Back To Back Charming Charleses
I've always been a fan of Ray Charles because he kind of reminds me of my grandpa in a weird way. Now when I say an odd way, I mean it because I also feel the Drew Carry also falls into this same kind of look-a-like camp. That said, when I saw that he was hosting I had low expectations for this week's show.
It's not that I never felt Ray was all that funny, I was just expecting a very music-heavy show. I was very concerned that this would match the feel of the Paul Simon episode from season one, where it felt more like a Simon Special with only a few hints that we were still watching SNL.
No, this episode went a different route. Yes, there was a lot of music, but it felt infused with the comedy making it a much better-balanced show. Sometimes the singing was part of a sketch, but when it wasn't, it still felt fine. I think it's because the Paul Simon special had a much more somber song choice and Ray Charles gave off a vibe that he was really having some fun.
I think Ray Charles's energy alone was enough to make the episode, so fun to watch. Now it's time to share what I saw as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
NBC must've just aired the first Godfather movie because the show started with a Godfather parody where Godfather Belushi is angry about the airing because he doesn't think something so violent belongs on TV. He wants to send a message to the LA branch of NBC keeping the New York branch safe so he can say, "Live from New York..."
Ray Charles opens the show with a monolog about his hesitation to host. He went on to share his list of demands with the joke being that they told him this week's show is being shot at Carnegie Hall and they just tricking him because he is blind. Ray then admits that he's on to their scam and admits that he's not the real Ray Charles. This gets a laugh from the audience as Ray starts to perform I Can See Clearly Now That the Rain is Gone.
After he finishes the song, Ray makes a quick joke about how close he is to Carter because Carter's family owned his grandpa. He then starts to sing Georgia On My Mind as we transition into an Aykroyd as Carter sketch where they make fun of his attempts to switch to alternative power.
Ray then announces Ella Fitzgerald is stopping by and she's played by Garrett Morris. The two do a routine making fun of the old, "Is it real or is it Memorex," where the quality of the recording is so hi-fi that it can break a wine glass. "Ella" sing live breaking the glass and then tries again with the taped version. Though there is the sound of breaking glass the stunt wine glass failed to break. The way Garrett Morris scrambles to find the mistake made me think it was a legitimate blooper until Ray Charles turns to the camera revealing his glasses are broken.
Tomorrow with Tom Snyder was pretty much a real interview with Ray Charles only highlighting that Snyder's an idiot.
Garrett Morris then plays a sleazy record producer that tries to get Ray to sell out and start writing more music for white folks. The Young Caucasians then enter the scene made up of the entire white staff in matching outfits and sing a cover of That's What I Say, and I have to say they did a pretty good job with it.
Ray then performed the real version of That's What I Say also killing the performance.
Once again, we have the news with Jane and Dan and Bill Murray doing a review. This seems to be the new pattern with other additions including Don Pardo flubbing the intro and a buildup of passive aggressive bickering between Jane and Dan.
Ray Charles then has a reunion with his old band and does a whole medley of his songs.
Ray Charles announces his love of New York and the Con-Ed power company causing us to flashback to the reason for this statement. In the sketch Ray in staying in a hotel and almost get robbed by burglars pretending to be room service. Just as the robbers try to make their move, the power goes out, and we hear a fight and when the lights come back on the robbers have been taken care of. Ray then gets a courtesy call from Con-Ed apologizing for the mini blackout then we realize that Ray didn't even notice it.
Buck Henry then steps out on the stage to announce he will be hosting next weekend. He also announces that the finalist from the Anyone Can Host Content will also be featured on the program.
Ray Charles then performs Oh What a Beautiful Morning.
Then the cast came out and stood around the piano all singing along with Ray Charles. Mr. Mike then breaks up the fun to crowbar in one more blind joke, but at least they always have Ray ahead of the joke as he lets us know that Mr. Mike is going to get his ass whooped at the wrap party by Ray's very large and very black entourage.
Finally, Ray Charles says his good nights, and we are treated to more group singing.
Though I wouldn't say that this was the most hilarious of episodes, I would say that I had a lot of fun watching it. With that, here are my favorite sketches of the night. First, I loved seeing The Young Caucasians sing, That's What I Say because it was watching a super-group of my favorite comedians singing. Next, was another one of those sketches that caught me with a misdirect that I entirely bought which got me laughing out loud when I finally caught on, and this happened during the Ella Fitzgerald Sketch. Finally, I found Ray Charles fighting off burglars in the dark unaware of the blackout rather amusing.