SNL: S18E08... HOST: TOM ARNOLD... DATE: DECEMBER 5, 1992

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An Interesting Mixed Bag

From A Last Minute Replacement Host

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This episode turned out to be an unexpected rollercoaster of a ride between my expectation and how things ended up turning out. At first, I was excited to see Tom Arnold host the show alone because I wasn’t all that impressed with his last visit where he was the dual host with Roseanne. Being a fan of his work, I was expecting this to be an opportunity to shine rather than be the guy in the background in a show that was really hosted by his wife.

Things took a turn for the negative when he delivered a really awkward monolog where he seemed to have the nerves of an open-mic comedian during his first night on the stage. To add to the awkwardness, he seemed too focused on trying to promote his new show while desperately reassuring the audience that he was not dependent on Roseanne before admitting that he was a last minute replacement to host and not the first or even second pick which only added to my concern.

The opening was so lame that I started to feel bad for the guy because he reminded me of myself when I’m put in the spotlight. Up until recently, I always felt that I was really funny around the people who I was comfortable with but every time that I attempted to do anything public with my humor, I would freeze up and act like a nervous spazz. In almost the same exact way that I was witnessing Tom Arnold act on my TV screen.

Between his nerves and the fact that he was a last-minute replacement for Gary Oldman, all of my expectations for the night were gone. Then, after the monolog, there was a sketch that made fun of an After School Special about peer pressure and sex where they simply took the story of a guy/girl interaction and switched it up to be about two guys with the shock value of the gay reference being the only source of humor at all.

I felt bored at first because now that being gay isn’t anything shocking at all, the sketch almost felt like a legitimate After School Special because they treated the gay relationship so normal other than the fact that the overall idea was titillating at the time. I felt torn because it actually had a valid message about acceptance which felt like an accidental byproduct now that the idea of acceptance has become more close to being real, or at least it was.

After thinking about it, I now really like the sketch because of this accidental message. The very next sketch was a bit of a classic where Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton dropped by a McDonald’s in the middle of a jog to steal all of the customer’s food. This sketch was funny enough to stick in my memory from the time but again it was interesting to watch it through modern old man eyes because it turns out that I completely missed the joke.

You see, I always thought it was simply making fun of Clinton for his jogging/fast food habit but they actually made a much deeper dig at the president as he claimed he was sending troops to Somalia because the warlords in charge were stealing all of the citizen’s food, meanwhile this US/world leader was shoveling his face full of food that he was stealing from the customers who were too excited by his presence to say no.

Again, I found this very interesting to watch through modern eye but I still wasn’t having all that much fun. The rest of the night was as average as the rest of the shows this season, not counting Sinbad’s which was actually great, where it was good but not great. That said, if it wasn’t for the fact that I felt for Tom Arnold after relating to his nervous vibes and how interesting the two sketches mentioned above grew to be over time, I might have considered this a pretty terrible show.

Oh well, that wasn’t the case so I will take the good but not great as a win. And, with all of that said, it’s now time to shift gears from sharing my thoughts to sharing what I actually saw as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with another installment of Wayne's World where the two basement dwelling cable access hosts announced that Garth finally grew pubes before the two went on to discuss the recent election of Bill Clinton which led to a top ten list of reasons why they loved the man. Of course, this being the opening sketch it ended with the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Tom Arnold then officially opened the show with a monolog/stand-up routine that was a bit cringe-worthy from being so bad where he kept trying to promote his show. He also made a few jokes addressing all the jokes that he would be nothing without Roseanne where he jokingly claimed with the confidence of an open mic-er that he would be fine without her because he’s been stealing her money on the side. He then went on to explain that he wasn’t the original host for the night and that he was filling in for Gary Oldman and how he wasn’t even their second choice to replace him which lowered my expectations for the night. Especially when he went back into attempting to promote his show once again but being that it aired on a different network he sang Johnny Be Good instead which felt very forced and awkward to the point where it left me feeling a little bad for the guy because you could see that he was totally uncomfortable and forcing this funny guy persona before he had it fully figured out. At least that’s how I read this uncomfortable start to the show.
  3. Sex And Peer Pressure At Valley High was a PBS After School Special sketch that parodied the overall After School Special genre where the sexual peer pressure involved is between the Jock played by Mike Myers and the brainy kid played by David Spade. In this era where being gay isn’t all that big of a deal that’s actually no humor to this sketch at all. In fact, it almost feels like a real deal PSA.
  4. Clinton At McDonald's was a sketch that made fun of Bill Clinton’s fitness routine where he would job for a bit and then drop by the fast food joint to meet the people and use their excitement as a distraction to steal their food while ironically explaining that his plan to send forces to Somalia to stop the warlords from stealing food from the citizens that actually need it while he continued to stuff his face the entire time.
  5. Neil Young then took to the stage to perform From Hank To Hendrix. 
  6. Once again, Kevin Nealon gave us the news. This week, Roseanne dropped in for a special segment where she discussed the topic of double standards in the ‘90s. Queen Shenequa also returned for another movie review where she discussed The Bodyguard and had a few jokes about a fictional deleted sex scene.
  7. The Super Fans also returned for another installment where this time, the group of drunken Bears fans visited both George Wendt and Chris Farley who were hospital mates following their most recent heart attacks. Other than the location, the rest of the sketch is the jokes about Chicago sports per usual until Chris Farley died for a bit and saw Mike Ditka as God at the end of the heavenly tunnel.
  8. Tom Arnold then introduced a fake band called The Dogs that made fun of the Seattle Grunge scene with Adam Sandler as the lead singer who sang dog themed rock that I have to admit wasn’t that bad at all.
  9. Tales From The Ambulance was a parody of a show where Chris Farley played an ambulance driver who stopped driving mid-emergency to share the tale of when Tom Arnold was fired as a paper clip holder after the boss discovered that he could just us a tray instead. This led turned the sketch into a John Henry story where Tom Arnold took on the tray to see which was more efficient. Even though he loses he managed to keep his job because the others in the office just liked having him around. Meanwhile, there was no need for the ambulance TV show aspect of this script other than the WTF randomness that I hope to see more of in the upcoming years.
  10. Porno Buyers' Service Representative was a sketch that took place in a porn shop where Tom Arnold played a customer who was too embarrassed to buy his porn. This was when it was revealed that this was actually a fake ad for a service that will buy and deliver porn to you instead.
  11. Neil Young then returned to the stage to perform Harvest Moon. 
  12. Night School Reunion was a sketch that made fun of the low opinion of night school student by sharing the pathetic accomplishments of this group of GED grads.
  13. Finally, Tom Arnold closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights. 

This might end up being one of those shows that ends up standing out more than it should because it actually was mediocre but it also had moments like the three that I’m about to share are going to be stuck in my head for a while as I think about how the meanings have changed with the passing of time to be more positive which I think is a first for me. Usually, the case is a perfectly innocent older sketch grow to be more offensive as we grow to be a more sensitive viewing audience. With that, here’s what I managed to come up with.

First, I loved the Sex And Peer Pressure At Valley High sketch because this one, in particular, could have gone terribly wrong with the passing of time as most old gay based sketches from this time often do. Next, I really liked Bill Clinton At McDonald's because I really liked catching the political point that went way over my head when I was a child. Finally, I was a fan of Tales From The Ambulance not only because it was convoluted in a funny way but I like that paper clip tray was that time period’s concerns when it came to man versus technology which is growing again with the development of AI.

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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.