SNL: S24E18... HOST: CUBA GOODING JR... DATE: MAY 8, 1999

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The Monica Lewinsky Show

When I was in high school, I was a huge fan of Cuba Gooding Jr. for his role in the movie Boys In The Hood. Since I went to a very diverse junior high that had a gang problem, I really liked this film since I related to the characters involved even though my life was never close to being that extreme. Later, I loved how Guba went on to end up in such silly comedies like Rat Race, Snow Dogs, and Boat Trip.

Since this was right around the time of Cuba’s crossover from mostly serious work to comedy, I was kind of excited to see how he would be as the host since I do find the movies mentioned above to be bad but funny enough to watch whenever I find that they’re on. This excitement quickly waned when I saw the sketch list of the night and found the Monica Lewinsky was a special guest and had sketches that seemed to take up almost half of the night.

I remember this being pretty fun back when the episode originally aired and Lewinsky was still in the spotlight. I wouldn’t say that it was good back then but at least the reference was fresh and considering that this aired just weeks after the presidential impeachment hearings, there was a shock value to the night that just did age well with the passing of time to where watching this now felt like Monica was just stealing Cuba’s airtime.

Tonight’s episode felt like it was actually one show that had potential but it kept getting interrupted by a PR stunt that kept falling flat considering the fact the Monica Lewinsky had zero acting skill since she was pretty much a civilian who was forced into the spotlight. This kind of ruined the night considering Cuba was actually in a groove, and doing a great job with super high energy but as a viewer, it was hard to hold on to the enthusiasm Cuba created when they show kept grinding to a halt to watch this untrained, unfunny person smile as she read a line or two from the cue cards while her sketch costar did all of the actual work.

I did like how the night ended with Cuba Gooding Jr. addressing this complaint while yelling at Lorne Michaels about the booking. Sure this was treated as a joke but since I felt the same watching this in the future, I’m sure there was a lot of truth in his outburst considering it was the best acting of the entire night.

The thing that annoys me more than anything is that there were only nineteen episodes to this season instead of the usual twenty so I don’t see why they didn’t stick to twenty and then give Monica her own entire show. That would have saved this episode, plus I’m willing to bet that if they gave Lewinsky an entire episode it would have been more fun to see her deal with non-Clinton content, even though I’m sure that would have still been the major focus of the night.

She could have been a bad host of a funny episode instead of the comedic speed bump that she was throughout this entire night. Either way, I’m over the whole Lewinsky thing, especially when you consider that it still often comes up in arguments to this day which only highlights how little progress we’ve actually made when it comes to people in politics.

Alright, that’s all that I’ve got to say about the night and now it’s time to move on, and with that, I give…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a look into Bill Clinton's Dream where we got to see Darrell Hammond as the President while he imagined his post-presidential life in Malibu with his new wife, Monica Lewinski where she made her first special guest appearance as herself. As always, with this being the opening sketch it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Cuba Goodinght Jr. then officially opened the show with a monolog where he talked about his career and shared other stories that all seemed to build up to him saying his famous Jerry Maguire catchphrase only to end up with him saying something else. After a while, we got to hear the thoughts of “audience” and cast members and they thought to themselves, “Why isn’t he saying ‘Show me the money’.” This bait and switch routine went on throughout the entire monolog until Cuba got to the end and yelled “Show me the money,” after throwing to the first non-opening sketch of the night.
  3. This was followed by a fake ad for the Lotto that had Molly Shannon and Will Ferrell as parents to a little baby and promoted the lottery as if it were a valid safety net for their child’s future played to the tone of a life insurance ad.
  4. Improvised Bible Miniseries had Chris Parnell as a TV/Movie director who had the bright idea to have his actors, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Will Ferrell, improvised their lines while film a new Bible-based miniseries. The fact that neither of the actors was all that religious, they struggled to get through the scene and more often than not would end up talking about modern things, especially after the director threw the sound guy into the scene because he liked the cut of his jib. Eventually, the shot evolved to be Jesus and Paul staring in a Biblical version of Dawson’s Creek.
  5. Looking For Monica had Cheri Oteri as Barbara Walters who was scouring the SNL hallways in an effort to find Monica Lewinsky, since she still hadn’t left since her special guest appearance during the opening sketch, and Barbara was interested in learning more about the phone sex conversation that came up in a real interview that inspired last week’s opening sketch.
  6. Pretty Living then returned for another installment where once again Ana Gasteyer was the host of a daytime fashion talk show and as always had on Molly Shannon as the joyologist who constantly says, “I love it, I love it, I love it.” I don’t mind either character but I don’t understand why this talk show sketch only features interviews with this one specific guest, and I also don’t understand why this Molly Shannon character never ends up in any other situation than as a Pretty Living guest. For this installment, the big difference was Cuba Goodding Jr. portrayed Molly Shannon’s beach bum of a boyfriend.*****
  7. We then got the second installment of the fake Lotto ad where this time where again they treated the lottery as if it were a valid solution for the underprivileged to handle their financial needs.
  8. The Ladies Man then returned for another installment where this time Leon Phelps welcomed, special guest, Monica Lewinsky who played herself in order to talk to the Ladies Man about her sex scandal with the President. Of course, Leon felt this was no big deal at all and actually encouraged her choices while taking calls from the audience that were obvious references to the scandal instead of directly asking Monica about everything that was involved.
  9. TV Funhouse the introduced a spin-off prequel to The Ambiguously Gay Duo called AmbiguoBoys that followed the adventures of our not so questionably gay superheroes back when they were in high school. This was pretty much the same as the regular routine only instead of being judged for the superhero antics their sexuality came into question while they were wrestling, changing in the locker room, and sharing a foot-long sub, eating from either end.
  10. Cheri Oteri as Barbara Walters then came lurking around the studio again for the second installment of Looking For Monica where this time she pestered a Spanish speaking janitor about the whereabouts of the controversial special guest.
  11. Ricky Martin then took to the stage to perform Livin' La Vida Loca.
  12. Once again, Colin Quinn gave us the news. This week, Darrell Hammond dropped by as Jesse Jackson to talk about a recent hostage situation that he helped to resolve from the Kosovo conflict that was going on at the time of this show. Jimmy Fallon also got a segment where he sang a parody song about his excitement over the upcoming release of the first prequel to Star Wars.
  13. Cuba Loves Mango brought the return of Chris Kattan’s Mango character so that this time he could hypnotize Cuba with his male stripper charm but this time we learn that Mango actually has a wife and family and might not be as gay as we were lead to believe that he was. In fact, at one point Mango had a major homophobic meltdown when Cuba tried to make a move.  
  14. This was followed by the third installment of the fake Lotto ad that again promoted the lottery as a viable source of income while crediting the idea of the scratcher as the source of the American Dream.
  15. We then got another Martha Stewart Living parody with Ana Gasteyer as Martha who this time our craft-making host shared a few brunch ideas to celebrate Mother’s Day in hopes that viewers might be able to cheer up their disappointed moms.  
  16. We also got the third installment of Looking For Monica where once again, Cheri Oteri as Barbara Walters interrupted Cuba Gooding Jr. and Tracy Morgan who were playing two Lincolns which led Cuba to question the point. Cuba Gooding then broke the scene to complain that he felt ripped off since his night kept getting interrupted by the special guest of the night.
  17. Finally, Cuba Gooding Jr. closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Though I wasn’t a fan of the Lewinsky visit of the night, I still found Cuba Gooding Jr. to be pretty good with the help of sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved Improvised Bible Miniseries because it reminded me of a crazy movie that I almost worked on that was an improv piece feature biblical characters and zombies, plus the actor’s confusion really cracked me up. Next, I really liked Cuba Loves Mango because I really liked the reveal that not only is Mango not gay but he’s also offended by those people who think that he is, even while he continues to wear his tiny sequin short shorts. Finally, I was a fan of Looking For Monica not only because I liked the idea of Cuba Gooding Jr. and Tracy Morgan as dueling Lincolns, I like that Cuba’s outburst almost reflected the feelings that I had already started to express in my notes about what I wanted to say in the above review.

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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.