**** WILL FERRELL GREATEST MOMENTS ****
This season, I would like to honor a man who I feel has been one of the best SNL performers of all time. Will Ferrell is likely in his last season, and I feel that he may be the most versatile SNL castmember of all time. He can do comedic roles, slapstick, and even play the straight man if he is asked to. Last season, I ranked all SNL castmembers by their value to their respective cast, their contributions, and how much they "carried" a cast all by themselves. Only Eddie Murphy (1980-83) ranked higher in how much he meant to his cast.
With each episode review this season, I am including one of my favorite Will Ferrell SNL moments (in no particular order):
3. Wake Up and Smile! - December 9, 1995
This is the sketch in which I first took notice of Will Ferrell's greatness. This one combines a lot the Ferrell character trademarks: The big shit-eating grin, the cluelessness, the cheesy television personality, the befuddled confusion, the suppressed rage and anger, and the horrified weeping. He morphs from one stage to the next, it's quite a sight to see.
Will Ferrell and Nancy Walls play hosts of a morning show called "Wake up and Smile!" It is your typical Regis and Kathie Lee type of show, with inane banter and a cheesy weatherman (played by host David Alan Grier). They are celebrating their 20th anniversary on the air, but then the unspeakable happens. The teleprompter breaks.
Will is reading off the teleprompter, which starts repeating the same line over and over. So Will reads the same phrase over and over, his inflection slightly changing each time (this is a nice touch):
Will: "Now, I understand you've got some COOKING tips for us, Diane. I understand you've got some cooking tips for us, DIANE. I UNDERSTAND you've got some cooking tips for us, Diane..."
At which point, both hosts realize that they don't know what to say. They get this absolute look of blank horror, trapped in front of a camera with no one to help them. Nancy Walls tries to stall by going to the weatherman for a report, but he doesn't know what to do either. The hosts decide to try to ad-lib to fill the silence:
Will: "Uh... you know, Diane... I had a notion the other
Nancy: "Uh... well... uh...notions make... uh... this country happen."
Will: "I... I was thinking someone should get a group together... uh... with guns to sweep out those ghettos..."
Will gets this horrified look on his face like "What did I just say?" and the show cuts immediately to a commercial. When the show comes back, the two hosts are doing no better at trying to ad-lib:
Nancy: "I... drive a red car..."
Will: "Make sure those poor people stay away from it... they've got sores...."
At this point, the entire cast starts to devolve. The weatherman starts talking about fear and the two hosts are talking about how cold and alone they are. And suddenly the sketch takes an odd turn:
Nancy: "What are we going to do? There's no WORDS!"
Will: "We MUST USE THE FURNITURE TO BUILD A BARRICADE!"
Weatherman: "If we wait, surely they will send help, and make the words so that we can be safe!"
Will: "We can't wait! If we wait, WE DIE! I'm the dominant one, so I'll be the leader!"
Nancy: "I'm so hungry... "
Will: "We WILL LIVE! We WILL LIVE!"
At this point, Will unleashes a blood curdling primal scream as the cast cowers behind the barricaded furniture. The show cuts quickly to commercial as chaos has broken loose on the stage. When the show returns, the Wake Up and Smile cast has formed a Lord of the Flies-type society behind the walled furniture. Will is now shirtless with a black hand painted on his chest. The cast is burning torches for warmth. And thus follows one of the funniest moments in SNL history:
Will: "THE ORDER OF THE HAND WILL RULE! The animals
of the zoo guy, Danny Usher, will sustain us."
Weatherman: "But WHAT if the BOX STILL refuses to give us any words?"
Will: [turning to face Weatherman] "You CHALLENGE my authority?!"
Weatherman: [sniffing Will] "I smell from your scent that you are weak! I challenge you!"
The two fall to the floor, fighting and clawing each other behind the couch and torches. We hear a couple screams and chewing noises and then, suddenly, Will raises up from the ground. His face is covered in blood, In his hand is the SEVERED HEAD of Tim the weatherman.
Will: "THE WEATHERMAN IS DEAD! I KILLED THE WEATHERMAN! HIS STRENGTH IS IN ME!!!"
Will starts to chew on the severed tendons of the weatherman's neck. The audience is going nuts.
At this point, the prompter suddenly becomes fixed. Nancy
Walls tries to pick up the show where they left off. Will suddenly
realizes what he has done and lets out a horrified wail.
The show finally cuts back to a commercial with the two hosts sobbing and horrified by their reaction to a broken prompter.
This sketch you really have to see to believe. I really liked the 95-96 season because of innovative, bizarre sketches like this. It starts out like a lame SNL plot device, a broken teleprompter. But then it changes to a brutal Lord of the Flies situation with a decpaitation and lots of primal screams. If you only see one Will Ferrell sketch, this is probably the one you should see. This is SNL with a cutting edge, as it should be.
Special Note: Will was the one who tore David Alan Grier apart. But in a 1998 sketch with Garth Brooks, Will himself is torn apart by an angry Loewe's theater audience. That is what we call closure.
Wake up and Smile Transcript: http://snltranscripts.jt.org/scripts/95hsmile.phtml
Coincidentally, as I have Will Ferrell ranked as my #2 SNL castmember of all time, Dana Carvey ranks in as my #3. He was the big star of his cast in the late 80's-early 90's. The only thing keeping him from a higher ranking is that he can't play the straight man like Ferrell can. But one thing remains true: Dana Carvey rocks. He was born to be an SNL castmember.
That being said, how is it that someone so talented can bomb so badly as a movie star? Ok, sure, he was in Wayne's World, but that was more of a Mike Myers movie than a Dana Carvey one. In 1994, Dana Carvey was in three movies. Pretty good year, right? Unfortunately, all three of those films are among the most boring, worthless comedies I have ever seen in a theater: Road to Wellville, Trapped in Paradise, and Clean Slate. He has never been considered a movie star since that horrible year. Which is too bad, because his earlier film, Opportunity Knocks, is pretty funny. The only person with a worse movie track record than Dana Carvey is Madonna. I guess in Hollywood, Dana Carvey is the equivalent of a gap toothed shameless whore. That sucks.
And now, I bring you one of the most fascinating movie trivia facts I have in my knowledge:
DANA CARVEY IS IN HALLOWEEN 2.
Halloween 2 was filmed in 1981, the sequel to the finest horror movie of all time. Dana Carvey, a 26 year old stand up comic from San Francisco, shows up as a medical assistant. There's a scene with police and reporters surrounding a house (scene of one of the murders) and Dana Carvey is standing there talking to someone. How he got in the film I have no idea. I would really like to know how Dana got onto that set, and who he had to make friends with to get a part. Remember, this is 5 years before he joined SNL. He ws a complete nobody.
Oh, back to the review. Dana Carvey is always a strong sketch performer. No reason to doubt this will be a fun show.
[COLD OPENING] Gore-Bush Debate #3
This wasn't a bad sketch at all, but three debate sketches in a row to open the season?
Dana seems less hyper as George Bush than he used to be. I wonder if that has something to do with the heart surgery he had last year. The "Jorge H.W.B." part was pretty funny, with the big fake Mexican mustaches. The timing and angles of this sketch seemed slightly off in some places. I bet they did a lot of rewrites right up to the last minute. Anyway, hopefully this will be the last debate sketch for a while, I think the writers are kind of getting lazy.
Grade: B -- Pretty good, but lots of the same material as the last two weeks.
[MONOLOGUE] Dana Carvey
Dana gets to do some stand up and some impressions. Good for him, because that's what he does. Play to the strengths of the host, very clever of you, SNL.
I've never seen a Lieberman impression before.
[COMMERCIAL] The talking fart commercial
I've said it before, you can't go wrong with talking farts. Ok, it really wasn't the best commercial they have ever done. It didn't have a catchy theme song like "Corn Chip Nail Tips." It didn't feature maxipads made out of trees like "Big Braun." And it sure as hell didn't feature robots that eat old people's medicine like "Old Glory Insurance." It had farts, that talked. Get it?
Don't rerun this commercial in future episodes. It's was a really cheap way to get an easy joke.
[SKETCH] The Delicious Dish
When I saw this sketch starting, I knew it would be tailor-made for Dana Carvey. I've seen him do quiet laid-back characters before and it's really funny to watch him try to contain his energy. It's like watching Jim Carrey try to do mime. The Delicious Dish is one of the consistently funny sketches on SNL that people always seem to forget about. Dana's eyepatch was great, and his constant references to the Black Draculas got funnier as the sketch went along. I think he improved some of those. All in all, his character of an incredibly contained, incredibly angry man was fun to see.
Did you notice the first time Dana talked about "urban kids" and "Black Draculas" that the audience didn't know whether to laugh or not? God I hate Political Correctness. Hey that's a joke, ha ha ha. No wait, it was about black people. I can't laugh. What do I do? *head explodes*
Grade: A- -- Molly Shannon was a little too animated in this sketch, in the past her Delicious Dish character was just as boring as Ana's.
[SKETCH] Church Chat with Hillary Clinton, Anne Heche and Eminem.
I've never really been a big Church Lady fan. For the first few years she was on SNL, I had no idea if that was a man or a woman under the wig. I had no idea who the cast member was. Then her poster came out and everyone loved her and Dana Carvey got sick of playing her. (Watch the 1991 episode with Roseanne Barr to see how he tries to kill off the Church Lady.) So I'm not completely enthused to see the Church Lady back, but the audience will, of course, love it.
Hillary Clinton is a pretty easy impression to do. Ana just acts bitchy and cold. I really don't know Hillary in real life, so I don't know if it's accurate. But everyone imitates Hillary that way, so there must be some truth to it.
I would like to personally thank the SNL writers for making fun of Anne Heche. She has been asking for a mocking sketch for some time now. Even back when she "converted" and started dating Ellen DeGeneres, I remember people saying that she was only doing it for her career and wasn't really a lesbian anyway. As a quick trivia note, in the movie "Bowfinger", Heather Graham's character is supposedly based on Anne Heche. She comes to Hollywood and pairs up with a powerful lesbian to help her career. Bowfinger writer Steve Martin even dated Anne Heche before she switched teams, so you do the math. Asking Anne if she prefers the taco or the wiener? Let's cross Anne off the list of people who may host the show some day.
Making fun of Eminem... tasteful and appropriate. Listening to the clip of Eminem's song, I was hoping that SNL reruns last season's Britney Spears episode soon. That's the one where Chris Parnell sings Britney the "love ballad" made up of hard core rap lyrics. Parnell looks and acts just like Eminem though. He's really talented.
Good sketch considering it was an old Church Lady character.
I wonder if the Church Lady prefers the taco or the wiener?
[SKETCH] Bush and Bush go hunting
No actor should play the same character twice in the same episode of SNL. Even if it is George Bush. This was a pretty funny sketch, both actors getting a chance to shine. I think there was a lot of ad-libbing going on, and Dana nearly broke character one. I loved that every time George Sr. made a comment about the election, George Jr. was reminded of some reference to hunting. But Dana kind of screwed up the last line, he should have inserted a dramatic pause.
Will Ferrell playing with antlers just seems right.
[WEEEKEND UPDATE] with Anna Nicole Smith, Adam McKay, Robert
Tina Fey seems to have lost her glasses. Sounds like every episode of Scooby Doo. Once again, I think the two anchors have a lot of chemistry together. They really seem to enjoy working together. I also love how they don't take it seriously. If they screw up a joke, they'll just shrug like "Ah, f*ck it, here's the next joke." If you are having a good time on camera, it can make up for material that isn't always the best.
Molly Shannon's range on the show right now pretty much allows for her to only play one character. Fortunately, Anna Nicole Smith is the perfect character. She's hyper, unlikeable, and vulgar. Molly really gets to have fun with Anna Nicole and she always does a good job.
Adam McKay has been a writer on the show for years. He was in the audience for the Jim Carrey episode in 1996. This was first first real chance to play himself and it was alright. The concept was funny, I just didn't think he pulled it off quite right. But I appreciate the effort and the idea. Trying to lure kids into a van is a concept not used often enough in comedy.
Robert DeNiro showed up and did nothing. He did absolutely nothing, and got a laugh. He is one of the few people who can pull that off. But his impression of Jimmy was amusing at the end. I'm always impressed when Jimmy can do an impression of someone while sitting right next to them (Jerry Seinfeld last year.) That must be hard to do.
Grade: A- -- Update is now something I think the audience looks forward to. Fey and Fallon have won them over. (Am I spelling Fey right?)
[MUSICAL GUEST] The Wallflowers
Once again, I keep my policy of not watching the musical guest. Jakob Dylan's dad though, anyone see him perform live recently. Good Lord Almighty, that is a decrepid looking man.
[SKETCH] VH1 Fashion Awards
This sketch was a chance for a lot of the new castmembers to show off their impressions.
Cuba Gooding Jr: Not so good. Didn't really look like him either.
Gisele: Don't really know who she is. Since Molly did it, I'm guessing it wasn't accurate, anyway.
Macy Gray: Pretty funny, Mays's only appearance of the night.
Samuel Jackson: Wasn't even close.
Sting and his midget: Really good. Why doesn't Rachel Dratch get more air time?
Dylan McDermott: I suppose it was okay. Why imitate someone so boring?
Rudy from Survivor: The voice and comments were pretty much dead on. Rudy really did comment about queers a lot.
The sketch kind of rambled on, but impression sketches are always fun to watch. We get to see who can do them (Jimmy Fallon) and who can't (Tracy Morgan.)
[SKETCH] The Chinese Chicken Shop
For a lot of the newer SNL fans, this is one of Dana's oldest recurring characters. Ching Change was around even before the Church Lady. At one point in the 80's, he was even kind of funny. I think the less said about this sketch, the better. Why, Dana?
Grade: D -- But Horatio did make his one appearance of the night. The rest of the show, he was off drinking a Big Pail of Everclear (tm).
[MUSICAL GUEST] The Wallflowers
Don't care. Went to bed.
Everytime Dana Carvey hosts, he leaves me with a hollow feeling. What, that was it? Where were the great sketches? But then you look back and see I gave an A or B to nearly every sketch. This happens every time he hosts, and I can't explain it. I think I didn't enjoy it, but I really did.
This was a good show, but I think the cast and writers could use the next two weeks off. They are starting to fall back into easy jokes (Hillary Clinton, Debate sketches, fart jokes, George Bush impression) when under a deadline to crunch out a new show. The best sketch was probably the Delicious Dish.
Charlize Theron is the next new host. Besides being unbelievably beautiful, I think she is a very talented actress. I liked her a lot in Cider House Rules, but she really, really impressed me in the Devil's Advocate. She played the wife of Keanu Reeves, who was a (*smirk*) lawyer. He sells his soul to the devil in exchange for success in a (*smirk*) law practice. Charlize slowly has a nervous breakdown over the course of the film, culminating in a creepy scene where she kills herself. It was a great acting job, particularly unglamorous for an ex-model.
Keanu is a lawyer as much as Anne Heche is a lesbian.
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