SNL: S20E17... HOST: DAMON WAYANS... DATE: APRIL 8, 1995

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In Living Color From New York,

It’s Saturday Night!!!

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Just yesterday I was saying that John Goodman’s episode felt like the perfect season finale, well, tonight’s episode hosted by Damon Wayans felt like the perfect season opener making it extra interesting that these shows aired back to back. Before I delve more into that, let me start by sharing a quick history of being a fan of this week’s host.

Though I was aware that Damon Wayans was once an SNL cast member, this clarity didn’t come until way later in my life than I would expect. After all, this is the type of dumb fun fact that I used to love to throw around, especially around this time. In fact, I must have been reminded of this so late in life that I got around to sharing it with my friends or else it would have been less of a surprise when I was reminded again when his season started to air.

Another reason, I’m surprised that I wasn’t aware of this fact is because, as I keep saying, I was born and raised as a fan of Saturday Night Live which evolved into loving sketch comedy in general. I can still clearly remember the time my friends and I spent laughing on the Middle School bleachers the day after In Living Color premiered.

I went to a pretty diverse middle school and had friends of many colors, so this was a groundbreaking show because the cast wasn’t mostly white. I’ve witnessed many overly excited reactions to the latest crass comedy release where everyone would quote every line while being unable to believe a show got away with it. However, the premiere of In Living Color was extra special because these same reactions were made only with a sense of pride, as these friends quoted jokes that they actually related to and didn’t just repeat something funny that was said by some white guy.

Now, as for how this episode felt like the perfect season opener since it felt more special than average as well. So far, there have been very few hosts who seem to come in and really take over the show, like how Richard Pryor came in with Paul Mooney and their team wrote the entire night, or the few times when a Monty Python member would drop in to create a 50/50 Fly Circus/SNL blend. That was the case with this visit as the show felt like the perfect mash-up of In Living Color and Saturday Night Live.

Though the show felt like a special, it wasn’t SNL focused enough to be the season finally. That said, since there seemed to be a meeting of minds between two teams of writers I feel this type of visit would be perfect for a season opener as the cast and crew ramp back up from vacation, up until somewhat recently, the opening episode usually falls a little flat.

Whether or not this hope comes to fruition anytime soon, this killer combo hit me with twice the nostalgia, making for an excellent episode. With that, 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 Statement From Judge Ito where he defended himself against the allegations that he was dragging the O.J. Trial out because he loved his time in the spotlight. Not only did he defend his role as a judge but he also defended himself against the claims that he was playing up his Japanese accent. Since both of these claims were being put out by Senator Alfonse D’Amato, who’s proud of his Italian heritage, Ito fired back with some racism of his own by making fun of the Italian accent as he announced, “Live from New York…”
  2. Damon Wayans then officially opened the show with a monolog about how happy he was to host as a black man since he was used to seeing black people in much lower roles. This led to a bit of his stand-up routine that highlighted how black reporters got issued the crappy assignments like reporting in the middle of hurricanes. He then went on to joke about how black people were just used to crappy jobs and that they were probably the original crash test dummies and guinea pigs in other experiments.
  3. This was followed by a repeat of the Bathroom Monkey commercial from earlier in the season which marketed monkeys as personal bathroom slaves.
  4. We then went to a Summer Day Camp where Damon Wayans, Ellen Cleghorne, and Tim Meadows played camp counselors at an urban day camp filled with African-American children who were all named after things like pharmaceuticals, grocery store products, standard ailments, or overly complex words.
  5. The In Living Color sketch Men On Film then made its SNL debut where Damon Wayans’ character Blaine Edwards teamed up with Roger Ebert to review the latest round of films that were released to the theaters that year. At first, Roger seemed a bit uptight, and a tad homophobic until Blaine started to flirt which broke down every one of Ebert’s implied walls until it became closer to the original feel of Men On Film with two gay guys reviewing films. The sketch ended with David Alan Grier making a cameo to revise his character Antione Merriweather to express that he’s jealous of the new pair.
  6. Dionne Farris then took to the stage to perform I Know. 
  7. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, David Spade returned as Jeff Foxworthy to promote his new book, You Know You’re The Ebola Virus If… Adam Sandler also dropped by and made an effort to encourage Mike Tyson to beat up people for him by lying and claiming that anyone who did him wrong also talked trash about the formerly imprisoned champ.
  8. Trumpet Saliva was a sketch where Damon Wayans played a famous jazz trumpeter who continued to drench his audience whenever he’d clean his spit valve
  9. We then got more parody coverage of CourtTV’s coverage of the O.J. Trial. This week, Damon Wayans revised his homeless character, Anton, from In Living Color, to play a surprise witness and share his crazy take on the infamous night of the murders. Of course, with this being an Anton scene the eventually worked in a pickle jar with one pickle that’s supposed to be poop into the end of the joke.
  10. It then became 4:45 in the AM which meant it was time for another installment of Perspectives where host, Lionel Osborne interviewed Damon Wayans as the leader of a black militia. Though Wayans is very passionate, Lionel methodically sticks to the format of the show to the point where he almost seems disinterested.
  11. This was followed by a Cirque Du Soleil parody which was pretty much just Mark McKinney, Chris Elliott, new castmate, who I couldn’t remember to save my life, Morwenna Banks dressed up like French clowns, acting weird.
  12. This was followed by another installment of Deep Thoughts By Jack Handy where Jack shared a disturbing way to avoid mosquitos during the summer.
  13. Jay Mohr then got his chance to shine in a fake ad campaign called Christopher Walken For Skittles where, as you might guess, Walken pitched Skittles in a very Walken way.
  14. Dionne Farris then returned to the stage to perform Blackbird.
  15. Tom Jones' Used Underwear Sale was a sketch that didn’t answer the age-old question of what happens to the underwear thrown at Tom Jones during his show but is instead an infomercial that sells Tom’s disgusting undergarments that are extra sweaty and gross since they were the under-clothes from the nights of his live shows.
  16. Finally, Damon Wayans closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Not only was this a fun episode of Saturday Night Live, but it was also a great episode of In Living Color as well with these three sketches as my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved Men On Film for multiple reasons. First, I loved the original sketches. Next, I really liked Roger Ebert. Finally, I loved the cameo by David Alan Grier. Next, I really liked Anton’s Visit To The O.J. Witness Box because Anton was another character that I loved from In Living Color and it cracked me up how he worked the pickle jar poop gag into the scene. Finally, I was a fan of Trumpet Saliva because it was of those sketches that was disgusting and hilarious at the same time.

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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.