Nia Vardalos / Eve
November 9, 2002

By Mike LeBlanc

PRE-SHOW THOUGHTS: Uh oh. A female host and a female
musical guest. Will Tracy Morgan instigate a brawl? Is
Kattan gay? How did Tina Fey get that scar? These and
other questions will finally be answered in this
critique.

COLD OPENING: Fuzzy math with President Bush
(Parnell). I was reminded of Abbott and Costello who
used to do a bone-simple but amusing math routine on a
blackboard in which Costello would prove over and over
again that 7 x 13 = 28. The thrust of this lame SNL
sketch (which doesn't even rise to the level of Abbott
and Costello!) is that Bush is dumb and popular. The
reality is just the opposite: he's no dumber than the
usual Republican leader and only a fraction of the
U.S. population even bothered to vote for a president,
let alone for him, a reflection of the unpopularity of
the American political leadership.

THE MONOLOGUE: Host Nia Vardalos. She's Greek. Tina
Fey. She's Greek (in fact, judging from the sudden
appearance of her cleavage, I'd say she is a Greek
goddess). Here come the Greeks bearing gifts. Here
comes Tina Fey's mom (in case you are wondering what
Tina Fey will look like in thirty years). Here come
Dratch and Kattan, unconvincing as Greeks. Kattan,
with a moustache, looks like the obnoxious radio comic
Jerry Colonna and this causes my mind to wander: Was
Colonna Greek? Is Kattan Greek? Is Kattan gay? How did
Tina Fey get that scar? Did her mother hit her in the
face with a gyro? I awaken from my reverie to discover
that the Greeks are dancing. Yes, Greeks dance -- just
like they always do in comedy sketches. Then, Vardalos
speaks in Greek. It is all Greek to me. I say to
myself: "Cheeburger!" "Cheeburger!" "No, Coke. Pepsi!"

SWIFFER SLEEPERS: This is an extremely pointless
parody ad that ran some weeks ago. In other words,
they've wasted my time twice with this, so now I hate
it even more than I used to.

THE BLOATER BROTHERS: Vardalos drinks too much saki at
a sushi bar and contemplates sex with the Bloaters, a
nightmare scenario if there ever was one. Fortunately,
the Bloaters are all bluster. In a supporting role,
Fred Armisen seems to have an unhealthy fixation on
the cue cards. Perhaps Venezuelan nightclub comedian
Ferecito could counsel him on how to be more
professional.

Okay, here's my idea for a Ferecito sketch: Jesus
Christ (Horatio Sanz) delivers the Sermon on the Mount
and then takes questions from the audience. They ask
about taxes and Christ gives his classic line about
rendering to Caesar that which is Caesar's and
rendering to God that which is God's. Ferecito
interrupts with a rim shot and then explains to Jesus:
"I'm trying to help you, Hay-Soos! You're not doing so
gooooood!" Ferecito gives Christ a catch-phrase ("I'm
just keedinnnnng!") but Christ refuses to use it and
warns Ferecito that he will rot in the fires of Hell
which is described in gruesome detail (quoting
scripture, naturally) but just when Ferecito is
convinced he's doomed to eternal damnation, Christ
says: "I'm just keedinnnnng!" A real knee-slapper, eh?
No? Okay, how 'bout this? Ferecito interrupts Adolf
Hitler (Chris Kattan) at a Nuremberg rally and
suggests a catch-phrase: "Sieg heil!" ... No, no, no!
I'm just keedinnnnng!

A BRIEF SHOT OF THE AUDIENCE: Did you see the look on
that girl's face when she realized she was on camera?
Bet she's supposed to be somewhere else tonight.

CBS ELECTION COVERAGE: "Neat! Neat! Neat!" Not! Well,
some of it is neat. Hammond, as good as he ever was --
or maybe even better -- as Dan Rather, has some good
lines including: "Looking at the stage, it seems to be
a sea of queerbaits, pizza faces, Derwins, dill weeds
and career masturbators." But does this describe the
cast onstage or the folks responsible for writing the
sketch? I mean, if this and the fuzzy math cold
opening is the best political satire that SNL can
manage in an election week, it's no wonder they had to
import a sketch from Al Franken last episode. Career
masturbators, indeed.

THE HAIRY SNATCH OF RACHEL DRATCH: Great idea and
well-written but performed in a slightly cartoonish
manner by Dratch. Her eeks, yips, yipes and ah-oogas
aren't terribly convincing which not only takes some
of the sting out of an otherwise potent sketch but
also forces me to reluctantly withdraw my offer to her
of an evening of rough sex. Still, this is the best
sketch of the night and the hearty roars of laughter
and recognition from the crowd should clue in the
writers that there ought to be more to SNL than
parodies of TV shows and commercials (which is pretty
much all we get for the rest of tonight's episode).

MUSICAL GUEST EVE: The hair removed from Rachel's twat
has been strategically glued to Eve's shinbones. But I
forgive Eve for this lapse in sartorial taste because
... she just wants to rock me all night long.

WEEKEND UPDATE: Unambiguously straight duo Fallon &
Fey (who go together like Moffat, Marriott & Hay)
actually get up from the desk to do a fine goofy bit
no doubt sanctioned by the Ministry of Silly Walks.
They also tell a lot of funny jokes and enjoy a
rousing visit from Seth Meyers who delivers a decent
routine that should have been brilliant but is merely
very good.

After Fallon mangles a joke in his patented style, he
ad-libs: "Flubbed that a little bit." but the
simultaneous Closed-Captioning reads: "Love that
little bit." So, once again, much of the deaf
community is deprived of a true understanding of the
inner workings of Jimmy Fallon's mind, not to mention
the usual non-working of his mouth.

PROMO FOR ANIMATED HOLIDAY FILM "EIGHT CRAZY NIGHTS":
In which Adam Sandler is magically transformed into
the next Tim Allen.

THE FEREY MÐHTAR SHOW: In this recurring sketch,
Hammond, looking like a lost Bloater brother,
introduces Sanz as a Turkish Jay Leno whose jokes are
punctuated by his hilariously grim band: drummer
Armisen, looking like Ferecito's distant cousin, and
guitarist Kattan, looking like the Middle East version
of Keith Richards. Vardalos is a guest, "the hottest
actress in Turkey". The whole sketch rides on nailing
the details (everybody, rightly, smokes cigarettes and
wears out of date Western fashions) and this is
managed successfully by all concerned, especially
Hammond as the out-of-step sidekick and Vardalos as
the non-sexy sexy actress. Sanz overacts but
magnificently. Alas, it all runs entirely too long, a
fatal mistake.

MUPPETS MASTERCARD AD: Jim Henson is dead. Time to
bring the Muppets back to SNL? Maybe the younger
generation of writers that grew up with them could
make it work somehow. If Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
can have a career ...

THE FALCONER: Speaking of puppets, the next sketch
actually stars one. Inspired weirdness seems to be
Forte's forte. Even in these desperate times for SNL
comedy, Forte still retains that dry sense of humor --
just like Donald the Falcon who sleeps with the wife
of the man he has apparently lured to the wilderness
and feeds him small forest animals while dining on
gourmet food. Ably directed by Stacey Foster. The
cherries jubilee, the lobster bib, the cell phone, the
Hitchcockian triple cut from falcon's-eye view to the
rodent -- all marvelous stuff. If not the funniest,
then easily the most imaginative sketch of the night.

PIER 1 IMPORTS PARODY AD: Ommmmmmmmm! Ommmmmmmmm!
Ommmmmmmmm! I've been trying to blot out the real ads
from my mind but this parody brings them all back and
gives them the thrashing they have long deserved. Nice
work by all.

DROPPING THE L.B.'S WITH MISSY E: Tracy Morgan in
drag? Well, it's for a good cause: a take-off on
slimmed-down rapper Missy Elliott's new single/video
"Work It" as an exercise video ad, complete with
clueless honkies trying to get their freak on, etc.
Eve, who may eventually work on an album with the real
Missy, makes a cameo as a doctor and reads a line off
a cue card. It's mildly amusing but not really first
rate, for reasons I can't put my lily-white finger on.

MUSICAL GUEST EVE: After a shout out to Tracy Morgan
(who has not instigated any brawls this evening), we
get some standard rap braggadocio. At least Eve shaved
her legs below the knees for this number.

GLENDA GOODWIN, ATTORNEY-AT-LAW: Rudolph, who seldom
does wrong, is saddled with a rather blah one-joke
premise but carries on heroically. She's a lawyer who
sues invisible robots, werewolves, mummies, Dracula
(though a picture of Blacula is shown; a nice touch),
Lon Chaney's hunchback of Notre Dame, Sleestaks (the
folks doing the Closed-Captioning apparently had never
heard of these creatures from the godawful TV series
"Land of the Lost" so they skipped this one and a
couple of others), etc. For an ending, they bring on a
facsimile of the gorilla with the space helmet from
the classic bad movie Robot Monster. Sigh. Will the
writers ever consistently live up to Rudolph's
talents? Case pending!

COMMUNITY ACCENTS WITH YOUR HOST VASQUEZ
GOMEZ-VASQUEZ: As usual, the last sketch of the night
is what I like to call the suicide sketch. I call it
this because I often want to commit suicide rather
than watch it wind down horribly to an inevitably lame
conclusion. And tonight is no exception. Still, I will
try to find something nice to say about it. Ah,
there's our old friend Dean Edwards who, until now,
has had fewer lines this season than the rapper Eve.
There's the charming and talented Chris Kattan who is
stifling a laugh because it is a rare cast member who
can keep from laughing at Horatio Sanz, a problem I
wish I had. There's the host, Nia Vardalos, who is
twitching so much her head may snap off at any moment.

 

And there is Horatio Sanz doing his Latino Brian
Fellow impersonation, asking stupid questions of
experts and spouting a mechanical catch-phrase,
"You're the best in the biz, [your name here]!" when
all else fails. Unfortunately, all else fails. And it
keeps right on failing. Sanz has the good fortune (or
good sense) to not be onscreen as the sketch collapses
sickeningly under the weight of its non-ending.
Frankly, I would have preferred three minutes of blank
screen set to the Community Accents theme music, an
unconventional rendition of Arlen and Harburg's
standard "Over the Rainbow." Time to give Sanz and
Edwards a quiet, thoughtful slice-of-life scene on the
order of the old Solomon and Pudge sketches, something
that will let them play human beings instead of goons
and ciphers.

GOOD NIGHTS: I liked Vardalos. She threw herself into
every part, even the thankless ones. Hit movie
notwithstanding, she's still hungry. Hungry people
make good hosts.

POST-SHOW THOUGHTS: Uh oh. My post-show mind is
wandering. ... Is Kattan gay? How did Tina Fey get
that scar? Suddenly, it all becomes clear: Tina Fey
stole Kattan away from his lover, Lorne Michaels, and
Lorne hit her in the cheek with a pick-axe.

Stranger things have happened.