SNL: S27E06... HOST: BILLY BOB THORNTON... DATE: NOVEMBER 17, 2001

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Sling Blade On A Saturday Night!!!

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Billy Bob Thornton. I loved him the moment I saw Sling Blade, not only because I had an alcoholic stepdad and could relate to many of the film's themes, but also it was one of those the slow, slice-of-life style films that inspired my style of writing. I also loved to find out that Billy Bob was a funny man, but then as he grew to be more successful, I felt he started to get weird.

I’m not even really talking the drinking of blood or any of the weird rumors that he joked about in his monolog, but more in that he started to seem more like that angry stepdad that must have inspired Sling Blade, almost as if he grew into what he hated. In general, unless I feel it’s an act, or even a poor attempt at an act, I struggle to find people funny if I feel they are jerks offstage.

With that said, if I’m judging Billy Bob on his non-comedic career, though I still wouldn’t like it, I probably wouldn’t judge him as much for his attitude. Then again, there is that one interview from when he was promoting his band where he had a meltdown after the interviewer asked him about a movie. That was kind of a douchie move.

Going into the view, I wasn’t sure if this was pre or post douchie times. When Billy Bob hit the stage, my first thought was “post” because he started right out almost bragging about the quirky rumors that were being put out about him and Angelina Jolie. Yeah, it was part of a joke but it reminded me of people who get aggressive when people give them a second look when they have a tattooed face and funny colored hair. Judging is one thing, I’m talking more about people getting upset over looking alone at a person who’s screaming for attention.

Anyways, it didn’t matter which era it was because this turned out to be the funniest show of the season. Not only did it have the same overall vibe from last week, where I felt the show found balance in how to handle 9/11 and the newbies were finding their homes, but this time, I felt the content was actually really good and not just average.  

Part of me thinks that the reasons why I have mixed feelings about Billy Bob Thornton are actually what made this episode so fun. The fact that he felt like he was being arrogant while, at the exact same time, seeming to have so much fun, create a interesting energy that got me to laugh out loud. It almost felt like there was an unintentionally added level of mischievous humor in this one, even though I don’t think it was planned for, or would show up on the page.

Either way, as I keep saying, it was good, and now that I’ve shared why, it’s now time to shift gears in order to share what I actually saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with parody coverage of a Donald Rumsfeld Press Briefing where Darrell Hammond portrayed the Defense Secretary to take questions from the press corps about the progress on our war with Afghanistan even though he went on to refuse to give a clear answer to anything by using political double speak. He also answered in ways that seemed like he was training the press corps to be more compliant in asking only the type of questions that he wants and not the questions that the people needed the answers to. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Billy Bob Thornton then officially opened the show with a monolog where he started to address all of the crazy rumors about him that was being spread around by the news. Though he wanted serious questions about things like whether or not he drinks blood, the audience bombarded him with impersonations of his character from the movie Sling Blade. At one point, Billy Bob yelled at Amy Poehler for doing the impersonation, only to have it revealed that she was playing a mentally disabled kid. Ashton Kutcher also snuck in a quick impression, with the joke being he just happened to be in the audience and wanted to play along with the joke. After one last attempt to explain why joking about his passion project actually hurts, we got one last surprise impersonation by Maya Rudolph before our host threw to the first official sketch of the show.
  3. Gay Thanksgiving was a sketch that had Billy Bob Thornton as a gay Native American who ruined the first Thanksgiving for the Pilgrims with his gay antics because they were all so uptight.
  4. This was followed by a repeat of the EPT Home Pregnancy Test commercial from earlier in the season where Seth Meyer and Amy Poehler discuss how they plan to work together while waiting for the results of a pregnancy test following a one-night-stand, only to end up ditching one another, the second the test came back negative.
  5. Nick Burns, Your Company Computer Guy then returned for another installment. This time, Billy Bob Thornton played Jimmy Fallon’s dad and the two teamed up to berate Fallon’s IT illiterate co-workers who interrupt their father-son lunch to ask for help with their simple computer issues. Toward the end of the sketch, Billy Bob treated his son with the same arrogance when he ran into a problem that went over his head.
  6. Brian Fellow's Safari Planet also returned for another installment where once again, Tracy Morgan as the titular host was in his own head while interviewing animal experts who brought in live animals to share with the show.
  7. This was followed by another parody of Inside The Actor's Studio where this time we witnessed Bill Bob Thornton hunt down Will Ferrell as James Lipton following an excruciating interview on the Inside The Actor’s Studio interview. This sketch was pretty cool because it was a blend of live action mixed with prerecorded segments as we traveled through time.
  8. We then got another parody of Martha Stewart Living where this time Ana Gasteyer as Martha, share patriotic Thanksgiving tips for celebrating the upcoming holiday.
  9. War Party took us to a party where people were celebrating the latest U.S. victory in Afghanistan while watching news coverage from the comfort and safety of their luxurious high rise apartment and sipping on Champagne. As soon as the new of victory is officially announced the entire group burst into a Broadway musical-style song. Tracy Morgan eventual broke up the fun by sharing the reality that the war is not done until it is done in our hearts. This was a very moving speech and would have led to an amazing and but then the moment there was another announcement of another regional victory, everyone, including Tracy Morgan, broke back into song and dance.
  10. Once again, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey gave us the news. This week, Rachel Dratch dropped in as Harry Potter to share a few lame magic tricks before having a bit of a breakdown from exhaustion from the over-booked press junket he was on to promote the latest movie.
  11. Creed then took to the stage to perform My Sacrifice.
  12. Fenced-In Area had Billy Bob Thornton as a complacent farmer who could decide what he wasn’t to do with the newly fenced in area of his yard. It’s a tiny space yet every single one of his ideas are so grandiose that there is no possible way that he could ever make any of the plans to be a reality.
  13. Creed then returned to the stage to perform Bullets.
  14. Jack Handey then gave us another installment of My Big Thick Novel where this time the chapter shared our author’s irritation with hooligans and shenanigans and even worse, the Flannigan’s.
  15. Finally, Billy Bob Thornton closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As I said up above, this was the best episode, so far, this year and thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments, I love forward to the rest of the year. First, I loved the Fenced-In Area sketch because I felt it was the most brilliant sketch that I’ve seen in a while that made the failed sit-com pilot feeling sketch that I normally complain about, something that cracked me up throughout the entire long-winded sketch. Next, I really liked Gay Thanksgiving, because Billy Bob’s portrayal of a gay Native American had me laughing out loud. Finally, I was a fan of the War Party sketch because if you stop this sketch after Tracy Morgan’s speech, there is an amazing message in this piece about how we cheer on all these mini war victories while we are all safe at home.

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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.