SNL: S18E03... HOST: JOE PESCI... DATE: OCTOBER 10, 1992

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A Night Full Of Italian-American Stereotypes,

If You’re Into That Sort Of Thing

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A little while ago, in one of my many writing, I was discussing my hatred of the Western genre when it comes to my taste in movies. I can’t remember if it came up in a review but I definitely wrote about this recently and how I feel it’s the most cut and paste genre when it comes to story and structure to the point where even the most mundane of characters have a very specific role to fill while wearing a very specific costume.

Good guys in white, bad guys in black and the town drunk as the guy with holes in his hat who provides the comic relief. In this writing that I’m referencing, I brought up Westerns specifically as the only genre of film that I never liked from the get-go. It wasn’t until tonight’s episode of SNL, hosted by Joe Pesci that I was reminded how I always hated Mafia films as well.

Many of the reasons that I don’t like Mafia movies align with why I’m not a fan of the Western genre in that they both follow genre conventions to the point where it feels like if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all only to add my disinterest, I have yet to interact with a “Mafia-type” either real or fictional where I’ve enjoyed what was going on.

To be clear, I have no issues with Italians in general, but I’ve never been a fan of walking clichés so this evening filled with Pesci playing a television tough guy in almost every single scene, just wasn’t all that appealing to me at all. I mean, including his opening monolog where he physically threatened Sinead O’Connor for her Pope stunt from last week, there was only one sketch that featured our host where he wasn’t a Mafia type.

With all of that said, I’m still a fan of Joe Pesci’s comedic work and usually like when he hosts the show but this episode was just too Mafia-based for me and now that this is out of my system, it’s now time to shift gears and share what I saw as I give you…    

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with parody coverage of Debate '92 where Dana Carvey played both George Bush Sr. and Ross Perot to take on Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton in a debate where the main goal was not to say the dumbest thing of the night in the candidates hopes to win the White House. Though the candidates do get into some weird areas their references were so old and time specific that I didn’t get many of the non-generic jokes. This opening sketch went on for what felt like forever, over ten minutes, which is usually a sign that it’s going to be a night filled with filler material. That said, the sketch did get to be its funniest during the last couple minutes where the non-speaking candidate would watch the current speaker and we got to see how he was pictured in their heads like in an old-school cartoon where a starving character would look at someone and only see food. Clinton transformed into a pot smoking hippy, while Bush Sr. turned into his wife and Perot turning into a member of the Lollipop Guild from the Wizard Of OZ. As always, this being the opening sketch it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Joe Pesci the officially opened the show with a monolog about his new movie The Public Eye and how excited he is about Columbus Day. He then went on to trash Sinead O’Connor for ripping up a picture of the Pope before sharing the threats of what he would have done if she tried that type of stunt on his watch playing up his dumb mafia wannabe character.
  3. This was followed by a fake ad for the law firm Green And Fazio who will represent you in accidents that you weren’t even involved so that they can profit off of you profiting of sympathy pains and anxieties.
  4. Bensonhurst Dating Game was a parody of the Dating Game only with Joe Pesci playing his typical Guido character/host to play up Italian stereotypes while trying to find a frizzy-haired Julia Sweeney a date using the Dating Game format. Pesci has a great time being sexist with his Italian boys while being openly racist to Chris Rock who played the only black contestant and got threatened after every question he was asked even though he was being equally as sexual as the rest of the group.
  5. Pinky Ring was, of course, another sketch to play up Italian-American stereotypes as Joe Pesci searches for a pinky ring in a pinky ring store. In order to properly try on the ring, the store had a full-size mirror for Pesci to practice his mafia style hand gestures to make sure he picked the proper fit.
  6. We then got a follow-up ad for Green And Fazio where we were informed that they will not only represent you for cases that you weren’t actually involved with but they will also represent you in cases where you were actually at fault since you still have to deal with the pain and suffering.
  7. Spin Doctors then took to the stage to perform Little Miss Can't Be Wrong.
  8. Once again, Kevin Nealon gave us the news. This week, Kevin Nealon slipped into his Subliminal Man character once again to break down the candidates left in the race for president and Cajun Man dropped in for his views on this year’s run for President as well.
  9. Single White Person was a parody of Single White Female only with Pat playing the Bridget Fonda role and Melanie Hutsell in the Jennifer Jason Leigh role who stalks our androgynous star two where we had two Pat’s by the end of the sketch.
  10. Crooks Watch The News was a sketch where, as the title implies, a bunch of crooks watched the news to see if they got away with robbing a bank just moments before turning on the TV. The only problem is that they turned on the TV to catch the start of the local news and had to sit through all of the introductory nonsense, including the opening credits, greetings, commercials and all sorts of other nonsense. Being that this was before 24/7 cable news coverage, they kept getting the same results no matter which local news station that they tuned to. In the end, all of this TV watching was what lead to our heroes getting caught.
  11. Bullies was a sketch where Joe Pesci and Rob Schneider sit on a stoop bullying passers-by even though they both play their actual adult age. This goes on throughout the entire sketch until David Spade and Adam Sandler stepped in as even bigger bullies, at least when it comes to wordplay.
  12. Spin Doctors then returned to the stage to perform Jimmy Olsen's Blues. 
  13. Zoraida The Page then returned to corner Joe Pesci on the way to his dressing room whereas always she confused the man with his fictional characters. Unlike my hosts who eventually catch on and correct Zoraida, Pesci got De Niro and Scorsese involved in what I’m guessing was an attempt to make their tough guy personas seem real, only everyone involved with too full of smiles and laughs to actually pull it off.
  14. Finally, Joe Pesci closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

I hate to admit it, but this was the first show in quite a while where I actually struggled to commit to these three moments as my favorites from the night. First, I loved Single White Person not only because this was the only sketch where Pesci wasn’t playing a Mafia man but also because I’m just a fan of Single White Female parodies in general. Next, I really liked Crooks Watch The News because by the title alone I was expecting the classic idea of robbers watching the cops as they invaded their hideout only to me more humored by the fact that these crooks were stuck having to sit through the traditional local news intro. Finally, I was a fan of the second installment of the Green And Fazio Law Firm ad because I liked the escalation of them being willing to sue over accidents that didn’t even happen to you to where they will also represent those who are actually to blame in an attempt to get money for their own accidents which doesn’t seem farfetched these days.

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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.