SNL: S34E14... HOST: STEVE MARTIN... DATE: JANUARY 31, 2009

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Welcome To The Fifteen-Timers Club,

Mr. Martin!!!

 

Hm… what a terrible episode for writer’s block to set in. Then again, tonight’s episode makes fifteen shows hosted by Steve Martin, which is probably the reason that I have nothing to say. Well, at least when it comes to my history with our host since I think I’ve shared everything that I’ve got. I guess I could do a quick recap before sharing how I felt about the actual episode.

I hate to keep bringing this up but, one of the biggest surprises to come from this challenge is how little of a fan I was of Martin’s earlier appearances. Though I loved his high energy as a kid, now that I’m older I’m not as big of a fan of calculated hyperactivity from smart performers because it comes across as either desperate or forced. Keep in mind, I also went through a phase similar to the one Stan went through where all he saw or heard was shit, as he lost the ability to tap into his youthful interest and think I’ve yet to fully recover.

Thanks to this challenge, I am winning some of these interest back but am struggling to not factor in all of the things that I’m told aren’t supposed to be funny anymore, or have just outgrown many things on my own. Also, thanks to this challenge, I stuck around to watch his later shows and realized, this could also be due to the fact that I was so young that I only remember these early days through reruns and that the Steve Martin at that time was more intellectual and mellow. Even in my youth, watching these old shows was like watching an entirely different man.

I really started to love his appearances once we got past the original cast, not that I didn’t like that crew, but these were the shows that I knew from when they originally aired. There’s been another shift in Martin’s recent visits where I have mixed feelings because the shows have been decent, but part of me does feel that he’s mainly hosting for the plugs. As I said, he still does put on a pretty good show, but there are times where it feels like he’s phoning it in. This is why I really like the pre-90s seasons where only three or four hosts blatantly plugged the movie that they were there to promote.

I was amazed at how long it took for it to be commonplace for the monolog be a segment for plugs where it used to be more to give us a taste of the comedic abilities of our host while they introduced themselves. I felt tonight’s monolog was nice because the stand-up approach is much more unique than the trend that’s been going on for the last several years where almost every host starts out with the standard pleasantries only to be interrupted by someone from the cast who then carry the comedic weight. That said, he kept saying, “my new movie,” like he was a person feeling out the perfect entry moment while playing double dutch before he jumped write in and went full hog on plugging The Pink Panther. I think the fact that it seems to be this caliber of project that sends him to SNL while on his publicity tour to promote.

Oh well, that’s all that I have for the intro now lets me quickly share my thoughts on the actual episode. As always, I’m a bit burnt out on the staple political sketch to start the show especially as we get closer to real-time, so as I often point out, this started me out in a hole that the monolog didn’t pull me out of for the reasons mentioned above. The fake ad for Chewable Pampers did get a chuckle out of me as did the genuine ad for Pepsi that was actually a fake MacGruber sketch. I could really get into this brand of product placement marketing because I love how it took place outside of the show instead of it seeming like the show is trying to sneak the product placement right in front of our eyes.

I like that they stopped starting the Introvert series with the same premise of it being Kristen Wiig’s and Will Forte’s first night hanging out drinking as coworkers even though they did the same thing the prior week. That said this new approach made them seem more like nerds considering they had zero fears of entering the place and instantly started to interact with everyone. As an introvert myself, I got too hung up on this disconnect to appreciate this sketch.

Of course, I loved the Laser Cats because it’s my favorite of the series of SNL Digital Shorts. I also enjoyed the sketch that followed where Kenan just assumed he knew the issues that his guests were there to address only to continually be way off because his character’s facial expression kept cracking me up, especially since Kenan, in general, reminds me of a hilarious friend who I met back when I worked in film.

Again, the MacGruber ad disguised as a sketch was brilliant, not just as a marketing concept but also because the real MacGyver was involved. The Bernie Madoff sketch just bummed me out because it got me thinking about how his type of crime still goes on amongst powerful people who will do perfectly fine even after getting caught. Even if they do get punished that means nothing to the lives that they’ve ruined, making it hard for me to laugh, which is a new development that’s not about being PC like some of the other humor change within me that I question.

I hated Steve And The Ladies because I had a creepy lecherous grandpa who embarrassed me all throughout my childhood by trying to flirt with every waitress at a family lunch, every employee at a clothing store who was helping us while back to school shopping, every girl that looked his way. It makes me cringe just thinking about it, even to this day. I’m willing to bet that between him and being raised by a single mom with nothing but sisters is why I’m straight but borderline asexual, which also explains why I’ve always been against these types of jokes that sexualize people too much.

More MacGruber meant more fun, and I zoned out through both Jason Mraz and the news. When I say zone out, I mean I just watch without really worrying about taking any notes when I don’t end up getting inspired and not that I stop paying attention to the show. The Make-Up Counter sketch that followed the news felt more like Kristen Wiig was playing an inside joke of a character that a hand full of friends would love but not being in on it felt just as annoying as being left out of inside jokes amongst friends.

It was fun to see Steve Martin and his banjo band, but it was more fun to see how in the following sketch, they put old man make-up on Steve Martin that only aged him what seemed to be one year. This made me laugh and got me wondering if they did that for the joke or to make him feel better about how they aged the much younger cast and they still looked younger than him. I’m not pointing this out to be mean, but I have to do a double take at least three times to notice the difference. Jason Mraz then returned with Colbie Caillat to sing a collaboration that I liked way better than the first.

And finally, Steve Martin said his goodnights.

Hm… Turns out it really wasn’t writer’s block after all. Oh well, there you have a brief history with me and Steve along with my views on the sketches that made up this episode, now it time to dig in and share more details about each sketch, and with that, I give you…

 

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with A Message From The President Of The United States that introduced Fred Armisen as President Barack Obama in this first episode following the inauguration, which was the subject of the President’s address… well… the inauguration, not the fact that this was the first episode… Anyways, in the sketch, Barack recalled the sweeter moments of Inauguration Day before struggling to comment on the floundering economy. At one point, Jason Sudeikis as Joe Biden attempted to hijack the podium to share a few words, but his plan was quickly thwarted by Obama before he announced, “Live from New York…”

  2. Steve Martin then officially opened the show with a bit of a stand-up routine where he joked about his abilities to stay connected with the average man even though every example that he gave provided evidence that his view of himself was way off. He also kept making hint toward his new movie throughout the entire bit making it sort of feel like he was only hosting to promote the release of The Pink Panther.

  3. This was followed by a fake ad for Chewable Pampers which as the products name suggests was a line of organic-enriched diapers that are both eco-friendly and delicious, at least that’s what Kristen Wiig’s pitchwoman claimed.

  4. MacGruber then returned to kick off another series of sketches with Will Forte as our fictional TV hero, with Kristen Wiig as his trusty sidekick. This time, the real McGyver, Richard Dean Anderson was also involved as the new guy that led to the distraction that stopped MacGruber from defusing the bomb. It turned out this wasn’t an official sketch but was actually a paid ad from Pepsi that they premiered during tonight’s episode.

  5. The Introverts then returned, and for the first time, they dropped the reoccurring setup that they were hanging out for drinks for the first time since they started to work together. Instead the two regular Introverts, Kristen Wiig and Will Forte ventured into a sports bar with their new friend, Steve Martin, to awkwardly join a large crowd who were watching the Super Bowl. Or at least they should have been awkward. Instead, they just hung out acting like old nerds who weren’t introverted at all.

  6. We then got another SNL Digital Short called Laser Cats 4Ever where Andy Samberg and Bill Hader used Steve Martin as a pawn to get Lorne Michaels to watch their latest installment of Laser Cats. This edition of Laser Cats was a bit of a blend of a parody of RoboCop, Total Recall, Star Wars, and a couple other sci-fi/action movies.

  7. Issues was a talk show with Kenan Thompson as the host who tried to help his guests overcome the outward matters that he thinks are bothering them even though they never say a word. For example, Casey Wilson played a young girl with acne issues which Kenan made his primary focus while all Wilson wanted was advice on how to handle an issue she was having with her sister. The real laughs kicked in after this set up when Steve Martin entered the room as an old man with man boob, who was there for his fear of water but I’ll let you guess what Kenan got hung up on.

  8. MacGruber then returned for round two where the Pepsi marketing was more direct as our hero was distracted from defusing the bomb because he was too busy waxing poetic about his love for Pepsi and Pepsi products so much that he was contemplating changing his name to PepSuber.

  9. Madoff Invites brought back Fred Armisen as Bernie Madoff who was confined to house arrest and made a series of calls to his old pals on the outside to invite them to his Super Bowl party even though they all wanted him dead for swindling them out of their life savings. This did stop this psychopath from acting like everything was just fine.

  10. Steve And The Ladies was a sketch that showed how, as with the female cast members throughout the years, this current collection of Not Ready For Prime Time Players also struggle to hide their fleeting attraction to tonight’s host. Meanwhile, Steve Martin acted like a lecherous jerk, feeling up Kristen Wiig, calling them all bimbos and ending the scene to taking them all off to have an orgy after demanding that they don’t tell his wife.

  11. MacGruber then returned for round three of his sellout effort where he only said the word Pepsi throughout the entire segment.

  12. Jason Mraz then took to the stage to perform I'm Yours.

  13. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Jason Sudeikis returned as the recently impeached Rod Blagojevich to lash out upon his critics. Abby Elliott also dropped in out of nowhere as Angelina Jolie who had greedy intentions after Seth Meyers read a story about the Octomom before she was given the nickname, but Jolie was jealous of this woman with so many kids the same age without having to resort to adoption. Fred Armisen wrapped up the guest portion of the news by revising his Governor David Peterson to make crass comments about upstate New York while explaining his selection for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat replacement. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)

  14. Make-Up Counter had Steve Martin as Thomas, a customer representative, who was tending to a customer, Casey Wilson, while his obsessive wife, Kristen Wiig, repeatedly called out Thomas’s name to remind him that they are married, while also sending the message to Ms. Wilson even though there was no sign of any interest.

  15. Steve Martin then took to the stage to perform Late For School.

  16. Forefathers Of The Game was a parody of an ESPN Classics profile of heat-packing ‘30s football player Billy “The Gun” Van Goff, as played by Steve Martin who shot any defensive player that got in his way.

  17. Jason Mraz took to the stage with Colbie Caillat to perform Lucky.

  18. Finally, Steve Martin closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Though this wasn’t my favorite of Steve Martin’s fifteen visits, thanks to the sketches like these three, that contained my favorite moments of the night, it was far from the worst. First, I loved this week’s SNL Digital Short: Laser Cats 4Ever not just because I love this series, but I also loved all the references to RoboCop, Star Wars, and various other sci-fi/action films. Next, I really liked the Issues sketch because as I said up above, Kenan’s facial expression kept cracking me up, plus he really reminds me of an old friend who also cracked me up. Finally, I was a fan of Forefathers Of The Game because I was utterly humored by the fact that Steve Martin’s old man make-up only made him look a year older than he was without it.

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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.