Wait... That's Not J.D. Harmeyer
I've been doing this blog for so long that I almost forgot that the movie Napoleon Dynamite is to credit for most of the content on this site. When I started this thing, all that I knew was that I wanted it a way to get used to sharing my work with the public while honing my skills to write standard prose after I made a decision to give on on screenwriting as my medium of choice. During the first couple of months, I just shared random musings on a daily basis. It didn't take long for me to turn this into a routine but it quickly became clear that the site was missing a sense of focus.
This got me thinking of themed content that could potentially get readers coming back every week. My first thought was to do some sort of movie review to see if that would revive my love of film, since the combination of film school and working in the industry completely killed all the movie magic that I used to love. The problem was, I never wanted to come across as a wannabe expert which seems to be the goal of a traditional critic, I was just interested in sharing my thoughts while trying to rack up enough time to hit my Outlier 10,000 hours.
That's when I remembered back to film school where one of the assignments was to write a review as a potential way to make money while establishing our writing careers. I wrote about how I hated Napoleon Dynamite at first because I went into it opening night with expectations that no comedy could live up to. I then went on to explain how I couldn't figure out why I had so many issues because even though I wasn't a fan, I couldn't stop quoting the movie, or joyfully describing many scenes.
It wasn't until I got the movie on DVD for Christmas that I realized that the movie felt off because there was no real story, just a bunch of little vignettes. Once I realized that it was an anti-structure film, I watched it with a fresh set of eyes and that's when I fell in love. This solidified the risk of my own experimental side, but at the same time, it also solidified the payoff when a quirky style actually works even if it takes multiple viewings to figure that out.
I didn't do all that well with the paper because it was too autobiographical and not a real review. The teacher may not have agreed with this approach but I was interested enough to give it another shot. That's what started my Southland Tales where I watched the movie Southland Tales once a week for an entire year and then after each viewing, I'd then write a brand new review. I also added extra hurdles to keep each new review fresh, while making each post as much a journal entry as they were legitimate reviews.
This is also why these SNL reviews are as much, if not more autobiographical than a traditional review. As I'm finding, there are a lot more people out there writing more traditional breakdowns of the show that actually involves research. I'm blown away by how deep some of these people go and sometimes use them as a reference, but between the facts that my posts are more about how I personally relate to each episode and the daily viewing challenge, I don't really fear that I'm stepping on anyone's toes and am not worried about them stepping on mine so it makes it fun when I find a new SNL fan out there doing similar work.
As for the actual show, I fully remember how, just like with Napoleon Dynamite, I hated this episode that first night because I found that I was disappointed by how even though there were Napoleon references, Jon Heder was always himself. Back then, I was in the camp where I felt that he should play this character that made him famous into the ground because nobody wanted to see this guy who looked and sounded like one of Howard Stern's interns, from this time, trying to portray himself.
Now that enough time has passed, I actually liked the fact that our host made this choice because Heder may no longer be in the spot like but J.D. Harmeyer is still working for Stern, only no longer as an intern. This made it so that if I got bored, I'd just have to squint a little to pretend it was a Harmeyer hosted show. That said, I didn't have to pretend all that much since this was a solid show.
I know that I always say that I'm excited about a season based on the second show since they've usually worked through their vacation bugs, providing a better idea about how the better shows of the year might look. Unfortunately, this predictive technique rarely works because the true test of the season usually happens around episode number eight, when the excitement of seeing the new cast member finally settles and the season starts to suffer from the second half slump.
Every year, good or bad, right around the middle of the year we often see a rise in either non-comedic actors as hosts or people making headlines who got the offer as a rating stunt, with either option having very inconsistent results. With that said, this season genuinely feels like it's going to be a fun one, but of course, we'll have wait and see.
Until then, it's now time to wrap this thing up by moving on to share what I saw, as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
- This week's show started in the White House where Darrell Hammond as Dick Cheney advised Will Forte as George W. Bush that his Harriet Miers Nomination to replace Sandra Day O'Connor was ill-advised because there was blatant favoritism involved considering she was once Bush's own personal lawyer. We also got to see Rachel Dratch as the controversial lawyer who jumped right into Bush's arms the moment she entered the room to join the meeting. Bush then spent the rest of the sketch defending his pick while providing even more evidence as to why this would have been a bad idea. As always, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York...”
- Jon Heder then officially opened the show with a monolog about his post-Napoleon Dynamite life before taking questions from the audience which mainly focused on if our host's portrayal was based on a person that he knew in real life. Though Heder denied these rumors the next set of questions came from his “friends” Jason Sudeikis as Leopold Samsonite, Fred Armisen as Jose, and Will Forte as Kip who all clearly showed that these rumors were actually real.
- This was followed by a fake ad for Taco Town that parodied the extreme taco combos that you can find at Taco Bell that had a multi-layered taco wrapped by bigger and bigger food, and when it's all done the monster taco gets deep and put in a tote bag filled with salsa for the final step.
- We then got another visit from Kaitlin and Rick where this time the stepdaughter/stepfather combo teamed up to get through a fourth grade science project where her and Jon Heder share a few anecdotes about interaction they had with bugs while acting as if they were giving scientific facts and were totally surprised to find that they did not win the grand prize.
- The Werewolf was a sketch where Jon Heder was out on a date with Amy Poehler and upon sensing the pull of the full moon, he warned his potential mate that he was once bitten by a werewolf to give her a heads up about the fact that he was about to go through a change. Then, as soon as the full moon hit its peak and the transformation started to set in, the only change that came about was Heder growing a horrific mustache, which we then learned was because it was just a tiny bite.
- The Misadventures of Tom Delay and Bill Frist was a Thelma And Louise style parody that showed Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte as Tom Delay and Bill Frist on the road with Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton in the Brad Pitt role.
- Fred Armisen's Ferecito character then gave us another installment of his talk show, Show Biz Grande Explosion! This time, he had on Jon Heder to teach him how to tell Ay, dios mio-style jokes. Ferecito also made several jokes about how Pedro should have been the true star of Napoleon Dynamite.
- Ashlee Simpson then took to the stage to perform Catch Me When I Fall.
- Once again, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler gave us the news. This week was another Amy and Horatio week with Tina still out because she recently gave birth. Will Forte dropped in as his character, Tim Calhoun, to announce his candidacy for the Supreme Court. A news story about a sexual harassment incident sent us into an Update Flashback, where Lorne Michaels seemed like he was about to harass Amy Poehler by asking her if she was wearing a bra only when she answered no, as if she were into it, Lorne switched gears and made a joke that it was pointless because she had no boobs and didn't end up coming onto her at all. I know this is still harassment, I'm just using the logic of the bit.
- Wilson Bros. Funeral Home started out a sketch where a group of friends had a bit of a reunion while they mourned the recent passing of a close friend. As time passed we went from funeral after funeral of these friends as one to two died with each passing day. At first, it seemed like there was a killer among the bunch until the final reveal where we learned that this actually was a fake commercial for a funeral home.
- Hubbard Systems had Seth Meyers as the head of a company retreat/seminar who broke from the standard routine to comment on the IT technician's who played a bunch of pranks on the corporate board members at the prior night company party after they all drank too much and passed out. This led to a line of presenters who had crazy facial hair drawn on their faces and/or were missing larger sections of their hair.
- Ashlee Simpson then returned to the stage to perform Boyfriend.
- Operator Date took us to a restaurant where a shy Jon Heder was set up on a blind date with Rachel Dratch, who not only recorded greeting for various companies phone systems but also speaks in the same monotone/operator voice when hanging out in public.
- We then got a fake ad for The Black Eyed Peas where several member of the cast portrayed the band to announce that they were available to be booked for parties and corporate events since they were so into selling out.
- Finally, Jon Heder closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
Thankfully we're now back to a place where these shows are no longer just fun to watch but they are also fun to write about with the help of sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved Taco Town because not only do I love crazy fast food stunts, my favorite genre of these crazy meals is when they shove one food into another. Next, I really liked the Opening Monolog because I loved seeing the Napoleon Dynamite character who were supposed to be the people who Heder ripped off to create the iconic character. Finally, I was a fan of The Werewolf sketch because I like the idea of how the intensity of a werewolf bite would affect the intensity of the victim's change to where Heder was only bitten hard enough to affect his mustache area.