Black / John Mayer
October 4, 2003
Season Premier! Is it just me
or does it seem we had to wait forever to get our season started?
Also, have the websites been a little tight on dishing good gossip
and leaking about who was hosting? There are just one or two
sites that have said which cast members would be on, who would
be leaving, etc.
At long last, we get to see the
cast members. Rumor was true. Long-time men-in-waiting Jeff Richards
and Seth Meyers have finally been promoted from Featured Players
to Repertory Players. Long-time Featured Player Dean Edwards?
Rumor that he was leaving ... is confirmed! However, if anyone
knows under what circumstances, LET ME KNOW. I want to know whether
it was voluntary or whether SNL or NBC canned his ass so talk
to me! Please resist the temptation to write as to whether he
should have stayed or gone, I know, I know, I know!!
Let me just add that I thought
Will Forte and Fred Armisen were equals last year, even though
I prefer the humor of Fred Armisen in his over-the-top goofy
way as Ferecito and as the drummer in the Buddy Mills act at
the "Rialto Grande" and as Gabe Fischer. I realize
that OBJECTIVELY Will Forteís rather quiet humor as Tim
Calhoun and "The Falconer," for example, could resonate
with others. Will is the White Stripes of comedy, whereas Fred
Armisen is the B-52's of comedy. HOWEVER, despite my objective
belief that Will and Fred are equals, I am subjectively, horribly
disappointed that Fred didnít get promoted. DOES ANYONE
OUT THERE understand the difference between the featured player
and the repertory player anyway? Itís more than money?
What? Write me if you know the difference.
Also, right now it seems weird
to dump Dean and hire two performers who share something other
than color: they are unknowns. Has anyone caught their acts?
What is their style?
I have been told that Dave Meyers,
whom P!nk believes is "a genius" (cite: VH1's Top 20
Countdown during the "Get This Party Started" video)
has directed the new opening montage. This I could not wait to
see. I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED.
Love, love, love the intro. What
I like about the opening montage is that it is about Saturday
night in NYC. Itís about all the hustle and bustle of
the city and the excitement of being young, single and having
money to burn in the city. It has a theme, as stated above; also,
it has various humorous and visually stylistic scenarios with
a point of view from a male voyeurís perspective. Voyeur
as in "observer" and NOT as in pervert. To illustrate:
Chris Parnell grabs the cab away from the viewer. The viewer
pays the cabbieís fare, played by Jeff Richards (the only
one who is ACTING in the intro; everyone else is supposedly playing
themselves being "out".) The viewer talks to a pretty
barfly and gets dissed. The viewer lifts a spoonful of soup to
his unobservable lips. The viewer and Horatio Sanz have a shot.
Good concept, and well done. If one thing I could pick on exists,
itís that it makes me a little motion sick because it
moves quickly and itís sort of disorienting. In! all,
a top notch production.
Now, for the review!
1. "Californians For Schwartznegger."
Darrell as Arnold.
Rating: thumbs up.
The deal is that Arnold is putting
out five step plan to make California better, but his plan is
lacking in detail.
We know that Darrellís
voice acting is awesome. No surprise: his voice acting is awesome
in this sketch. To my surprise, the real star is the writing
of Arnoldís Austrian-English dialect, and Darrell knows
this. To illustrate, "People think (X, Y & Z) about
me; this is not so." "To Arizona, to Nevada, jobs go
away, away, away." "I am against the criminals."
You get the gist, ja? The subtitles of the details of his plan
were silly, but they worked to illustrate that we donít
really understand his English and to highlight just how empty
his plan is. Think Miss America Pageantís interview and
you get the hang of this sketch.
Nitpicks: could he look anything
less like the a Terminator? Hans and Franz looked buffer. Also,
does he break up a bit over the line with the gerbils and hamsters
in the butt? I would have left out. Gerbils and hamsters up the
butt ceased to be funny a long time ago in California. Maybe
itís still funny in the midwest or south though.
2. Jack Black Monologue.
Rating: Thumbs up.
Like a brick, you notice a new
set! I am thrilled. It is bright and warm with golden undertones
and it still looks grimy without looking depressing. Itís
needed a revamp forever. That and the fact that for some reason
most of the hosts wear black when they pop out the door, and
I feel that that aspect, combined with those dreary sets, say
that itís 1989 and Goth is still in.
Jack is in dark blue, and his
haircut is bad, like a character actor in Hunchback of Notre
Dame. He looks diabolic in his face. The monologue starts off
how he is now HUGE, that he has gone from superstar to megastar
but heís not going to let it go to his head. He starts
promisingly by going into the audience, just like a real SNL
star. He razzes members of the audience a bit. Then, he starts
up a song! Think Steve Martin singing about giving 100% tonight,
or Mike Meyers extolling the pleasures of hosting.
Overall, I would say his song
was the best one Iíve seen. Because (1) I love Jack Blackís
humor, I just love him! (2) He gets involved with the entire
cast and the audience. I didnít like the "meet his
kids" bit with his Hollywood adopted kids and the wannabe
Juggy nanny. Or the grabbing the boob and tonsil exam of a fan.
But he is gold, gold, gold I tell you in other places. The guy
who he makes to look into his eyes and his diabolical glare.
The botox shots in the head. The fan he assumes wants an autograph
of his guitar (and the autograph on the guitar). Pure gold! But
the part I like best, of course, was the entire cast behind him
and the group participation in the song, including the scat number
with (surprise) Will Ferrell (earlier seen while Jack shoves
him in the face pushing Will down)!! Itís like seeing
an old friend, isnít it?? Also, I have to admit that Jack
has a great voice for an actor of his particular qualities. He
doesnít sing like a crooner or a theatre! actor but he
sings loudly, on key, and with expression. Good presence, good
song, good writing, good incorporation of live TV and a great
3. Advertisement: Huggies
Rachel and Maya.
Rating: thumbs down (for concept).
The deal is that two moms discuss
replacing the unsightly bulky diaper of their toddlers with the
more attractive and slimming thong diaper. I liked the technical
"commercial" acting of Maya and Rachel but I didnít
like the writing. I guess I thought the concept of the thong
diaper was too flimsy (so to speak). This was a miss compared
to the hits of the retro Kotex and the Mom Jeans of the 2002-03
season. Maybe itís because even I refuse to believe moms
are that concerned about having their babiesí butts look
fat, even today.
However, I should compliment
the film editors who made the tiny butts of the babies move to
the music. Also, the urban music and singing, "thong thong
thong" was a nice touch and very hip. The sight gag of the
bare baby butt in the thong diaper was funny, but I couldnít
get over the stale concept and Iím just really, really
picky and hard to please.
4. Advertisement: Queer Eye
for the Straight Girl.
Tina as the victim; Rachel, Jack,
Maya, Amy and "the mystery woman" as the lesbian design
Rating: thumbs down (for writing).
The deal is that Queer Eye for
the Straight Guy was so good, why not achieve the same success
with lesbian designers? The underpinning is that lesbians, while
good politicians, are poor designers.
Rachel is the fashion designer
and looks like KD Lang. Jack is the interior designer, and looks
like Rosie OíDonnell. Maya is the culture expert, and
looks like a ë70's Maya Angelou type in a ëfro. Amy
is the sports stylist and is dressed like a jock. The mystery
lady is??? It sort of looked to me that she may be Jackís
mom! Hmm. The acting was good, especially by Rachel and Maya,
and the costumes and the style of the sketch was good. It was
again the writing. Ugh. Not a "carpet" joke! Please,
Tina. Carpet was funny last season but you should aspire to seek
new horizons. However, the buffalo check shirt joke was very
funny. Theyíre basically three of the same shirts and
they have three different purposes, including one for meeting
with the adoption people! That joke killed meñRachel does
get some really good lines and is very consistent. Maya should
be complimented on her voice acting of the Womb poem and throughout.
But otherwise, the writing of the sketch is a bit tired! .
5. MTVís Wade Robson
Seth and Finesse as the emcees,
Maya, Amy and Jack as dance contestants.
Rating: thumbs down (concept,
Jokes involving white hiphop
wannabes and anything surrounding MTV are in general not going
to do much for me. This sketch had all of the worst. I hate MTV
and have since they dumped videos for Spring Break and Real World.
I hate urban dance contests. Ugh.
Please also pronounce your western
states correctly, Finesse. You sound like youíve never
left Long Island if you cannot pronounce Oregon or Nevada! Itís
"Or a gun" not "Or a Gone" and itís
Nevada, not NeVAHda.
Seth and Finesse both are doing
the urban hip hop thing. Maya and Amy play Las Vegas skanks,
although I am not buying Maya as a hookerñno hooker would
get biz dressed like that in Vegas. The dancing of Maya and especially
Amy is good. Then Jack shows up he can dance Russian, which was
good and cracked me up. But altogether, a sad introduction to
the new featured player.
6. Art of Italian Cooking
class at the Community Annex.
Jack as the teacher, Rachel as
Ruth Weinstock, Fred as Gabe Fischer, Horatio as Vasquez and
Chris as Pete.
Rating: thumbs up (acting).
Recurring: The deal is that four
socially pathetic characters are taking community education;
here an Italian cooking class taught by an ethnically Irish chef
I am pleased these characters
get a comeback! Tracyís departure created Chris as his
replacement (I think Tracyís character was the weakest
anyway, despite being a Tracy fan). If you donít already
know, Gabe is a Woody Allenesque lonely guy played by Fred with
excellent voice acting and mannerisms. Ruth, played by Rachel,
is a lonely, older librarian type but horny as hell. Vasquez
is a moron with a bow tie and an inner city dialect, played by
Horatio. Pete, the new guy, is a white male with a bitchy wife
that is making him go to cooking class because he complained
about his wifeís cooking.
I donít know which character
last year cracked me up more, Gabe, Ruth ("Hello! Package
for Ruth Weinstock!") or Vasquez ("Iím going
to make macaroni and cheeses!"). Here, you have it all.
Gabe discussing the erotic component of fresh vegetables, Ruth
and jokes regarding drunken sex, and Vasquez wanting something
"other than peanut butter and jellies." (Do you have
to be latin to to get that one?) Pete is also funny as the angry
henpecked husband (as the loser is Chrisís favorite recurring
role, think last seasonís Wayne Bloater). However, he
is slightly angry which is even funnier than as if he didnít
realize he was a loser.
Jackís character is sadly
a long visual gag involving his bushy lionís mane of untamed
locks, but thumbs up regardless since I just love these characters.
Nitpick: at one point youíll
notice Jack glued to the teleprompter. Horatio haters will relish
Horatioís possible break up with the garlic remark, but
hey, heís just funny so what the hell. Just quit being
a ham and be funny, dude.
7. TV Funhouse: Yankee Superheroes.
Rating: thumbs down.
The deal is: ?? No clue here.
Maybe itís another version of George Steinbrenner is insane?
All I know about the Yankeesí
owner and manager I learned from Seinfeld and other SNLís.
No surprise: I didnít get this cartoon and I bet only
NY locals and baseball fans got this too. I gotñand laughedñat
the Mariah Carey joke (making out with her enabled Derek Jeter
to emit a brain-liquifying shriek). I challenge Bob Smigel to
surpass the concept of the Charlie Brown Christmas cartoonñthe
classic. Sorry, this was sort of out there and I didnít
8. John Mayer.
I donít rate the musical
talentñbut a season too late, JM finally is invited to
appear. I live for JM but donít know the new songs. The
same vibe but less energy as Room For Squares. He no longer looks
like a college kid, but more like a grad student.
9. Weekend Update.
Tina, Jimmy, Jeff as Rush Limbaugh,
film review by Finesse, Maya as Wanda Sykes and Kenan as Bill
Rating: thumbs up (Jeff, acting,
Todayís news included
the California Recall, the Rush Limbaugh quarterback comment,
AOL Latino, and Al Sharptonís candidacy for president
Big thrills: I love Jeff Richardsís
impressions. He really shone today as Rush Limbaugh! A truly
Darrell Hammondesque production, but with better pacing (Darrell
can be a bit too slow, probably from playing slow-talking Clinton
for years.) Good makeup and costuming. Excellent voice acting,
mannerisms, and writing, but to credit Jeff, Jeff is in character
100%. He really loses himself, which is good, since he kind of
creeps me out otherwise. Itís like Jeff is looking for
a way to lose himself, almost and thank god he wasnít
dumped when it seemed he wasnít being used. His impressions
really started to rock me last year and please keep it up, talented
cast. The sight gag with the hammer was a distraction though.
A bit too Gallagher for me (as in Sledge-O-Matic, NOT as in Mary
More thrills: Mayaís impressions
can be good, but putting her as Wanda Sykes opposite Kenan as
Bill Cosby was really cool. But Kenanís impression of
Bill Cosby was spine chilling! Even though he didnít get
a whole lot of lines like Jeff, his lines were so crystalline
Bill Cosby it made me wonder if Bill himself were saying the
lines. Itís too hard to imitate Wanda, but Maya tried
hard. This was my first glance at Kenan and I thought he was
good, but it may be hard to get over how short he looks.
Also, a solid stand-up act by
Finesse, although I have to pick on his material: isnít
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Shrek a little old? I have
to say, as hackneyed as it is to mock the african american in
the theatre experience, itís real and itís funny.
Think Scary Movie, think Dean Edwardsís African American
Archives. So it was funny and I liked the cheerleading bit and
the reading the subtitles aloud and with a finger.
10. The Wheel Folk Music Club
Jack, Horatio and Amy as Shelley
Rating: thumbs down
The deal is that Jack is playing
folk songs on his guitar and playing to his absentee dad, who
is sitting in the audience.
Although Jeff, Kenan, Maya and
Rachel are in the audience, they donít have lines. I thought
the concept of this sketch was a half-baked attempt to get Jack
to sing and play guitar. Horatio is actually acting here instead
of hamming. Yet Amy gets to ham as Shelley Long. I didnít
get why Horatio was married to Shelley Long. They sing Cheers
together at the end.
11. John Mayer.
12. Tuscany: Wine Cellar.
Jack, Seth as wine grower son,
Horatio as wine grower dad (Maya and Rachel have no lines but
they are the daughter and the mother, respectively).
Rating: thumbs down, bad everything.
The deal is that the family cellar
has to impress the English wine critic with their wines and the
critic is not impressed.
I didnít like a similar
incarnation of this sketch with Chris Farley and Norm MacDonald
and, no surprise, I didnít like a repeat of a crummy idea.
Plus, I saw this coming by Sethís wearing of an ugly ecru
shirt. The gag is that Seth gets red wine spat on about eleven
times by the critic and once by the dad. Regardless of how funny
the spitters are, itís not a funny concept and it cannot
be acted right. I can only say, why did they stoop to put this
in the show tonight?
13. Excellacom Telemarketing
Jack, Chris, Kenan, Amy, Maya
Rating: thumbs up, concept, writing
and acting/musical performance.
The deal is that itís
the last call ever to be made by the workers of this company
and it is the subject of another song.
This sketch was effective as
the final sketch and wrapped up the show nicely. In song, Jackís
character expresses how the dream of being a telemarketer is
ended, and satirically laments the lost days of harassment by
magazine salesmen, debt consolidation and real estate sales.
Willís only line tonight was in song.
I should add that
The monologue is tied with Jeff
Richardís Rush Limbaugh. Jeffís Rush was a rush,
but Jackís monologue and song was a sustained high point.
Tuscan Wine Cellar and MTVís
Tonight I would say Horatio or
Will and Chris.