SNL: S23E17... HOST: STEVE BUSCEMI... DATE: APRIL 4, 1998

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or...

Who Knew The Mad Hatter Was

A One-Percenter?

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I often point out that I used to be a huge film buff until a little over a decade ago when I started to officially train to work within the industry which killed any magic that came from me just being a fan. It wasn’t until this viewing tonight that I realized that there is another factor into why I started to lose my interest in film.

When I first sat down to write this review, I was going to point out how my specific love of indie films, especially from around the time that this episode originally aired led me to be a pretty big fan of Steve Buscemi since he was such a big fish in that small pond. In the process of working through what I would then go on to say, I realized that I really started to lose interest was when the indie genre became successful enough that the profit margin became more important than the art.

I feel that Pulp Fiction is to blame for this but thankfully, it took a while for money to kill the genre. At first, it felt like investors just gave more money to make the experimental films that the critics loved while confusing the mainstream movie-goers. This was the best period for me because the indie world felt like it was filled with passion projects with a proper budget to make them good. The only problem was, these were high-risk/low-reward projects so this trend didn’t last all that long.

Eventually, the indie world started to feel like it was putting out the same garbage as Hollywood only with a lower budget. Once profit went from being a bonus to a goal even the more experimental films started to feel more watered down than before. The sad part is, as a trained screenwriter, it became easier and easier to see tradition story structure in this genre that’s meant to push the edge in order to break the mold.

I’m sure you could point out many films to prove that there is still artistic integrity in the indie world because I could point to a few of my own but I missed the times when there were more people like Buscemi where, when you saw their name on a poster, you were in for a good indie film.

Aside from my history with the genre that made our host for the night who he was, I’d say tonight’s episode was landed pretty high on my list of favorite of the year. I think what made the night extra fun was how this was before Steve Buscemi regularly showed up in comedy films other than in cameos. Though there was always a quirky side to his characters even in serious films, it was still fun to witness Buscemi let his full funny flag fly throughout the night.

Now that I’ve shared a few of my insights, it’s now time to shift gears and share what I saw, as I give you…   

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with an interactive sketch called Viewer's Choice where Tim Meadows announced to the viewers that they had the chance to choose between seeing a Lewis Lapham commentary or a sketch where Darrell Hammond as Clinton has a pajama party. Unfortunately this sketch didn’t involve a real poll like rating stunts like this in the past but instead, we switched back and forth between both sketches while pretending that we the viewers were the ones making the choice. Of course, this being the opening sketch, it also eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Steve Buscemi then officially opened the show with a monolog where he shared how before he got typecast as a psychopath he used to be known for his comedy. He then brought out Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, and Tim Meadows to help him show off his improv skill. He started out by rejecting any suggestion that was offered by the audience in order to start the scene. He then went on to be the worst improv performer ever to the point where he just kept delivering lines that he already had memorized since they were taken straight from his movies. By the end of the sketch, he had to admit that he had never done comedy at all.  
  3. This was followed by a repeat of the Xerox Assjet 790 from earlier in the season which was an ad for a copy machine specifically designed to photocopy people butts.
  4. We then got a parody of Alice In Wonderland where Steve Buscemi played the Mad Hatter at such a high level of madness that he went beyond being eccentric as he seemed more mentally disturbed.  
  5. Morning Latte then returned for another installment where Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri play a morning show duo who seem way too hopped up on caffeine. This week, they interviewed Steve Buscemi who played a super-fan of the play Grease and was there to share a few fun facts about the show but struggled to get a word in with the over-caffeinated rambling host. He then became ecstatic when he learned that he was about to me meet the real Didi Conn who played Frenchie in the movie, only to end up disappointed again when they focus on Didi as the person she is instead of her Frenchie character.
  6. Goth Talk also returned for another installment where this time the dark lord praising cable access hosts held an impromptu Prom Of Doom in their school's boiler room only to keep getting interrupted by Steve Buscemi who played the school janitor and was just trying to do his job. After talking to Buscemi for a bit, they realize that he’s more of an ally than you would think because the cool kids at the school picked on him as well.
  7. TV Funhouse then gave us an animated parody of the Titanic that was drawn in the style of a classic version of The Little Engine That Could which gave “Titey” the sinking ship a happy ending to his story.
  8. Stuff We Made was a parody of a PBS furniture making show where Steve Buscemi and Jim Breuer played two craftsmen who shared the projects they just completed. Buscemi went fist and shared a stick with a green piece of felt and googly eyes glued to it that he used to freak out his ex-wife’s new husband. Jim Breuer’s invention was a napkin holder that had a weird backstory as well. The two then went back and forth sharing increasingly strange creations that all had very little practical use.
  9. Once again, Colin Quinn gave us the news. This week, Tracy Morgan dropped by as Reggie White and ended up making racist statements while trying to defend similar controversial remarks that he made during a speech that he made in Wisconsin.
  10. Third Eye Blind then took to the stage to perform How's It Going To Be. 
  11. We then got another parody of Judge Judy with Cheri Oteri as the Judge and Tracy Morgan as her bailiff/sidekick where this week’s case was between Ana Gasteyer and Steve Buscemi. I’m not sure if Gasteyer was playing the same character from the Samuel L. Jackson episode when she sued him for being a personal trainer but this time she was suing Buscemi for being a horrible dance instructor who she hired to get ready for her daughter’s wedding. As always Judge Judy was harsh toward whoever was talking even though Gasteyer was clearly ripped off. Also, as always, the judge ended up siding with the dirtbag over the woman after Buscemi showed her an example of his ability to dance.
  12. Job Interview was a sketch that had Steve Buscemi as a crazy boss who interviewed Chris Kattan while acting put off by every single word that came out of Kattan’s mouth, including during his polite introduction. Buscemi continued to act confused and frustrated throughout the entire interview which confused Kattan while completely ruining his confidence. At one point, Kattan was told that he didn’t get the job but then after a few crazy back and forths we found out he was actually hired and in an ultra-confused state he accepted the job. As soon as Kattan left the room, Buscemi brought in the next candidate who was played by Natasha Henstridge who he referred to as John and the sketch ended before she could speak a word.
  13. I Took A Gay Guy To Prom was the parody of a docu-series or should I say, a mocu-series, where we saw a segment of a show that interviewed straight women who took gay men to the prom highlighting how these types of dates have been going on all throughout history since the women were both young and old.
  14. Jim Halsey's Truck Drivin' Museum was, as the title suggests, as sketch that profiled the titular truck themed museum where Will Ferrell and Steve Buscemi played former truck drivers who now own the roadside attraction who gave us a mini tour while talking about their love of trucks, well Ferrell did at least, since Buscemi a Teller-type to Ferrell’s Penn and didn’t speak a word.
  15. The Lost Deep Thoughts then returned for another installment where this time Jack Handey pondered why they didn’t crucify people on windmills in order to make the execution more extreme.
  16. Finally, Steve Buscemi closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Again, this turned out to be a pretty fun show that I remembered a lot from watching it on the night that it originally aired thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Mad Hatter sketch because the way Buscemi goes over-the-top insane made this one of my favorite sketches of all time. Next, I really liked the Job Interview sketch because like with the Mad Hatter, Buscemi played a brand of crazy that I love. Finally, I was a fan of this week’s Morning Latte because I have an older sister and because of her, I’ve seen the movie Grease more than any straight guy ever should but at the same time, I started watching it young enough to where I also enjoyed the movie, at least at first, and again now that time has passed.

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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.