My Birthday Episode: Year 15
Where I felt a little let down by Alec Baldwin's first appearance because of how the show treated him more like a heartthrob rather than the borderline cast member that he's grown to become over the years, I felt this episode was a redeeming show that highlighted why Baldwin is known for more than just his looks alone and actually has legitimate comedic talent.
That's not to say that other heartthrob hosts aren't talentless but for the most part it's rare that they have experience or skill when it comes to comedy. As I've said in the past, most of the time, these good-looking hosts are treated more like props to be reacted to because of their looks instead of being the source of any laughs.
The above-mentioned issue was my problem with Alec's first appearance but after tonight's appearance I'm no longer concerned about seeing Baldwin in the lineup of host because this episode was such a slam dunk to where he even stood out for his humor in the two sketches where he could have easily just come across as a good-looking prop as the joke.
All in all, this was another really good episode from this season. Other than the Godfather parody that I felt went a little long due to my lack of knowledge about the referenced material, I can't think of another moment from the night that I didn't think was fun, adding to my amazement over how solid this season is turning out to be following the so-so season of last year.
I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised because this jump in show quality just highlights how the show makes adjustments whenever it reaches a lull. With all of that said, it's now time to move on from my insights and share what I actually saw, as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with another parody of The McLaughlin Group where once again, Dana Carvey portrayed the blowhard host who throws rapid-fire political questions to his panel of guest only to belittle them if they don't agree with his stance word for word by yelling at them how they are "WRONG" if their opinion is just a little off. Of course, this being the opening sketch is eventually builds to the announcement of, "Live from New York..."
Alec Baldwin then officially opened the show with a monolog about being excited to host for a second time pointing out that his last appearance was nominated for an Emmy which than took us into Alec's head to hear his inner thoughts as he starts to worry that he's not being a humble host. We then bounce around to hear the inner thoughts of everyone including the cast, crew, and even Whitney Houston as they all begin to wonder if it is their fault that Alec seems stuck in his head. Normally, I don't like the "brace yourself for a bad show" jokes, but in this case, it was done right with the proper amount of humor to where it didn't come across as a real concern.
We then got a fake ad for a piece of workout equipment called The Dancer where users strap themselves into this machine that provides both resistance and guidance for you to dance through your daily work out.
The Honest Planet was a sketch that as the title suggests takes place on a planet where there are no lies and we get to witness a business meeting where we hear first-hand everyone's dishonest motivations as they navigate their way through the backhanded business world.
The Sinead O'Connor Awards was a parody award show where Sinead O'Connor reluctantly honor artists for their material success despite being soulless performers. Even though this isn't really a positive award, the winners are pleased as punch to even be nominated.
Whitney Houston then took to the stage to perform "I'm Your Baby Tonight"
Lank Thompson: I'm A Handsome Actor was an infomercial parody hosted by Mike Meyers who is pitching a process to take any hack and turn them into a handsome actor without much focus on acting skills. Alec Baldwin played the guest to provide evidence that the process actually works by sharing his horrible acting skills that don't matter because he looks good while going through the motions.
This was followed by a fake ad for Pan Am making fun of how competitive the airline's deals were as we built up to the first Persian Gulf War since everyone was worried about hijackers. In order to offset peoples fear, this ad offers each passenger the ability to keep the plane if they opted to fly with Pan Am which I believe had a horrible reputation for safety at the time.
Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, "Bob Dylan" dropped in to finish off his speech that was cut off when he accepted a Grammy earlier in the year. He speaks in such Dylan-esque terms that Miller has to act as his interpreter until things got so bad that they had to bring in Tom Petty to help cipher some sense into Dylan's signature ramblings.
We then got a Sci-Fi parody of The Godfather, Part IV where the new Godfather is more like the Emperor from the Star War series while mixing in a handful of Star Trek references as well, while throwing in clips from all three references to tell the follow-up of a tale.
I'm Chillin' then returned for another installment where the urban version of Wayne's World played by Chris Rock and Chris Farley discuss the latest urban trends before giving The Mother Joke Of The Week. After this, Tim Meadows dropped in as Flavor Flav to give props to the soldiers fighting in the Middle East as they announce that they'll be sending the troops a case of F'ed Up Malt Liquor to thank them for their services.
Whitney Houston then returned to the stage to perform All The Man I Need.
Confession Can Be Exciting For The Soul was a sketch where, as the title implies, takes place in a confession booth on the day where the church decided to take down the screen of secrecy. Julia Sweeney is the first to try this new approach and is so distracted by Alec Baldwin as the good-looking priest that she can barely get through her confession. Though this sketch has a little bit of the hot host as a prop problem that I often complain about where the comedy comes from the reaction of the host's good looks, this time it worked because Baldwin's character wasn't taking this as an ego boost and he also had several funny lines.
This was followed by SNL's take on Cyrano De Bergerac where Tim Meadows played a wide-nosed De Bergerac who provides the words for Alec Baldwin in his effort to win over Roxanne. Meadows being black not only led to the wide-nose reference but it also leads to a much more soulful tone to the words that he provides.
This was followed by another installment of Deep Thoughts By Jack Handey where Jack asks an interesting question about names and dolphins only to share an unexpected answer in the end.
Finally, Alec Baldwin closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnight.
Once again, I can't believe this makes fourteen for fourteen as far as this season goes but then again it makes total sense thanks to sketches like these three that turned out to be my favorite segments of the night. First, I loved The Honest Planet sketch that took place on a planet where businessmen just could not lie because the examples they used were funny while using logic that made the motives and open frustration feel sound. Next, I really liked the Cyrano De Bergerac parody because I'm a fan of the story thanks to Steve Martin's Roxanne and felt this was a funny take on the tale. Finally, I was a fan of the opening installment of The McLaughlin Group because I just can't get enough of people yelling about politics as long as I'm not involved and am watching it alone on TV.