A Solid Second Showing From
Good Old Mad Man Hamm
Sometimes I write these introductions before the viewing, when I already know what I want to say about the host for the night, and other times, I have to wait until after the viewing to see if the episode ignites any inspiration to write. The latter was the case with tonight’s viewing since Jon Hamm was just on last year and other than his podcast visits to Comedy Bang Bang, which I believe was still Comedy Death Ray at the time, I know nothing about his career. I have seen one episode of Mad Men, but that old-timey machismo wasn’t all that appealing to me, but, I just covered all of this in my last Hamm review.
Last time, I really like Jon Hamm as the host, but I felt that the show resorted to much to using Mad Men for the reference for each sketch. Being that I know him most from his visits to the above-mentioned internet improv talk show, I wanted to see more of his comedic range than just having him as a talking head in a snazzy suit. He doesn’t need to be treated like his show co-star January Jones, who only gave good performance in sketches that stuck within her comfort zone.
Though there was more variety from this visit from Hamm, with the only direct references to Mad Men taking place during the monolog, most of the sketches stuck Jon in a nice suit for talking head sketches with somewhat of a serious tone. Though the show was still solid despite the lack of variety, I still think the show underutilized our host, who they should be using as their new Alec Baldwin. This week’s SNL Digital Short where Jon Hamm played the sax player Sergio highlight how Hamm can handle much sillier roles and doesn’t always have to be Don Draper every time that he hosts.
With that said, let’s move on… well… I guess I should say let’s move back in time, considering I just shared how the above intro was written after the fact… whatever… here’s my real-time viewing review. The opening political sketch started me off in a sour mood because, even though Armisen's Obama was saying crazy things, it was still on an incredibly dull tone. I also no longer enjoy the joke that highlights how the President’s party will give a standing ovation to our leaders every word while the other side sits with crossed arms. It reminds me how this horrible divide that’s now tearing us apart is nothing new and we did nothing about it then and will do nothing now, and will probably continue to just laugh in the future as well.
Though Jon Hamm’s opening monolog was very Mad Men based, it was actually funny to see Don Draper acting in late ‘80s/early ‘90s parodies of various genres did get me to laugh. I wasn’t a huge fan of the sketch from the ‘20s that followed, mainly because they actors valiant effort to recapture that old-timey acting tone, left me feeling very bored. Plus, looking back, after the fact, it would have been cool if they had the fake ad for the Closet Organizer right here. For one, this is the usual spot for a fake commercial, but I also feel the follow-up sketch would have been even funnier if there was a more significant gap between when they aired.
I loved this week’s SNL Digital Short: The Curse Of The Sergio because I’m a fan of references to the movie Thinner, but I also loved how it highlighted the sillier/non-Don Draper side of Jon Hamm who really show be the show’s host and not his Mad Man character. The political sketch that followed had me bored once again because the topic bummed me out and Hamm was getting the hot host treatment where his character was a prop only to be used for his looks.
I used to hear the name Michael Buble all the time but didn’t know that he was the one who sang Haven’t Met You Yet, which is a good enough song if it’s on, but it’s another one that I’d probably never actively seek out. Though Buble’s performance was fine, the previous political sketch was so boring that I kind of zoned out all the way through the news. It didn’t help that the guests were Sotomayor and Snooki, who probably would have led me to zone out if I wasn’t already blankly staring at the screen thinking about what I want to do after the viewing.
I actually didn’t mind this week’s installment of Game Time With Randy And Greg to the point where I think in the past, I’ve been way too hard on this series of sketches. I believe this is because when it debuted, I thought, as someone who knows nothing about sports, it was a parody of a real show and not just sports talk in general. This made me think that I was missing references about this Greg character who everyone thinks is alien. Now, I’m starting to see it more as the random type of nonsense that I usually love.
I also love the next sketch that had our host teamed up with tonight’s musical guest not just because Jon Hamm seems to be extra happy whenever he pitches a fake product that shares his name but, he and Buble also made a pretty good comedy team. I also liked the fake ad for The Closet Organizer, but as I said up above, I feel it would have played better after the opening monolog. For one, that’s just where fake ads go. Two, I don’t like when they air two fake ads back to back, or any duplicate content at that. And three, it would have made the bar sketch, that’s still to come, even more interesting more time between these two sketches that actually connect.
The sketch with the stenographer was funny because it reminded me of a while back when I was on a jury where I wish we would have been entertained by this same brand of courtroom nonsense. Michael Buble’s second performance with Sharon Jones was also pretty good, and I loved the concept of the bar scene that followed where Jon Hamm hung out with the Closet Organizer, but they played it a little too serious to the point where the sketch itself, felt a little flat. I still liked it though, just how I liked the final sketch about how Barnes and Nobles were initially built to be a homeless bathroom. As a former Amazon employee, two decades ago, I still feel part of this bookstore feud.
Though this was a pretty solid episode, I was ready for it to be over by the time Jon Hamm said his goodnights. That said, I’m ready, willing, and hopeful for a potential round three. Now that I’ve shared my views on our host and real-time viewing experience, it’s time for me to dig deeper into the details of each sketch as I give you…
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with parody NBC coverage of The State Of The Union 2010 that cut back and forth between footage from the real event showing the Democrats give Fred Armisen as Barack Obama a standing ovation after every other word that he said while the Republicans all sat and grumbled. Meanwhile, the main focus of the speech was Obama trying to justify his failures, or just rambling about sports and other random off-topic nonsense. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
Jon Hamm then officially opened the show with a monolog about how he was happy to be back and how he had a career before Mad Men. This led our host to share a few “clips” from his pre-Mad Men portfolio where he still acted like Don Draper only for different genres of film and television. These genres included everything from teen comedies to QVC segments, and he even did a stand-up routine on Def Jam Comedy.
1920's Party took us to New York City in 1928 where Kristen Wiig played a character who struggled to hold herself back from singing at her own birthday party when, clearly, no one was interested. Eventually, they all gave it, since it was her special day and we quickly learned why everyone else was so reluctant.
We then got another SNL Digital Short that was a parody of the movie Thinner called The Curse Of Sergio where Fred Armisen played a homeless Native American who put said curse upon Andy Samberg who played a businessman who unapologetically stepped on Armisen’s sacred talisman. The actual curse was Jon Hamm as the namesake Sergio who would randomly burst into Samberg’s life to play the saxophone with a greasy mullet, minus a shirt. Samberg finally managed to break the curse by settling things up with Fred Armisen, but the curse then returned five years later when Andy’s pregnant wife, Kristen Wiig, broke the talisman again which then led the sax playing Sergio to join the scene from her womb.
New Senator had Will Forte as Harry Reid who tried to outline a serious strategy while several members of the cast played both male and female members of the Senate who were all too focused on fantasizing about Jon Hamm as Scott Brown to hear a single word.
Michael Buble then took to the stage to perform Haven't Met You Yet.
Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Nasim Pedrad stopped by as Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor to discuss her recent criticism of Justice Alito over his views on campaign finance reform. Bobby Moynihan also returned as Snooki to discuss the recent Jersey Shore standoff with the show’s producers in their joint effort to demand for higher pay for their show. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)
Game Time With Randy And Greg then returned for another installment of the sports program that is more focused on whether or not Bill Hader’s character is an alien and has nothing to do with sports. This time Hader’s alien character was joined by our host, Jason Sudeikis, and Will Forte as his clones with a surprise at the end where Bryan Tucker and Michael Patrick O’Brien, and two other randos joined in as clones as well as the aliens doubled in numbers each time they cut back and forth.
We then got a fake ad for Hamm And Buble where Jon Hamm and tonight’s musical guest, Michael Buble pitched their new joint venture where Hamm forced Buble to mispronounce his own name to promote their line of ham and champagne restaurants. Buble was there to sing the jingle to promote the establishment and kept sneaking in messages for help into the lyrics.
This was followed by another fake ad for the Closet Organizer where Will Forte played the product being promoted, which was him dressed almost like The Tick and he lived in your closet and would organize anything you’d throw toward the closet door.
Stenographer had Fred Armisen as a stenographer who was extremely disruptive by making a ton of noise with her typewriter since she didn’t know how to work the stenography machine. Not only was her typing very distracting but she would also chime in from time to time as if she were watching the case on TV at home and wasn’t professional at all.
Michael Buble then took to the stage with Sharon Jones to perform Baby (You've Got What It Takes).
We then went to a Bar where Jon Hamm and Will Forte, as the Closet Organizer character having just gotten off work, discuss Forte’s miserable day. Meanwhile, Hamm was just excited to meet the commercial celebrity, but then ruined it all by asking Forte to organize his closet if they were to hang out.
American Enterprise had Jon Hamm and Will Forte as William Barnes and G. Clifford Noble where we learned that their initial plan was to start a business so that homeless people would have a place to go to the bathroom and only added the bookselling aspect to Barnes And Nobel to fill all of the extra space.
Finally, Jon Hamm closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
Though tonight’s episode was a bit slower than I prefer, thanks to these sketches that contained my three favorite moments of the night, the show was still entertaining enough to be pretty good. First, I loved this week’s SNL Digital Short: The Curse Of Sergio because Jon Hamm’s sax playing character was funny enough on its own but then I almost fell out of my chair when he came out of a pregnant Kristen Wiig’s womb. Next, I really liked Hamm And Buble because as I really like how this season really tries to get the musical guest involved in the rest of the show, plus, Buble seems like he can be a pretty funny guy. Finally, I was a fan of The Closet Organizer At The Bar, even though I don’t think the pay off was that great, I got a real kick out of seeing the Closet Organizer character return in a whole new environment as if he were a real person out in the world.