Obama have that's an automatic laugh if you dial it up to 11?

jim treacher said...

Yeah, when really it isn't racist because they are both part white.

Huh? Armisen is Japanese-Venezuelan. But even if he were an Irish albino, so what?

But let me ask you, Jim, as the blog's most vocal Republican: how would you make fun of Obama?

I wouldn't. That would be racist. But if I had to, or if I were being paid to, I'd make fun of his empty rhetoric, his halting delivery without a teleprompter (Armisen does a little of this), and his constantly shifting stories about his alliances -- at this point seemingly dozens of them -- with various unsavory characters.

Oh, and his socialism. How pretty much everything he says boils down to, "Life's not fair, but I can fix that."

But I haven't really thought about it. I did not realize there was going to be homework. Guess that's what I get for being "vocal."

jim treacher said...

On the other hand, if your point is that his public persona is too studiously boring to parody, I don't suppose I can counter that.

Anonymous said...

Going back to last Saturday's show, I didn't enjoy the fat jokes about that obese man and his fiancee. And that guy is now dead, and I admit I hope they feel a little guilty about it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Guess that's what I get for being "vocal."

Easy, sparky! All I meant was...

On the other hand, if your point is that his public persona is too studiously boring to parody, I don't suppose I can counter that.

More or less, this was my point.

Brian said...

Heh, pretty easy to see why the The Half Hour News Hour was so god awful isn't it?

Mac said...

I am not a Republican, but I will say that Obama has been maddeningly elusive for parody -- though it's no excuse for not getting the voice right. Armisen is okay, if a little stiff, on the mannerisms.

There's a lot of Baptist preacher in there, which I expect is out of the range of experience of the SNL folks. If you wanted to do a parody, Jim, I would suggest going with that, with Obama the cool and collected version eventually morphing into the wild-eyed fire-and-brimstone style.

The Daily Show has come closest with its "Hopey McHoperson" type jokes, but really that's more about Obama as he's seen by his followers than anything.

Some guys are like that. Bush I, for instance, was really hard to get a handle on, and eventually everybody just did Dana Carvey doing Bush, which was an extremely stylized caricature.

sparky said...

I can't believe I forgot to promote myself! Not only have I made fun of Obama, but a few days later SNL used the same joke, with a whole bunch of dialogue that was suspiciously similar:

http://jimtreacher.com/archives/001637.html

Probably just a coincidence. Even thought I've been getting links from the NYT and WaPo and other places the SNL writers must read...

Anyway. Yeah, Armisen's impersonation ain't so hot. A really funny web comedian named Donald Glover auditioned for it, but didn't get it. You can check him out at http://derrickcomedy.com. Hilarious.

The Godfather said...

Was it my DVR having issues, or was the sound on all NBC shows Thursday, especially SNL, screwed up? I think it may have happened on my recording of SNL from last weekend as well. Anybody else having sound issues?

Adam said...

As a totally biased former Obama student, I'm also voting for the Hopey McHopePerson mock. Let him start healing people with his touch. Give him the angelic glow lighting.

Anonymous said...

Re: Morbidly overweight Mexicans.

The one they joked about is still alive.

"STORY: A hugely overweight Mexican man weighing nearly half a tonne died of
a heart attack on his way to hospital on Tuesday (October 07) after requesting
help to lose weight.
Rescue workers had to demolish 47 year-old Jose Luis Garza's bedroom
wall. The 992 pounds (450kg) man was then hauled on to a tow truck.

Garza had followed in the footsteps of Manuel Uribe, once the world's
most obese man, who went on television pleading for help to reduce his weight.


Uribe, who announced this week he would marry his long-term girlfriend
Claudia Solis in a civil ceremony this month, had sent Garza fruits and
protein supplements in an attempt to help him. "

--bad dad

kat said...

I would go with Adam's approach and stick to the Hopey McHoperson approach for Obama. Stuff like that could be comic gold. On a similar track, the sketch that SNL did in the 70s making fun of President Carter's hyper knowledge of even the most mundane processes (government or not) was hysterical.

Full disclosure, I'm an Obama supporter but given the absurdity of this past week, I think you could build a funny sketch based on Obama having world's most unsavory "friends", i.e. have him "palling around" with Pol Pot, with Idi Amin, with the Hitler Youth, et al. Maybe Obama throws a house party and all his "friends" show up. The party becomes a disaster when someone inevitably throws a fire bomb.

J said...

I think you could build a funny sketch based on Obama having world's most unsavory "friends", i.e. have him "palling around" with Pol Pot, with Idi Amin, with the Hitler Youth, et al.

The Daily Show's series of doctored photos of Obama on a hayride with Osama bin Laden and playing pool chicken against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ahmadinejad were hilarious.

jim treacher said...

If it were Palin instead of Obama, those pictures would be on the front page of the New York Times. They're just raising questions...

J said...

How they haven't found their way to a billboard in Missouri yet, I don't know.

jim treacher said...

Add it to the list.

Terrence said...

Kenan Thompson's "FIX IT!" segment was a highlight for me. I thought it was hilarious and I kept laughing harder and harder throughout. It's brilliant in its simplicity. We don't need theories and plans and promises that won't be kept. All we need is for the people responsible to FIX IT! None of these pundits and analysts know what to do any more than the people involved know what to do. First order of business for whichever candidate gets elected is to FIX IT. I just love it.

jim treacher said...

Somebody Should Do Something About All the Problems

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33854

Anonymous said...

Huh? Armisen is Japanese-Venezuelan. But even if he were an Irish albino, so what?

Whoa.