Reese Witherspoon / Alicia Keys
September 29, 2001


OH MY GOD, it's starting again. Why oh why did I become a reviewer? Every Saturday night shackled to a television, watching ninety minutes of often indifferently-written sketch comedy; when will the cycle of madness ever end? I want to LIVE! When will you let me LIVE?! Actually, this probably isn't the most optimistic way to begin the first review. I'll just delete tha..hmm. My backspace button doesn't seem to be working. Okay, then I'll highlight and dele..what? That's not working either? Sizz-on of a biz-itch. Perhaps it's best to start anew.

Hi everybody! It's a new SNL season! Hooray! I hope my reviews are as funny as the show itself, LOL!!!111

For the 27th time, Saturday Night Live kicks off a new season and hopes that the ball of laughter gets downed on the one-yard line of hilarity without bouncing into the end zone of boredom or getting returned for a touchdown of mediocrity and thus facing the humiliation of the opposing player's touchdown dance of ridiculousness. In an unrelated story, I am challenging Dennis Miller for this year's Most Laboured Football Analogy Award at the ESPYs. More important than the SNL season, of course, is the start of the SNL reviewing season, where we can begin the painstaking process of examining and discussing every minute detail about the show that takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin', Saturday Night Live. Oh, the minutiae!

On a personal note, I had a scrumtrellescent summer. My baseball team finished second in our league (out of, cough cough, four teams), I watched many bad summer blockbusters, made another trip to Montreal with friends and saw Barry Bonds hit his 55th homer of the season off the hapless Expos, began work on a temporarily-on-hiatus novel that made me pull what was left of my hair out in frustration, almost got a job at Staples before the bastards failed to call me about a third interview, attended my cousin's wedding, attended a 12-1 Blue Jays loss to the hated Yankees, competed in a hilariously large number of fantasy sports leagues -- I'm winning the SNL reviewers' baseball league, by the way --, had my move into a house with some friends postponed until next week, and saw the phenomenal U2 perform in Toronto last May. I also practiced my run-on sentences. (Speaking of U2, I will also be attending their concert in Hamilton on Oct.13. So if you got sick of me talking about the concert last year, boy are you in for a rough ride...and I don't mean a trip to Sasketchewan, Ottawa or DMX's house).

As you can also tell, my safety-blanket warning last spring that I might not be back to review episodes this season turned out to be much ado about nothing. My concerns about my school schedule turned out to be for naught, since my classload on Mondays and Tuesdays is quite light. The only possible problems could stem from both my job and my new position as a staff writer for the UWO school paper, but I don't anticipate anything coming up major enough for me to miss out on reviewing. The only effect could be that my pre-show preamble may be a little shorter. So, all of my fans that were worried about having to fill the SNL review void with, I dunno, Stooge, can rest easy. (I'm just kidding Stooge! It's all in good fun! I love you man!)

Stooge: You're still not getting my Bud Light, Charlie.

Who's Charlie? Anyway, I'm not changing my review format for the beginning of the season. Still long-winded paragraphs, references to obscure baseball players and guest reviewers galore. I'm also bringing back another popular feature...

SELF-INDULGENCE CORNER
I got this idea a few weeks back to start a campaign to get my name mentioned on SNL. If you support the idea of having myself (and by proxy, the entire SNL on-line community), then be sure to either e-mail SNL via their official website and demand to hear Mark Polishuk's name on Saturday Night Live. If you are a reviewer yourself, cut-and-paste the following line in each of your reviews (preferably near the top): I WANT TO HEAR THE NAME 'MARK POLISHUK' ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, SO IF YOU ARE ASSOCIATED WITH NBC, MAKE IT HAPPEN! Together, we can all make this happen! Go forth, my minions! E-mail, e-mail! Make me famous!

SHOW OVERVIEW
There are many reasons why I dislike Ryan Phillipe. For one, he has yet to be in even ONE good film in his six-year film career (don't talk to me about Crimson Tide, since I haven't seen it). Also, his haircut is one of these new-fangled white boy curly deals -- formerly found on Justin Timberlake -- that looks like Bob Dylan's rat's nest of hair except with frosted tips, and it just looks goofy. His last name 'Phillipe' isn't even a word according to my spell-checker. But the grandest reason of them all is that she's married to my girlfriend, Reese Witherspoon. Damn him and the horse he rode in on. Reese had appeared in such films as Election, Legally Blonde and one of the underrated classics of the 1990's, Pleasantville. As far as I know, she is not related to Clarence Weatherspoon of the New York Knicks. Reese, however, is much hotter than Clarence Weatherspoon; sorry Clarence.

The musical guest, Alicia Keys, is a talented R & B pianist and singer. She is also known as one of the five good things about the recent MTV Video Awards (the others being U2's performance, awards, Will Ferrell's schtick, Ben Stiller's bit with P.Diddy, and the nature-themed award introductions; the rest of the show was horrendous). I've never heard any of Alicia's songs besides the catchy 'Fallin', so this performance on SNL will give her an opportunity to show off some new material. It's a little known fact that her father is actor Mandy Patinkin, and her stage name comes from his role as 'Eighty-Eight Keys' in Dick Tracy. You see, Mandy is one of those actors that likes to really get deep into his roles, so during the entire period that the film was being shot, Mandy stayed in character. Even during his affair with Alicia's mother, Mandy demanded on being referred to as '88' or a nickname along those lines (Eight-Man, Eighty, Double-Eight, Figure Eight, etc.). When filming was over, however, he reverted back to being Mandy Patinkin, and then dumped his now pregnant lover in what can only be described as a real jackass thing to do. And thus Alicia was born, and in an attempt to reach out to her estranged father, gave herself the stage name of 'Alicia Keys.'

Voice of Reason: But, Alicia Keys is 21. Since Dick Tracy only came out in 1990, how could Mandy Patinkin be her father?

Shut up, Voice of Reason. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

[COLD OPENING] I Don't Really Feel Like Inserting A Funny Title
Darrell's impression of Giuliani was as good as ever, and kudos to the SNL makeup crew for making him a dead ringer for the mayor. Looks as though more than just four new people are joining the cast, though I don't see why they had to make Amy tuck her hair under a fire helmet and make her pretend to be male. "The Boxer" was an apt choice for a song, what with the Hopkins-Trinidad fight at Madison Square Garden that same night.

Enough of that. It's time for seriousness. This opening was the best thing that SNL could do under the circumstances. I thought Simon was going to sing "America," but "The Boxer" may have been a better choice; it is a perfect song to symbolize the resolve of New Yorkers and all Americans in the face of the attacks. It is truly heartening to hear about the support being shown in the form of blood and financial donations to the people of New York, because it shows how good people can be. The caring shown by people around in the world easily outshines the evil of the terrorists. My condolences out to the families of everyone lost in the terrorist attacks. I would also like to send a prayer out to Osama bin Laden and the assholes in the Taliban, because when the combined forces of the United States, Canada, Britain, Mexico, Israel, Russia, France, Japan, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Italy, Egypt, and basically every other country in the free world plus probably some assault penguins from the Antarctic catch up to him, HE'LL FUCKING NEED IT. There will barely be enough of that bastard left for Allah to condemn to hell. NA (Can't really give it a rating, since it wasn't a sketch. It was, however, very classy)

[MONOLOGUE] "I Said, Are You Ready To Laugh?" "Be Quiet, You Awful Man!"
There have been plenty of monologues with a one-joke premise, but this might've been the first monologue to take that literally. As one would expect, Reese looked nervous in trying to follow the opening. Has our society descended to such a level that the word 'balls' is now considered a bad word? I use that word no less than a dozen times per day, and even several times during my grade school speeches. Of course, my topics those years were the 1990 and 1991 Toronto Blue Jays, so you could see how that could take place. Testicles didn't come up quite as often as Kelly Gruber did (which, by about 1992, was considered a bad word in Ontario). Since I'm not that big a fan of long polar bear jokes with laboured punchlines, I can't give this a high grade. Now if it had been those zany polar bears from the Coke ads...ha ha, I'm laughing already! Reese is still gorgeous. I'll give this six polar bear testicles out of a possible ten.

[COMMERCIAL] "Ah, That's Better. I Can Ride A Bike Again!"
This ad was fly, yo. It will take a few weeks before I can tell Jeff Richards and Seth Meyers apart, so I haven't the foggiest notion who it was in this sketch. Similarly, it took me a couple of weeks to distinguish Fallon and Chris Parnell, odd as that seems now. Horatio Sanz, however, was always pretty easy to spot; must've been the lard. No anti-hemmoroid ad would be complete, however, without George Brett. If you want somebody that will attract that young, hip audience, I don't think you can get much cooler than a retired former Kansas City Royal. He won batting titles in three different decades, people! He's the only man ever to do that! Pay your damn respects! This commercial gets fifteen inches of pine tar (legal) out of a possible twenty (illegal).

[SKETCH] "Hey, I Wasn't A Weirdo. I Was In the Audio-Visual Club"
Much like Hicham El Guerrouj over the last 500 metres, the Wake Up Wakefield sketch has begun to hit its stride. I can now officially see this as a sketch that might have some long-term comedic potential, just so long as they don't make a movie from it and we are subjected to watching Maya and Rachel try to play teenagers by the time they're in their thirties. To go along with the Spanish theme, Reese is muy caliente.

Bumblebee Man: Ay ay ay!

It's now time for that part of the review where Mark takes a minor detail from the sketch and relates it to an embarrassing story about one of his friends. My friend Dave wanted me to teach him the chords to 'Truly, Madly, Deeply' on the piano so he could play it for his anniversary with his (now ex) girlfriend. Apparently it worked well, if you catch my drift. Let's just say he got more action than Melissa gets with Randy Goldman. The kid playing the sax, Tony Tusco, ain't no Clarence Clemons; is there a rule that says all sax players need to have matching initials? This sketch gets Jazz Times Seven-and-a-half out of a possible Jazz Times Ten.

[SKETCH] "A Romantic Abnormality So Bizarre That It Must Be Kept Secret At All Costs"
Dang, I hate these sketches where more than one Simpsons line could be used for the title. There'll be no accusations/Just friendly crustaceans under the sea. I don't remember Horatio's character from such films as P is for Psycho. Oh well This was one of those sketches where you could see the joke coming early, and I started laughing in advance. I don't why Will was so turned off, however; she mouth was still human, wasn't it? Of course, I suppose anyone would be wary of getting remnants of shark semen on their penis; lord knows what other venareal diseases those wacky aquatic creatures have. I can just picture some octopus pointing to itself with it's various arms and chanting "Our VD! Our VD!"

Rob Van Dam: If you want to cite me in your review, could you please do so in a much less retarded way next time?

Sorry, Rob.

Rob Van Dam: No worries. Want some pot?

No. I already get myself on enough drugs to write these reviews as it is. Anyway, this sketch was the Sportscentre-esque highlight of the night. Maybe it's just me, but I laughed really hard at Rachel in the crab outfit. She had such a giddy look on her face, and she was energetically bopping around to the music. This sketch gets eight octupus arms out of a possible...wait a second....okay, eight squid arms out of a possible ten.

[MUSICAL GUEST] "That Timmy Is A Real Hero!" "How Do You Figure, Dad?" "Well, He Fell Down A Well...And He Can't Get Out."
Oh my God, she played 'Fallin'! What a shock! It's a good enough song that I haven't become sick of it despite hearing it so very often. Maybe Alicia should have sold the song title to Britney Spears for her new song; the chorus sounds like ol' Brit-Brit is plummeting down a hole.

Britney Spears: I'm a....ssssllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaavvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee to you.
Justin Timberlake: You sure are.
Britney: Not until we're married.
Justin: What are you talking ab..oh, uh, right. Yes. Of course. Until we're married. Virginity is important to good Christians.

This song gets 68 out of a possible 88 keys. Hi Mandy!

[WEEKEND UPDATE] "You All Have Awful Hair!....From A Marketing Standpoint"
There had been a lot of controversy over whether Update could balance jokes about the terrorist attacks with their normal material without offending anybody, and I'm sorry to say that they failed. I, as a heterosexual male, was offended by Tina's joke where she inferred that her glasses and short brown hair made her look unattractive. That is just so blatantly untrue that no humour could be derived from the situation. Other than that, Update was fantastic. The bits about the South American sex orgy, Osama's restaurant and Bin Laden hiding out at Glitter were especially funny, and nothing really fell flat at all. Well, there were those few moments when the whole thing almost degenerated into Jimmy styling his hair. See, this is why I decided to go bald; it avoids a lot of hassle.

Voice of Reason: Decided to go bald?

Shut up, Voice of Reason. As for Jimmy's hair, it originally looked like that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry gets a bad haircut from his outmoded barber. After mussing it up, Jimmy looked more like Astroboy. Perhaps he was wearing a wig after all. Darrell's bit as Jesse Jackson was also very funny, and I thought he would dislocate a shoulder with all of the shrugging. I was disappointed to see that last year's season ending cliffhanger was not resolved; who was really the father of Winona Ryder's baby? I guess the world will never know. This WU gets eight-and-a-quarter Jimmy Fallon hair musses out of a possible ten. How you can muss your hair only a quarter of a time is beyond me, so don't bother asking.

[SKETCH]"This Lesbian Bar Doesn't Have A Fire Exit!"
The Kulps -- or as I like to call them, Will Ferrell in a bald wig and my mother -- have an odd dichotomy going on; they are not terribly well-liked by the on-line fans, but are among the most popular characters of the regular viewers (which we like to call the commoners). People complain that Kulps sketches fall into a routine, but whereas a sketch such as the late and unlamented 'Pretty Living' actually WAS the same thing everytime, there is enough variety for the Kulps to stay fresh. The set-up bits (Will using the word 'funk,' the microphone feedback, etc) are just window dressing for the real main event, the medley. The comic idea of having them sing two octaves apart never fails to amuse me, and Will usually breaks out some funny faces as well. Ergo, the Kulps are still crazy after all these years. The lesbian theme was funny enough, though the lack of songs by Melissa Etheridge or someone of that ilk was noticable. Also, the streak continues of no U2 in Kulps medleys. Boo-urns to that. Also, since Bobbi Mohan-Kulp does remind me of my mother, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Sept. 30th was my mother's birthday. I'd like to wish her a happy....uh, 39th. Just so you know, I got her a copy of Pillow Talk, since she enjoys Doris Day. Yep, I'm the good son...not one of those psycho Macaulay Culkin good sons, an actual good son. The sketch gets seven-and-a-half croutons from a bitch salad out of a possible ten.

[SKETCH] "Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Batman!..I mean, Leader!"
The first few cracks start to show in the formerly stalwart foundation of Celebrity Jeopardy. The problem is with the fake apology that Connery gives Trebek; this is the second or third time that it's been used, and it's getting old. The rest of the sketch was still very funny, though this was the weakest Jeopardy in a few seasons. If either Chris Tucker and Anne Heche has been the "third" character, behind Connery and another funny character, that would've been okay; two third characters in one Jeopardy doesn't quite get it done. Maybe I'm just jaded because the Celebrity Jeopardy sketch that Art Vandelay and I wrote for the SNL Survivor contest last spring was so much better than this sketch. Take another bow, Art! One part of this skit that is getting better is Will Ferrell's looks of sheer disgust and barely contained anger at the contestants. Those are funny in and of themselves. The 'Batman Robin' category was also good for a laugh. Since I got taped this episode, the people that Anne Heche has slept with were Steve Martin, Ellen Degeneres, Chris Kattan (Ha!), Chewbacca, Quick Draw McGraw, Adam Grunstein (just seeing if you're still paying attention), Russell Crowe, Potsie from Happy Days and the Cream of Wheat guy. That equals eight, so this sketch gets eight Anne Heche love partners out of a possible ten (you've got to figure there have been at least two more; she's married, right?)

[MUSICAL GUEST] "You Being A Cop Makes You the Man. Which Makes Me the Woman -- Which I Have No Interest In, Aside From Occasionally Wearing the Underwear, Which, As We Discussed, Strictly A Comfort Thing"
My God, she has a second song! I'm shocked! This tune is apparently called "A Woman's Worth," which really depends on how much the pimp charges. Wow, I'm going to hell. This is the part of the musical review where I comment on the musician's clothes. Alicia Keys was wearing black. That is all. For some reason, she reminds me of Lisa Bonet from The Cosby Show, though the two don't look all that much alike. By the way, that male backup singer of hers has to be gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but come on....it's pretty obvious. This song gets 61 keys out of 88.

[SKETCH] "And I Think It's Ironic That For Once, Dad's Butt PREVENTED The Outbreak of Toxic Ga..."
To quote Alex Trebek, the show has reached a new low. Think about it; the ENTIRE SKETCH was about a child pissing, burping, farting and all sorts of other cheap sound effects. Since Tracy was so happy, perhaps the child was farting Smilex gas; the directors must've edited out the ending showing him dying with a grotesque smile on his face.

Dead Model Voice-Over: Love that Joker.

This is the kind of skit that I can't believe was read around a table and considered good enough to be aired. People call his kind of humour juvenile, but this would've been considered stupid even for a grade school assembly. What was up with the weird dialogue between Will and Kattan? At first I thought it was made up on the spot, but improvised material wouldn't have had wacky music playing in the background. In an ironic note, Kattan and Will talked more about coffee in this one sketch than Linda Richman did in about twenty; in fairness to Mike Myers, however, Linda also talked about daughters and dogs. This sketch gets two diapers out of a Huggies ten-pack.

[SKETCH] "This Is Worse Than Your Song About Mr. T"
Donatella Versace. SNL decides to do a sketch about Donatella Versace. Wow. The sketch was still kind of funny, but it's just so inane. It's good to see that Maya is getting more screen time, even if it's playing crazy Italian women. The monotone voice was funny in a Robert Goulet kind of way, especially when she translated the voice over to her sock. Darrell and Kattan both played people that I have never heard of before; Grace Jones, however, is known to every man, woman and child on planet Earth. She was a Bond girl, don't ya know? Seeing her dominate Roger Moore's pasty white carcass in the sack was one of the funniest moments in the history of the 007 movies. Coincidentally, this sketch gets 007 out of 010. Man, that was a nice segue.

PERFORMERS OF THE NIGHT: Will Ferrell, Maya Rudolph
BEST SKETCHES: Interspecies Beach, Weekend Update
WORST SKETCHES: The Farting Baby
BUSIEST PERFORMERS: Dean Edwards, Will Ferrell (five sketches each)
PERFORMERS WITH THE TIME TO LEARN JAPANESE: Tracy Morgan, Amy Poehler (one sketch each)
PLACES WHERE THE SNL WRITERS COULD EASILY HAVE INSERTED THE NAME 'MARK POLISHUK': The name of a student at Wakefield High, Anne Heche's list of people she's slept with...the possibilities are endless.
MISTAKES: Don Pardo apparently cannot tell the difference between Tina Fey and Ana Gasteyer. One tip off would be the fact that they look nothing like each other, and another would be the fact that the cast list is probably right in front of him. Sheesh.

STARTING LINE-UP
"Can we be funny?" -- Lorne Michaels
"Why start now?" -- NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani

"Don't be a playa-hata, be an intermural sports participata!" -- Horatio Sanz (as Mr. Begley)

"Is it in you? Are you having trouble getting it out? Prune Gatorade." -- Jimmy Fallon, Weekend Update

"I won't squander the second chance that Maine has given us to shoot a moose." -- Tina Fey, Weekend Update

"At the request of the Catholic Church, a three-day sex orgy to be held near Rio de Janeiro was cancelled last Friday. So instead I spent the weekend cleaning my apartment." -- Tina Fey, Weekend Update

"I thought that it was my friend Gary, so I said 'Come on Mr. Taliban, tally me banana.'" -- Darrell Hammond (as Jesse Jackson)

AFTERSHUKS
An uneven show, and I don't think it really got over the emotional opening. Unusual placement of sketches, what with the recurring favourites (Kulps and Celebrity Jeopardy) coming after Update. The only one of the new castmembers to get any real screentime was Dean Edwards, who looks as though he'll step right into playing the 'black guy' roles that are out of Tracy Morgan's range. Based on this episode alone, Dean looks like the new-age Orlando Jones. As for Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler or Jeff Richards....uh, Seth brought real charisma to his role as a fish, Jeff sure looked the role of a skater and Amy sure did a fine job of looking through the Wakefield window.

Next week's episode not be hosted by Ben Stiller, thus screwing up many a Guess the Hosts contest entry. The show will instead be hosted by the unofficial icon of teen movies, Seann William Scott, best known for his role as Stifler in the American Pie films. He will be the first host in SNL history to have double letters in all three of his names. This may be all he's noted for, since his appearance could unfortunately lead to an abundance of "teen-themed" (translation: stupid) sketches in order to appeal to his younger fans. Then again, the Freddie Prinze episode from a couple of years back turned out very well, so maybe it's all just up to the writers. As long as we can avoid sketches involving flatulence, we'll be okay. The musical guests are Sum 41, a punk band from Canada, and they seem to be rather popular considering how they sound like every other punk band ever. I go in expecting nothing, so anything at all good will be a pleasant surprise.

Until then, adieu, and God bless Antarctica; those assault penguins will avenge us all.


Episode Review written by Mark Polishuk


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