SNL: S34E01... HOST: MICHAEL PHELPS... DATE: SEPTEMBER 13, 2008

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The Slip Before The Fall

 

As I’ve said in the past couple of post, this season is the start to a period of the show that I don’t really know because I check out of anything to do with new entertainment around this time. I didn’t realize it while I was giving these heads up but tonight’s episode actually plays heavily into what turned out to be a five-year fall toward my midlife crisis/final straw. This five years of floundering was also one of the most fun time periods of my life just like the five years that followed the post-high school depression that landed me in Seattle when I first tried to Leaving Las Vegas myself.

I’m pretty sure that I brought up round one of my self-destructive phase during one of the two seasons from 1997 when I moved to Seattle to ignore a lump that I found on my testicle. Rather than do anything real about it, my mind was already demented from dealing with depression that I figured I’d just throw booze at the situation and see how things played out, a time-tested family tradition of just hoping that serious issues will just magically work themselves out some day.

It took me decades to finally go to an actual doctor to verify that I no longer had a concern which was a conclusion I came to earlier after an episode of radio’s Loveline taught me that some of these lumps were common and if there was a certain feel it is probably just benign. At the time this episode aired, I had heard this Loveline episode but had yet to visit a doctor because I was still on the fence as to whether or not I wanted to care.

This was also around the time that an old crush had moved back to town and we kept talking about hanging out. Though I’m sure she knew I had feelings for her, I don’t think she knew just how deep they ran since, while away, she became a bit of a muse that never was. We did date a couple of times and even made out on a couple of occasions which meant the world to me because I spent so much time with the idea of her in my mind. I’m don’t mean that in a dirty way one bit since the idea of her was by my side as I wrote at least a dozen feature-length scripts.

It didn’t take long for me to discover that she was also dating one of my best friends. Though it hurt, it made sense because the two of them had a history that went back to where I did know her but had yet to make my acquaintance with this future friend. This sent me on a bender that lasted a few months, but it still wasn’t the worst part of the story as I have yet to get to the part that involves this episode.

Friends being friends, we all did our best to pretend that none of this was happening, as I started to spend less time when certain people were around and vice versa. This was also around the time that I started to work in the field of film and television doing grip work on independent films. I volunteered on the weekends while working my day job as an attempt to limit my availability being that, even though nobody thought that I did anything wrong. I did this because, the group’s friendship went all the way back to high school leading me to always feel that if there were to be a split, I’d be the one out on my own. Just like all the other group of friends situation from my past.

One night, while watching this exact episode of SNL there was a commercial that was airing that sent a crazy thought to my mind that even though the relationship between my friend and this girl were over that there was going to be more bad news to come. The commercial in question would be too blatant of a hint to reveal who the people in question are but the commercial featured a combination of names that for some reason just made me feel really paranoid. This led me to make the craziest prediction in my head, so much so that when it turned out to come true, I started to doubt the concept of reality.

It turned out that while we were watching this episode, this same girl and another friend who was also a girl who know body knew was a lesbian were out on a weekend trip together. I have no idea how I called it based on this single commercial, but it really fucked with my head. With reality no longer being a thing, I doubled down on my nihilistic beliefs while also double down on my efforts to work in an industry that sells made up truths.

I was having a blast working in film where everybody is fake. The friendships were a blast, but they only lasted as long as a project unless you lucked out an had synced schedules for a couple of films. I was also making connections to start turning my scripts into finished projects that I could finally share. This seemed to be going so good that I eventually quit my day job and with the increased spare time I got back to hanging out with that group of friends because though dysfunctional, they were consistent enough to keep me grounded while I tried to wrap my head around the ever-changing stability of my new work.

I made up with everyone, and they made up with me, and I was even pleased that this girl I was interested was in a relationship where I knew she was safe and able to remain friends with me. In fact, this made it easier because minus the pressure of romance, which I’m only comfortable within fictional stories made up in my head, I was able to really get to know this person who I adored.

As I said, the next five or so years were a blast until I started to get so obsessed with the meaning of reality that my writing got too on the fringe to produce to the point where I finally realized my over twenties years of effort went into a lost cause. This lined up when I became experienced enough to join the lighting union right before I quit because I grew disinterested minus the drive of my former screenwriting dreams. To add to the fun, all of my friends started to settle through marriage, kids, and buying homes meaning less and less time for the group.

The final straw was when the two girls broke up and my fears of abandonment set in. On top of all this, I was working a retail job, which WILL kill the soul of a person coming out of a creative industry, especially while on antidepressants that were providing the opposite effects of their supposed job. With all of this hitting at once, as we approached the 2016 Presidential Election, it became too much for me to handle and led me to move back home. It was at this point that I rekindled my relationship with SNL again since I was bedridden and desperate to laugh again.

So, there you have the reason for my SNL blindspot from this time period. As for the actual episode, I have to say, like with most sports-based hosts, Phelps did an outstanding job. I was even surprised while doing the pre-viewing legwork that despite the Eeyore of a story that I just shared that come up during the viewing, I remember most of the sketches from their titles and brief descriptions on their own which is always a sign of a show that ends up enjoying to watch.

Sorry to get so personal with this one, I’ll be back to my usual fun and games when I return with tomorrow’s review. Until then, it’s now time for me to shift gears in order to share what I saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with A Non-Partisan Message From Sarah Palin And Hillary Clinton that brought Tina Fey as Sarah Palin together with Amy Poehler and Hillary Clinton to deliver a joint message about sexism on the campaign trail despite the fact that they still clearly had disparaging feelings toward one another. Throughout the sketch, Palin kept making claims that could set women back while Hillary could barely contain her bitterness about losing out to Barack Obama which seemed to be the only reason she agreed to team up in the first place. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. Michael Phelps then officially opened the show with a monolog about his eight gold medal record-breaking run at the latest Olympics games. He then went on to explain the endorsement deals that were coming in and how he was trying to avoid making hasty decisions as to which deals he’ll take on to avoid being the next William Shatner who joined our host to defend himself and also promote Priceline upon hearing his name. We also met Amy Poehler who was portraying Phelps’s mom for a marketing pitch that didn’t last long before our host’s real mom joined in to throw to the actual show. Throughout the entire monolog, you could also see Guy Fieri’s head in the audience whenever they’d cut to the crowd, but he didn’t end up having anything to do with this appearance.

  3. Quiz Bowl had a family of home-schooled kids up against a group of public school students for a high school based quiz show. These home-school kids turned out to be home taught for kooky reasons leaving them to have crazy beliefs about history and science including the belief in a war between man and dinosaurs, but they still knew more than the publicly educated idiots who played their competitors.

  4. This was followed by a fake ad for The Jar Glove which was a product that offered a more viable solution to opening tight jars that doesn’t involve accidental homicide, complete with examples of the right and wrong way to use this and similar products.

  5. Locker Room Motivation had Will Forte as a swimming coach who tried to inspire his team of swimmers to come back from their impending loss by playing Dancing Plants which sounded like a thinking song for a game show that the team listened to as they thought. That is until Forte was swept up by the music and put on quite a show.

  6. Craig And Stacia had Bill Hader and Amy Poehler as oblivious business owners who didn’t see how annoyed their employees were with their frumpy daughter, Kristen Wiig/Stacia and her gangly cousin Michael Phelps/Craig. Wiig’s character was first introduced with Seth Rogen as her brother back last season when he was the host and Phelps was a cousin replacement, but the overall idea was still pretty much the same.

  7. Lil Wayne then took to the stage to perform Got Money.

  8. Once again, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Will Forte dropped in as a new character named Alaska Pete who took offense to the media’s bias against fellow Alaskan, Sarah Palin. Fred Armisen also returned as his comic character who once again attempts and fails to create comedy directly from newspaper headlines. Andy Samberg then finished off the new as the character Cathy from the famous comic strip, as he as she fretted about her life.

  9. The Charles Barkley Show had Kenan Thompson as the former basketball player turned parody talk show host who, in order to pay back a gambling debt and to interview Darrell Hammond as Bela Karolyi and Michael Phelps from a Las Vegas Wynn Casino’s daycare room. During the interview, we discover that the kid played all the roles on the TV crew because they were the only staff that Barkley could still afford.

  10. We then got a parody ad for T-Mobile where Jason Sudeikis played a dad who gets in trouble with Kristen Wiig as the mom after agreeing with his son, Michael Phelps that his daughter, Casey Wilson’s friends are all really hot.

  11. This was followed by another SNL Digital Short called Space Olympic where Andy Samberg sang about the unearthly fictional event while Michael Phelps and other castmates provided the visuals as they prepared for the space competition.

  12. Pizzeria Uno feature newcomer Bobby Moynihan as a Pizzeria Uno waiter who attempted to take the order from Michael Phelps and Amy Poehler who were out on a date that was ruined by Moynihan’s obnoxious approach to customer service.

  13. Lil Wayne then returned to the stage to perform Lollipop.

  14. The Michael Phelps Diet shared the “fail-safe” weight-loss approach that suggested dieters eat as many calories as Michael Phelps during his peak training as if these dieters would then get the same results. The sketch ended with a surprise visit from the real Subway’s Jared who made a joke that knowing the future turned out to be a bit dark.

  15. Finally, Michael Phelps closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

I didn’t really say this above, but this episode turned out to be a great start to a new year with the help from sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved The Michael Phelps Diet because as someone who’s always had an issue with my weight, I will always be blown away by the reports of what Michael Phelps would consume while training making this sketch extra fun. Next, I really liked the Quiz Bowl sketch because Phelps made an amazing home-schooled student, plus the answers, in general, kept cracking me up. Finally, I was a fan of The Jar Glove fake ad because I enjoyed how it took that “how not to” example as far as to have the failed attempt end in murder.

 
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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.