SNL: S01E10... HOST: BUCK HENRY... DATE: JANUARY 17, 1976

or...

Where Have All the Parodies Gone?

It's weird but I was a huge fan of Buck Henry being on Saturday Night Live when I was a child. I think it's because I had no idea who he was until I was in my late 20s and decided to look him up on the internet after watching a best of air on Comedy Central or near the holidays when NBC was more likely to go with a classic. He was like an obscure reference to the show that worked as a test when meeting a fellow fan.

This knowledge never impressed anyone but my feelings remain the same. Since he wasn't known as being a big performer it felt more like your smart but funny uncle was running the show.  The uncle that, on paper, should be stuffy and a little on the lame side but in reality is surprisingly entertaining to all. 

This was another average episode that I found entertaining but the overall show wouldn't top any list. About half way through there was a sketch for Citizen Kane II. I forgot just how much SNL used to parody sequels way back then. I mean, even the Land Shark sketches were actually Jaws II and Jaws III. 

I have to say, I miss the parodies from back in the day, back when comedic writers knew how to pull off the genre without seeming cliché. I couldn't tell you the last time that I've seen a parody that didn't already seem dated just from the gap of time between production and the movie's release. Try as they might, I don't even think the genre still exists.

I think that the biggest problem is that parody movies used to focus on one movie to parody for story structure, then do their best to satirize the entire genre within the story beats. I feel the genre has been dead for over a decade now and I think it started with the "Not Another" movies that focus their attention on parodying pop culture whether or not it fits into the scene. 

Where I can watch an old parody without seeing the strings, watching a new parody feels more like hanging out at a party with someone who is constantly pointing out how funny their shirt it. Yeah, it might it might be funny the first time but once you see the pony only has one trick you're not going to watch the show no more.

Boy, do I wish someone would bring back the genre and do it right. The problem is there is just too much to reference anymore and with millions of movies, it's hard to pick and choose the pieces that more than five people will get. 

Oh well, at least I'll have a bunch of mini-parodies to watch for a little while as I continue on with this task.

And with that I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. The show starts with a phone ringing then Chevy Chase runs down the stairs to answer it only to crash through everything. He answers the phone just in time to hear a gunshot as he announces "You have reached the suicide hotline." That kind of left me feeling a little low right out the gate.
  2. I was happy to see Buck Henry, though. As I pointed out in the intro above, he was one of my favorite hosts as a kid even though I didn't know who he actually was until my mid to late 20s.
  3. This went into the Samurai Delicatessen. Buck Henry's connection to this sketch was definitely one of the reasons why he stood out in my mind.
  4. Then there was a fake talk show called Presidential Fourplay where a woman claimed to have had an affair with JFK. She seemed somewhat believable until her claim that she was still seeing him to this day (which was definitely after the assassination, even in the sketch.)
  5. This was followed by a long sketch about how Gerald Ford is clumsy and dumb. As I pointed out the other day, I don't know enough about Ford to connect to the content. Since they make zero attempts to make Chase look like Ford the overall character feels generic to me. The style of the stupidity is fun to me which is why I'm so hung up on why I hate this portrayal.
  6. Bill Wither's sings Ain't No Sunshine.
  7. Loraine Newman then plays an illiterate speed reading instructor, which as someone who has always struggled to read aloud due to my dyslexia didn't find it all that funny but I was a fan of the hearing impaired jokes so I can't really complain.
  8. This was a quick sketch that was followed by the news. I really should be noting the stories told since part of my interest in this challenge is to see the comedic take on the news from the day.
  9. The news commercial this week was for a roll-on room deodorizer in an attempt to cut back on aerosol sprays. 
  10. The news returns with Buck Henry reading and Editorial Reply as Chevy makes faces behind his back, then finished on the top story being repeated for the dead.
  11. The news was followed by the Citizen Kane II sketch that I mention in the intro above. The idea was that Kane said more than just Rosebud before dying. The new last word was Henri (pronounce with an accent) and we're showed that it might be in reference to one of the newspaper writers that Kane had working for him at the time. During the flashback to Kane's dealing with Henri, we also see lunch being delivered which I thought absolutely nothing of until they reveal there was a third set of last words which were "with mustard," making his final lines to the world "Rosebud, Henri, with mustard," which actually referenced, "Roast Beef, on rye, with mustard." I laughed so hard at this reveal because I was getting a little bored by the rest of the sketch and it just hit that sweet spot for me.
  12. This led to the Muppet sketch which is now called The Land of Gorch and in this week's segment the two of the Muppets are still cheating on the main guy. The little sidekick buys a sex toy and bangs his boss's wife with it. The two Muppets then went to town on one another with the toy and it blew my mind, there was actual Muppet sex on SNL.
  13. They then repeated the fake commercial for the razor with THREE blades.
  14. Tony Basil sang Wham.
  15. Then Dan Aykroyd comes home from work only to have to put his daughter down for the night and tells Gilda Radner a night time story about working at the garage. Gilda forces him to fit in fairies and princesses and at the end reveals that she picked up on a lot of what her dad was saying about cars.
  16. There was then a quick sketch were Chevy Chase rolls a joint, then ties of his arm and tries to shoot the joint into his veins, it ends with a dumb note about they don't call it dope for nothing.
  17. Next, there was a short film where Buck Henry tried to find the funniest person in Irvington, New York. I really liked this short because I think it was real. One person would say someone was the funniest then Buck Henry would track that person down only they would humbly deny they were the funniest and then direct Henry to the person they find to be the funniest in order for him to track that person down instead. This goes on and on until one lady accepts the honor and openly admits that she's the funniest person in town.
  18. Howard Shore and His Band of All Bees then plays while the Belushi Bee sings King Bee. 
  19. Which was followed by Michael O'Donoghue does an impersonation of Mike Douglas getting stabbed in the eye with sharp needles. I sweat that I've heard his screaming in a song somewhere and the concept of the sketch reminded me of the starting sketch of the album Iceberg by Ice T.
  20. Finally, the show ended on a sketch about the American Constipation Society which was pretty much just a bunch of adults saying funny phrases for constipation.

Though I liked this episode, I kind of had a hard time picking three favorites. The first one was easy because I love the Samurai Delicatessen but the second two favorites were fun but probably would never be considered classics, number two being Citizen Kane sketch which did seem to drag on a bit, but really had me laughing at the punchline and finally I'd say The Funniest person in Irvington, New York short film round out my top three.

Matt Bunker

I started out with a goal of becoming a paid screenwriter. I had no interest in any other aspect of filmmaking. I received and scholarship to The Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program where I graduated in 2005. I fell in love with being on set during my first non-school produced short, . I loved being around all the creative people, seeing people having fun while working. The whole liking your job was a new world to me, so I decided to give it a shot. I volunteered for any project I could, doing what ever was needed. The set was my Film School this time. While working as a PA on a feature I was informed that the DP wanted the three tallest PAs to help out in the grip and electric department. That is when I found the department that felt like the best fit for me while I continued to write.