SNL: S27E15... HOST: IAN MCKELLEN... DATE: MARCH 16, 2002

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or...

Wow, That Was Pretty Gay…

…and I mean that in a good way… well, good in that I feel Ian McKellen was the first male host to openly discuss the fact that he’s openly gay, with Ellen DeGeneres being the first female, and she hosted just a couple of shows ago. It’s not so good due to the fact that I find it hard to believe that this would have still been a sensitive subject during this point of time, thinking we American’s were already a bit more accepting of the LGBQ community at the time.

Keep in mind, I was living in gay-friendly Seattle around the time this episode originally so my gauge on the subject might be a little off. I just could have sworn that after 2000 there wouldn’t be as much shock value attached to flamboyant old man admitting that he was gay and I really thought we were way beyond the point of the community fighting to be in parades, but then again, the gay wedding cake incident returned to the headlines just the other day.

I’ve always been amazed how I grew up in a country that brags so much about freedom yet there are so many restrictive rules set up to control the most personal areas of your life that have nothing to do with harming others or even yourself. How is it possible to freely pursue happiness when there are so many regulations on who you may or may not love, which I figure would be a key ingredient towards achieving this pursuit.

Don’t get me wrong, the audience accepted the gay antics, I’m mean, it’s a New York City audience after all but I was just a little surprised by the sense of shock value and issues being tackled from the news. Other than that, this was another fun episode because Ian McKellen seemed to be genuinely having fun to the point where he had the most child-like enthusiasm despite being the oldest guest in quite a while.

He seemed to really love performing live and this excited energy felt infectious amongst the rest of the cast which made this show that was just average as far as the actual content goes into an entertaining episode. The averageness was the same as the rest of this year, where all it would take is one sketch to stand out from the rest for being extra hilarious for this to be considered a classic season/episode.

It’s weird how, even when all of the sketches are great, minus the peaks and valleys in quality the show can still feel flat, just at a higher level. That said, you can’t really complain since good is still good. With all of that said, it’s now time for me to wrap this thing up by sharing what I saw during this viewing, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with A Message From Tom Ridge where Darrell Hammond as Tom Ridge introduced the new fear mongering color-coded terror alert system that was starting to be used by the news around this time. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Ian McKellen then officially opened the show with a monolog about how he used to perform the classics on stage and now here he was performing sketches that were written just a couple of days ago. He also explained why he loves the cast of Saturday Night Live which mainly seemed to be that he found Jimmy Fallon to be cute. He also said loved how the show accepted him even though he was gay unlike the hosts of Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade who were still banning gays during the time of his visit.
  3. This was followed by a fake ad for Kotex Classics which promised to bring back the thrill of the pads from yesteryear when there was one choice that was big and bulky and snapped onto a special belt.
  4. Versace Oscar Party had Maya Rudolph as Donatella Versace in order to share her Oscar picks with her strange guests from the world of fashion including Ian McKellen as Yves Saint Laurent.
  5. Delicious Dish then returned for the second installment with Rachel Dratch taking over for Molly Shannon. This week, Dratch and Ana Gasteyer did their NPR food interview with Ian McKellen where the three discussed Irish cuisine in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and the food in question turned out to be just as bland as the tone of their quirky conversation.
  6. TV Funhouse then gave us another installment of Fun With Real Audio where this time Robert Smigel animated Bjork in her famous swan dress from the Oscars to sounds of real audio from the night. The main joke of the animation was that the swan was actually alive and kept acting up during the performance of her nominated song from Dancer In The Dark.
  7. Hot Air Balloon Mystery Theatre was a PBS play-style show where Chris Kattan played a murdered man and Ian McKellen played a detective who treated the mystery like the game Clue as he tried to figure out who could have been the murderer even though this mystery took place in the tiny basket of a hot air balloon.
  8. Kylie Minogue then took to the stage to perform Can't Get You Out Of My Head.
  9. Once again, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey gave us the news. This week, Ian McKellen stopped by as Dame Maggie Smith in order to ream this year’s Oscar nominees and then sneak in a kiss with Jimmy Fallon. Rachel Dratch also dropped by as Paula Jones to share her regrets of signing up for a boxing match between her and Amy Poehler who played Tanya Harding. Jimmy Fallon also told a Scottish joke that magically summoned Jeff Richards as Louie Anderson.
  10. The Ferey Muhtar Talk Show was a parody of a Turkish talk show hosted by Horatio Sanz that was pretty much nothing but racial stereotypes where Darrell Hammond’s fake mustache becoming loose and started to flop around got more laughs than any of the written content, especially after Ian McKellen as the show’s guest kept trying to adjust Hammond’s fake facial hair and Horatio started to reference the makeup malfunction. Other than the mustache and over-the-top accents, I couldn’t fully tell you what the sketch was actually about overall.
  11. We then got an A&E promotion that attempted to hype up a One-Man Show that had Ian McKellen as Edmund McGrave who presented the life and times of Charles Dickens through the use of a collection of wigs.
  12. Kylie Minogue then returned to the stage to perform In Your Eyes. 
  13. Kevin And Richie's Comic Book Zone had Seth Meyers as Kevin and Horatio Sanz as Richie so that the two could geek out over their love of comic books and then went on to predict that The Lord Of The Rings would sweep the Oscars. After the opening to their show, they introduced Ian McKellen who played a Dr. Who impersonator who also impersonated Ian McKellen’s characters who were popular amongst the nerd community. Though they were impressed by his Gandalf, they weren’t won over by his attempt to pull off Magneto from X-Men which led to the end of the show.
  14. Finally, Ian McKellen closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

If it wasn’t for the recent antics between Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, I don’t know if I would have expected this episode to be so silly but thankfully it was which made it fun, especially with the help of these three of my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved Hot Air Balloon Mystery Theatre because I loved the idea of there being a Clue-like mystery within the tiny wicker basket of a hot air balloon. Next, I really liked Kevin And Richie's Comic Book Zone because Horatio Sanz’s nerdy character kept cracking me up. Finally, I was a fan of the One-Man Show sketch because it was cool that they gave Ian McKellen a segment to himself where he could shine.

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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.