SNL: S34E10... HOST: JOHN MALKOVICH... DATE: DECEMBER 6, 2008

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Entering The Realm Of The Unknown

 

Around the time this episode originally aired, I was working my day job and spending every weekend volunteer to work on whatever film would have me on their crew. As I said back in the Michael Phelps review, this was around the time where an issue with my core group of friends had me seeking alternative things that I could do with my weekends. With the average day on a film set being at least twelve hours, this meant that I had very little time to focus on any problems much less have any extra time for TV.

There’s a blind spot in my history with Saturday Night Live that starts with this episode and last all the way up until Abby Elliott left the show. I know this because I’m also a huge Howard Stern fan and his TV guy J.D. Harmeyer used to go on and on about how hot Abby Elliott was, especially considering that she was the daughter of Chris. Though I was half interested in seeing what J.D. considered to be hot, I was more interested in seeing what Chris Elliott’s daughter looked like and how his influence showed up in her work, only to end up seeing a handful of her episodes.

Of course, there were weeks where I couldn’t find work or host who I would watch On-Demand but looking at the cast from this season all the way up to season thirty-eight there are several featured players who I’ve never even heard of or know from outlets other than this show. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard the names, Michaela Watkins, or Paul Brittain? I kind of remember Nasim Pedrad from actually watching the show but know her more from when Scott Aukerman saying her name while impersonating Don Pardo and Comedy Bang Bang, which is the podcast that is probably the reason I know Jenny Slate.

Though I wasn’t all that enthusiastic going into this episode because this season has been consistently average with most shows not getting any good until the second half, I am excited to see how the rest of this mysterious period plays out, but first I must switch my attention to this episode. Right out the gate, I was annoyed, but only because I have had my fill with anyone who had anything to do with the 2016 Presidential Election. That said, I was already burnt out by the Hillary’s bitter about not being the President joke particularly because it brings me back to the modern times that I’m trying to escape with this project.

Thankfully, the rest of the show didn’t follow this trend. The monolog was funny, with John Malkovich creeping out a bunch of kids, and the fake commercial for a farting aide that followed had me laughing like I was a little kid. With these two segments switching my mood, knowing the rest of this season, I thought for sure the show would lose me with the first official non-opening/non-fake commercial sketch, especially after reading the brief summary that made it seem like an old-school sexist sketch with eye’s ogling Kristen Wiig. The summary made it sound like the ogling was the main laugh but the way it played out actually made me laugh.

The next two sketches lost me a bit. The Barack is cool sketch just felt blah, being that his coolness was crammed down our throats for eight years, but I’m sure I would have loved it at the time. The second sketch being Bill Hader as the Italian host, who was never funny to me (the host character, not Hader, to be clear.) Wiig then won me back with another add from her character that reminds me of her character from the movie Welcome To Me, which might be my favorite Wiig project.

Having been won back by Wiig, I was then entertained by John Malkovich and Fred Armisen as twins but then zoned out during T.I. and the news. Nothing against T.I., I just always sort of zone out during the music since there’s no comedy for me to analyze. As far as the news goes, it’s not that I don’t like Weekend Update. It’s always fascinating to see what was happening at the time but looking back on these news segments can be rough when the references have grown to be insignificant over time, or even worse, highlight how we’ve learned nothing from the past. This two results either leave me bored or depressed so I do zone out from time to time, especially as we get closer and closer to present time when I stopped seeing any aspect of the news as humorous. That said, I still like to see SNL’s take on the topic no matter what era I’m watching.

I didn’t really get the sketch that followed the news, maybe because I’ve never read Judy Blume so missed out on some of the subtleties, but it was entertaining enough since it was super weird. Then we got An SNL Digital Short that was a bit too blatant with The Lonely Island before they were an official group, rapping about jizzing their pants. Not that being blatant is bad, in fact, the bluntness was the reason for the laughs. I zoned out again during T.I. and wasn’t won back by the final sketches because I don’t like British period pieces and never saw Dangerous Liaisons, not that I think knowledge or interest in either would have helped me to enjoy this sketch any more.

So, when all is said and done, this was another solid show with a handful of moments that I felt were a bit boring or slow, but with a much better ration than most of the episodes from this year, making me hopeful for the rest of this season. Only time will tell how the rest of this year will play out, with that, it’s time to move on, and in order to do so, I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with A Message From The Secretary Of State Designate where Amy Poehler portrayed the newly appointed Hillary Clinton to swear to America that she didn’t hold a grudge against Barack Obama, even though she was clearly speaking through gritted teeth. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. John Malkovich then officially opened the show with a monolog where he read The Night Before Christmas to a group of the crew members’ kids but kept interrupting the tale to educate the kids about the real-life truths behind this traditional holiday tale. These truths included things like how “hopes are what we cling to when reality leave us nothing else” and how suicide rates increase during the holidays.

  3. This was followed by a fake ad for the Gas-Right Strip where Fred Armisen played the inventor of the Breathe-Right Strip, and this was his follow-up product that helps control the flow of farts coming out of the user's butts that spread the cheeks to make any gas release silent.

  4. Shana had John Malkovich, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, and Kenan Thompson as a group of co-workers who were all enamored by new officemate Kristen Wiig who played the titular Shana character. Though this character had fantastic sex appeal, all interest was lost the moment the men witnessed her attempt to blow out the candles during a lunchroom birthday celebration since she spit and made terrible noises as she attempted to blow. She then dropped her fork, which won the men back but her bizarre efforts to pick it up turned them off again. This also happened when she ate a banana like a freak while trying to be sexy and entirely turned everyone off when she attempted to sing, well, everyone but Malkovich who seemed interested even after she admitted to pooping her skirt.

  5. Cool Obama had Fred Armisen as President Barack to share with the audience just how cool he actually was.

  6. La Rivista Della Televisione brought back Bill Hader’s crazy Italian talk show host character who doesn’t speak a lick of English as he attempted to interview John Malkovich as himself. It doesn’t help that, in the world of the sketch, John Malkovich doesn’t speak Italian either which makes thing awkward when Hader showed a clip from his own sex scene from his film Being Vinny Vedecci, which is Hader’s character’s name.

  7. Virgania Horsen's Pony Express had Kristen Wiig in the titular role to offer an alternative to the traditional mail service by promoting her old school delivery ways since the news way are inefficient and could under a terrorist attack.

  8. Twins Had John Malkovich and Fred Armisen as twin brothers who shared that all that they wanted for Christmas was a simple calculator because they were both super nerds.

  9. T.I. then took to the stage to perform Whatever You Like.

  10. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news, with this being the week that Amy Poehler returned. This week, Kenan Thompson dropped by as Plaxico Burress to provide gun-carriers safety tips, only to end up accidentally shooting himself once again. Andy Samberg stopped by as a little kid to give a few immature tips on how to meet girls, that sounded like they were from the book The Game. Fred Armisen was the final news guest as Boy George to share that he saw nothing wrong with falsely imprisoning a male escort, which he was recently arrested for. (Clip 2)

  11. The Lost Works Of Judy Blume had John Malkovich as an awkward teen named Gertie who harbored a secret that she hoped would not be revealed while hanging out with friends at a slumber party. The party then started with a game of truth or dare that made it seem like this would be how said secret would be revealed but the answer never really came through this activity. Gertie did manage to freak the girls out with her weirdness, which left her alone to talk to God where we learned she may have a tail, or that it might just be in her head since she also shared her desires to burn the house down.

  12. This was followed by another SNL Digital Short called Jizz In My Pants where Andy Samberg sang about the experiences that make him perform the chorus.

  13. T.I. then took to the stage with Swizz Beatz to perform Swing Ya Rag.

  14. J'accuzi was a parody of Dangerous Liaisons, only this version took place in a hot tub.  

  15. Finally, John Malkovich closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Even though my opinion kept bouncing back and forth, I was thoroughly won over by the end of this episode thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I love the fake ad for the Gas-Right Strip because I’m still an extremely immature adult who cracks up at fart humor. Next, I really liked Virgania Horsen's Pony Express because I love the Virgania Horsen character whenever she is on since she reminds me so much of Kristen Wiig in Welcome To Me, which is a movie I really enjoy. Finally, I was a fan of Shana because I liked this sketch’s approach to a joke about beauty only being skin deep.

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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.