Senator John McCain / The White Stripes
October 19, 2002

By Vanessa Reseland

Last evening's SNL was truly a laugh-happy hour and a half for me. I have to admit I was a tad skeptical of Sen. John McCain's potential hosting abilities, but not only did the entire show deliver, but McCain's modest, honest humor lit up every sketch of which he had partaken. Often, when performers host SNL, they seem to fall into their "star power" and attempt to make each sketch belong to them. Every time the guest host tries to outshine the SNL cast, who are on home turf and obviously have the show's flow down, they lose any bit of charisma. John McCain's performance last night was all about charm, and I found him both entertaining and endearing (hmmm, possibly his political strategy? well, it worked for me. I AGREE! JOHN MCCAIN FOR PRESIDENT!)  Oppositely, where he could have come off as stiff and unrelatable, he exuded energy and performed his sketches full out with dedication. Well done, Sir! 
The show itself last night was ridiculously funny. I mean, I am always willing to vote for the cast and writers and crew rather than against, but it was beyond well-deserved last night.  

Sadly, I missed the opener because my clock was about 5 minutes slow (grrrrrr!), and I tuned in to find Darrell Hammond's face on the opening credits. So, sadly, I can't comment on that part.

As far as Fred Armisen's Ferecito character goes, his appearance on Weekend Update in the season opener made me laugh out of confusion and left me hanging just a little, waiting for an explanation. This cameo in the monologue; however, cracked me up. He's obviously grown on me, personally, and I think he's just adorable. I'm beyond intrigued by Armisen, who reminded me a little of Andy Kaufman behind the drums, and who thoroughly succeeded in wooing me in last weeks Safety Classroom sketch.

The Hardball Sketch was enjoyable. Rachel Dratch is so much fun to watch. Whatever she's doing, she's just got so much inside her, I want to know what is going on in her head.  Of course, Darrel Hammond is brilliant, a total joy to watch. Overall, it was a fun sketch. 

The Lifetime Movie was hard to follow for a while---not plot-wise, but I spent a lot of it wondering where it was going. For such a long story to end with such a simple punch, I was a bit confused. After I started catching on to the absurdity of the entire premise, I realized what they were going for. The credits at the beginning were great fun, and I have to say, I am in love with the woman of SNL. Amy Poehler just rocks, basically. She has this quirkiness met with such underlying attitude, and it resounds in confidence. Maya Rudolf is richly intriguing and has great timing. Rachel Dratch can do anything. She can be anything. The thing that is the best about these women is that they don't hold back. They aren't afraid to get ugly on TV, and they're talent supports them. OOOH, and I always look forward to hearing Tina Fey's sharp wit and to-the-point delivery. And golly, she's so cute. Needless to say, I'm a huge fan of all of them. I want to be their friends. 

Okay, whoops, tangent. 

Anyway, the skit wasn't the best I've ever seen, but I was greatly entertained, and the ending with Rachel cleared up some questions I was having and provided the closure needed to come back to reality. I loved the button. Again, the women rock.

I got a phone call during Wake Up Wakefield and couldn't get to the VCR, so I only caught part of it. I know, I'm a bad critic. A very bad critic. But I did enjoy what I saw. Again, Rachel as Sheldon is hilarious visually alone! Maya's voice and phrasing were great. Jimmy Fallon's walk-on was pure genius. As far as plot and writing go, unfortunately, I don't know what to say, but the actors were beautiful.

The Ambiguously Gay Duo have always been a little overboard for me. Cramming in every anal sex reference possible kinda got old after a while. Of course, this was again the case. But there was one moment that was fresh and funny. I don't think I've ever seen cartoons dance so lyrically before. A+ for Ace and Gary. I could have watched that for an hour and been completely satisfied. So, I vote YES for more ballet recitals from cartoon characters.

Ok, here is where the guest host proved himself. The Meet the Press skit could have gone badly at any moment with so much double-talk, but John McCain never missed a beat. Hammond was right on target, and they played well with each other.  With the "joke" centering around such repetition, it was almost inevitable that it would become boring and irritating, but FAR FROM IT! YEAH! The verbal ping pong match was exciting, and I haven't laughed as loudly at a TV show in a long time as when Hammond asked about McCain's presidential status if Bush forgets to run. Fantastic! Comic Gold! Highlight of the year!    

Weekend Update: All I want to say is that Will Forte freaked me out TOTALLY! In a wonderfully creepy way. I have never laughed so hard while feeling like I was sucked into some alternate universe. I had no idea what was going on, but I was COMPLETELY fixated on this man. Whatever pressure was there, being the only featured member not to have been really seen yet (Speaking of, it's about time Dean Edwards got something concrete to work with. It's sad to see his talent not being utilized.), Will surpassed any audience expectation. Again, I was severely creeped out, but also mesmerized, and I can't wait to see more from him.

Okay, at first, I thought this skit was an attempt to exploit the absurdity of a political figure singing under soft lighting and in front of a curtain. Which is funny enough by itself. But once McCain started biting at Streisand, the irritation brought the sketch up to full potential. The CD cover with McCain assuming the position of Streisand in her Superman cover was definitely the highlight. Again, McCain really has me in his corner after this one. Carrying it entirely by himself. Very nice.

As far as Jack Handey's Big Thick Novel thing goes. I have seen the cannibal-eating-foot-thing before, and it wasn't really funny the second time around.    
Top O' The Morning: I think that Seth Meyers is a great talent. I was laughing aloud because of him throughout this sketch (a special feat for the last one of the evening. Way to see it through!--and I think I'm the only one who thinks that he looks a lot like Kevin Nealon when he first started SNL--anybody? no? fine.)  He even outshined Jimmy Fallon in this one. At one point, coming back from punching a whole in the wall, Jimmy was visibly trying to refrain from laughing.  Now, this is one of his obvious challenges, and I can relate because in every improv I've ever done, I have the hardest time not cracking up. But that is why I'm not on a live TV show. After years of practice, Fallon needs to gain that control. Though it must be unbelievably hard not to crack up with such comedic talents surrounding you, it comes off as such an unprofessional trademark that it's time he figures out how to get in control of himself. Otherwise, it overshadows his talent.  McCain's dedication to his character is again greatly appreciated and his timing is just lovely. A fine way to end a fantastic show!

HOORAY for a night of great laughs!