More Python Please
Since I didn't grow to appreciate Monty Python until later on in life (senior year in high school vs. elementary school when I started to get into all other forms of comedy) getting to watch these SNL episodes hosted by Eric Idle has been a pretty pleasant treat for me. I don't know if these episodes didn't air that much or if I just avoided these airing because of the whole British comedy thing but either way I'm happy to see them now.
That said, I was slightly disappointed by this Eric Idle episode because of the expectations that were built by his first appearance. The thing that I liked about his first hosting spot was that it felt like more of a hybrid of both shows with The Not Ready for Prime Time players navigating a through-line story with sketches that worked perfectly fine on their own.
This episode started with the perfect situation to set of this through-line story by setting up a telethon scenario but other than revisiting the tote-board before introducing the bands the rest of the sketches all stood on their own.
Though this episode was still better than average, there was just a tiny taste of Python-esque connectivity that I kind of sort of missed.
Now that I've shared my thoughts it's time to share what I saw as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
The show opened with a sketch featuring an IRA member being interrogated by an agent from MI6 who gets the IRA member to literally sing by literally torturing his potatoes. The agent finally gets the IRA guy to answer three questions where the answer equals "Live" "From New York" "It's Saturday Night."
Eric Idle then rolls out the red carpet for himself to start his opening monolog. He then informs the crowd that the Queen would be sitting in as he introduces a pretty good impersonator. He then goes on to explain how even though Britain has all the culture it's America that has all the cash. This is when he announces the telethon angle that I was hoping would run through the entire show. He also announced a “Kick A Canadian” campaign where you could kick a Mountie in the balls for a buck.
Next was an ad warning that buying your marijuana from Central and South American drug dealers was taking away American jobs. This lead to an ad for the American Dope Growers Union which left me wondering if they actually had union commercials at the time or if this was an overall spoof.
This followed by a parody of The Nixon Interviews with David Frost special where Nixon rambles about breakfast as a child and bores everyone in the process. Nixon's wife then comes out to stop the show asking to give Nixon another chance. Idle as Frost uses this as an opportunity to trick Nixon into thinking the mics are off getting him to spill his guts about everything only there is a sound issue that drowns out his admission of guilt. They then return to the regular interview where Nixon continue to bore the audience to death.
Alan Price then sings Poor People. I may be wrong in my interpretation but is a song that really makes Price look like a douche saying that poor people don't matter singing through the perspective of the rich without being ironic of cute.
The short film this week was a bit of a mockumentary with Idle's British accent breaking down the actions of the cast acting out bits in Central Park.
Once again, Jane Curtin does the news. She starts by announcing that she's won a Pulitzer Prize to a silent response from the crowd. Bill Murray sits in again with an editorial that kept getting very dark and perverted in a Michael O'Donoghue way that didn't seem to match Murray's comedic voice.
The news commercial was for Oxxon which was obviously making fun of an Exxon spot from the time. In this commercial, they break down the commercial's production cost as if this were the excuse for why gas prices are so high finishing the ad with the line Oxxon, Fuel for a gullible America.
The news returns with Emily Litella who starts with a rant about Air Solution instead of Air Pollution. Even she, as a character, thinks this is her worst attempt. She claims she's too love-smitten to focus because of Tom Snyder. She then sings I Will Swallow Him, which I'm surprised made it past the censors even though she is quickly corrected that it's, "follow him."
Next was a parody of a boxing event with Eric Idle vs. Belushi. Instead of boxing, they tell jokes as it becomes a bit about British humor vs. the comedy found in the US. Jokes count as punches and eventually devolves to being a pie fight.
Pardo then announces "The Ruttle that lives in New York" who sang a song called Cheese and Onions in an attempt to get more callers for the telethon.
Laraine Newman then set up the next sketch as she informs the audience about the financial struggle suffered by British cinema and introduces a movie called The Battle of Britain that cost $900 to produce. The sketch is of the movie with is all voice-over as Gilda reads a letter and flashback to quick scenes happening in the same room.
Next was a novelty singer named Neil Innes who sings a silly song called Shangri-La.
This was followed by a sketch called Plain Talk that had Aykroyd and Idle speaking complete gibberish acting as if they understand one another. It reminded me of a YouTube video showing how English sounds to someone that doesn't speak the language.
Alan Price returns again but just looking at him rubs me the wrong way. He sings a song called Times Like These, but I was too annoyed to listen to the lyrics to see if my earlier analysis was wrong.
We then return to the telethon where it is revealed that the one donor had requested a refund. Bill Murray comes out to save the day by drinking an entire bottle of grape juice. He gives up about a quarter of the way through and leaves the stage feeling dejected.
We come back from the final break to the announcement that someone really stepped up bringing the new total to $35,000,000 and with the host says his good nights.
Though I wanted more of a Monty Python feel to this episode I was still pleased with what I saw and with that, here are my top three sketches from the night. First, I loved the mini-mockumentary about body language because it's a topic I'm interested in whether or not it's a joke. Next, I liked the crazy guns on a plane sketch because it is so far out there through modern eyes. Finally, I was a fan of the Plain Talk sketch because it did take me a moment to realize they weren't really saying anything and were really just babbling on.