SNL: S23E14... HOST: GARTH BROOKS... DATE: FEBRUARY 28, 1998

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My Birthday Episode: Year 22

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I pretty sure that Pee Wee Herman is the only other host in the history of the show to play himself in sketches more than Garth Brooks. Then again, since Pee Wee Herman is more of a persona of Paul Reubens, so there was at least some character work going on. This isn’t really a bad thing. In fact, though I’ve never been a huge fan of anything to do with the country music genre, I’ve always found Garth Brooks to be a pretty funny guy.

When I first saw this episode in the line-up I was thinking/hoping that this was the night where Garth’s musical guest was himself as Chris Gaines because I remember that to be a hilarious show. Not only that, I couldn’t image a country star hosting a non-Hee-Haw comedy show more than once. It didn’t take long into the viewing for me to see why the show had him back.

Even though he did mainly play himself as himself throughout the night I still think Garth Brooks did a really good job. As always, I loved that he had a great energy where he seemed to be having so much fun that it was infectious, not just to the cast, crew and in-studio audience but to the home audience as well.

I think these super playful hosts are my favorite as long as they are able to focus there energy enough to also keep the cast involved. There is a fine line between a host who is excited to be there while having a lot of fun and a host with manic energy who ends up hijacking the show. I think the big difference is that Garth Brooks doesn’t come from the comedy world so he’s able to have fun without feeling the need to be in charge, which is usually my issue with the hijackers who are more excited about themselves than the SNL process of creating a collaborative show.

Now, I’m really looking forward to Garth Brooks’s next appearance with himself as Chris Gaines as the musical guest because as I already said up above, I remember that episode being hilarious and this episode provides evidence that I’m right.

Until then, it’s now time for me to move on and share what I saw, as I give you…  

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a sketch called Clinton/Hussein/Lewinsky/Meadows Phone Chat which featured Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton talking to Will Ferrell Saddam Hussein on the phone where he asked the dictator to hold off on letting the inspectors back in to investigate Iraq’s weapons manufacturing facilities in order to distract the world from the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Before the conversation could go much further, the two leaders were interrupted by call waiting only to discover that it was Molly Shannon as Lewinsky on the other line. Clinton talked to her for a bit then turned it into a three-way call which turned the conversation into something more reminiscent of a party chat line. To add to the party chat line feel, Tim Meadows joined in as himself, after calling Saddam to let him know that Lorne said no to having Hussein on as a host. Saddam was bummed but then quickly cheered up when he got to announce, “Live from New York…”
  2. Garth Brooks then officially opened the show with a monolog where he made a few jokes about being a country bumpkin in the “Large Apple.” The country star then went on to share that musical roots were started in the psychedelic music genre and then went on to play a psychedelic song about a crazy mushroom party that sounded pretty legit for the genre. Then again, I’ve always liked psychedelic but have never been a huge fan of psychedelic music.
  3. Cowboys On The Range took place around a fire pit out in the prairie where a group of cowboys discussed the joy and struggles of living out on the range. There were three old-timey cowboys talking about traditional cowboy stuff and Garth Brooks as himself who loved his wireless headset microphone and griped about issues that happen while he’s on stage which just went over the real cowboys’ heads.   
  4. Chris Kattan then returned as Mango where this week Garth Brooks, as himself, fell into Mango’s male stripper trance.
  5. This was followed by a parody of Oprah where Tim Meadows as Oprah started out the show by sharing that she settled in a lawsuit she had going with some Texas Beef association. She then took a bite of a burger to show that there was no hard feeling following the settlement. She then brought out Monica Lewinski to talk about her scandal since her recently released book just made Oprah’s book club. During the interview, Oprah not only ate the burger but also ate other beef products while barely paying attention to what was being said.
  6. TV Funhouse then returned for another installment of Fun With Real Audio where this time Robert Smigel made an animation to the audio of David Brenner struggling as a talk show guest on Letterman, Conan, and a couple other talk show. Even the devil was uninterested in what Brenner had to say.
  7. We then got introduced to the game show entitled Old French Whore! This was a game with Will Ferrell as host that paired high school students up with Old French Whores and quizzed them for a chance to win money. As side from the actual sketch, another aspect that made this bit funny was that Garth Brooks played one of the Old French Whores.
  8. Once again, Colin Quinn gave us the news. This week, Ana Gasteyer returned as her singing comedian character, Cinder Calhoun to sing a duet with Garth Brooks entitled I’m In Love With Garth.
  9. Garth Brooks then switched to musical guest mode and took to the stage to perform Two Pina Coladas. 
  10. This was followed by another game show sketch called Who's More Grizzled?! This was another game show sketch this time hosted by Norm where two grumpy old-timers, one being the real Robert Duvall the other by Garth Brooks, played a Jeopardy-style game where they were given clues and earned points by having a personal gripe from living life that made the best answer.
  11. Hey, Remember the 80's the made a long waited returned where this week, Goat Boy interviewed Chris Kattan as Brian Setzer, Garth Brooks as “The guy from Dexy’s Midnight Runner,” and Cheri Oteri as Cyndi Lauper who brought along Darrell Hammond as Captain Lou Albano where, as always, they all talked nostalgically about the ‘80s.  
  12. Loew's Movie Previews was a sketch where an endless stream of ads for upcoming Shelley Long movies had theater-goers trapped in the theater. Though a bulk of the audience was super annoyed, Tracy Morgan loved the entire experience even after they discover the doors were locked and ended up stuck watching ads for a couple of days. As time continued on, the audience started to scavenge and fight as if they had survived a shipwreck and had very limited supplies. We eventually learn that things got so bad that Tracy Morgan ate the lower half of himself but was still a happy camper. Finally, the featured film started and everyone calmly took to their seats to watch.
  13. Lay, Lady, Lay took place in a hospital with Will Ferrell as an intern who attempted to sing Lay, Lady, Lay to special guest, Robert Duvall, who played a tired patient that just wanted to get some rest and the singing didn’t help at all. It turned out that singing Lay, Lady, Lay was the hospital’s policy for overnight workers to keep the patients calm. After learning that Ferrell was just trying to do his job, Duvall gave into the process and let him sing and even began to sing along, making this one of those, end of the night sketches, that was more sentimental and sweet than laugh out loud funny.
  14. Finally, Garth Brooks closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As I said above, I was expecting tonight to be fun and this episode ended up exceeding said expectation thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Clinton/Hussein/Lewinsky/Meadows Phone Chat opening sketch because this is another one that I’ve always remember since the night that it originally aired because I love how Tim Meadows ended up involved as himself and it was treated like no big deal. Next, I really liked the Loew's Movie Previews sketch partially because I used to work in a movie theater so I could relate but a really like how Tracy Morgan was the only one in the room to be enjoying the experience no matter how horrible things became. Finally, I was a fan of Cowboys On The Range because it was funny to see a modern-day cowboy get compared to a cowboy from the Western days.

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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.