SNL: S31E12... HOST: STEVE MARTIN... DATE: FEBRUARY 4, 2005

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Welcome To The Fourteen-Timers Club,

Mr. Martin!!!

 

I’m a couple days away from my six-hundredth review to be written in just as many days, so bear with me if I get repetitive because I can’t assume that anyone’s caught up on all of my ongoing thoughts. I give this warning because I’m always surprised by how underwhelmed I’ve been by a lot of these comedy legends who I used to worship as a kid. As always, it’s not that this show was terrible, but it did leave me wanting more.

I think what I realized from this viewing is that part of the problems is that I have been such a huge fan of this brand of host for so many years that I’ve grown too familiar with the structure of their jokes to where their visit may be fun but, at the same time, their also very predictable. This came to me during the monolog where Steve Martin kept pretending he was confused over the date of his very first appearance as the show’s host.

Though his confusion led to a string of jokes in a style that I used to love and even still often use where he would cut back and forth between trying to convey a story with jarring shifts of focus as he returned to share his confusion. As I watched this routine, I was completely confused as to why I didn’t like it more than I did. Then I was honest with myself which led me to realize that the structure of the joke was so clearly visible that I felt like I was watching a performance and not witnessing a character who was really that lost in his thoughts.

This led me to come to the conclusion that I’ve studied these comedy legends for so long that I’m no longer as surprised by their moves because I can see all of the numbers in their comedic calculations. There also seems to be a sense that these old timers, who were already at least somewhat established when I was born, are fully aware of their legendary status that they don’t seem to try as hard. This is why Steve Martin opening bit had a performance without a hint that Steve Martin was legitimately confused.

It reminds me of how my passion for becoming a screenwriter ruined my love of traditional stories because all I started to see what how tight the tale stuck to a conventional structure. This made movies even more predictable as I watched, constantly aware of what needed to happen to fulfill The Heroes Journey. If that wasn’t bad enough, working in the industry completely killed any magic that was left to film since now I can’t help but see the structure the tricks of the trade that happens on a movie set.

Don’t get me wrong, these legendary hosts do still have it in them to put on amazing shows, but they also tend to put out episode similar to the one tonight that was pretty fun but just not the masterpiece that the host’s name only led me to expect. I mean, after all, tonight had nineteen segments meaning the show should have felt quick and filled with wit, yet there were still segments that felt like they were starting to drag on.

This doesn’t change how I feel about Steve Martin or his non-SNL work. I still love the guy, I just can’t get over why I haven’t loved him more as a key contributor throughout the history of this show. I’m also starting to wonder if my disinterest stems from these legends being the inspiration for me to develop a sense of humor that the current PC culture no longer allows so I may be a bit bitter that I now have to defend what I find funny because of them.

I’ll have to think this last idea out a little more to possible share the next time that I get this type of reaction from a hero of a host. We’ll see if/when this happens again, until then, it’s now time for me to shift gears in order to wrap this review up and to do so, I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with An SNL Digital Short called The Sabotage Of Baldwin where, while trying to initiate an affair with the real Kelly Ripa, Steve Martin popped a Viagra pill just in time to learn of Alec Baldwin’s tie-breaking night from a fictional night where he was going to host his thirteenth episode. This caught Steve Martin off guard considering Alec Baldwin just entered the Twelve-Timers Club earlier in the year. Unfortunately, for Steve Martin, he learned of this news the second he took the pill which set off a Viagra countdown clock, as out host rushed to the studio to stop Alec Baldwin in order to save his title. First, our real host for the night snuck into Baldwin’s dressing room and killed him with a measuring tape before rolling him up in a rug. He then marched down the hall with a dead Alec over his shoulder as he knocking out Lorne Michaels for putting him in this position, and then dropped Baldwin’s body down to the ice skating rink seven stories below. Of course, with this being the opening segment, it all built up to our host’s announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Steve Martin then officially opened the show with a monolog about how this was his fourteenth time to host. He then reflected back and shared a few moments from when he worked with the original cast while joking that he struggled to remember the exact date of his first visit. He then wrapped things up by sharing supposed photos of the original cast that all turned out to be him, before announcing Maya Rudolph’s return to the show following her pregnancy leave and making Viagra boner noises while showing the Viagra clock from the opening segment.
  3. This was followed by a fake ad for A Teddy Bear Holding A Heart which was just that, a crappy little teddy bear holding a heart like you can find at any gas station, but it was pitched as the ultimate romantic item any woman would love to receive as a gift on Valentine’s Day.
  4. We then got a parody of Oprah that had Maya Rudolph as Ms. Winfrey to parody the A Million Little Pieces book scandal from her show only in this round Steve Martin played the author who was selling a book called, Skating At The Bottom Of The Ocean which is also eventually revealed to be a false memoir.
  5. This was followed by a fake ad for a book called Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford where Chris Parnell played a financial expert/author who gave the simple titular advice in his not financial advisory book.
  6. Hamas Celebration Party had Steve Martin arrive to do stand-up at what he thought was a fun loving event only to find out that it was a rally be held by Hamas because the leaders of the group invited him to attend after mistaking him for an anti-Semite. Steve Martin was hesitant at first, but then after being reminded that they paid him five-hundred-thousand dollars, he gave into the idea of a gig being a gig and then did his best to promote The Pink Panther even though he was against what the rally stood for.
  7. This was followed by another SNL Digital Short called Close Talkers where Steve Martin and Will Forte played old friends who both talked extremely close to one another, so close that they looked like they were on the verge of kissing even as their friendly reunion turned into a close-talking argument.
  8. Quick Zoom Theatre showed us how the intensity of a dramatic scene can be easily heightened by the use of frequent quick zooms. To do so, we watch a scene in a doctor’s office where they would zoom in on any actor/actress after they delivered even the most mundane of lines. To add to the fun, the only time that there was an actual serious line, there was also no zoom at all.
  9. Prince then took to the stage to perform A Woman Scorned.
  10. Once again, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler gave us the news. This week, was all Tina and Amy and not special guests at all.
  11. We were then taken to the Super Bowl XL Halftime Rehearsals where Horatio Sanz, Kenan Thompson, and Jason Sudeikis played halftime performers Aaron Neville, Aretha Franklin, and Dr. John who were all more interested in the free catering than rehearsing their number for the big show.
  12. Next, we were taken to Lorne's Office in time to see Steve Martin rush in and inform Lorne Michaels that rumor had it the episode’s ratings were going through the roof which led him to ask for more money for his hosting duties. Lorne didn’t think much of this threat and rather than renegotiate, he threated to replace our host with a recovering Alec Baldwin, who was still injured from the opening sketch, or Jimmy Fallon who was chomping at the bit to come back to host the show even though all Steve Martin wanted was five hundred extra bucks.
  13. The Prince Show was another reoccurring sketch to return where once again Fred Armisen played Prince with Maya Rudolph as his sidekick, Beyonce Knowles. This time the two weirdos had on Steve Martin as their personal chef and Kristin Wigg as Drew Barrymore who both added their own quirky notes to the show.
  14. State Of The Galaxy 2145 took us to the future where we learned that absolutely nothing has seemed to change. If anything, any issue we had at the time was just intensified, as Will Forte as George Q. Bush share stories of struggle, mainly focused on even more extreme weather caused by global warming and BS terrorist threats that have now spread throughout the entire galaxy.
  15. We then got yet another SNL Digital Short called Tangent where Fred Armisen met up with a date with Kristin Wiig and kept rambling on about the minutiae of life, even after she left. Though Wiig wasn’t interested, Bill Hader played a casting agent who crossed Fred’s path and felt Fred would be the perfect co-star for a movie written for Scarlett Johansson. The movie is made, and Fred’s a big hit as he continues to ramble throughout his entire promotional talk show circuit. This goes on and on until we find ourselves back at the original spot after Fred’s manager, Chris Parnell finally snaps from Fred’s constant rambling seconds after the opening weekend numbers revealed that the movie turned out to be a complete failure.
  16. Surfers took us to a beach where a bunch of young surfers kept dropping hints that Steve Martin was too old to join their squad, only he’s too out of it, in that surfer way, to pick up on the obvious clues.
  17. Prince then took to the stage with Tamar to perform Beautiful Love (3121).
  18. Naturally Crafting was a crafting talk show hosted by Rachel Dratch who had Steve Martin on as her guest. Throughout the interview, Dratch kept making it perfectly clear that she wanted Steve Martin to spend the night during a crazy blizzard. Even though Steve Martin got the hint that she had more than his safety in mind, he didn’t seem interested one bit and kept turning down her desperate offer. Of course, with this being comedy, the two ended up passionately making out by the end.
  19. Finally, Steve Martin closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Again, to be clear, no matter how the review up above may make it seem, my disappointment was that I didn’t like the show more than I did and not that it was a terrible episode because there were still sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments that made the viewing pretty fun. First, I loved The Sabotage Of Baldwin because I loved having this cinematic start to the show instead of just another parody making fun of Nightline or Hardball or some other form of news. Next, I really liked the Close Talkers SNL Digital Short because I was expecting close talkers Seinfeld style, and not so close the Steve Martin and Will Forte almost kissed. Finally, I was a fan of The State Of The Galaxy 2145 sketch because this sketch totally highlights my finding from this challenge that, as far as politics goes, nothing has or will ever change, it will only get more intense.

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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.