Jeff Gordon / Avril Lavigne
January 11, 2003

By Mike LeBlanc

PRE-SHOW THOUGHTS: Ah, a new year. Will we be
reviewing the SNL Super Bowl halftime show? Which will
be funnier: the SNL halftime show or the sight of
megacorporations pissing away their ill-gotten profits
by inundating us with dancing chimps in T-shirts at
the staggering rate of two million dollars a minute?

COLD OPENING: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is crazy
and, like Steven the Dell Computer Kid, suffers from
gender dysphoria and a multitude of other ailments
about which he goes on at great length. The cold
opening itself suffers from arthritis, malnutrition,
dizziness and attenuation of the funny bone.

THE MONOLOGUE: Parnell and Dratch play faux NASCAR
fans who expect Jeff Gordon to do "Comedy real fast
and in a circle." And that pretty much sums up
tonight's show: it moves quickly but goes nowhere.

BRIAN FELLOW'S SAFARI PLANET:

Grown-ups don't understand -
And, me, I usually pan it,
But the kids all know -
And they love him so:
Brian Fellow and his Safari Planet!

That's crazy!

ACCESS HOLLYWOOD: Rudolph's Diana Ross is cut from the
same sequined cloth as some of her other diva roles
but is fun to watch. Fallon's nasal Pat O'Brien
imitation needs work and better material.

CAREER DAY: After a quick change, Meyers shines in
what may be the best-written sketch of the night: a
fighter pilot and a carpet salesman discuss their work
with a schoolteacher and her classroom full of
elementary school kids who find the pilot's work
fascinating and the salesman's work dull. There's a
little bit of exaggeration but the premise is close
enough to the real world to work -- very effectively,
I think. All the adults involved (Meyers, Gordon and
Poehler) do fine work. The kids are a little off cue
here and there but I forgive them because they're up
late -- and besides they were probably hoping to hang
out with Brian Fellow and didn't pay enough attention
during rehearsal.

STAR DATES: A coked-up Gary Busey once barely hosted
SNL in the late '70s after getting an Oscar nomination
for playing the title role in The Buddy Holly Story.
So he was a dangerous lunatic long before his
celebrated helmetless motorcycle crash. Jeff Richards
comes close to nailing him in this extended imitation.
Dratch, Edwards (!), and Jeff Gordon are okay in
supporting roles but the sketch lives and dies with
Richards' impersonation and a script that's more weird
than funny.

AVRIL LAVIGNE: No better or worse than Norah Jones --
and about as bland. Brought to you by a product that
she's not old enough to purchase legally where I live.

WEEKEND UPDATE: Still serving weak tea but the company
is enjoyable so I don't mind as much that tea time is
less of an occasion than it used to be. In other
words, the jokes weren't all that great by themselves
but there were a few offbeat ideas interspersed
throughout that held my interest even though I wasn't
laughing a lot: Fallon and Fey's brief emotional
affair, Fallon's lengthy interior monologue, Fey
helping out on a joke, the Shakespearean disposal of
the pencil, etc.

Actual Raelians are funnier than the Kattan and
Poehler imitations on display here. After a quick
change, Kattan returns as Gay Hollywood Hitler. I
liked his neat line (it didn't make it to the
closed-captioning and nobody laughed at it) about
joining 100 year old Leni Riefenstahl for sushi.
Riefenstahl, who directed propaganda films for Hitler
in the 1930s, recently released a new movie of her
underwater photography. Hmmm, 100 year old scuba
diving Nazis -- now THERE'S a sketch idea.

Anyhow, I sense that whoever's responsible for this
week's WU is trying to jump start it again after
letting the battery run down all season.

GARY'S FISH TANKS: I could be blunt and say this was
an awful sketch in every respect but, instead, I'll
try to put it nicely: We got a regular freakin' Carol
Burnett skit over here. Yeah, we got a couple of
Harvey Kormans and Tim Conways breakin' up like
amateurs over here. What a lame ass ending -- it's
like a friggin' bad Twilight Zone episode over here.
What's that stinky smell? Whoa, baby! We got a regular
Jean Doumanian-era sketch over here!

THE CHARLIE ROSE SHOW: I didn't think this was much
but I showed the video of it to my dad who watches
Rose's talk show almost every night on PBS and the old
man cracked up, saying this was an excellent take-off.
Personally, I think Richards' Bill O'Reilly is still
his finest imitation. Typical for an SNL "political"
sketch this season is that the biggest laugh came from
dragging in a reference to the Hamburglar. Oh, how the
mighty have fallen! No Emmy award for writing this
year, kids, barring a major second half turnaround.

JOE HETERO, NOT-A-RAPIST, DUDE, etc.: Series of mildly
amusing ad parodies of Fox's Joe Millionaire series.
Strangely, I could immediately accept Meyers as stone
cold gay, Morgan as a black dude, Parnell as a rapist,
etc., but I had to rewind the videotape and look twice
before I could recognize Tina Fey as a woman. Dratch,
on the other hand, is definitely a woman and, if she
shaves her moustache, she can drop by my house any
time she wants while wearing that cantilevered
strapless evening gown.

I am, by the way, Joe Reviewer (secretly an eccentric
billionaire with way too much time on his hands).

AVRIL LAVIGNE: She's a little punk. Very little.

THE TERRYE FUNCK SHOW: Jeff Gordon, of all people,
steals the sketch from Parnell. But was it worth the
trouble? The whole thing seemed to run too long and I
didn't do much more than chuckle. As far as
zero-budget basement shows go, I prefer, say, Wayne
and Garth's.

STRIPPER POLE: Two black guys, carrying a big metal
rod, break in on an all-white party expecting the
women to strip for them and no one calls the cops?
Must be another of Tracy Morgan's unbelievable science
fiction fantasy sketches, like Astronaut Jones.
Poehler's dumb blonde misreading the cue cards was
pretty funny, though.

POST-SHOW THOUGHT: Does Tina Fey suffer from gender
dysphoria?