Finally, Rupert Pupkin’s Moment To Shine!!!
Thankfully, a major part of what makes Robert De Niro so funny in comedic roles is the fact that he is terrible, especially when it comes to the world of sketch. I love him in his classic roles and agree that he can act his ass off but when it comes to him actually being himself, the man seems completely lost. Even throughout the night, he seemed to put on better performances depending on how much the props and make-up distorted his face.
For example, in the opening sketch when he played a politician with no make-up at all, he seemed to struggle to get through the words, mixing things up here and there while sounding like he was reading and not confident. Then we jump ahead to the sketch where he played Santa with a full white beard and a hat where he seemed to be able to perform without any help from the cue cards.
As I said at the start, luckily, I find a struggling Robert De Niro to be something funny to watch, even though I went into the viewing thinking that I was against it. I think what had happened was that I confused how I’m not a huge fan of his awkwardness when he is a guest on interview shows where he really puts the hosts to work. It turns out that he has a Christopher Walken-esque quality to him when he’s working in sketch where, for some reason, the terrible delivery actually works.
Again, to be clear, this is not a negative review of his acting. In fact, I fully understand because personally, I feel that I can communicate pretty clearly when I write but my lack of confidence and self-esteem makes it very hard for me to talk, unless I’m drunk or talking to someone who I’m already comfortable with. I just find it interesting how this also seems to be the case with someone who’s been in the spotlight for so long.
With that said, it’s time to wrap this thing up and in order to do so let’s shift gears so I can share what I saw, as I give you…
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with C-SPAN coverage of a Homeland Security Briefing where this time Darrell Hammond as Tom Ridge introduced Robert De Niro as Craig Fenson who announced that they were boosting the terrorist threat level to magenta due to the lewdly-named terrorist suspects like, M’Balz Es-Hari (My Balls Is Harry) and Hous Bin Pharteen (Whose Been Farting) and more obvious fake names given by teens who kept pranking the information hotline. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, this all built to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
Robert De Niro then officially opened the show with a monolog where he compared his experience doing drama vs doing comedy since this was around the time that he started to take on more comedic roles. Though De Niro might be a great actor, when it comes to him being himself, the man is a bit of a bore because though I was listening carefully to expand on this segment’s description, I just didn’t find a joke.
This was followed by a fake ad for the McDonald's Big N' Tasty Burger that provided a pharmaceutical ad style warning for the clueless fatties who may think this is actually a healthy meal. Apparently, this was inspired by a class action suit against the fast food chain at the time by people who were blaming them for being overweight.
Thomas Jefferson Meets Sally Hemings had De Niro as the historical President in order to confirm the rumors that he was a fan of women slave by showing a meet-cute moment with Maya Rudolph who played one of his female slaves, while also including a few jokes about rumors of De Niro’s own interest in African American mates.
We then went to a Peter Pan Rehearsal with Robert De Niro in the titular role as a veteran actor playing the part which led to a lot of conflict with the cast when he kept acting like an angry old timer who’s seen and done it all and not the never aging little kid like he was supposed to.
Robert De Niro then played an actor who was stuck playing a mall Santa Claus due to struggling times and couldn’t stop arguing with Maya Rudolph who played elf and was also his soon-to-be wife who kept rolling her eyes and talking back whenever his statements to the kids contradicted the actions she experienced during their relationship.
U.N. Weapons Inspectors then made light of the lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction by having Robert De Niro and Jimmy Fallon play two ineffective inspectors because they were so gullible and believed every lie that was said to them while being given their tour.
Tracy Morgan then introduced a character named Judge Horace in a parody of a daytime court shoe ala People’s Court. The case in question for this installment was between Robert De Niro and Horatio Sanz as his ex. De Niro wanted to be reimbursed for the gym membership that he was paying for while they were together since Horatio’s character still ended up getting fat.
Norah Jones then took to the stage to perform Don't Know Why.
Once again, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey gave us the news. This week, Maya Rudolph and Tracy Morgan then portrayed Whitney and Bobby in order to chime in on current events while making jokes that referenced the craziness we discovered during their reality show. Chris Kattan and Rachel Dratch then played an elderly couple named Marty and Sylvia Feinblatt who shared their tale from an ill-fated Disney cruise they were on that was making news at the time.
A Very Versace Chanukah brought back Maya Rudolph as Donatella Versace in order to celebrate the holiday with the Osbourne family as her guests before winding her special with Robert De Niro as Roy who was really upset because of a fight that he had with Siegfried. We then got a special treat when the real Harvey Keitel as Siegfried.
Robert De Niro then played a Used Car Salesman who used extreme violence in order to make a really harder sells.
Bedtime Story had Robert De Niro as a dad tell a horrifying bedtime story to his some Chris Kattan where he mainly vented about Kattan’s mom, AKA De Niro’s ex-wife in a not so fictional tale where he blamed her for killing Kattan’s favorite nut stealing squirrel.
Norah Jones then returned to the stage to perform Come Away With Me.
Channel 5 Late Night Movie was a parody of the campy late night movies that would often air on independent TV stations. In this film, Robert De Niro played a general who had nothing but bad ideas on how to stop a radioactive bear that was terrorizing the town.
Finally, Robert De Niro closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
Although I wouldn’t say that this was the best night as far as acting goes, it was still a pretty fun episode thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the opening Homeland Security Magenta Briefing sketch because I will laugh my ass off at the genre of jokes where you make filthy sounding statements through a made up full name even though each individual piece is innocent on its own. Next, I really liked the Channel 5 Late Night Movie because there is nothing that I love more than a Godzilla-style story filled with men in foam-rubber monster suits destroying a miniature city. Finally, I was a fan of U.N. Weapons Inspectors because it pointed out the poor planning that led us into Iraq, I just wish this were one of those cases where highlighting this flaw through satire created a better response than just a laugh.