Is That Canned Laughter I Hear?


Oh, wait… that was a prerecorded opening sketch so of course the laughter was canned. At first, I thought it was a case where microphone technology improved or something, leading to a different type of sound but then when the sketch got to the big reveal that Brad Pitt was playing the therapist, the fact that reaction was so flat led me to realize there was more of a sit-com style to the overall scene.

Too bad I turned out to be right because it would have made for a better transition into the insight that I had on technical advancements a couple of seasons ago. I find it interesting how every few years I can actually notice the advancements in camera technology. Granted, these jumps aren’t as big as the difference in quality between standard and high-definition TV, but from time to time it’s noticeable even on the super low-quality versions that I’m watching.

For the most part, it’s pretty nice when you see an upgrade but from time to time the difference is so jarring that it takes a couple of episodes into the season to get used to the new quality as it seems to set a different tone. For some reason, when the shots are too clean, the show visually feels more like a sit-com than a live sketch show.

Between the canned laughter in the opening sketch and the fact that it was shot on a real set and not live on the stage, I thought tonight’s episode was going to be very distracting as I questioned the quality change. Luckily, that wasn’t the case since as soon as the show went live it went back to the quality I just got used to because there was actually a distracting change like this just a couple of seasons ago. Since I couldn’t put my finger on why I was bothered back when this change first happened, I figured I’d share this here, now that I have some ideas.

Other than that, this was a pretty good episode. I like David Spade as a homecoming host because he always seems proud of the fact that he was a cast member and seems to have fun playing around with whoever is part of the cast. I also like how the newbies are still slowly getting cycled in because it makes me even more excited to see which episode they switch from being there for support to actually being a star.

Finally, this episode also had the first mention Osama Bin Laden and Mohamed Atta and it was interesting how Colin Quinn struggled to pronounce these names that now flow from our tongues so freely. I don’t know why I saw this as a fun fact but it was just something that stood out to me considering this episode aired three years before nine-eleven.

Welp, that’s all I’ve got for now, so it’s time to shift gears in order to share what I saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with David Spade's Therapy Session where prior to returning to the show as a host Spade shared details of his fear of success to his therapist who, after a surprise reveal, we learned was played by Brad Pitt. Of course, with this being the opening sketch this eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. David Spade then officially opened the show with a bit of a stand-up routine where our homecoming host joked about a drunken encounter with a polar bear while on a trip to the zoo and followed this up with a bit about the suspects on the show COPS.

  3. This was followed by a fake ad for the Mercury Mistress which was a luxury car that was designed so that drivers could have sex with it.

  4. Monica's Interviewers showed Molly Shannon as Monica Lewinsky as she ran through a long line of interviews from various talk show hosts since this was the style of interview where the hosts come to the guest and not the other way around.

  5. We then got a fake political ad for Mack North who was such a jerk that he kept making attack ads against his opponent even after he beat him in the race and the election was already over.

  6. Accruing Equity And Making Hot, Sweet Love was a talk show sketch hosted by Will Ferrell who along with his guest spent the segment talking about financial news from the day and followed up sharing their insights by switching the focus to talk about making hot, sweet love.

  7. This was followed by another Mack North ad where he continued to attack his political opponent through advertising even though the election was over.

  8. The Sensitive Drill Sergeant had Will Ferrell as the titular Drill Sergeant who yells and screams at his cadets like a traditional troop leader but everything being shouted focused on very emotional matters.

  9. Mango & Kiwi introduced Chris Kattan’s Mango character to David Spade as Kiwi and the two butted heads right out the gate since they were in competition. To add to the conflict, Kiwi’s hypnotic male stripper powers worked better than Mango’s to the point where he won over Chris Rock as a new fan. The feud continued to grow until the two ended up hypnotizing one another with their dance and drove off together like Thelma And Louise

  10. We then completed the rule of three with another post-election attack ad that was financed by Mack North who continued to mock his failure of an opponent.

  11. Happy Birthday, Grandma had Will Ferrell talking over the phone to his mom. Soon after finding out that it was the mother’s birthday, Ferrell forced his three children to sing Happy Birthday to their grandma and then yelled at them for messing the song up. He then made the kids sing again, warning them that they better not screw up again because he was tired of them making him look like an ass. This goes on over and over again until we learn where Will got his anger from after he yells at his mom over the phone.

  12. Once again, Colin Quinn gave us the news. This week, David Spade dropped in to bring back Hollywood Minute with the help from a puppet version of himself since Spade claimed that he was so out of practice that he didn’t want to do it himself.

  13. Eagle-Eye Cherry then took to the stage to perform Save Tonight.

  14. Felicity Shoot took us behind the scenes during the filming of Felicity where David Spade played a new character who was being introduced to the show. I’ve never seen the real show but thankfully the joke was that David Spade would speak everyone’s lines and not just his own. This allowed me to find the sketch funny even though I didn’t get any of the show references that may have been slipped in.

  15. Dr. Laura was a parody of the Dr. Laura Schlessinger talk show where Ana Gasteyer played the titular host who berated her callers without seeming all that concerned that it was Take Your Child To Work Day.

  16. We then went to a Bachelor Party where David Spade security for a stripper and set down the rules for how his guest should behave which included rules as to what the guy could and couldn’t do. As he shared these rules he kept bouncing back and forth from being super protective when the guys were being too crude but then would get filthy himself when describing what the girls will do.

  17. Finally, David Spade closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

The run of solid episodes continues to grow with tonight’s show making five in a row for this year. As I said up above, this episode was pretty fun especially with the help of these three of my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Happy Birthday, Grandma sketch because what’s not funny about Will Ferrell overreacting to a bunch of kids. Next, I really liked the fake ad for the Mercury Mistress because it reminded me of an event back in the day when one of my roommates dry humped a stranger’s car thinking it was our other roommate’s vehicle. Finally, I was a fan of the Mack North Political Ad because the concept of post-election political attack ads was a pretty funny idea that I’m surprised hasn’t become our reality.


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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.