SNL: S20E03... HOST: JOHN TRAVOLTA... DATE: OCTOBER 15, 1994

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A Fever For A Saturday Night… Live!!!

Right out the gate, this episode made me a bit nervous when it started off with one of my biggest pet-peeves. The peeve in question being when John Travolta made a joke about how he was only using his hosting role to promote Pulp Fiction after turning down two decades worth of offers. This type of joking really makes me miss the pre-‘90s days when only a handful of host admitted to promoting anything and a bulk of the few that did where notoriously noted as the worst hosts of all times.

This type of introduction always annoys me, and I have yet to find it funny. Thankfully, John Travolta had and continues to have both a personal and professional life worth mining for comedy since he’s been around so long and always seems to be up to something strange. Based on his resume alone, this episode never felt like it had to reach in order to come up with any non-host related content. That’s not to say that they only parodied Travolta’s early work but the fact that they easily could have, highlighted the effort that went into creating each sketch.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that every single sketch was perfect since it’s still a season with a mostly new cast who are still settling and finding their places on the show, but at the same time, it did feel like everyone was having a lot of fun throughout the entire night. On top of that, this episode felt like a more traditional season-opening show since it was also filled with various unexpected cameos although most of them happened in one sketch.

Finally, one of the most interesting parts of the night was how John Travolta didn’t seem to shy away from the sketches that made him seem gay, especially considering his litigious future of silencing anyone who even suggested that he was not straight.

So, now that I’ve shared those thoughts, it’s now time to move on and share what I actually saw as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a parody of Saturday Night Fever with the theme song, Stayin' Alive playing in the background as John Travolta strutted around the backstage area while preparing for the night. This was coming off of his success in Pulp Fiction, so he was dressed more like Vincent Vega than Tony Manero. Either way, this being the opening sketch, it eventually built to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. John Travolta then officially opened the show with a monolog about how both Welcome Back Kotter and Saturday Night Live both debuted around the same time then went on to question why he’s been hesitant to host for so long. He then went on to joke that he finally agreed just to promote Pulp Fiction which turned out to be the start of his comeback of a career. As always, I hate when a host even jokes about just being there for the plugs but at least at this point, I was holding up hope that the show would still turn out to be good based on the titles alone.
  3. This was followed by the classic fake ad for Bathroom Monkey which was a disposable monkey slave that one would buy for their bathroom to clean the room when they're done.
  4. We then got another installment of Coffee Talk where, once again, host, Linda Richman, does her Coffee Talk thing. In this installment, John Travolta played a drag queen who not only legally changed his name to Barbra Streisand but also genuinely thought she was his true identity which was disputed by Linda a couple of times, but for the most part it was the same routine.
  5. Dracula's Not Gay was sort of a parody of both Bram Stokers Dracula and John Travolta’s real life where every time Travolta went in to suck some blood; he overheard his victims questioning his sexuality. Instead of giving into his needs to eat Travolta as Dracula got so defensive that it became more important for him to prove that he was straight over giving into his need for blood.
  6. Seal then took to the stage to perform Prayer For The Dying.
  7. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, Chris Farley dropped in for a segment to complain about the MLB player’s strike from that year. During the segment, he shared a few examples of what he will miss most, and every single example was of an instance where he rushed the field making the event more about him over the game or any of the players. David Spade and Adam Sandler also introduced their new characters, “Two Guys From A Religious Cult,” who gave us the weather while spreading their religious propaganda.
  8. This was followed by a parody of Quentin Tarantino's "Welcome Back, Kotter" which put John Travolta back in the Vinnie Barbarino role for a Tarantino-style reboot of the classic show with the kids from the class acting as the characters from Reservoir Dogs. Though the overall parody was pretty funny, my favorite part was when the real Lenny and Squiggy kicked down the door toward the end only to then be shot dead by Steve Buscemi who dropped in for a cameo.
  9. We then went to a Women's Self-Defense Class for Chris Elliott’s first day as the class’s living attack dummy who goes on to get kicked in the genitals over and over again as the women learned to take out an attacker.
  10. We then got a parody of Larry King Live where Kevin Nealon played the old curmudgeon to interview “Marlon Brando” who was past the point of return in the eccentric stage of his life. Between “Brando’s” quirky ways and Larry’s unprepared interview style, this meeting of the minds turned out to be more of a ramble-fest than an interview that made any sense.   
  11. Seal then returned to the stage to perform Crazy.
  12. Small Office was a sketch that took place in a tiny office with Tim Meadow and Chris Farley playing two extremely volatile officemates who both yell and freak out over even the tiniest of incidents that get in the way of their work. After a while of this yelling and screaming, John Travolta entered the scene as the boss to remind them that it’s only the small space was causing their problems and how they used to get along. We then got a flashback of their very first day where they only seemed to get along for the first second. Finally, the sketch ended with the two sharing a vast office space where they violently attack one another.
  13. Deaf Drug Dealer was a sketch where John Travolta played what seemed to be an aggressive drug dealer only it turned out that every time he used phrases like, “Did I hear you correctly…,” he wasn’t being confrontational but literally couldn’t hear.
  14. Finally, John Travolta closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights which then ended with a parody of Grease where John Travolta and Seal flew off in a convertible together.

On top of all of the compliments above, another reason that I really liked this episode was that it was super easy to come up with these three of my favorite moments of the night without having to second guess them. First, I loved the Women's Self-Defense Class sketch, not only because this is a classic sketch that always stood out to me, but it turns out that I love Chris Elliott and Janeane Garofalo as an unexpected comedy pairing from this year. Next, I really liked the fake Bathroom Monkey ad because it’s another classic sketch from the night plus, I’ve never gotten over my comical love of monkeys. Finally, I was a fan of the Dracula's Not Gay because it was fun to see Travolta back in the day when he actually had a sense of humor about this rumor whether or not it is real.

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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.