Kutcher As Kutcher
Does Not Equal Sketch Comedy
Why is it almost always that case that the day after I watch an episode that I love, the follow-up show turns out to be borderline terrible? Last night’s show was not only the first episode of the year that was actually good and not just slightly above average, but it was also so good that it rekindled my love of Christopher Walken hosting the show. It was the first show of his that I wasn’t burnt out on from watching a million times in the past. More importantly, last night’s show as a whole felt like everyone finally fully recovered from the time off caused by the writers’ strike.
Since I liked Ashton Kutcher's past to appearances, I figured that tonight’s episode would follow suit. Nope, tonight’s show slipped right back to being just as average as the rest of the year, and not even the best of the average at that. At least with the other average episodes from this year, I felt they were just a little off, where tonight’s show felt kind of like our host was just winging it by being himself in every single scene. Even when he was being a character, I could see nothing but Ashton as Ashton in a hat or something other than a t-shirt. Hell, even when he played the chocolate bar it still just seemed like Kutcher from Punk’d.
You might be thinking, “Wait, isn’t Christopher Walken always pretty much himself, and you just gave him praise?” Though you might have a point, I feel that Walken is eccentric enough that he as himself comes across as an interesting enough character to carry a show. There are hosts like Pee Wee Herman who take the concept of the character of themselves to the extreme that can pull off hosting an entire show this way. There are also hosts like Jack Black, whose character of himself isn’t as extreme but is also a heightened version of the real Jack who can also carry an entire show. Walken lies somewhere in the middle while Kutcher reminds me of someone more like myself who can be funny as hell to my friends but that humor doesn’t translate to the screen.
In my case, I’m way too self-conscious whenever I sense a camera on me and become an unconfident mess. With Kutcher, however, it’s clearly not a confidence issue, in fact, it’s the opposite to where he seems so comfortable that he constant goofy grin makes it so clear that he’s just being him that it takes me out of the scene. I know I’ve said many times that I love when a host will just play and have fun, even if they don’t give the best performances. In these cases, I’m usually referring to a host who might not be able to stop giggling at the ridiculousness of their costume and character and not just giggling to themselves.
Again, to be clear, this isn’t coming from someone who is anti-Ashton, I just turned out to be anti-this-episode, but at least it was better than both Bon Jovi’s and Brian Williams’s episodes. With that, it’s now time to move on and share what I saw, as I give you…
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with parody C-SPAN coverage of General Petraeus Report On Iraq that had Will Forte as the general to report on the proceedings in Iraq. First, he made the war sound like it was running smoothly, only each example highlighted the cluster-fuck of a situation we were in. He then went on to criticize Darrell Hammond as John McCain, and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton who both denied their own warmongering ways and recently published books filled with lies, before praising Fred Armisen as Barack Obama who had a recently published book as well. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
Ashton Kutcher then officially opened the show with a monolog about how thanks to shows like Punk’d and Beauty And The Geek, he’s now a TV producer. Then, in an effort to show how serious he was taking this new producer role he took us backstage to wander about, making “helpful” suggestions to the SNL staff as if he could fix the show.
The Cougar Den was a talk show sketch that had Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig and Casey Wilson as a collection of cougars hosts who kept commenting about their college-aged boyfriends before introducing their special guest, the real Cameron Diaz, who played cougar number four with her young stud Ashton Kutcher in tow to join in on the cougar fun. Ashton played a character that was so vapid that he openly admitted that young men were into cougars to take advantage of these older women’s desperate ways to get whatever they want.
Outside The Nightclub had Ashton Kutcher as himself outside of the hippest new nightclub in town. Thinking that his prominence as a celebrity would allow him the instant access, he attempted to walk right in only to be stopped by Kenan Thompson who played the clubs bouncer and told Ashton that he had to wait alongside Fred Armisen who played a gawky geek. The two then had to watch way less deserving patrons gained instant access to the club.
This was followed by another SNL Digital Short which was actually a music video for a song called Daiquiri Girl By Clementine. In the world of the short, tonight’s musical guest Gnarls Barkley was originally supposed to be involved but backed out at the last minute leaving the video makers with a substandard song and a video that was even worse. This was a weird one because it was legitimately terrible, and all of the information about Gnarls Barkley was delivered through text, so it was unclear if it was a joke or if they were really sending a message to the group that their no-show wasn’t cool, while taking it out on the audience at the same time.
We then went behind-the-scenes for an Activia Commercial Shoot where during the shoot for this yogurt spot, Kristen Wiig as Jamie Lee Curtis not only admits that she can’t get enough of the product, even though it continually causes her to crap her pants.
Gnarls Barkley then took to the stage to perform Run.
Once again, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Kristen Wiig dropped by as a travel writer who constantly tried to cover her nervousness by continually kidding around and never actually getting to her point. This was a character that Wiig used before, but this was the first time she was fully actualized as a news segment personality. Fred Armisen also returned as he political comedian character to struggle to get through his jokes that he attempted to make up on the spot while reading newspaper headlines.
Amie took place in a bar where the titular song Amie started playing on the jukebox which got Ashton Kutcher, Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte, and Bill Hader all reflecting on increasingly unusual life-changing events from their life in between all joining in to sing the chorus of the song.
The Mellow Show was as the title suggests a show hosted by Andy Samberg as Jack Johnson who is extremely laid back as he talks with fellow laid-back guests Bill Hader as Dave Matthews, and Ashton Kutcher as John Mayer.
Ashton Kutcher then returned as the chocolate bar for round two of Death By Chocolate where this time he shot and killed a doctor to then plant the gun on a coma patient right before pulling their plug.
Gnarls Barkley then returned to the stage to perform Who's Gonna Save My Soul?
Casey Wilson then played a paraplegic stripper named Dusty Velvet who has to rely on the help of Ashton Kutcher, who played the emcee, to position her into her erotic dance moves.
Ashton then returned as the chocolate bar once again for another Death By Chocolate where he killed Andy Samberg as himself, with a chainsaw while he was waiting in his quick-change booth.
Finally, Ashton Kutcher closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
This episode turned out to be so unimpressive that part of me wants to make all three installments of the Death By Chocolate series of sketches, my top three moments because at least that outfit made me laugh. I can’t do that though, so instead, I’ll mix it up a little and share these three sketches as the ones that contained my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Death By Chocolate series because both the concept and costumer actually were pretty funny to me. Next, I really liked the Dusty Velvet because looking at it through modern eyes had me laughing because it is now so offensive on so many levels that I find it amazing to see the time gap in our comedic sensibilities is much shorter than I often think. Finally, I was a fan of Outside The Nightclub because it was funny to see who the show joked had more pull than Ashton Kutcher.