SNL: S29E03... HOST: HALLE BERRY... DATE: OCTOBER 18, 2003

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or...

A Bound To The Background Best Actress

I’m a fan of Halle Berry and remembered her being funny in movies like Boomerang and B*A*P*S* so when I sat down to watch the show, I was expecting to have at least an average viewing. Then, when I sat down to type up the sketch list and brief summaries that I steal from a reference page to work off of while I watch, I noticed there was minimal mention of our host throughout the breakdown. This is never a good sign.

Typically, the host’s name appears in most sketch summaries that make up the night, unless it’s some prerecorded bit, like the very first fake commercial of the night, and somewhere near the middle of the night, which often feels like the show give the host a little break. This usually means, either the host was barely used throughout the night, or they were used like a glorified extra, playing characters who are the third or fourth to be introduced to the scene, often to add nothing all that important.

I couldn’t believe that was going to be the case tonight, especially considering, the year just before this visit was the year that Halle Berry became the first African America female to win the Best Actress Award at the Oscars, so it’s definitely not a case where she can’t act. Right out the gate, they cut Halle Berry off during her monolog to go backstage where Lorne Michael was trying to arrange a make-out session between our host and Britney Spears who was the musical guest for tonight.

The show didn’t get any better after that, it kept using Halle Berry in insignificant roles that were usually filled with clichés and stereotypes in ways that I would have thought that we were already past at that time. Even the opening sketch that our host had absolutely nothing to do with was treating a rape case as the backdrop to the joke. After that, we had the monolog where, as I just mention the joke was about getting two women to make out, which then followed by an unoffensive fake ad about a gay drug for a gay version of menopause, but that still can be a touch subject, especially during our current times.

Twice during the night, they had Halle Berry as a loud talking “urban” woman who didn’t know how to act in public. I don’t entirely blame the show for this because it felt like they were revising her character from B*A*P*S* which S*N*L* had nothing to do with, but it still seemed a bit late in the game to still be using these clichés. Then again, I was living in Seattle during this time, and they’re a bit ahead of the curve at getting offended by this type of thing.

There was a sketch toward the end of the night that had me wondering how much Halle’s involvement in the writing process turning this into such a bad show in the sketch where she asked Chris Parnell as Tom Brokaw to leave an outgoing message for her voice mail. This really felt like civilian humor, with Berry trying to adapt a funny thing that happened between her and a fan into a sketch but you could also sense the pride in our host as if it were her proudest moment of the night.

It also felt like it might have been a host humor thing because the night was also filled with parody commercials, which are fun here and there but once they have more than two in a night (unless it’s a running gag) the genre can start to feel like filler because they couldn’t get anything else to work. On a good note, however, the night was still made up of a lot of quick sketches which may have been the only thing the kept this viewing from feeling like a chore.

I’m bummed that this is one of my few blatantly negative reviews because unlike most of the shows I went negative on were hosted by jerks and not a person who I actually like. That said, not everyone’s cut out for sketch comedy, and sometimes there are just off nights. If Halle Berry does return, I really hope that it’s the latter of the two.

With all of that said, it’s now time for me to wrap this thing up by giving you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with footage from the Kobe Bryant Rape Trial where Maya Rudolph as Kobe’s wife Vanessa argued with Finesse Mitchel as Kobe as if the fact that he cheated was a bigger deal than the fact that he was being charged for the crime of rape. Of course, since this was the opening sketch, it ended on the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Halle Berry then officially opened the show with a monolog about her recent historical Oscar win while backstage Lorne Michaels talked with tonight’s musical guest Britney Spears as he attempted to get her to make out with our host who was still up on the stage. Eventually, Halle joined the backstage area after realizing the camera feed was no longer broadcasting her. The two then went on to reject Lorne’s plan before heading back to the stage to explain why there would be no make out session before throwing to the first non-opening sketch of the show.
  3. We then got a fake ad for Gaystrogen which was a pill that was designed to prevent middle-aged homosexuals from losing their gay sex drive.
  4. The Don Zimmer Sports Spectacular made fun of a recent incident where the real Don Zimmer was pushed to the ground by his head as he approached Pedro Martinez during a baseball brawl. In the sketch, Horatio Sanz played the late Zimmer to host a show where he was grabbed by the head and pushed over by every one of his guests.
  5. Maya Rudolph then revised her Donatella Versace impersonation in order to host her annual holiday special filled with quirky fashion industry guests. She was also interrupted from time to time by trick or treaters and Halle Berry as Naomi Campbell who dropped in as a surprise guest to trash Donatella’s house for not inviting her to the special night. Horatio Sanz as Elton John also stopped by, but he was invited and just wanted to tell our Donatella that he used up the last of her toilet paper and couldn’t find more anywhere else in the house.
  6. This was followed by a fake ad for Tel-e-Link which was a happy phone-line that the customers in the commercial touted for their excellent service while using nothing but technobabble that didn’t make any real sense to a non-IT expert even though they acted like it was a standard way to talk.
  7. We then got another fake ad this time for Quick Ones which was a pill that busy office workers could take in order to simulate a quickie sex session without having to stop their work.
  8. Next, we went to a Sushi Bar where Finesse Michelle as his “urban female” character named Starkisha celebrated her birthday with some of her “urban” friends who weren’t used to the fancy Benihana style and were all stereotypically loud and obnoxious whenever they came across any aspect of the service that was unfamiliar to them.
  9. This was followed by yet another fake ad, this one was for The Sunday National Enquirer which was pitched as fake news to brighten up your weekend.
  10. Britney Spears then took to the stage to perform Me Against The Music.
  11. Once again, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey gave us the news. This week, Fred Armisen dropped by as a Native American comedian named Billy Smith who told nothing but terrible jokes that bombed while doing a terrible Native American impersonation. Horatio Sanz then played the moronic nephew of George Wendt’s Superfan character Bob Swerski to offer a sports commentary about whether or not there was a curse on the Chicago Cubs. He was actually joined by George Wendt as Bob about halfway through what Horatio had to say and then went on to talk up not just the Cubs but everything else that had to do with Chicago. The two ended by singing All That Jazz from the movie Chicago while groping Jimmy and ignoring Tina Fey.
  12. This was followed by another fake ad, this one was for an album called The Best of Klymaxx, that promised to share Klymaxx’s greatest spoken-over performances, and was being pitched by Joey Lawrence, who was desperate for an income. We also got to the fictional female ‘80s group, headed by Halle Berry, perform a couple of their horrible hit songs.
  13. Chris Parnell then played Tom Brokaw in a make-up chair getting ready to report the news when Halle Berry as his make-up artist persuaded the anchor to record her outgoing voicemail message to make it fun for any calls that may come in when all that he wanted was to get through the promo that he was there to cut. For some reason, he gives in and plays along only to have Halle Berry ask for about twenty takes before she allowed him to leave.
  14. Britney Spears then returned to the stage to perform Everytime.
  15. Ashford & Simpson Fan had Halle Berry as an Ashford & Simpson fan who was blown away when she learned that she be seeing the singing duo as a surprise anniversary gift. The rest of the sketch was Halle Berry once again acting up as if her character didn’t know how to be while in public. She even rushed the stage and ruined the performance for the rest of the crowd.
  16. Will Forte then played a Speedreader who tried to use this novel fact as a way to pick up on Halle Berry while the two were sitting next to each other at a bar. Though this didn’t work at first, he eventually won her over only to “finish” in his pants twice before they even left the bar because it turned out he was fast at everything.
  17. Finally, Halle Berry closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

Unfortunately, as I already made clear up above, this was far from my favorite episode, but at least there were these sketches that contained my three favorite moments of the night that at least made the viewing at least a little more bearable. First, I loved The Don Zimmer Sports Spectacular because I remember this sketch inspiring me to hunt down the real video of Don Zimmer getting thrown to the ground by his head. Next, I really liked the Speedreader sketch, because it was at least a quirky idea with an overall concept that got me to laugh… to myself. Finally, I was a fan of seeing George Wendt on the show again because I wish he still had the career that would justify him hosting the show from time to time since he hits that Norm nostalgia part of my heart.

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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.