Three Words: The Haney Project
Other than, maybe, while sitting at a bar with a random game on the TV, I’ve never been a big enough fan of basketball to what a non-post season game or games during the Olympics with the first version of The Dream Team. Where most of my friends were Michael Jordan obsessed at the time, Charles Barkley was always my favorite person to have anything to do with the sport. Even though many might think it would be Rodman due to my punk rock days, Sir Charles was always closer to my size and shape and had a similar sense of humor, which made him stand out to me.
I loved his first visit as host where he dunked on Barney the dinosaur, but I’ve been looking forward to tonight’s episode, ever since I started this thing strictly because of The Haney Project parody. I don’t know if I heard about Barkley’s bizarre golf swing through Howard Stern, or Jordan Jesse Go, but all that I know is I started to watch the real Haney/Barkley program after hearing about it on some form or talk show. When I heard that there was a sketch version of it, I tracked down this episode right away, making this one of the very few shows from this year that I know for sure that I’ve seen.
Though I can’t really remember the rest of the show based on what I’ve read during the pre-viewing legwork, I’m still pretty confident going into this viewing that it will be a break from the past few so-so episodes. With that, let’s hit play and see how my viewing experience plays out in real time.
I didn’t mind this week’s opening sketch because it was more news-based and not so political. That said it still bummed me out a little to hear the audience laugh at the jokes about how the U.S. was actually funding the bad guys who are the reason we’re still at war to this day, while everyone acts like it’s new. Either way, it didn’t put me in a bad mood, so I was fully on board for Barkley’s monolog. Sure, Barkley’s delivery was that of a sports figure and not an actor, but he did have a funny routine about how he’s known to be mean that led to a fun interaction with Hannibal Buress, who I always love to see whenever they sneak him into a scene.
The fake ad was fine, but the creepy peeping element kept it from being all that fun, but the game show sketch that followed had me cracking up because the movies being referenced as part of the game where from my wheelhouse days of watching film, plus Barkley kept cracking me up in general. There’s just something about his commitment to the scene combined with his inability to act that is putting me in a good mood.
The MacGruber sketch that followed also cracked me up because it was a good example of humor that was racial and highlighted racism, but I don’t feel it was racist in and of itself as it highlighted how awkward racial relations can be when there’s no real familiarity. I had a very diverse upbringing but now feel this same way with the battle of what’s acceptable to say has changed and I’m currently trying to navigate the differences while not leaving my tiny shut-in’s world to actually interact with real people.
I’ve never been a fan of the dingy broad routine, so I wasn’t a huge fan of the Sexy Shana sketch in general, but Barkley’s reaction still got a few laughs out of me. There were also a few funny moves from Kristen Wiig’s attempts to be sexy that almost got me to laugh but I still don’t like this character in general. The second MacGruber was as funny as the first and for the same reasons and the Inside The NBA parody also had me chuckling but more because Barkley could barely hold in his laughter than anything that had to do with the scene. Either way, it got me laughing, which is a win to me.
The conclusion of MacGruber was as good as the rest from this series, and Alicia Keys is an artist I enjoy so I didn’t zone out during tonight’s first song, but my attention span was inconsistent during the news. Sure it was fun to hear the jokes about the Wile E. Coyote attempt that a terrorist made to blow up an airplane with his underwear but that just led to a bunch of political content that didn’t age all that well. I’m also not a fan of Fred Armisen’s endless jokes at the Governor’s expense mainly focusing on the fact that he’s blind. The crazy Nick Cage segment did get my full attention.
Following the news was The Haney Project parody that I’ve been waiting for, ever since I started this challenge and I loved revisiting Barkley’s bizarre golf swing as much as I loved it back in the day. I think I love this so much, not because it makes Barkley look like an idiot but as I said earlier, during this visit especially Barkley’s almost my size and his golf swing looks like something that I would do to compensate for some reason. Then again, I don’t know that much about golf.
I wasn’t sure about the SNL Digital Short that followed. Though, as I often point out, I love when the musical guest performs in a sketch but I wasn’t sure about Andy Samberg’s character because, at first, I wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be a kid or a questionably-gay adult, the first being weird considering this was a sketch about a booty call. Then, the more and more it was revealed that the character was just a weirdo, I let down my guard and it started to crack me up, especially at the end when we learn that the most inappropriate part of the sketch was the fact that Andy was taking the call in the middle of an intervention. As a former daily drunk, who’s done my fair share of drugs, I’ve always found humor in intervention jokes, maybe because they hit so close to home and not that I don’t take the intervention process as something to be taken seriously.
I loved this week’s Scared Straight for a whole bunch of reasons. One, I’ve always loved this series of sketches. Two, the size difference between Barkley and Kenan was visually silly. Most of all, three, Barkley kept cracking me up whenever he struggled to hold back his want to laugh. Barkley also made me laugh when he played himself for the final sketch of the night where he made fun of his own gambling problems while fake promoting his new personally branded bank. I was a bit bummed out when the sketch was cut off, but at the same time the sketch was playing out to seem like it would max out at being just okay.
Unlike the last several nights where I was still on the fence by the end of the show and tried my hardest to put a positive spin on the viewing, today’s episode left me a happy camper. This is great because once again, I’m going to try to make this a two-episode day to rebuild my review backlog like I threatened to do last night. Today, however, it’s still early enough that I know I can pull it off.
With that said, let’s now dig deeper into the details of each sketch, as I give you…
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with a parody of The Situation Room where once again, Jason Sudeikis played Wolf Blitzer to host a segment that called attention to a disjointed U.S.-Yemen joint press conference between Will Forte as David Petraeus and Fred Armisen as Ali Abdullah Saleh as they attempted to add to the latest round of fear mongering following the Underwear Bomber incident. Throughout the sketch, Petraeus kept attempting to say that the U.S. and Yemen were working as a team while Saleh kept hinting how the U.S. was actually funding their efforts to do terrorist-related things. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
Charles Barkley then officially opened the show with a monolog where he roasted the show for not having enough black host and then turned his mean-spirited jokes to the audience to reassure everyone how he’s a brutally honest guy, who doesn’t hold anything back, following a recent run of controversies from our host.
This was followed by a fake ad for Thomas Peepers Insurance where Bill Hader pitched this service as a representative who was actually a peeping Tom that promised he’d keep your family safe by watching them whether it be night or day.
Reel Quotes was a movie-themed game show parody hosted by Bill Hader with Charles Barkley and Kristen Wiig as the two contestants. The premise of the game had Hader sharing the world’s most familiar/obvious movie quotes to then have the contestants guess the movie, only Barkley and Wiig were both so out of it, they couldn’t place even the simplest of movie quotes.
MacGruber then returned for another series of sketches where this time our fake TV hero attempted to make a racial joke that didn’t sit well with Charles Barkley who played the new team member who blew up with MacGruber and Kristen Wiig due to the distraction the conflict caused.
MacGruber then returned for round two where this time the crew blew up after because the racial sensitivity training had our fake TV hero so afraid to even say the word black that he couldn’t tell Barkley which color pen to grab because it was the black one.
This was followed by parody coverage of Inside The NBA where Charles Barkley and Jason Sudeikis announced a game along with their special guest Andy Samberg who played a Make-A-Wish recipient who suffered from OCD. At first, the announcers were confused since OCD is not terminal but then after calling the kid out they learned it actually stands for Overwhelming Corpse Disease.
MacGruber then finished off the rule of three comedy that had our fake TV hero who just returned from Africa after getting in touch with his “inner negro” in an effort to win things over with Barkley, but they all still ended up getting blown up in the tradition sketch closing explosion.
Alicia Keys then took to the stage to perform Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart.
Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Bill Hader dropped by as James Carver to rebut the Republican response to the Christmas bombing attack, or what’s grown to be known as the Underwear Bomber incident. Andy Samberg also stopped by as a rambling Nicholas Cage to discuss his newly-appointed duties as Goodwill Ambassador On Drugs And Crime. Fred Armisen then made fun of the blind David Paterson again through another impersonation where he commented on his angry State Of The State address while also continuing to make fun of New Jersey. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)
The Haney Project is another sketch that I’ve been waiting for since I started this challenge. This sketch is a parody of a brilliant show from the golf channel where Hank Haney tried to correct Charles Barkley’s hilariously bizarre golf swing. This parody had Jason Sudeikis as Hank Haney as he attempted to correct other of Barkley’s bizarre technique he uses to get through his daily life.
We then got another SNL Digital Short called Booty Call where, musical guest, Alicia Keys made a drunken booty call to Andy Samberg’s Lionel character who was just a questionably gay nerd who’s totally down and even offered to get Kristen Wiig as his Nana involved. At the end of the sketch, we learned that this Lionel character took this booty call while at an intervention for a friend who had a severe drug problem.
Alicia Keys then returned to the stage to perform Empire State Of Mind.
Scared Straight then returned for more of the same from the sketch that I love, only this time, Charles Barkley was Kenan Thompson’s sidekick who attempted to scare the kids with movie storylines that they claim to be their own.
Finally, Charles Barkley closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
We have a new top spot for my favorite shows so far this season thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved The Haney Project for the all the reasons mentioned above that should make this choice obvious, I mean I even as far as to make it the subtitle for this review. Next, I really liked the Reel Quotes game show because Charles Barkley’s answers, enthusiasm, and inability to act while still giving it his all is what won me over throughout this entire episode. Finally, I was a fan of this week’s Scared Straight because I just really like this series.