Another Fun Show Ruined
By Midterm Elections
Yesterday’s show hosted by John C. Reilly had me a bit excited. For one, it felt like the season had finally settled in following the newly configured cast’s summer break. Next, the energy was consistent throughout the entire night. And finally, because it was good enough to inspire to write about the actual show and its host and not just how I’m handling the process of this challenge.
I thought for sure I was over the uninspired hump, but then this episode sent me right back to staring at the wall while trying to think of how to handle this review. It might have helped if I was more familiar with Hugh Laurie, because, from what I do know through interviews he’s given me the impression that he can be a pretty funny guy. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, so where I might have seen charm in some of his line flubs, instead of seeing it as a theatrically trained actor who kept messing up, especially since he emphasized his stage experience during the opening monolog.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that Hugh Laurie was terrible, but those slip up still stood out in my mind thanks to the unfamiliarity. Aside from not knowing the host, my main issue with this episode was how much it focused on the midterm election that was about to go down. Again, I can see how these political jokes might have been fun at the time, but it feels that ever since George W. Bush was elected, the political content doesn’t age as well with time.
I think this is because the election of Bush Jr. was the tipping point to where I started to lose faith in the US political system in general. Now, the over a decade old jokes making light of many issues that we’re still dealing with today doesn’t seem as fun as the pre-9/11 political jabbing from a time where the world, at least to me, felt safe enough for such frivolous fun.
Also, to me at least, it was around the era of W. when I stopped seeing satire as a tool because I started to see lots of fun criticisms that led to many laughs but very little change. Instead of these comedic jabs leading the real news to look deeper into an issue, it feels like satire just allowed us to vent by hearing the TV acknowledge how things are messed up. Then, once addressed, we just said, “That’s fucked up,” while waiting for the next joke, more like the jester’s job back in the day, and less the comic strips that always get credited for the US Revolution.
So the fact that this episode was so filled with this brand of political content led me to tune out a lot. With that said, I’m still excited about this season because I was still very entertained by the non-political content. We’ll see how the rest of the season plays out but until then, it’s now time to wrap this review up by sharing what I saw, as I give you…
The Wicker Breakdown:
- This week's show started with an announcement from Lorne Michaels who claimed that in the wake of the latest NBC budget cuts, he had to sell the first five minutes of the show to the nation of Kazakhstan before throwing to a message from Sacha Baron Cohen as the Kazakhstan Ministry Of Information, better known as Borat. He had with him, his sidekick from the Borat movie, Azamat, who silently stood in the background as Cohen in character shared crazy facts about Kazakhstan. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
- Hugh Laurie then officially opened the show with a monolog where he introduced himself to the audience by outlining his acting career since most Americans only knew him from House, M.D. without knowing his theatrical and comedic British acting history. This was after listing a string of quirky ways to explain his true self that, for the most part, sounded delightful unless you really listen to the words to hear that he was actually being rather dark.
- Most Haunted was a parody of a ghost hunting show where Hugh Laurie played a paranormal investigator who accidentally cut a fart in the middle of an investigation with his team who all took the heat signature, sulfuric smell, and sound as a message from the ghost that they were there to seek out.
- TV Funhouse then gave us a series of animated political attack ads against the Democrats that George W. Bush planned to use during the upcoming midterm elections, where each ad was more over the top than the last.
- 2006 World Series took us to the big game where Maya Rudolph played a contest winner who delivered a crazy rendition of The Star Spangled Banner where she milked almost every single word. To top thing off, less then halfway through she just started making sounds that were so incoherent that it was unclear if the joke was that she forgot the words or if the lyrics were correct but barely recognizable as actual words.
- Advance Man had Hugh Laurie as the titular prep-person for Queen Elizabeth’s trip to New York who had to go over the Queen’s crazy demands while meeting with Kristin Wiig who played the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’s concierge.
- This was followed by another parody of Hardball where once again Darrell Hammond played Chris Matthews in order to berate his guest, this time while having a roundtable discussion about the upcoming midterm election.
- Hugh's Protest Song was, as the title suggests, a segment where Hugh shared a protest song, where he sang clear until it got to the point where he claimed to have a solution to end the war where the song then got so Bob Dylanesque that you could barely understand his mumbling.
- Beck then took to the stage to perform Nausea.
- Once again, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Will Forte dropped by as his Tim Calhoun character to a signature monotoned announcement that he was running for “Senator Of America.” Fred Armisen and Bill Hader also stopped by as a same-sex couple from New Jersey in order to comment on their state’s recent ruling on gay marriage and how they were excited about the fact that they could now get married while really playing up the New Jersey stereotypes and clichés.
- American Medical Association had Kenan Thompson as a pimp sounding patient who was in the E.R. with Hugh Laurie, as his wife, who totally looked like a transsexual prostitute, because of a broken leg and kept talking trash to his doctor, Will Forte, through the entire appointment. At the end of the sketch, we discovered this was actually a parody PSA that attempted to get patients to trust and be kind to their doctors.
- We then got a parody of The Curse Of Frankenstein where Bill Hader played the Frankenstein monster who was hiding from the angry mob and calmly decided to attempt to trick the village by getting them to focus their hate on Jason Sudeikis who was playing Dracula and lived just down the street. Both Frankenstein and Dracula both kept their calm so well that they could figure out which one to believe until Frankenstein’s arm randomly fell off.
- Beck then returned to the stage to perform Clap Hands.
- Linder And Bowles had Fred Armisen as Linder and Hugh Laurie as Bowles who both kept oohing and awing exaggeratingly, over each of the credentials on Amy Poehler’s resume as they interviewed her for a new job. This made it extremely difficult for Poehler to tell if this was a good sign or a bad sign. It turned out that show was good enough to get hired which led her to make an “ooh” of her own which made them confused enough to fire her.
- Finally, Hugh Laurie closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
As I said up above, aside from the political stuff, this episode was pretty fun with the help of sketches like these that contained by three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved The Curse Of Frankenstein Vs. Dracula parody because I love the way that Bill Hader played such a level-headed Frankenstein both literally and figuratively. Next, I really liked the Most Haunted parody because I’m a grown ass man who still laughs like a child at fart jokes. Finally, I was a fan of The Opening Sketch With Borat because I am a huge Borat fan and especially was at this time.