SNL: S13E10... HOST: CARL WEATHERS... DATE: JANUARY 30, 1988

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or...

Another Host Hit By Shrapnel

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Back in the '70s my late uncle took a few acting classes with Carl Weathers so I always thought that was a cool added bonus whenever I saw the former football player on the screen. Not only that, but the original Predator is one of my favorite movies of all time so I was excited to see if they made a reference being that it must have been the movie he was there to promote based on his resume from the time.

I have to say that I ended up a bit disappointed because not only was there zero talk of my favorite alien stalker, but Carl Weathers ended up being one of the black hosts to get hit with racial shrapnel in the shows effort to make anti-racist points as they still play into stereotypes in the process.

For one, each and every sketch that the host was featured in had to do with race which that alone is a problem because the white hosts get to explore and endless amount of topics without skin color ever being involved.

Keep in mind, I'm not claiming this episode or show is straight up racists which is why I mention racial shrapnel where even when the show is highlighting other's flaws, these insights come at the expense of the color of the special guest of the night.

The obvious example is the sketch where Phil Hartman plays a woman who has a shootout with Carl simply for dating her white daughter and rather than bail out on the family, Carl sticks around because he's used to this type of treatment. One less obvious example is how they had Carl Weathers play Doug Williams, the first black quarterback to get to the Super Bowl, mainly to allow a Jimmy The Greek impersonator throw out a bunch of racist jokes and taking the stance that it's wrong. Along with these two examples, they also set up Carl to be sound like a pimp when he was actually a talent agent. Again the shot fired was at show business but I'm willing they wouldn't have gone this pimp route with a white guest and with these other examples it just felt wrong. 

The good news is that I can see a positive evolution with time because at least in these newer episodes featuring black hosts even after being hit by the racial shrapnel they don't come across as a bad guy as well which would often be the case with the earlier season of the show.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not better than this as I followed the same trajectory with shows like this being the inspiration for the way that I joked when I was growing up and I don't think that it came from a hateful place but it is an awkward time to revisit after 42 years of evolution as to what and how we joke about things.

Alright, now that I've gotten that out of my system, it's now time to move on and share what I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a sketch called BushWhacked! Where George Bush Sr. stormed around the stage parodying Morton Downey Jr. in an effort to prove that he is not a wimp like the media is claiming. He then goes on to host a Downey Jr. like talk show where he attacks his guests as if it were an interrogation, then uses anger over reason to share his plans for America. All of this is an effort to prove that he's tough but the second the guest stand to defend himself he immediately gets the Vice President, at the time, in a headlock and forces him to announce, "Live from New York..."
  2. Carl Weathers then officially opened the show with a monolog about being able to live out his dreams through both sports and now acting and jokes about how he should have won in Rocky. Having sports and acting conquered he decides to give his final dream a shot and ask for the band's support while he sings a terrible rendition of What About A Rainbow in a very funny tone. 
  3. We then got a repeat of the Handi-Off ad from a couple of episodes ago.
  4. The NFL Today was a parody of the real show with the same name where Kevin Nealon as host apologizes for a statement made by Jimmy The Greek before introducing him as the co-host. The two go on to discuss this year's Super Bowl, which takes place during Black History Month when it was the Bronco's vs. the Redskins, where a white John Elway QBed went up against a black Doug Williams, which gave "Jimmy The Greek" plenty of material to slip up and make racist comments about while blaming the slip of the tongue.   
  5. We then went to the Democratic Debate '88 where there was over a half-dozen candidates to choose from and every single one of them seemed to be a joke and even thirty years later, history has yet to clear their ineptness and inability to commit to a concise party platform at all.
  6. We then went to a suburban house where Phil Hartman plays an old lady as she discusses guns over tea with her gay hair dresser as they wait for her daughter to arrive with her new boyfriend. Though she is fully accepting of this gay friend of hers, to set up that she has an open mind, the moment her daughter arrives with Carl Weathers things quickly escalate to the point where there's a shootout because he's black. After all of the bullets are shot and the smoke finally settles the mother agrees that she may have over reacted while Carl Weathers acts like this is nothing new as he accepts the racist mother's apology.  
  7. Robbie Robertson then took to the stage to perform Testimony.
  8. Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, Victoria Jackson did the performance of The Life Of A Table where she did a back bend while reciting a poem about a table which was interesting but had nothing even loosely connected to news. A. Whitney Brown also dropped in for another Big Picture segment about yet another conflict between the Arabs and Jews as he ponders why the area can't get along.
  9. We then went to a crowded restaurant for a sketch called Actress And Pimp where Jan Hooks plays an upcoming actress who is trying to stay undercover and enjoy her dinner only to get recognized. After turning around a fan who caught on Carl Weathers enters the scene and confronts Jan as if he is her pimp and she's not returning his calls but it turns out he's just her agent and she just wants out of the industry because she is ashamed of the low budget films that she's made. 
  10. Robbie Robertson then returned to the stage to perform Somewhere Down The Crazy River.
  11. Master Thespian Meets Ching Change is as the title suggests a meeting between these two reoccurring characters only it turns out that Carl Weathers has been playing this offensive Dana Carvey character this entire time and that he's been able to pull it off thanks to "ACTING." 
  12. The Garden was a black and white short film where a landlord is upset by her tenant who is supposed to be running a beauty salon which she does up front, the issue is that she also provides mortician services for pets in the back room and possibly buried them out in the garden? It's hard to tell because of the artistic style of the film where they intentionally keep things vague.
  13. Finally, Carl Weathers closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Between yesterday's show and this one, we may be in the middle of a mini-slump of this shortened season because it was hard to find these three favorite moments from the night. First, I loved Carl Weathers' opening monolog when he sang What About A Rainbow because the way that he set it up made it extra funny how horrible his singing turned out to be. Next, I really liked The Master Thespian sketch because I'm a fan of the character and it was fun to see Carl Weathers join in by "ACTING" alongside the Master.. Finally, I was a fan of the BushWacked sketch because I was a fan of the Morton Downey Jr. show when I was a kid and it's also funny when considering the warmongering president that Bush turned out to be.  

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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.