SNL: S16E17... HOST: CATHERINE O'HARA... DATE: APRIL 13, 1991

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or...

An Alumni Visit From

The Cast Member Who Never Showed

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It's unfortunate how so many funny people tend to stick to their comfort zone as they age because even though I'm a fan of a large chunk of Catherine O'Hara's work, she seems to stick to portraying characters that are just heightened reality version of herself for a couple of decades now. 

Don't get me wrong, I like this character that Catherine O'Hara seems inclined to portray but it led me to feel that her performances were so consistent that I was expecting a funny host who didn't have all that much range. It wasn't until her opening monolog where she joked about her history with improv that I was reminded of more than just her work with Christopher Guest or Eugene Levy as thought back to her SCTV days.

Again, to be extra clear, I'm pointing out the above because I am a fan of Catherine O'Hara but my modern experience with her work had me expecting her character from Schitt's Creek only to be pleasantly surprised to find a reminder of her earlier career while watching this episode that officially ended the second half slump.

Sorry if I sound unconfident in my conclusion but when I started this review I was going to go into more of a gripe about women in comedy being pigeonholed into certain roles. I was then going to argue how this is why Catherine's character range seemed to narrow as she grew old with this episode being evidence that she was more rangy in her youth. Then I started to think of all of the careers of the SCTV/Christopher Guest clan and realized how, man or woman, everyone from this group's careers has pretty much gone this route and all seem to play characters of themselves in the project they're in which totally ruined my point.

This led me to switch gears halfway through the first paragraph and now I'm stuck rambling through my insights of an episode I actually liked. Oh well, these reviews can't all be hits so I'm going to get while the getting is good, as I move on to give you...      

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with Frank And Nancy was a parody of Sid And Nancy only with Frank Sinatra and Nancy Reagan playing the titular roles. Though it's not a direct parody, it plays off the Sid and Nancy style relationship with Frank and Nancy having sex in the presidential suite or the White House while Ronald Reagan in on the TV screen giving a speech downstairs. The couple's sex grows to be so wild that they knock the ceiling plaster on to the president's head which led to the announcement of, "Live from New York..."
  2. Catherine O'Hara then officially opened the show with a monolog about being excited to be back acting live because it reminds her of her early days in improv. She then claims to into an improvised seen only she has it extremely planned out. Even when taking requests from the audience she simply changes the suggestion to fit her needs in her efforts to get a laugh.
  3. We then got a repeat of the fake ad for The Dancer fitness device that provides guidance and resistance to optimize your workout/dance.
  4. This was followed by another installment of Sprockets where Dieter, our German host, interviews Catherine O'Hara who played a crazy German actress who played the star of my parody promo clip called The Head In A Rusty Metal Box. We then got to see several other clips from her other films that are equally surreal and crazy. This is another one of those sketches that I still quote to this day.
  5. MTV Spring Break 1991 was a sketch that parodied MTV during Spring Break which in the world of the sketch takes place at the Kennedy Compound, satirizing a rape scandal that took place at the site just earlier that year. If I wasn't already aware of this scandal, this felt like it was innocently making fun of the Kennedys for being womanizing drunks because they never mention the serious incident. This made the sketch a little disturbing because minus the incident being referenced it feels like they're glorifying these horrible beings. 
  6. It's Pat then returned for another installment. This week Catherine O'Hara played the cashier and a drug store who struggles to solve the mystery of Pat's androgyny has she helps Pat with his/her personal hygiene products.  
  7. We then got another edition of Deep Thoughts By Jack Handey where this time, Jack gives advice as to what to do if you were ever to fall off Sear's Tower.
  8. R.E.M. then took to the stage to perform Losing My Religion. 
  9. Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, David Spade dropped in for another segment of In And Out where he shares what's in and what's out in Hollywood. 
  10. We then went to a meeting of The Justice League Of America where a collection of superheroes judge other superheroes as if it were The People's Court. The main case in this sketch is against Catherine O'Hara for flying in the standing position simply because the members of the League think that it looks too strange.
  11. Frank Gannon, P.I. P.I. is a sketch about a Politically Incorrect Private Investigator who makes horribly offensive assumptions based on stereotypes while trying to collect clues for the murder he's trying to solve.
  12. In Conclusion Theatre was a sketch about a show that only shares the final scenes from the movies being featured that week. This week's scene made absolutely zero sense minus the backstory behind how things turned out to be so strange.
  13. R.E.M. and Kate Pierson then teamed up and took to the stage to perform Shiny Happy People.
  14. Daily Affirmation also returned for another installment where Stuart Smalley works through more of his insecurities by reassuring himself that he's okay. His main focus this week is showing solidarity with the Kurds following the recent war in Iraq, ending on another Daily Affirmation.
  15. Wedding Dress To Funeral was a sketch were as the title suggests Catherine O'Hara shows up to a funeral in a wedding dress after mixing up the reason for the event while blocking out that her late fiance is in the casket.
  16. Finally, Catherine O'Hara closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

Sorry for the confusion above but the sentiment stands that this episode took us out of the second-half slump while sharing Catherine O'Hara's earlier brand of comedy that really show during these three favorite moments from the night. First I loved this week's Sprockets segment because I still randomly quote every line from The Head In A Rusty Metal Box clip to this day. Next, I really like this week's installment of It's Pat because I liked how they finally took the character out of the office environment and put him/her out in the world to add options to the source of confusion. Finally, I was a fan of The Justice League Of America sketch because the image of Catherine O'Hara as a superhero who flies in the standing position actually got me to laugh out loud.

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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.