SNL: S23E04... HOST: CHIS FARLEY... DATE: OCTOBER 25, 1997

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Forever A Farley Fan

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As a funny fat guy myself, Chris Farley was always a bit of a hero of mine, especially considering that he started his time on Saturday Night Live right when I was entering high school. Though I wouldn’t say that I ever fully committed to his constant high energy brand of humor, he was the first funny fat guy who inspired me with his ability to act like a dumb loveable loser who at the same time was confident in his work.

Yes, there was Belushi, and other funny fat guys from the past, Farley just came around during a point in my history where he was the most influential to me. The problem is, I didn’t only relate to Farley’s funny side, I also shared many of his self-destructive traits from never feeling comfortable with his looks or his weight which fueled both the self-deprecating that people loved and the animosity that led me to push these laughing people away, while needing them at the same time.

I feel if I experienced the same amount of success when I was the same age, I wouldn’t be alive right now. I get the pains Farley was hiding from with chasing dragons which kind of made this episode hard to watch, considering the fact that he died just months after the original airing of the show. It was bad enough that he sounded and looked terrible for this visit but he also performed with a sense of desperation as if he really needed the comeback.

I know that my experience was on a much smaller scale but this episode brought me back to the headspace I was in right before moving back home after a twenty-year run of living in Seattle. At this time, I was tired of the pressure, whether real or not, of always being expected to make everyone laugh, which was getting really hard considering, I had not only just given up my dream job of working in film, but my core group of friends were starting to give in to normalcy and life just stopped being fun.

At the time, I started to see a doctor who put me on antidepressants and anxiety meds that I felt ended up doing more harm than good. Things ended up getting so dark that it became regular for me to leave apology notes on my computer screen whenever I had doubts that I’d make it through the night. They were kind of anti-suicide/suicide notes to reassure anyone that if I did go it was an unplanned accident but that I was also aware of the risks.

I’m willing to bet that if I didn’t leave at that time, I wouldn’t be here to write this today since this was before the 2016 Presidential Election cycle even started. I’m sure the combination of my world falling apart and the chaos that came from feeling attacked for choosing none of the above in this binary country of “freedom” probably would have pushed me over the edge, not to the point where I would have actively tried to try anything but, keep in mind, I was already pushing my luck.

This SNL project actually provided a major turning point in my outlook on life because before I committed to it, I was fully prepared to give up on this site as well as my dream to write altogether. This is why I appreciate even the lesser quality shows and always try to end each complaint with a bit of a positive spin.

This episode was depressing in what it brought up and knowing the future of Farley but other than that, it was probably the best episode out of the four from this year and really should have been the season opener. Even though you could sense that Farley’s health was affecting his performance, there was an energy of the night where everyone seemed to want the night to play out like the good old days, complete with cameos from several special guests.

Overall, there was just a special feeling to this episode to where I thought that I sensed a tone as if everyone knew the end was near but there were just enough flaws to make the show still not special enough to be a season closer. Sorry for this attempt to end this with a bit of humor that may end up being misread but, it’s now that time for me to shift gears in order to wrap this up, so, let me share what I actually saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a sketch called Permission To Host that took us back to the start of the season where Tim Meadows and Lorne Michaels weighed the plusses and minuses of having Chris Farley on as host considering ongoing issues with alcohol and drugs. At one point, Chevy Chase entered the scene as Chris Farley’s sponsor but that didn’t ease Lorne’s concerns considering Chevy’s history of hosting while being messed up as well. The scene ended with Chris Farley’s attempt to throw himself through Lorne’s desk to prove that he’s still got it only to find out it was made of real wood and far too durable to break. This failed stunt seemed to almost trigger a genuine laugh from Lorne which then led Farley to announce, “Live from New York…”
  2. Chris Farley then officially opened the show by continuing the narrative of the opening sketch as it appeared that he was a no-show. After a moment where we were left to stare at the empty stage, we went to a dressing room where Chris Farley seemed to be acting drunk as he went on to make out with Ana Gasteyer. Chris Rock and Tim Meadows then save the day as they tried to explain the delay. After a few jokes, they called out Chris Farley to officially open the show.
  3. We then got a fake ad for Yum Bubble Genital Herpes Gum which was, as the title suggest and gum for those with genital herpes which parodied the series of herpes drugs from the time where everyone seemed happy to live with their new pill that eased the symptoms of their STDs, mix with a typical bubble gum-style ad that promoted how their flavors were so extreme.
  4. Morning Latte was a parody of your average mundane local morning show with Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri as a set of hosts who rambled on with the usual insipid morning show-style talk about absolutely nothing at all. Chris Farley played the show producer who kept trying to join in on the conversation only to get super annoyed by the fact that he had to keep repeating himself since he could not be heard well from his spot offstage. After a while, Farley could no longer hide his rage from feeling ignored so joined the two on stage in order to yell at the both of them.
  5. Mary Katherine Gallagher then made her return to the show where this time Catholic school outcast befriended Farley as the fat kid and asked him to join her at the St. Monica Autumn Dance.
  6. This was followed by a parody of Martha Stewart Living where Ana Gasteyer as Martha shared a few of her crazy arts and crafts pointers to create an aesthetically-pleasing Halloween scene of mischief by making traditional holiday pranks that visually looked like they belonged in magazines.
  7. Chris Farley then revised his Matt Foley Motivational Trainer character in order to attempt to motivate the participants of a trendy new high-intensity spin class.
  8. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, Tracy Morgan dropped in to share how he was proud to be “the other black guy,” on SNL.
  9. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones then took to the stage to perform The Impression That I Get.
  10. Goth Talk then returned for another installment where the two gothic, cable access hosts tried to put on a show as usual only to ended up constantly interrupted by Jim Breuer and Chris Farley as a pair of rowdy jock who dressed as the Budweiser frog to celebrate Halloween.
  11. The Lost Deep Thoughts also returned for another installment where this time, Jack Handey reflected on his misinterpretation of the phrase “finding Jesus.”
  12. This was followed by a parody of Sally which apparently was the new name of the show hosted by Sally Jesse Raphael. In the sketch, Cheri Oteri played the typical talk show mother of a super fat baby who was portrayed by Chris Farley in a diaper.  
  13. Bocephus was a sketch that took us behind the scenes with Chris Farley as Hank William Jr. who performed multiple options for the Monday Night Football theme song from these days.
  14. The Super Fans Revisited was a short film that shared what became of George Wendt as Bob Swerski and his Bears Super Fans after it was revealed that Mike Ditka left their favorite team to head south and host the New Orleans Saints. It turned out, some went through some extreme technics to turn themselves into Saints fans but even including these examples, none of the Sports Fans handled the change well at all.
  15. Weather Scope was a sketch that brought back Chris Farley’s El Nino character as he discussed the new contract that he signed to join the WWF as their latest wrestling superstar.
  16. Finally, Chris Farley closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As you may take away from the above review, this a bit of an emotional viewing that still remained fun thanks to these three of my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Sally sketch with Farley as a Fat Baby because of how much I used to love those fat baby episode back in the day when daytime talk shows cornered the market of capitalizing on “freaks” the same way The Learning Channel does now. Next, I really liked Matt Foley Motivational Trainer because it was fun to see Farley revise his most classic character on the show. Finally, I was a fan of seeing El Nino return because not only did I really like his original appearance, I liked how this visit linked him in with the WWF since I was also a huge wrestling fan as a child.

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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.