The Homecoming Host And Forgotten
Member Of The Cast
Even though I just watched Ben Stiller’s season with Saturday Night Live a couple of months ago, it still took me a second to remember that he was once part of the show when I first saw him in the lineup of hosts. I wouldn’t say that he was any less memorable than any other one season member of the cast, in fact, I feel that my trouble remembering is more of a compliment to Ben Stiller’s future work that comes to my mind way before any of his sketch work, including The Ben Stiller Show.
Take Janeane Garofalo, Laura Kightlinger, and Sarah Silverman for example, these three ladies are a few of my favorite comedians, without even having to use the “for a woman” qualifier. Since all three of them were mostly known for their stand-up both before and after their time with the show and didn’t become successful in other areas until a bit later, I saw their SNL time as early victories that I’ll always remember even though their time with the show was cut short.
Went right into acting in some of my favorite comedic movies which is the first thing that comes to my mind even in the context of this challenge where my focus is Saturday Night Live. I think the other problem is that the girls that I mentioned above better fit for working in sketch comedy while Ben Stiller is a better fit for long format comedies. To me, it feels that his characters need more time to take in all of their quirks.
I feel that Ben Stiller is most often both the straight man and the quirky character wrapped up in one which can come across as forced when only seen in short bursts. Since Stiller’s characters normally seem to start out so normal only to flip to the other extreme the second something goes wrong, these characters can often feel like abridged versions of characters that I want to spend more time with while watching them in content with more of a long-format structure.
I still love the flashes that I get from Ben Stiller whenever he works in the world of sketch, I’m was just trying to work out why I keep forgetting how much sketch comedy was actually involved in the early stages of his career. As far as the actual episode goes, this was another fun one, making it four shows in a row where I’ve had nothing to complain about, which is surprisingly rare when it comes to the start of a season.
Then again, I’m way more lenient at the start of each year because I desperately want each season to be better than the last. Oh well, we’ll see how this season pans out. Until then, it’s now time to shift gears in order to move on and share what I saw, as I give you…
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with a Rooftop Kung Fu Fight where Ben Stiller had a rooftop Kung Fu battle with Lorne Michaels after finding out that the SNL producer was the former cast member actual father. We learned of this fact during the actual fight which started because Ben Stiller’s head was getting too big over the fact that he now held all of the control as the host as opposed to his experience as a member of the SNL cast. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
Ben Stiller then officially opened the show with a monolog that continued on from the opening sketch where our host ran to the main stage after his fall from the rooftop fight and then went on to unknowingly accept applause from the audience, unaware that they were actually cheering for the results of the Yankees World Series win as several of the Yankee players joined our host on the stage without him knowing since he was too busy talking up his career.
This was followed by another installment of Celebrity Jeopardy where this time Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek hand to wrangle Ben Stiller as Tom Cruise, Jimmy Fallon as Adam Sandler, and Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery while also trying to host his game show.
Pretty Living also returned and once again, Ana Gasteyer as host interviewed Molly Shannon’s Helen Madden “joyologist” character who is more manic that joyful, who constantly says, “I love it, I love it, I love it.” Though I like this “joyologist” character the fact that she always and only has ever played a guest on this, otherwise lame, parody talk show makes her seem extra repetitive. I can’t wait for Helen Madden to venture out into other scenes. Toward the end of this sketch, Ben Stiller came out as Helen’s fitness guru which added to the fun but didn’t really change my overall opinion about the sketch.
TV Funhouse then took over SNL to give us an animation “from the Family Christian Value Network” where a preacher/superhero named Hete-Roy was on a special mission was to transform all gay people into heterosexuals.
Alanis Morissette then took to the stage to perform Thank U.
Once again, Colin Quinn gave us the news. This week, Jimmy Fallon made his first appearance as himself in order to share a few songs that he planned to sing while out Halloween Caroling. Unlike Sandler, who performed original songs for the holidays, these songs were Halloween-themed parodies of hits from the day. Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell also dropped in as Yassir Arafat and Benjamin Netanyahu in order to discuss the latest Middle East peace Talks where Netanyahu uses a full globe to highlight just how small the land being fought over actually is when looking at the world as a whole. They also joke that this will not lead to peace but it’s just part of the give and take that comes with a never-ending war.
The Zimmermanns also returned for another segment where Chris Kattan and Cheri Oteri continued on as a couple who can’t control their public displays of affection which, as always, leads to an awkward double date between them and Ben Stiller and Ana Gasteyer who they had over to celebrate Halloween.
This was followed by a parody of Real Stories Of The Highway Patrol where Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell played a pair of racist cops who harassed Tim Meadows and Horatio Sanz during a routine pullover. Though the cops’ racism was expressed through jokes, this sketch still felt a little too on the nose as far as cops and race goes for this sketch to be all that funny, especially through modern eyes.
Alanis Morissette then returned to the stage to perform Baba.
Kevin Still Lives With His Parents was a sketch where Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell played the parent of Ben Stiller (AKA the titular Kevin) who was an angry adult who refused to leave the nest. It turns out that the anger actually stems from Kevin feeling that his parents are too pleasant, making it too easy for him to not want to leave the house and is desperate for some discipline.
Steve Wynn's Bellagio Hotel And Casino was a parody ad of sorts where Ben Stiller played the titular Steve Wynn who bragged about his Bellagio building which was the first one in Las Vegas that took over a billion dollars to build.
This was followed by the parody series of Bat Problem Campaign Ads where Ben Stiller and Tim Meadows played two politicians who had different promises as to how they would take care of their town’s bat problem which got more extreme as the series went on.
Finally, Ben Stiller closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
As I said up above, this episode makes four good shows in a row with the help from sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First I loved Kevin Lives At Home With His Parents because I recently moved back home and the fact that Kevin was angry that his parents made it too easy for him not to leave was very relatable to me at this time. Next, I really liked the opening fight between Ben Stiller and Lorne Michaels because the joke where people get swapped out for obvious stuntmen will always get a laugh out of me. Finally, I was a fan of the Steve Wynn's Bellagio Hotel And Casino sketch because I found it funny to be taken back to a time where the building of the billion dollar Bellagio was a big deal instead of just another new casino on the strip.