SNL: S35E18... HOST: TINA FEY... DATE: APRIL 10, 2010

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Another So-So Homecoming Show

 

Here we go with another review that I dread writing because I like to be critical of hosts who I actually really like. As a reminder, one of the reasons I started this challenge is that Saturday Night Live is only about six months older than I am and was interested in exploring the world as it developed throughout my life via my once favorite program. These post mainly function to share how I feel about each episode and host while sneaking in autobiographical information about my own life. Outside of the stuff that I share, I’ve also been collecting the evidence that I need to remind me why/how I’ve developed some of my views on things like politics and society in general since comedy has always been a significant influence on my life.

As I also often point out, I was introduced to the show at an extremely young age. This early introduction made SNL is why this show in particular, at least used to be, so profoundly influential in the development of my sense of humor, both through the show itself and through all of the Not Ready For Prime Time Player’s post-show careers. Since television provided the guidance that noboby in my life ever did, I may come across as more hawkeyed towards any inconsistencies in any alumni’s take on humor, especially the ones who have grown to be more preachy about what’s an acceptable target for jokes.

One area of interest from this challenge that was mainly meant for me was how to cope with being a post-humorous me since I stopped feeling like being funny a little over five years ago, which led to my mid-life crisis/meltdown. Though I still like to be entertained while watching humorous things, I somehow lost all interest in attempting to be the source of meaningless laughter. Yes, this is a terrible outlook to have, but, it’s who I’ve grown to be and I’m interesting is figuring out how this came to be. Please bear with me as I get more personal in this post in an effort to share my findings, even if you don’t understand where I’m coming from or agree with my beliefs.

Part of me feels like this issue stems from the fact that I was raised by TV, another part, form having a mild case of OCD, and there’s a third part where, I feel if I were born today, I’d probably land somewhere on the autistic spectrum. I mean this with all sincerity and not in the way where it used to be okay to say that we were retarded when we did something dumb. I accept the fact that comedic sensibilities will change and even agree with the reasoning, I just struggle to let go of the inconsistencies from those who seem to preach about these new comedic rules without acknowledging that part that they played in developing the problem in the first place.

What does this have to do with autism? During my forty-two years on this planet, every time that I’ve gone in for therapy, desperate to discover what’s wrong with me and why I struggle to feel like I have a place in this world, they would always come back with a different diagnosis. I’ve been told that I have every form of depression and bipolar disorder after fifteen-minute conversations with people who just prescribed me drugs without any real follow up. These pills always made me feel worse and made me doubt the expert’s diagnosis.

It didn’t help that my unstable moods helped to contribute to an unstable work history, making it impossible to be able to afford any consistent form of assistance to aid me in figuring it out. So, as with everything else in my misguided life, I’ve been stuck to my own devices in my efforts to figure it all out. In the middle of my meltdown, while I was losing the comedic mask that I wore that allowed me to be a more social character, I saw a therapist who kept negating all of the past diagnosis while hinting that she knew the answer. However, she did it in a secretive way that made me feel more paranoid than at ease, because I was starting to think that I had a split-personality, but that was also fueled by the fear that my fun side was slowly dying.

After moving home, and allowing my mind the time to settle, my obsessive head started to relive the moments that led to my therapist’s most significant reactions from this therapist. This then led me to believe that she didn’t I had a split personality, but she may have been looking for more signs that I might be on the autistic spectrum. Again, I’m aware that this is purely speculation, but after doing more research, I do now believe she was starting to get me to think in that direction based on the slow rollout of information she gave me to think about.

I know that it’s wrong to turn to the internet for a diagnosis, but I don’t see the problem as using it as a tool to find a jump off point. After taking a couple of online tests, this autism thing is an area that I’d like to explore if I can ever figure out how to wrangle the resources and support to attempt to get a real-deal diagnosis. Here’s one of these quizzes that I speak of if you're interested in playing along.

Quick Autism Test:

  1. It is difficult for me to understand how other people are feeling when we are talking. I feel that my chaotic upbringing taught me to be super observant for signs of changes in moods within the room, but since this signs mainly came from an inconsistent alcoholic, my interpretations of microexpression may be a little off, but at the same time, I’m always seeking out signs of approval over feeling a genuine connection. This makes me wonder if others are doing the same thing leaving me to just hope that I’m correct in trusting my gut, but most of the time I feel like I’m continually misunderstood.

  2. Some ordinary textures that do not bother others feel very offensive when they touch my skin. I have all kinds of sensory issues that cause what feels like an odd itch in my inner ear. For example, I can’t look at a chalkboard without freaking out, not because the cliché nails on the chalkboard thing, I just can’t stand the idea of touching chalk and the board itself is a reminder of this disgusting feeling. I feel the same way about certain types of felt, foam rubber, rust, pennies in water, and all sort of other weird things.

  3. It’s very difficult for me to work and function in groups. I’m not as bad in this area all the time, but for the most part, unless it’s a creative venture, I prefer to work alone, since sometimes I’m too stuck in my head to interact with others, even if able to keep up with my end of the responsibilities.

  4. It’s difficult to figure out what other people expect of me. This is why I am always so apologetic, even to the point where I’m nervous how people will take this post because it’s so different from the expectations that I’ve developed throughout the rest of this challenge. This is why I also feel both judged and ignored all together at the same exact time, and since I don’t get all that much input other than “keep it up,” in the same tone you encourage a kid who shares their horribly drawn picture, I have no idea where I really stand.

  5. I often don’t know how to act in social situations. This is why I created the party animal of a mask and went by my last name in an attempt to create a more consistent me to present to the world. This is also why I actually think of myself as The Wicker Breaker when I sit down to write these posts. I struggle to understand the complexity of the real me, so I need to resort to these characters that are compartmentalized versions of me that fit the situation to be more chameleon-like.

  6. I can chat and make small talk with people. Though I have no problem performing or digging into more significant topics, I can’t stand talk without purpose. I don’t care about the weather, how anyone feels about coffee, or what happened to their neighbor’s dog. I would much rather take part in conversations that get deep and personal, than just talk in order to fill the silent gaps. Some much so, that when I started to feel that my fun side was dying, I opted to be alone rather than boring my friends who seemed to have no problem settling into a more normal life. I’d rather be bored and boring alone than have to deal with boredom in a group since I struggle so much with small talk.

  7. When I feel overwhelmed by my senses, I have to isolate myself to shut them down. This is why/how I ended up back at home living in the garage and can count the times on two hands the number of times that I’ve left in coming up on four years, and facilitated this isolation by only searching for and working jobs that I can do from home.

  8. How to make friends and socialize is a mystery to me. Most of my friends have always come from being stuck together in groups through institutions like school and work. Yes, these relationships then move to the outside world but, I’ve always been clueless how to start anything new outside of these forced situations.

  9. When talking to someone, I have a hard time telling when it is my turn to talk or to listen. Me having a conversation sometimes feels like a person playing double Dutch, standing outside of the crisscrossing jump ropes looking for the right moments to jump in. Though I’m often correct with my timing, I credit my obsession with talk radio which taught me conversational timing, over my own instincts.

  10. Sometimes I have to cover my ears to block out painful noises. I’ve always had issues with noises, I even mentioning this in my Johnny Cash review which is when I first hinted at the idea that I think I’m on the spectrum while sharing why I always hated country music. Not only can’t I stand loud noises, but I also have anxiety attacks caused by specific sounds, like people chewing too loud or any form of internal body noises that aren’t supposed to be heard by the world in the first place.

  11. It can be very hard to read someone’s face, hand, and body movements when we’re talking. Since, as I pointed out how I can be overly observant, continually looking for signs as a result of my chaotic childhood, I now find it hard to read people’s body language. I think this is because I’ve studied what these signs mean so much since none of it comes naturally to me, sometimes I feel I read too deep and see things that weren’t meant to be seen.

  12. I focus on the details rather than the overall idea. In this instance, I think I’m an equal blend of both. Sometimes I feel like I’m over observant like while I’m watching TV, I tend to find entertaining details in the audience that nobody else would ever see, but at the same time, I have huge picture ideas when it comes to creating my stories.

  13. I take things too literally, so I often miss what people are trying to say. The fact that I’m hung up on taking some things too literally is the whole reason for this long-winded post since I’m more stuck on the way these comedic influences have changed their tune over the actual message to let their inconsistencies slide.

  14. I get extremely upset when the way I like to do things suddenly change. Again, this is another reason for this long-winded attempt to share what’s actually going on in my head.

So, I’m starting this way to highlight that this is coming from someone who is trying to figure out why I’m so conflicted by the current state of comedy and not just finger pointing, even if I may use other’s actions for may examples of how I feel that I got to where I am. I need these examples because I used shows like this to help me develop an identity as well as a few tools and the courage to create characters that got me out of my head enough to be able to make any friends.

I started these long-term, obsession based challenges long before I ever had this blog as a desperate effort to seek stability in my life following a chaotic childhood. Yes, I had jobs to do on a daily basis, but these challenges helped keep me feeling sane because they were mine and not run by any outside entity like a coach, teacher, or boss. This also explains why I see myself as a completist who feels anxiety about getting into a new television show or musical group without first getting caught up with every single episode or song involved. In my “research” I’ve seen this called “autistic obsession,” another reason I feel my self-diagnosis is, at least close to being accurate.

Shows like SNL helped me develop the party animal Bunker character that I mentioned above which was the performer that I always wanted to be to escape being Matt, even that name is just blah. This is why I’m so hung up on what seemed to be an out of the blue flip where all the comedic rebels became sensitive angels without a past, who all still show signs that they’re ready and willing to flip back in any moment. This is why the comedians who were so offended by the infamous, “pussy grabbing” comment love to crowbar the same comment into their jokes whenever they can as they constantly try to continue to find way to sneak crass content into their jokes, while attempting to make it seem acceptable as long as it comes from them.

Most of the time I can even see when I’m being nitpicky, like when a modern Seth Meyers slammed Megyn Kelly for saying how she was raised during a time when blackface wasn’t that big of a deal. The reason I got hung up on this story was, the very first comment that I saw read, “What, was she born 104 years ago?” The fact that I’m younger than Megyn Kelly and saw blackface in cartoons all the time as a child. I saw it all the time on live action TV, including shows like Saturday Night Live. Cartoons even stopped airing these shows by the time I was a teen. Meanwhile, SNL’s still doing blackface in these episodes that I’m currently watching and this airs on the channel that fired her. It’s the fake confusion as to why someone would say such a thing that causes me to get frustrated.

Tonight, Tina Fey kept showing inconsistent behavior in real-time. She would talk about women’s empowerment left and right, only to be in sketches that weren’t all that favorable to women throughout the entire night, without any satire or irony to these contradictions. Well, there may have been some irony in her monolog where she sang I’m Every Woman while highlighting all of the out help that makes her appear to be a really strong woman. Even in this case, her help was made up of two black women and a bunch of immigrants, the only two white people involved with Will Forte and Steve Martin and Will was there for a goof, and Steve Martin actually had a non-servant job.

Whatever, that one wasn’t a big deal, but then right away, the very first non-commercial sketch following this routine about women’s empowerment had her as a ditsy blonde to make fun of the women who had sex with Tiger Woods, which felt a lot like slut shaming. This happened again later in the evening when she got a special women’s themed segment during the news, once again, she slut shamed more women who had no obligation to any commitments, for having affairs with celebrity men. These two examples don’t really have the passing of time as an excuse for the contradiction, at least the way I see it in my confused head.

Though I am being critical, this isn’t coming from a place of hate, and Tina Fey isn’t meant to be taken as a target to be shamed. I’ve pointed this out as a problem with many alumni hosts in the past. This was just my first attempt to entirely focus on this confusion as part of my review, in hopes to fully get it off my chest. I’m hoping this will clear my mind so I can stop tip-toeing around this issue whenever the topic comes up again. Usually, I at least try to self-censor myself to keep these reviews light and fun. That said, as we get closer and closer to the most recent season, I’m sure similar issue with the way things are changing will get stuck in my head, regardless of how I feel about the actual results.

Just to be clear as I start to wrap this one up, I’m not complaining about wanting to hold on to the old days I’m just confused by the confusion that comes with modern outrage about everything. Why would someone ever think that it was funny to grope someone? I don’t know, maybe because they saw it every single week that their favorite comedy show had a hot host? Why would someone make such a pedophile joke? I don’t know, maybe these shows taught them that it was the pervert who was the butt of the joke, even if the reality is a nightmare for the kid. Why would someone say that blackface is okay? I don’t know, maybe they watched a show that wouldn’t hesitate to do a parody of The Wiz, despite the fact that they have an all-white cast.

Add to this the fact that a lot of this outrage comes from those who helped to create the environment that they are now against, really hurts my head. For a final reminder, though Tina Fey was the host to trigger this reaction, I don’t think that she’s the biggest offender, she just happened to host a show while this issue was fresh in my head. Though I wasn’t a fan of this episode, either way, I’m still a Tina Fey fan and was more interested in sharing the specifics to my take on the issue than to slam her or her career. Hopefully, this will be taken as the thought exploring post that I was going for, and not an attempt to act like I have any answers.

With all that said, it’s now time to go back in time to when I hit play and share how this real-time viewing played out. Now that the Midterm Elections are over, I’m a little less annoyed by the political openings sketches once again. There just feels like there’s less stress being passed through the collective conscious, whether we’re talking digitally through the internet, or more metaphysically through subconscious thought. That said, even at it’s best, I’m no longer as big of a fan of this brand of content but, at the same time, I get why it’s there and am glad, for the most part, they get it out of the way at the top of the program.

Tina Fey’s attempt to sound like a stand-up comedian fell kind of flat because it felt more like a rehearsed plug than an actual routine. That said, her intro did get fun when she transitioned the bit and started to sing I’m every woman while highlighting how much outside help that she has to aide her in being so strong. The fake ad for The Brownie Husband was fun, but nothing to write home about or inspire any more profound thoughts for this blog.

Once again, I’m confused by the placement of the first official, non-opening/non-fake ad. I mean, I get that the Tiger Wood’s scandal was in heavy rotation in the news at this time, but, looking over the sketch list, I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why they wouldn’t start a stronger sketch to set the tone for the night. You’d think that they’d save this mediocre material for later on in the night, once the viewers were already hooked in by a couple of stronger moments. Even the Sarah Palin sketch that followed would have been better in this first spot, even though that also felt like they were just trying to recapture our host’s most famous routine, especially while watching the episode through modern eyes, where Palin is no longer significant at all.

Though I usually love when the musical guests get involved, I hated the sketch that followed because, even though it was filled with jokes, it was still about a grown adult teacher having sexual fantasies about a little kid. I’m also just not a fan of Justin Bieber as a performer or a person so, I was almost completely zoned out during his first song.

As usual, this left me a bit zoned out during the news, which, again, I love Weekend Update while watching the show live, but most of the time, current event humor just isn’t as funny after a decade has passed. Plus, this is a period of time that is also too close to tapping into looking back at the references with a sense of nostalgia, making it the worst of both worlds. This is why I only focus on the guests, and this week, said guests were good enough to manage and draw me back in. I particularly liked Jason Sudeikis as a very likable devil.

Tina Fey’s segment kind of bummed me out when she started to slut shame the women who men have affairs with instead of the men during her segment that was supposed to be about women’s empowerment. To me, this highlighted one of my main issued with the tastemakers from this time period who are now holier than thou without seeming to see their own flaws and hypocrisy. As I often point out, I’m okay with the fact that things to change, but these modern preachers of what’s right and wrong, seem to have no problem flip-flopping the logic whenever it’s beneficial to them without acknowledging that they help to establish the crassness that they are now against. It’s this lack of acknowledgment that I really take issue with, as I bounce back and forth with working through my history with taking part in what’s now considered offensive.

Her segment actually got me too stuck in my head to even attempt to enjoy the following sketch with Kenan as Al Roker, but the sketch also wasn’t good enough to break my train of thought and get my head back into the show, and neither was the school dance sketch that followed. My feelings about Justin Bieber haven’t changed in this short amount of time, so I still didn’t care much about his second appearance. The tiny hooker sketch that ended the night was sort of fun because it reminded me of Tiny Elvis, only the polar opposite with the tiny Tina Fey lacking confidence, unlike the aggressively proud tiny King. I also loved how it turned out to be one of those end of the night sketches that are more charming than hilarious.

When all was said and done, this was a perfectly fine episode, but once again, I was ready for Tina’s goodnights around halfway through the episode, because, at the same time it was still just a so-so show. With that said, let’s move on and dig into the details, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with A Message From The President Of The United States where once again  Fred Armisen portrayed Barack Obama to read the Census questions from that year that sought extremely personal answers that suited his political agenda. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. Tina Fey then officially opened the show with a monolog about how she was happy to be back as the host, which led to a bit of a stand-up style routine where she promoted all of her recent work. Since this felt more like a plug that comedy, it felt a little flat but then she transitioned all of the jokes about her busy schedule into a funny routine where she sang I’m Every Woman while introducing her entourage who do all the actual heavy lifting when it comes to her day to day living.

  3. This was followed by a fake ad for Brownie Husband where Tina Fey played a single woman who purchased this product that makes brownies that size and shape of a full grown man to indulge her sweet tooth along with her romantic fantasies.

  4. We then went to the PGA Masters Tournament where Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader played two sports announcers who discussed Tiger Wood’s return to the Masters Tournament. Tina Fey playing a floozy of a new anchor to the team who knew nothing of golf and claimed to be one of the girls from Tiger’s many flings.

  5. Sarah Palin Network had Tina Fey reprising her role as Sarah Palin to promote her new television network that was made up of low-rent TV-movies of the week and a new action series starring Jason Sudeikis as her husband, Todd.

  6. Lonely Teacher had Tina Fey in the titular role in order to desperately fantasize about tonight’s musical guest, Justin Bieber, who played the only student in her class who appreciated her efforts to teach as a flirtatious underachiever who wasn’t hard on her over his grades.

  7. Justin Bieber then took to the stage to perform Baby.

  8. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Jason Sudeikis dropped by as the devil to share that even he is offended by the most recent Catholic Church scandal. Kristen Wiig also returned as Amy Poehler’s crazy Aunt Linda for more of her one-word movie reviews. Tina Fey also got her own segment to deliver the Women’s News. (Clip 2) (Clip 3) (Clip 4)

  9. Ruff, Rugged And Roker had Kenan Thompson as Al Roker who hosted a hardcore hip-hop jam in between his extremely safe weather segments for The Today Show.

  10. School Dance had Nasim Pedrad as a student who was best friend with her mom, Tina Fey and refused to interact socially with any of her peers/classmates, even though they gave her no reasons to shut them out.

  11. Justin Bieber then returned to the stage to perform U Smile.

  12. Tiny Hooker had Tina Fey as a nine-inch tall hooker who wanted to save enough money from turning trick in order to fly to Paris.

  13. Finally, Tina Fey closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

Unfortunately, this turned out to be another letdown from an alumni host but at least these sketches that contained my three favorite moments made the night, at least, a little fun. First, I loved the Tiny Hooker sketch because it was one of those end of the night sketches that are more adorable than funny that I love to see. Next, I really liked, Jason Sudeikis as the Devil on Weekend Update, because he was hilarious, but it’s a terrible sign when a news segment is so high up on this list. Finally, “I was a fan of” the Sarah Palin Network sketch because it was the only sketch of the night that seemed like it was performed with genuine enthusiasm enough to get a legitimate response from the crowd.

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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.