SNL: S20E15... HOST: PAUL REISER... DATE: MARCH 18, 1995

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Not So Mad About

This Good But Not Great Episode

I’ve always been a bit confused by Paul Reiser. He seems like a pretty good dude, and I find him to be competent as an actor but, for some reason, he’s one of those people who I like but I often forget about him. I think this is partially due to the fact that I could never fully figure out how he fits into the world of entertainment.

As I often point out, I was a huge stand-up comedy fan, especially around this time period, yet even though I’m aware of Reiser’s joke slinging days, I never primarily saw him as a comedian. As far as his acting goes, I like his work, but it too is all over the place where sometimes he might take darker roles like in Aliens or the TV movie, The Tower, while other times he had more traditional comedian roles like Mad About You and My Two Dads. Then there’s his author career.

It sort of feels like he had spread himself so thin that it was hard to put a finger on what really made him him. I feel this would be fine if I were aware of him as an actor first, but I discovered Paul Reiser during his stand-up days so I guess I expect a more clear-cut point of view like the consistency that you would see in one of his routines.

Another reason why Reiser might fall through the cracks, as far as my memory goes, is the fact that his routines are to mainstream and clean that none of his material really stood out in my mind even though I never thought that he was all that bad. In fact, even the few sketches of the night that seemed to try and offend felt pretty safe by the end. This might be why I felt like I already forgot the show by the end of the episode.

Again, this was a case where I had more fun watching the show than I did coming up with something to write about it which is why I focused more on my history of half liking Reiser over giving an official review. Then again, as I pointed out yesterday, none of my reviews are all that traditional which is actually part of my plan.

Feel free to disagree with any of my thoughts; I’m just sharing what this viewing brought up within me. Now that I’m done with said sharing, it’s now time to move on and share what I saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a parody C-SPAN coverage of a press conference with Newt's Half-Sister where Newt met with his half-sister who is openly gay and had to pretend that he was completely fine with her lifestyle even though he is clearly uncomfortable with the entire situation. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually built to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Paul Reiser then officially opened the show with a quick monolog about how great it is to be back in his home city which included a few jokes that evolved into his stand-up routine about how horrible he is at dating despite his celebrity status. He also had a few jokes about how people seem too comfortable approaching him for advice thanks to the fact that he usually played immensely likable characters which triggered the audience to get involved and ask several questions of their own.
  3. Where's Superman? was a sketch where Yellow Kryptonite weakened the superhero with a horrible bout of depression that turned him into a Fortress Of Solitude shut-in. During this time Superman became so depressed that he refused to help out humanity when a meteor was approaching the planet. Several other unknown superheroes dropped in to help, but none of them were powerful enough to save the planet without our top hero’s help. There was also a side running joke where Paul Reiser played a hero named the Night Stalker and was bummed to find out that the serial killer, Richard Ramirez, had already claimed that name.   
  4. Road To The Final Four was a sketch where Paul Reiser and Kevin Nealon played two sports announcers who struggled to fake their enthusiasm while covering the women’s basketball games and let their true feeling fly during the commercials.
  5. Annie Lennox then took to the stage to perform No More I Love Yous. 
  6. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, David Spade dropped in as Jeff Foxworthy to do a segment called "You know you’re a tornado if…” to add some fun to the weather. Adam Sandler and Chris Farley also introduced two new characters named Frank Dippy and Hank Doodle who were two morons who do nothing but ramble on, too stupid to get to their points.
  7. Sparklebrite Toothpaste took place in a market meeting where Paul Reiser pitched his idea for a new advertisement campaign for Sparklebrite Toothpaste that was aimed at bi-racial couples. We then got to see the fake ad where the toothpaste worked so good, Molly Shannon and Tim Meadows made out for so long that it was uncomfortable whether or not there was a racial angle to the ad. This made the executives in charge very nervous, but they struggled to plead their case without coming across as racist. In order to get out of this pickle, the executive okayed the ad before blowing up the creator’s car to make sure that it never aired instead of pushing the issue.
  8. Daily Affirmation then made a return after a long absence. This time, host, Stuart Smalley went solo for a Saint Patrick’s Day special where he offered advice for things to do on Saint Patrick’s Day when you’re not a drunk. Halfway through the show, the shot got strange as it turned out Chris Farley played a drunk cameraman who ended up in an impromptu intervention.
  9. We then got another Deep Thoughts By Jack Handey where Jack shared how his grandfather taught him about sex on a family visit to his farm.
  10. Aliens 4: Mad About You Aliens was as the title suggests a parody of an Aliens sequel mashed up with Mad About you since Reiser played a part in both franchises.
  11. Dating In The Nineties was a talk show sketch hosted by Molly Shannon who had a panel of guests to discuss dating in the ‘90s decade. Paul Reiser played one of the guests to promote his real-life book about dating, and Molly Shannon misinterpreted one of his statements to mead that he had only had sex a handful of time. This makes Reiser very defensive, but at the same time, he doesn’t want to come across as a misogynist, so he passively tries to explain his count while everyone else was focused on the misinterpreted low number.
  12. Annie Lennox then returned to the stage to perform Train In Vain. 
  13. One Brother Restaurant was a restaurant run by Paul Reiser that was named, not because he’s an only child but because he only has one brother who is his partner. This confuses the hell out of his guest who points out that from their point of view that the brother count is two. We then learned that the items on the menu are also very literal when it comes to counting with the three bean salad being made up of three of the same type of beans.
  14. O'Callahan And Son Pub was a sketch that took place in a pub the day after Saint Patrick’s Day with the father and son set of bartenders taunting their early morning/hungover patrons for taking it easy with their drinks instead of Irishing it up and getting bombed.
  15. Finally, Paul Reiser closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As I said, this episode was more fun to watch than to write about thanks to sketches like these three of my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved Aliens 4: Mad About You Aliens because how could you not like a sketch that combines the Alien and Mad About You franchises? Next, I really liked Where’s Superman? because I liked how with the Night Stalker subplot there were actually two sketches in one. Finally, I was a fan of the Sparklebrite Toothpaste sketch because of how it’s even more relevant today where people are triggered so easily that it’s hard to criticize one piece of an issue as a problem without it being taken as an ignorant attack of the issue as a whole.

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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.