SNL: S27E01... HOST: REESE WITHERSPOON... DATE: SEPTEMBER 29, 2001

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And Then… 9/11 Happened

I’ll never forget where I was the moment that I heard that the first plane had hit the World Trade Center because there were a lot of weird coincidences. First off, I was working graveyard at a Kinko’s at the time and since we were a brand new store we were the only one in town to have a television to entertain customers while in the check-out line. If I remembered, I would have the night manager change the channel to the news since it was the only channel not to switch over to infomercials in the middle of the night.

I often forgot to have the channel changed since I mainly listened to music or talk radio to keep me entertained throughout the night, music in the evening and then Howard Stern at three o’clock in the AM when the radio station would run the show live until six in the AM when I would turn off the radio as the show started over and customers would start to arrive.

On 9/11, the first plane hit right around this cross over time because I turned off the show before Howard caught wind of the incident. This was crazy timing because if I would have left the show on for another fifteen minutes I would have heard the news because the show went back to being live again the second that it seemed like more than an accident.

To add to the odd timing, this was also a morning where I forgot to ask the night manager to switch the TV over to the news and I was stuck watching Animal Planet which was airing an hour-long infomercial for NADS hair removal system which had the customers pretty confused. This confusion was a continuing theme since most of these early customers had only heard of the news via the radio on the way to the store so it was still unclear what size the planes were or whether or not it was an accident.

Around the time the morning manager did finally arrive, all of the channels had switched over to news coverage so I finally got a break from having to answer why I was watching this NADS ad while the world was falling apart. Since everything was so uncertain, my manager told me to take the night off, just to be safe, so I spent the next twenty-four hours with my eyes glued to the news.

As far as this episode goes, I do remember it from when it originally aired, because of how the news kept pointing out how between this show and David Letterman it was okay to laugh again. At the beginning of the night Giuliani joke, “Why start being funny now?” This would have been a lot funnier if the show that followed was actually really good.

I think the big issues that I had with the night was the understandably awkward energy from the recent 9/11 attack. Part of me feels like they played it too safe since other than the serious opening, and one joke in the news, 9/11 wasn’t mentioned at all and the night ended up feeling like a continuation of last season, instead of actually addressing the elephant in the room.

That might be why I only remembered the opening tribute even though you would think this episode would be more memorable. I hate to be critical of tonight’s show with the luxury of being much more comfortable with the situation they were dealing with, thanks to the passage of time. It’s not that I felt they needed crude 9/11 jokes or for it to be the show’s main focus for the night but it did feel a bit weird that there were almost no references at all, not even in one of those end of the night sentimental sketches that I really like.

Oh well, I can’t wait to see how the rest of this seasons goes, but I have to admit that I’m a bit nervous, considering this is another year with very few changes to the cast, which was part of my problem with the last two years. With that, it’s now 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 9/11 Tribute where New York’s Mayor at the time, Rudolph Giuliani paid tribute to the lives lost during the 9/11 attacks by acknowledging the members of the New York Fire and Police Departments as heroes while many of their surviving brothers joined him on stage and Paul Simon performed the song The Boxer. After the song, Lorne Michaels asked Giuliani if they had permission to be funny again to which the Mayor responded, “Why start now,” before going on to announce, “Live from New York…”
  2. Reese Witherspoon then officially opened the show with a monolog where she tried to cut the tension by telling an off-color joke about a polar bear cub.
  3. This was followed by a fake ad for Preparation H that was marked to a much younger crowd since it had a group of skateboarding teens proudly brag about using the “H” as they called it in order to make it seem more extreme.
  4. Wake Up, Wakefield then returned for another installment of the Maya Rudolph hosted high school produced morning talk show. This time she and her sidekick played by Rachel Dratch interviewed Reese Witherspoon who was both the president of the Spanish Club and girlfriend of Jimmy Fallon who played Maya’s biggest crush in the world. Of course, this relationship made the interview a bit rough because of all of the jealous undertones.
  5. We then got a parody of The Little Mermaid with Reese Witherspoon as Ariel grossed out Will Ferrell with songs that highlighted the reality of what was going on with her fish private parts.
  6. Alicia Keys then took to the stage to perform Fallin'.
  7. Once again, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey gave us the news. This week, Darrell Hammond dropped by as Jesse Jackson who explained how the Taliban called him right after 9/11 in order to ask for a meeting.
  8. The Culps then returned for another performance of their singing instructor-style medley of songs only this time their performance took place at their niece’s lesbian wedding with the niece. For some reason, Reese didn’t play the niece in question but instead played her cousin who gave a toast and introduced the Culps.
  9. This was followed by another parody of Celebrity Jeopardy where this time, Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek had to wrangle new cast member, Dean Edwards as Chris Tucker, Reese Witherspoon as Anne Heche and, of course, Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery while trying to get through the game.
  10. Alicia Keys then returned to the stage to perform A Woman's Worth.
  11. Farting Baby is a classic sketch that I’ve always loved where Reese Witherspoon gave birth to a flatulent baby who was so gassy that her and her husband, Will Ferrell did think they could handle raising a baby with such a problem. Reese and her mom then took care of the situation by swapping the baby out with Tracy Morgan’s kid since he thought that the farting baby was the funniest thing in the world.
  12. We then got a fake ad for Donatella Versace For The Children which introduced Maya Rudolph as Donatella in order to promote her new horrible album aimed at kids.
  13. Finally, Reese Witherspoon closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

I don’t really know what I was expecting from the night but this episode seemed to be just okay either way. That said, okay is still good because I was entertained throughout the show, thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First off, I loved Farting Baby because this is the one sketch that I remember from the night this episode originally aired because I remember laughing my ass off at Tracy Morgan laughing his ass off at the farting kid. Next, I really liked The Little Mermaid parody because it’s pretty funny how they point out the reality of dating a woman who has fish reproductive organs. Finally, I was a fan of The Opening Tribute To 9/11 because even though I didn’t think all that much of the show as far as it being a tribute as a whole, the opening image of all of the cops and firemen will always stand out in my memory when thinking of those scary 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.