SNL: S35E07... HOST: JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT... DATE: NOVEMBER 21, 2009

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An Unexpected So-So Show From Jo-Go

 

Bear with me while I make this connection, but there’s something about John Lithgow that always just kind of reminded me of my favorite quirky uncle from my mom’s side of the family, so I quickly became a fan as a kid. Because of this Lithgow connection, I also quickly became a Joseph Gordon-Levitt fan when I discovered him on 3rd Rock From The Sun, a show that I instantly loved because as a perpetual outsider, I’ve always felt like an alien.

I guess I didn’t really discover him from that show since he was already slightly familiar thanks to his one-off roles in shows like Family Ties and Quantum Leap, but that was when I discovered I was a fan. That said, he didn’t stand out as a favorite from 3rd Rock, in fact, he was low on the list of favorite people from the show, but he really won me over when he grew older and started to start in my favorite brand of quirky/cute indie films.

I really like that fact that our host for the night is known for his ability to bounce around between various genres and be competent in every role. Thankfully, I have this outlook for our host because, after last night’s terrible January Jones episode, I learned that I lost my day job. I probably would be way more pessimistic about the potential quality of tonight’s show if it would have been a few from the upcoming host line-up (i.e., I fear the next couple of days might be rough.)

Alright, let’s see how things go as I begin to share my real-time thoughts while viewing this episode. I’m back to not enjoying the opening political sketches since all the recent chaos has got me watching more news again. This sketch got me thinking of the Megyn Kelly controversy where NBC fired her for thinking that blackface is okay. Meanwhile, NBC produces SNL which still uses blackface to this very day, and they also use yellowface, redface, or whatever colored face they need to fill with their mostly white cast.

My problem isn’t how people are trying to say this is wrong, my problem is with the people who helped develop this as acceptable humor acting like they were never involved. I even saw an article about Seth Meyers slamming Megyn in a segment of his late-night show as if there were no pictures of him with Darrell Hammond as Jesse Jackson blackfacing it up for the news.

It would be one thing if he said that he understood where she’s coming from since he was a part of why people may still have these belief but things have changed. Treating her statement like it’s a complete mystery why someone would have this belief seems crazy to me and makes me less likely to listen to these sources when weighing out my opinion. I’m okay with that because it’s not like these comedy shows share any real news. Alright, enough editorializing, it’s now time to enjoys the hosted portion of tonight’s episode.

Thankfully, I paused the show after the above ramblings, to fit in a few Fitbit steps as well as reset my mood for the rest of the viewing. Other than Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s hint of an accent that sounded more like an artifact from a recent character he must have just played and not natural at all, the performance of Make ‘Em Laugh did work to cheer me up and ready for the rest of the show.

I wasn’t impressed by the fake trailer that followed where they mashed up news footage with the trailer for the movie 2012, but that’s more because any modern YouTuber could put out something ten times better from the comfort of their own home. This was more a case of a sketch not aging well even though I’m willing to bet it was brilliant at the time. Once again, I was won back when the host returned to be part of the episode because I almost always enjoy parodies of old game shows because they still used to air reruns of these shows all the time when I was a child.

I loved the SNL Digital Short because it cracked me up how in the world of the sketch, Andy Samberg genuinely confused a red wig wearing Kenan Thompson for Reba McEntire even though Kenan was blatantly announcing that he was actually a guy. I was out again for the Jack Johnson sketch because I’m just not familiar with his music genre to get all the inside jokes between him and the similar style performers being impersonated as his guests. It was fun when the real Dave Matthews joined the scene as Ozzy Osbourne toward the end of the scene.

What Up With That? was the next sketch to follow and all was good with the world being that any sketch from this series will cheer me up no matter what is going on in the world because there is just some much random/beautiful nonsense that I love. This one was extra fun with Bobby Moynihan making a surprise visit as Jake The Snake Roberts, who was one of the first bad guy wrestlers who I actually liked as a kid which led me to stop rooting for one specific type by default in general, and not just in the wrestling world.

The first Dave Matthews Band performance was good, and I can see how people can really get into this band, but it’s still not anything that I’d ever actively seek out. I zoned out about halfway through the band’s performance, and the news failed to win me back. Part of this may be due to Al Gore’s visit who made jokes about the environment while acting like he was really pushing for change. This is another one that bugs me because I just saw an article about how one-hundred companies are causing seventy-one percent of the problem. Meanwhile, any policy that pitches change is aimed at the individual that isn’t even responsible for the remaining twenty-nine percent when you factor in how many other companies are included in the bunch of a hundred doing the most damage.

Sorry for editorializing once again, but it’s hard to avoid with all that’s on my mind at this time, especially when the show itself gets political. Though I didn’t hate the sarcastic family sketch that followed, considering my mood, I wasn’t all that entertained by watching a family fight, even if the battle played out with sarcastic/funny words. I liked the concept of the sketch that followed with Fred Armisen as an aggressive man filling in as a host for a woman’s issue show but again, the aggressive tone, though comical, didn’t seem fun considering my current mood.

I kind of zoned out again halfway through the last sketch and Dave Matthews Band didn’t win me back, except for the fact that the world monkey is in the title of the song which caught my attention every time he’d get to the chorus. I was won back by the Say Anything parody because the boom box above the head scene if perfectly designed for parody. I’m glad this was the last sketch of the night to end the show on a funny note before Joseph Gordon-Levitt said his goodnights.

As I warned, between the recent passing of my little dog, the fact that I just lost my day job, and the current state of the world, I really needed a fun episode and tonight just wasn’t the one. That said, I’ll admit that I was probably more harsh on this viewing these outside issues weren’t so fresh in my head because it wasn’t downright terrible. With that, let’s dig into the details, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with parody C-SPAN coverage of a China Press Conference where Fred Armisen as Barack Obama managed to upset Will Forte as Chinese leader, Hu Jintao regarding money we owned to their country. Obama came in hot, claiming that America was happy to work with China as if we were the ones in control. This led Jintao to bring up the fact that the US owed China a ton of money so their feelings weren’t as mutual as Obama may have made it seem. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. Joseph Gordon-Levitt then officially opened the show with a monolog about how happy he was to host and have such a great career which quickly transitioned into him performing the song and dance for Make ‘Em Laugh from Singing In The Rain.

  3. This was followed by a parody trailer for Palin 2012 that was shot like a suspense thriller where they cut together real news footage to make it look like Sarah Palin won the 2012 Presidential Election with her V.P. running mate, Glen Beck, which then brought about signs of our end times using footage from John Cusack 2012 end of the world film.  

  4. Secret Word was a game show sketch hosted by Bill Hader who was constantly frustrated by his celebrity panelists, Mindy Gracin, and Ricardo Gonzales, as played by Kristen Wiig and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, could not grasp the concept of this simple/subtle game without sacrificing their massive egos.

  5. This was followed by another SNL Digital Short where Andy Samberg rapped about his insisted relationship with who he thinks is Reba McEntire who turned out to be Kenan Thompson in a red wig.

  6. Mellow Show then returned for another laid-back installment of Andy Samberg as Jack Johnson’s fictional talk show. This time he welcomed Bill Hader as Dave Matthews, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jason Mraz, and tonight’s musical guest Dave Matthews as a not-as-mellow-as-advertised Ozzy Osbourne.

  7. What Up With That? then returned for installment number two for more of the same from this repetitive series that I love. That same being, Kenan Thompson breaking into his What Up With That? theme song while continually cutting off his panel of guest which this time included the real Al Gore and special guest Mindy Kaling.

  8. Dave Matthews Band then took to the stage to perform You And Me.

  9. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, the real Al Gore stuck around from the last sketch to fulfill NBC’s “Green Week” platform by outlining a more passive-aggressive, downright crazy, approach to spreading the word about global warming.  

  10. Sarcastic Thanksgiving Dinner then returned for another nod/rip off of the old fighting family sketch that would always end with Will Ferrell yelling about his ownership of a Dodge Stratus. Though I wouldn’t say this was original, I still don’t mind this sketch because it is a concept worth bringing back.

  11. Woman To Woman was, as you may guess from the title, a talk show sketch for woman by woman, only for this “episode” Fred Armisen played an extremely aggressive producer who filling in for the show’s female host, who couldn’t perform due to a last minute illness that knocked her out of commotion. Of course, comedy the ensued because of this horrible attempt at a quick fix.

  12. Dave Matthews Band then returned to the stage to perform Shake Me Like A Monkey.

  13. We then got to see a parody alternative ending to Say Anything with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the John Cusack role who had to deal with the neighbor’s questioning while he stood in the yard for the classic scene where he holds the boom box over his head in his effort to win back Diane Court.

  14. Finally, Joseph Gordon-Levitt closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Again, I’m aware that my mood may be to blame for my so-so feelings toward this episode but, at least these three sketches that contained my favorite moments at least made the viewing somewhat fun. First, I loved What Up With That? Featuring Jake The Snake because as I keep saying, I love this series of sketches and the Jake The Snake reference hit me in my nostalgia to make me happy for a while. Next, I really liked this week’s SNL Digital Short because it cracked me up the way Kenan’s character wasn’t trying to trick Samberg’s character at all yet and still confused this black man in a wig for Reba McEntire. Finally, I was a fan of the Say Anything parody because I like jokes about this scene from the movie, plus Jason Sudeikis played the perfect neighbor who was more intrigued by this weird shit in his neighborhood than judgmental or suspicious.

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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.