My Birthday Episode: Year 21
If you read my reviews on the regular you might know that other than Alec’s very first visit, I’ve found him to be a host who could do no wrong. Even for the first visit, I was only slightly disappointed because there were a couple of sketches where he was treated more like a prop because of his looks which is a brand of comedy that I’m just not that big of a fan of.
I’ve also been extremely positive about this season and its collection of Not Ready For Prime Time Players as well. Even the worst show this so far this year has been better than some season’s best. I think this is due to the fact that this is the sophomore year with the show for most of them and they had enough success to boost their egos but the positive feedback has yet to get to the heads.
I thought for sure that bringing Baldwin together with the cast would result in the best episode of the year by far, but as always, when I have these high expectations I was once again let down. Not let own in that it was terrible but let down by the fact that it didn’t top my list of favorites. It felt like the biggest problem was that everyone felt like they were performing from their comfort zone instead of pushing the edges of comedy.
A couple of nights ago, when Rosie O’Donnell was the host, I pointed out how her appearance was rare because it’s not often that I like a night completely filled with reoccurring character but that I do like it when they sprinkle a few throughout the night. During Rosie’s show, it felt like the use of these characters written with purpose with the host and her guests specifically on their mind.
Meanwhile, for this appearance with Baldwin, the reoccurring sketches felt more like evergreen material that could’ve been pulled out for any host, almost as if Alec was starting to feel too comfortable as an honorary member of the cast since nothing really felt customized almost like he didn’t have or need input this time.
Again, it was still a pretty good show where if my expectation weren’t so high, I wouldn’t have many negative things to say about it other than my issue with there being too many reoccurring characters in a single night.
So, now that I’ve shared my views on this episode, it’s time to move on and share what I actually viewed, as I give you…
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with a parody of Late Show With David Letterman with Norm MacDonald as Letterman and Alec Baldwin as Robert De Niro who really gets a kick out of the quirky host’s on-air persona as Dave rambled on with his hilarious nonsense. Though De Niro kept claiming to be having a good time, it was like pulling teeth to get more than a few words out of the man, just like the real De Niro in a real interview. As always, with this being the opening sketch it also led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
Alec Baldwin then officially opened the show with a monolog about how happy he was to be back for the seventh time. He then said that it was the people of the show that kept him coming back. This queued a banjo tune to play that gave us a small town feel as Alec took us backstage to share with us the behind-the-scenes activities at Saturday Night Live as if everything was peaceful and fun and not chaotic like it must really be considering the show is a pretty big production to be going out live every single week. He finished the monolog by walking into his starting spot for the first non-opening sketch.
The monolog then transitioned into another Roxbury Guys sketch where the head bobbing brothers danced it up with their new friend who was played by Baldwin and was way more successful with the ladies.
Musical guest Tina Turner then had a moment with Mary Katherine Gallagher to offer advice on how she could boost her self-esteem with Alec Baldwin acting as Turner’s bodyguard who dropped the ball by allowing Mary Katherine Gallagher sneak into the room. It doesn’t take much encouragement from Tina to get Mary Katherine to stop being shy as she started to sing Proud Mary like a crazy person.
The Quiet Storm was another segment to make its return with Tim Meadows as his pre-Lady’s Man smooth-talking radio D.J. who’s kept interrupting his new newsman, Alec Baldwin, by adding smooth tags to Baldwin’s news stories which triggers a feud between the two on-air personalities.
TV Funhouse also returned for another Fun With Real Audio where they animated Tom Snyder as a stalker to the real audio from an interview between him and Dolly Parton.
The Gossip Show was yet another segment to return where once again, Cheri Oteri portrayed Julie Brown for another parody installment of the real show where Brown would gossip about celebs.
Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, the real Howard Stern dropped in to make a few jokes about the show by having a conversation with Norm instead of playing some sort of character like the show had planned. He then went on to explain a few sketch ideas that he had before sharing a few clips from his recently released Private Parts which was clearly the real reason he was there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Stern fan so when I say that it was clear that promoting his work felt like his real reason for being there is something that even he’d openly admit to.
Tina Turner then took to the stage to perform In Your Wildest Dreams.
Long Island Phone Sex also returned for another installment that made fun of the fact that these phone sex operators all had that horrible Long Island accent that’s been exaggerated even more for the scene.
We then went to a Yard Sale where Alec Baldwin and Molly Shannon played the married hosts of the sale who were selling extremely sentimental items for pennies on the dollar.
Wong & Owens, Ex-Porn Stars where another set of characters to return where this time the two ex-‘70s-style porn stars tried to succeed in the corporate world only to default to their default porny behaviors while trying to complete even the simplest of tasks. Though these characters can be fun sometimes they can get a little too rapey instead of just being cheeky from the use of double-entendres.
Tina Turner then returned to the stage to perform Proud Mary.
Bill Brasky's Funeral was a sketch where Bill Brasky’s friends mourned the loss of this legendary man while sharing more mythical stories about him.
Rain: The Miniseries was a parody ad for a new made-for-TV disaster epic about a dangerous rainstorm that was about to hit a suburban area which is a funny joke to me considering I’ve lived most my life between Seattle and Southern California where in one case the sketch is irrelevant and in the other it hits close to home.
Finally, Alec Baldwin closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
Again, other than not living up to my high expectations, considering the host, this episode was pretty fun thank to these three of my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Yard Sale sketch because this was the sketch of the night where Baldwin was at his best, plus it cracked me up how touching the stories were about every item being sold only to find out the price for their sentimental items where all less than a single dollar. Next, I really liked Mary Katherine Gallagher Meets Tina Turner because I like when the musical guest gets involved with a sketch as more than a background character. Finally, I was a fan of seeing Howard Stern on the news because I’m such a fan and have always loved his interactions with Norm MacDonald but at the same time, I didn't really like how Howard's main joke aside from promoting his movie was the bash the show.