*** WILL FERRELL GREATEST MOMENTS ***
This season I am recounting some of Will Ferrell's greatest moments on SNL. I originally started this because I figured this would be his last season. But now that he plays President Bush, he will likely stick around another season or two. He does a great job as Bush, but I still think his best Bush moment is yet to come. Anyway, back to the Ferrell Greatest Moments.
9. VH-1 Storytellers with Neil Diamond. February 7, 1998. Host: John Goodman.
Will decided to take on a respected entertainer in this sketch and destroy his reputation. He played Neil Diamond, one of the most harmless, tasteful singers around, and turned him into a pervert. It was really something you had to see.
The sketch opens with Neil Diamond talking to an audience about his songs. After some harmless banter with his bass player, the chords to "Sweet Caroline" start. Neil reveals to the crowd how this popular love song came about:
Neil: "Thank you. That, of course, is "Sweet Caroline". I wrote that song after a big show at the Forum. Gary and I had been drinking pretty heavily, and we were driving.."
Gary (bass player): [worried] "Oh, I can't believe you're gonna tell this story.."
Neil: "Ha ha ha ha ha! Yeah, well, we were driving down this dark road, and I hit a kid. [the crowd reacts with stunned silence.] So, we got out, and sure enough he was dead. So, we just took off. Pretty fast. And two hours later, I wrote "Sweet Caroline". Sweet Caroline. Good times never seemed so good. Thank you.
The crowd tries to applaud, but is stunned at the story. Neil follows it up with more revelations.
Neil: "It gets crazy on the road, and awful lonely. That's why I love pornography. This next song is all about my love of hardcore, barely legal pornography. Gary knows what I'm talking about. Well, my bizarre, insatiable, and downright dangerous sexual habits led me to write this song. [intro to "Cracklin' Rosie"] Oh, Cracklin' Rose, get on board. We're gonna ride 'til there ain't no more to go. We're takin' it slow. Let's all do the best we can. And I can turn invincible if I really try-y hard!"
Next, Neil writes about his song of peace and unity, "America":
Neil: "This next song, you all might like. Few people know that I am fueled creatively by my massive hatred of immigrants. [intro to "America"] Gary and I have gone on for hours about how much we hate foreigners. Right, Gary?"
Gary: "Leave me out of this, man."
Neil: "NO, I WILL LEAVE YOU IN!! [pause, then back to the story] Well, my love of this great and beautiful nation, and my hatred of all people with dark skin, led me to write this. On the boats and on the trains. They're coming to America. Never looking back again. Just do the best you can! You hate your keyboard player because he's black! Never had the courage to tell him so."
When his band members start telling him to shut up, Neil screams at them:
Neil: "I'll smack you in the mouth, I'm Neil Diamond!"
As the crowd and his band starts to leave, Neil tries to get them to stay:
Neil: "Wait! This next song, I wrote after I killed a drifter to get an erection."
This sketch is tasteless, completely slanderous towards Neil Diamond, and completely hilarious. Will gets to have a meltdown on stage and some of his best lines "No, I will leave you in!" come from this sketch. It was the last sketch of the night, and Will gets to try out some really bizarre ideas in that time slot. This is probably the best of them.
As I have said many times before, only Will Ferrell could have pulled off this sketch.
Sketch transcript: http://snltranscripts.jt.org/scripts/97ldiamond.phtml
I've always found Charlie Sheen to be a funny guy. He has been in a lot of comedies, and has sort of a soft spoken humor about him that's really subtle. From his drug dealer in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, to Wild Thing Vaughn in Major League, and his more broad comedy in the Hot Shots films, he has a good background in comedy. Of course, tonight's show will probably be filled with jokes about his past, which is warranted and will give me more respect for the guy. The writers have had a few weeks off, and we have a fun host, so it should be a good show.
I want to go off on a side issue here and write about the quality
of SNL. An article was recently written about how SNL is "suddenly
somewhat cool" again to like and is now funny again because
of all its election coverage. I really get annoyed when the whole
issue of "SNL is not funny anymore/SNL is now funny again"
comes up. For one, people can never seem to agree -when- the big
downfall in SNL quality came. If it were an easily identifiable
moment, it would make the argument more valid. But instead you
1. SNL has not been funny since the original cast left
2. SNL has not been funny since the late 80's
3. SNL has not been funny since (insert favorite cast member) left.
I think SNL has only had two seasons that would be described as embarrassing: The 1980-81 (Charles Rocket) and 1994-95 (Chris Elliott) seasons. And both of those were followed by great seasons with a new cast and a lot of creativity. People who write about how SNL sucks or how SNL is "suddenly" good again miss the point that it is an extremely hit or miss -LIVE- TV show. And it has always been like that. And to make the argument that it sucks since your favorite cast member left is just closed-minded and selfish. SNL is the minor leagues of comedy. When a performer gets good enough, or wants to improve their range, they move on to other projects. It's as simple as that. And Bill Murray, Dana Carvey, Dennis Miller, Adam Sandler, Norm MacDonald or Cheri Oteri are not coming back to join the cast, so deal with it. If you're a fan of the show, it shouldn't matter who is in the cast.
There, I got that off my chest. And as a personal note, I don't think the show is on an upswing at all, or "suddenly" cool. I think this and the past season have been bogged down in recurring characters and old castmembers. A major infusion of new talent is probably on the near horizon and, as Martha Stewart would say, "that's a good thing."
[COLD OPENING]Cheney and Bush
Having Dick Cheney speak instead of George Bush is a funny idea this time, but Cheney really shouldn't get much airtime. Darrell kept moving his hands a lot when he spoke, like when he plays Regis Philbin. At least they finally gave Will Ferrell a chance to steal the sketch at the end. And they even found a dog that didn't screw up the sketch. SNL has a really bad track record with animals.
Not a great idea, Bush should get to speak as much as he wants. No one wants to hear Cheney speak. And as my friend Bonnie put it, "Will Ferrell now does a better George Bush than George Bush does."
Grade: B-. Something different, but too much Cheney
[MONOLOGUE]Charlie, I mean Charles, Sheen
Wow, Charlie Sheen got old and thin in the past few years. His head looks like a bobbing head doll because he has no neck. The part with the bag of coke was pretty funny, especially when he gave it such a good hard look to scrutinize its worth. Classic Charlie Sheen subtle comedy. I also got a kick out of him refunding money for "Men at Work." The stuff comparing him to George Bush was pretty well done, you didn't see it coming right away, which made it funnier.
All in all, a good monologue. The audience questions actually made it funnier, which is probably a first. Charlie Sheen has guts making fun of his past, a lot of stars (Robin Williams, Drew Barrymore) wouldn't do that!
[FAKE COMMERCIAL]Herpes Island, Temptation Trailer, The
Ok, those reality shows were asking for this commercial. This was really well done, although a little tasteless (Temptation Trailer, I'm looking in your direction.) Herpes Island was pretty funny (I've never really enjoyed V.D. humor), Temptation Trailer was well done (Maya Rudolph can add "white trash" to the ethnicities she can play, and Darrell Hammond got a non-impression role!), and the Cannibal was just an excuse to show Will Ferrell chewing a human arm. How is it that he always ends up with the "eating flesh" roles?
Very well done, and topical. I loved how all the white trash family was smoking. Just like on COPS!
P.S. If you want to see some really good and realistic footage of human flesh being eaten, watch "Dawn of the Dead" or "Day of the Dead" by George Romero. On second thought, why would you want to see that?
Let me say first that this is based on a real TV show. This was unbeknownst to me, but knownst to my wife, and she explained it to me. Apparently these two Japanese chefs are given mystery ingredients and are supposed to come up with a dish using this ingredient. And it's based in Japan so you know it's weird and goofy as hell. There, that being said, look at the sketch as a parody, not an original creation.
When Chris Kattan came out (no pun intended), he looked like either Siegfreid or Roy. I can't tell them apart, so you tell me. Charlie Sheen looked a little old to play the Bachelor Chef, but he was passable. "Once made chili to impress a girl he wanted to have sex with." Ha ha!
Wow, Rachel Dratch is in a sketch. Is that her first sketch all season? I guess she escaped the trunk that Lorne keeps her locked in. Chris Parnell could probably pass as Japanese, nice makeup job. And where the hell was Maya Rudolph, who could also pass for a real Japanese person? People were criticizing Molly Shannon for screwing up the dubbing, but watch, she does just fine on the Japanese part. When she is singing her song, she is just dubbing the words that are in English (which makes sense if the song is in English.) That must have been hard to do, to overdub the same words that are on the tape. Jimmy Fallon's part as the correspondent was really funny, I have watch it three or four times and it gets funnier each time. And Darrell Hammond got another non-impression role! Two in a row!
I have to give special credit to the Emeril Lagasse breast cancer clip. That was too funny, making fun of those stupid NBC public service messages. Bam!
You know, I have watched this sketch on tape a bunch of times now and the more I watch it, the more I like it. Of course, it's kind of cheating to do a dubbed sketch on live TV. No one has to remember any lines. But I'll let that slide. It was very creative, funny and everyone did a good job. Really, what more could you ask from a sketch?
P.S. Japan is weird
[SKETCH]Eric Dickerson pre-game show
Tracy Morgan has a hard time reading his lines, so they give him a character that's hard to understand. I'll steal a line here from MAN ON THE MOON. Lorne Michaels is insane, but he might also be brilliant. Will Ferrell's Dan Fouts is funny, but Dan Fouts isn't that stupid in real life. I used to watch him do the sports report in San Jose every night. Charlie Sheen looked really old as Rick Vaughn. Plus any Major League reference is about 10 years out of date. Jimmy's Dennis Miller is always a treat to watch. It's a good impression and Jimmy has so much charisma that you can't help but smile.
A pretty decent sketch if it wasn't for Tracy Morgan. He just doesn't do anything for me.
[SKETCH]Bobby and Marty Kulp for MLK Day
I always enjoy the Kulps. As I have said before, Will and Ana put so much work into the performances and they are always flawless. Plus Ana has to work really hard to sing so badly (she studied music performance in college.) But I could really do without the "hot mike" stuff at the start. Do they have to do that every time?
"What a special mandatory celebration." Ha ha! Will used that in another Kulp sketch a few years back, the Claire Danes one. Will almost cracked up when he repeated Ana's line about a "moosh pit," but you have to pay attention to catch it.
Marty Kulp may be Will Ferrell's best recurring character, he does so much and you don't always catch his funny voice inflections. As with every Kulps sketch, I didn't laugh much but just sat in awe watching two talented performers put together a great musical performance.
[WEEEKEND UPDATE]Fey, Fallon, Katherine Harris, Chris Kattan
and Maya Rudolph
Jimmy and Tina should have an hour long show all to themselves and it would be hilarious. That's how good Update is right now.
Particularly good jokes this week: Ricky Martin ("she bangs"), The Survivor Rudy action figure, New England Journal of evil, the blind darts player,
The Katherine Harris commentary was a nice turnaround, letting her make fun of others. Why do people pick on her, anyway? Jimmy's Clinton concert review was well done, he's much better at these commentaries than he was at the start. Chris Kattan's re-enactments are starting to grow on me, I've actually started to find him funny again. Plus he always makes fun of British people, so more power to him. Maya played a Hispanic role really well again, I think I'm one of the first on the Maya bandwagon, but she is really good, just not that funny yet. Her big clueless smile is nearly as good as Will Ferrell's.
And you don't realize how small Tina Fey is until you see Maya Rudolph tower over her.
Grade: A. Solid Update.
[MUSICAL GUEST]Nelly Furtado
Everyone was talking about how cute she was, but it is a simple law of hotness that you can't be good looking while wearing camouflage pants.
[SKETCH]Molly Shannon in the Soap Opera
I give Molly a lot of grief, but this one wasn't awful. At least they gave her a character that was like the roles she normally plays. And she had an excuse to overact. Not a whole lot to like or dislike, except Will's scene stealing performance at the end of course. I figure the writers just sit around and figure out ways to throw Will into any sketch. I don't think there's a part of Molly's body that we have not seen. Unfortunately, you can say the same for Chris Kattan as well.
Grade: C. Forgettable
[SKETCH]Will as the 37 year old baby
This was a bizarre sketch, and I bet Will was making up most of it as he went along. The stuff with the gang was pretty worthless, and I thought it was odd that the doctor would go along with the gang. Will was pretty funny, as always, just some of the stuff he comes up with makes you shake your head in disbelief. There was one part in the end where Will was going to exit stage left, but remembered that the camera was still on him. He stopped before the camera could show his naked crotch cover too badly. Watch it again, he nearly misses his cue and leaves early. I have got to say that it was nice to see Rachel have a featured role in a sketch. What was with the over-exaggeration at the end?
Grade: B Go Will.
Some pretty average material which was only memorable because of Will's extreme overacting. And I do mean extreme. I figure the writers knew the material was unmemorable so told Will to overdo it. And boy, did he ever. T.G.I.'s is a fun place to mock, but I think the best job I have seen of making fun of it is in the movie OFFICE SPACE. Chris Kattan sure plays a lot of waiters. Chris Parnell was just perfect as the manager, he could make a living out of playing powerless authority figures. I think the sketch got much more interesting when it was revealed that T.G.I. Friday was a real person, it crossed the line from boring everyday sketch to bizarre creative sketch. Will got the steal the third sketch in a row. That may be a record for him. It's not the all-time record, because in 1982 Eddie Murphy routinely stole 12 sketches in a row.
Like I said, really nothing special, but at least Will got a chance to overplay a character. That's always fun to watch. I love the fact that the founder of T.G.I. Friday's is a Rrrrrailrrrrrooooooooad tyCOOOON. Hmmmmm (twirl mustache).
[FILM] Adam McKay's THE PERVERT
I really didn't like it, or get it. But I didn't hate it, at least it was something different. I don't know how to grade it, so I will just not give it a grade. I would like to see more of Adam McKay, but I don't like the SNL short films concept at all. I wouldn't recommend this one.
[SKETCH]Charlie and Fleisy
I have a lot of respect for this sketch. First, it was completely accurate in the Who's on First terminology and pacing. Second, it made fun yet again of Charlie Sheen's past history (kind of). Third, it gave Rachel Dratch even more screen time tonight. Fourth, it was flawless. Fifth, it was funny! It was completely creative, taking something the audience is familiar with and applying it to oral and anal sex. And it was perfectly placed at the end of the show.
When I first saw the show, I thought it was nothing special. But upon further watching, some of the sketches really grew on me. I don't think Charlie Sheen was particularly good or bad. He did read off the cue cards a lot, but still has an air of awkward humor about him. I didn't realize he was getting so old though, life sure has taken a lot out of him.
Some of the sketches tonight were particularly creative, especially the Iron Chef, the 37 year old baby, the TGI Friday's, and the vaudeville one. Iron Chef, I think, was one of the best of the year, although I didn't feel that way when I first saw it. And tonight marked a big leap in Rachel Dratch's screen time, as she was in 3 sketches. I think that raises her grand total for the season to 3 sketches. Way to go, Dratch! Also, Will Ferrell got to steal three sketches in a row after Update, that was quite a run he was on. Either that, or the writers didn't know how to end some sketches and used him as a failsafe.
Next week is Mena Suvari, who I am a fan of. She is one of the most versatile young actresses, as she played a completely virginal, sweet choir girl in American Pie. She also played a slutty, foul mouthed bad girl in American Beauty. That's quite a range. Her role in American Pie, along with Chris Klein, were the core of what was actually a very sweet film, and she should take a lot of credit. Also, my date for senior prom in high school looked like Mena Suvari, and was a lot like her American Pie character, so I have a soft spot for Mena. She's promoting her new movie next week, Sugar and Spice. But I also know that Mena just married some guy who's nearly 20 years older than her, so I have to get in a few cheap shots at that.
The show was good, but I found the eel farts to be too salty.
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