My Birthday Episode: Year 34
Though I’m by no means a fan of Jennifer Lopez’s music, mainly because it’s a genre I’m not all that interested and not that I don’t see the talent, I do like her In Living Color, loved her in the movie The Cell, and don’t mind a couple of her other acting roles. Even though I know that I don’t really mind Jennifer Lopez, the whole diva aspect of her career made it hard not to be at least a little concerned when I saw her name in the line up of hosts, especially following the flop of a show from Ashton Kutcher that I struggled through last night.
As I’m about to say when I go back in time to share my real-time viewing experience, all that it took was seeing Jennifer Lopez do her monolog for me to lighten up since it was clear that we were getting J. Lo the actress and not J. Lo the diva singer, so I felt there would be more potential for fun. For the most part, I was correct, except for a couple of sketches that I discuss a few paragraphs down, but even those instance had to do with the aging of comedy and not the quality of the content.
My favorite part of this entire episode was the fact that the funniest sketches were spread out throughout the night. I think my biggest problem with this season is how the shows seem to either start strong or end strong, with all of the quality content clumped together, leaving the mediocre content clumped together as well. This might be why this season has had sketches that have been good enough to rank up there with the best SNL material of all time, but the shows as a whole have been average at best with a couple so bad, they’re rankings land in the opposite direction, making it hard to trust any episode. Thankfully, tonight fell right in the middle, leaning toward the better than average side.
With that, it’s now time traveling time, as I use the word time once again, to introduce my real-time viewing experience. As per usual, I loved the non-political start, plus, I’ve always enjoyed these parodies of these Live Aide-style charitable collaborations since the real songs were so big back when I was a kid. I actually liked J. Lo’s opening routine, and now that I see this isn’t from an over-the-top diva period of her career, I’m much more relaxed about what to expect from the rest of the show since we seem to have the actress and not the stadium-filling music performer.
I still wish that they’d go back to following the monolog with a fake ad. That said, I loved the first non-opening sketch of the night because, as I always point out, I love this series of parodies of obscure televised female sports on ESPN from the late ‘80s since it reminds me of the golden days of channel surfing where I would end up watching this stuff all the time. Not only that, I loved that this week, they were covering curling, which is my favorite boring sport of all time. To top things off, the sketch took place at the Tacoma Dome, which was a funny venue to reference back when I lived in the Pacific North West.
The SNL Digital short with the flag songs was fun, but at the same time, it wasn’t compelling enough to ever see myself sharing it, or having the urge to watch again, the way that I feel about most of the SNL Digital Short content. It was just a quick/fun way to fill a little time before getting to another sketch from a series that I’ve never been a huge fan of, with Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as entertainment anchors who seem utterly disinterested in anything their guest has to say. Wiig and Hader’s silly reactions just are never quite enough to stop their guest’s legitimate answers to their questions from sounding on-the-spot, but in a way that’s too real, and boring, and really boring, every time that they’re on.
I have mixed feelings about the Telemundo Winter Olympics Coverage because, in this current environment where jokes are so heavily scrutinized, the whole joke that Mexican’s are too dumb to grasp the concept of winter sports because their climate is more tropical seemed more offensive than funny. Then there’s the fact that the mostly white cast had to Mexican it up to play all of the roles. Is this okay just because there’s a Latin host? What is this was parody BET coverage that could use the same, stereotypical clichés?
At the same time, I’m from San Diego, and most of my friends were Mexican growing up and, at least back in the day, they were all huge fans of this type of humor, as we all mainly joked about the difference between our races. This is one of the main reason I struggle with what I find to be acceptable versus how sensitive toward offensiveness we’ve seemed to become. Then again, as I pointed out the other day, just look at YouTube, and you’ll quickly find plenty of offensive but humorous content being put out by today’s youth.
The fake ad for Undercover Celebrity Boss was very similar to the SNL Digital Short, fun but nothing that I will hold on to at all, and again, I hate the fake ad coming this late in the show, especially with the new trend to have it right before the musical performance. Having a fake ad right before the band almost feels like a reminder that it’s time to start zoning out, which I did with J. Lo’s first performance since it was a song that I didn’t know. This, in turn, kept me zoned out during the news, but again, this was more due to the stories from the time no longer being relevant.
I had the same problem with the parody of the Mexican soap opera that I had with the Telemundo sketch. I probably wouldn’t have as many mix feeling toward if I actually found either sketch to be all that funny, but then again, I’m also watching the show on my own. If I were watching this with one of my Mexican friends from back when I was a more social person, we might have laughed and joked about each and every overdramatic reaction, which was pretty much the driving force of all of the jokes. I liked the return of this narrator character from Kenan where he provides commentary over two people as they attempt to hook up as an idea for a sketch, but, once again, his part was funny while the couple's conversation was too mundane and real. This made the overall outcome seem a bit boring, even though they tried to liven it up with a lesbian twist at the end.
I didn’t really care for J. Lo’s second performance either but more because it’s just not my genre and not that I don’t think there’s talent involved. This is usually when I add the “watch more from… and hear more from…” marketing to the bottom of the page. The Smash Mouth sketch got my attention right away because it reminded me of the classic Gilda Radner sketch only with Smash Mouth instead of the boogie man. I also loved the follow up fake ad to the Doorbells And More Sketch, called Car Horns and more because I’m a fan of Jenny Slate and this series is a fun one from here.
Since the last ad was a repeated fake ad from a couple of weeks ago, I kind of stopped watching after the car horn sketch but did keep the video playing all the way up to when Jennifer Lopez said her goodnights. When all was said and done, despite a couple of issues, mainly dealing with jokes that didn’t age well with time and/or entire sketches that are now questionable culturally inappropriate, I really enjoyed tonight's episode. Especially considering how disappointed I’ve been with most of this season shows. I would probably find the episode to be just average if it wasn’t for the fact that it was part of this year where it’s actually up near the top. At least based on what I’ve seen so far.
With that, it’s now time to dig deeper into the details of each sketch, as I give you…
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with the parody follow-up to We Are The World where Kenan Thompson played Quincy Jones who decided to make We Are The World III. This reboot had the cast imitated popular musician from this time for a half-assed of this charitable song that was meant to benefit the people who sang We Are The World II for Haiti, following their disastrous attempt to raise awareness of their struggle following the tragic earthquake that hit around this time. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
Jennifer Lopez then officially opened the show with a monolog where our host shared how much she’s changed since she first appeared on the show as the musical guest ten years before this episode. While sharing examples of the differences from her peek diva days, we learned her humbling was terrible news for Kenan Thompson who played an ex-member of her entourage that used to get paid to hold her orange juice as well as Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis who played a pair of drag queen fans who missed her over-the-top fashion trends.
Gyne-Lotrimin Ladies' World Cup Of Curling 1987 was another in the series of this repetitive sketch that I love since it reminds me of the golden days of channel surfing when I used to watch all of these obscure televised female sport. This week, Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis were too hung up on their sponsor to call a curling bout between Jennifer Lopez and Kristen Wiig.
We then got another SNL Digital Short which was a visual display of the Flags Of The World through a music video that started out featuring actual flags from different countries but then went to highlight all kinds of crazy flags, including one devoted to those who love Batty White.
Hollywood Dish was another repetitive reoccurring sketch to return with Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as two hosts of an entertainment show who both clearly fake their interest in their guest, Jennifer Lopez’s answers to all of their questions.
Telemundo Winter Olympics Coverage was, as the title suggests, parody Telemundo coverage of that year’s Winter Olympics with their Telemundo anchors struggling to comprehend the merit of cold weather sports.
We then got a fake ad for Undercover Celebrity Boss that had several members of the cast as celebrity CEO to show how horrible they were at hiding their identities for this celebrity version of the popular CBS show.
Jennifer Lopez then switched to musical guest mode to perform Pieces.
Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Bobby Moynihan dropped by as himself to highlight how annoying laptop people used to be when they’d want to share a YouTube video, back when the internet was still too slow for videos to stream without rebuffering throughout the entire video. Fred Armisen also made fun of the blind David Paterson once again, this time to comment on the fact that he wasn’t doing to run for reelection. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)
Eternal Spark Of Love brought back Kenan Thompson’s Barry White-talking character who narrates budding romance, this time to tell the tale of Jennifer Lopez and Jason Sudeikis as they attempt to start up an office romance.
Jennifer Lopez then switched back to musical guest mode to perform Starting Over.
Smash Mouth Night Terrors had Nasim Pedrad as a child who struggled to sleep because Smash Mouth kept performing in her bedroom in a sketch that was very reminiscing of the classic with Gilda Radner where she kept calling her parents for legitimate fears while attempting to go to bed.
We then got a repeat of the Closet Organizer commercial from two weeks ago where Will Forte played a man in a suit that made him look like The Tick, and he would organize anything that you threw at him into the user’s closet.
Finally, Jennifer Lopez closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.
If you had told me two days ago that I’d enjoy Jennifer Lopez more than Ashton Kutcher as a comedy show host, I wouldn’t believe you one bit, but thanks to these sketches that contained my three favorite moments of the night, here we are. First, I loved the Smash Mouth Night Terrors sketch because as I’ve said twice, I loved how it reminded me of the classic killer in the closet sketch starring Gilda Radner. Next, I really liked Gyne-Lotrimin Ladies' World Cup Of Curling 1987 because of my aforementioned joy that it brings by reminding me of the golden age of channel surfing, plus, I love curling as a sport, so this sketch was almost number one. Finally, I was a fan of the We Are The World III parody because the original was such a big deal when I was young.