SNL: S36E18... HOST: ELTON JOHN... DATE: APRIL 2, 2011

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or...

Rocket Man,

Providing Many Laughs While Hosting Yo

 

Elton John is another one of these performers who I’ve never been a big enough fan of his music to buy any of his albums, but I always saw his talent and fully understood how/why he was treated with so much respect even during the more homophobic periods of my youth. Keep in mind, I was born in 1976 and was brought up during a time where whether you accepted the gay lifestyle or not, homosexuality was still treated more like a disorder than a natural development of a personal preference/interest toward who you might be drawn to as a mate.

I admit that I went through a homophobic phase in my youth, but looking back, I now see it in the same way that we would make fun of our first peers who the first to openly admit to liking girls more than as just friends. I’m sure that this stemmed from being super shy to the point where I was still hiding the fact that I liked girls. Not only did I get made fun of by my friends for thinking anyone would be interested in me in return, but having no male influence, my sisters and mom would treat any of my sexual interests as being gross since I was the only one with boy interests in the entire house.

There was also the part of me that was questioning my sexuality myself, where I felt pretty confident in the fact that I was straight, but at the same time, I was aware of how I used to deny my straight interests in the same way. Either way, I was sure that I had it figured out, and eventually found fun in keeping people guessing. I’m aware that I may have come across as being offended/defensive when people felt that they knew more about me than I did. This because I was always a loner, stuck in my head, trying to figure out how my mind works, and not some idiot who needed to rely on other’s interpretations of what makes me who I am.

Even now, I can see this coming across as being a homophobic stance, but I get more defensive over the idea of people thinking that they have me figured out when I have much deeper issues with struggling to connect with other humans that go far beyond who I’m interested in putting my dick in. It’s crazy because, in my head, I really don’t give a fuck, but when it comes to real-world situations, I still can’t get over those childhood fears of being made fun of for being in love, probably because I’ve never felt good enough for anyone who’s piqued my interest. Perhaps this is why I can come off as a bit of a sexual prude in general.

Sorry for focusing on the host’s sexuality for this intro. Like with Tina Fey, who just happened to be the host during the moment when I was inspired to share my growing distrust in prior comedic influences who jumped ship on their old ways and bash those who still find humor in their old offensive material that they used to justify. I don’t see her or Elton as key players in these thought processes, their shows just happened to air at the right time to inspire this type of reflecting on my past. Hopefully, this brand of open exploration of the self is understood.

Now that I’ve shared these personal thoughts, it’s now time to hit play and share how this real-time viewing experience plays out. First off, after writing this bit of a soul seeking intro, it was so lovely to have a lighthearted/non-political sketch to start the show. It was also great that this sketch was actually good and not just a break from Fred Armisen as Barack addressing the nation as a talking head. There was no sneaking political content into a more visually stimulating genre. Instead, this was a nice break from political material altogether, with more fun from The Lawrence Welk Show and Kristen Wiig’s tiny-handed Dooneese character.

Elton John’s monolog was brilliant. Like with Jeff Bridges, it felt more like a well prepared stand-up routine, that did feel like a performance, but it also didn’t feel like he was just reading a cue card delivering lines in the same way one might deliver their lines before handing out an award. As usual, his above average opening routine has me less worried about what’s to come with the rest of the episode, not that I was all that worried in the first place since I’m fully aware that Elton can be a pretty funny little man.

Again, my true channel surfing upbringing led me to love the parody ESPN coverage of women’s shot put since I used to watch these types of obscure/rarely covered sports, all the time back when I was a kid as I constantly hunted for novel stories of weird discoveries to share. Though I liked that Tom Hanks had a cameo role, I was a bit disappointed that Elton John wasn't involved at all and I have no idea who Carmelo Anthony is, so there was no added value to his appearance in drag.

Between The Great British Baking Show, Britain’s Got Talent, and Goggle Box, I’ve been on a real British Television kick as of late. That added to the fun of the fake BBC news coverage for the sketch where Elton John teamed up with other knighted celebrities to fight off invading dragons that were a hilarious sketch in the first place. It was also fun to see Tom Hanks as kind of a secondary host, especially since he then returned for his third sketch of the night to also be a part of the newest installment of Laser Cats: The Musical. This might be my second favorite from the series, the first being the Laser Cats that featured James Cameron and Sigourney Weaver.

As I said in the intro, though I’ve never really sought out any of Elton John’s music, I’ve always seen his talent, while understanding his influence, but wasn’t really into his first performance with Leon Russell. It just sort of sounds like it was meant for an older generation with a style that I never really got into. The news cracked me up because this was another night where Seth Meyers spent, what seemed to be, five minutes joking about how Trump would NEVER be the President. Since this was from a time where I would have wholeheartedly agreed to the point where I truly believed Trump would only run to promote a book or some other business venture, yet here we are.

I wasn’t a fan of the sketch about the Royal Family that had the Queen and Prince Philip as over-the-top aggressive beasts because, as I said the last time they were on, I never could care any less about the royals, especially right now. I also felt that having them portrayed so out of character reminded me of a script that I wrote very early on that was filled with historical figures in the same way that I now look back at being so hackney because the only accuracy involved was the character’s names. It’s kind of like the old joke where you put no effort into impersonation a friend and simply saying, “Look at me... I’m so-and-so,” and genuinely acting like you got it spot on. It did win me back when Fred Armisen as the Queen took to the drums which led everyone in the scene to perform another legitimately good punk song.

I also loved the sketch with Elton John and Taran Killam as two gay film fanatics because it reminded me of many of the movie buffs who I used to meet back when I was working in film. The old western sketch cracked me up because Elton John as a butch but gay cowboy was one of the funniest things that I saw throughout this entire viewing, and everyone’s reactions to his gay ways during these extra straight days were hilarious.

As I said in the sketch where Elton sang a punk song with Fred Armisen as the queen, that was actually my favorite song from the night, but this second official performance was my least favorite of the three. By the time he and Leone Russell were finished singing, I was happy to see Elton take to the stage one last time to say his goodnights.

Once again, this wasn’t a case where I was happy for the goodnights because I was happy that the episode was over, but I did feel like it was the perfect time for the viewing to end. My only issue with tonight’s show was the fact that there were only twelve segments to make up the entire night, but even that wasn’t really an issue. Unlike the problem that I usually have with the longer but fewer sketch format, there was never a point where any sketch was made up with filler that would have made the show feel like it was dragging on. This led me to not mind the low segment count and actually enjoy the show as a whole just the way that it was.

With that, it’s now time to start to wrap this one up by digging deeper into the detail of each sketch, as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with another parody of The Lawrence Welk Show for the same old but hilarious routine with Kristen Wiig as her tiny-handed/large-foreheaded character who always sings the same tune with her three other sisters. This installment was extra fun because they got Elton John to play along as the piano player/lead male vocalist of the group. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York...”

  2. Elton John then officially opened the show with a monolog about his new life as a gay father, that was good enough to feel more like a stand-up routine as opposed to the typical filler they usually write for the host’s intro.

  3. KY Jelly Ladies Shot Put Championship 1985 brought back another one of my favorite series of sketches where this time, Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte played their ‘80s ESPN obscure women’s sports reporters who get more hung up on the female product sponsor than the sport. Tom Hanks also helped out with this sketch as their new sideline reporter, and Carmelo Anthony stopped by for a cameo as Kristen Wiig’s shot putting competitor.

  4. We then got fake news coverage of a world event that the news was calling Knights Of The Realm. Paul Brittain played a news anchor who threw to a story where Elton John led a ragtag collection of knighted British celebs and their effort to fight off a dragon invasion taking place in England. Some of these knighted celebs included Bill Hader as Richard Branson, Tom Hanks as Michael Caine, Taran Killam as Ian McKellen, Andy Samberg as Bono, Fred Armisen as Ringo, and Kenan Thompson as Sir Mix-A-Lot.

  5. We then got another installment of Laser Cats for this week’s SNL Digital Short. For this version, Bill Hader and Andy Samberg kidnapped the volleyball Wilson from the movie Castaway in their effort to secure Tom Hanks’s sponsorship for Laser Cats: The Musical that had Elton John as an evil villain named Droz.

  6. Elton John then switched to musical guest mode and took to the stage with Leon Russell to perform Hey Ahab.

  7. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Fred Armisen dropped by as Muammar Kaddafi once again, this time to update us on how he’s handling the assault on Libya that eventually ended with his death. Kenan Thompson also got a segment as Zookeeper Barry Lewis to talk about an instance in the news where a poisonous cobra got out of its enclosure at the Bronx Zoo. Andy Samberg then rounded out the guest portion of the news as Nicolas Cage who debuted his new news segment called Get In The Cage where he interviewed the real Jake Gyllenhaal about his latest film where the main question he had to ask was “Why wasn’t I in that?” He then went on to criticize Gyllenhaal’s acting and appearance while talking up his own looks and career. (Clip 2) (Clip 3) (Clip 4) (Clip 5)

  8. Royal Engagement brought back Fred Armisen and Bill Hader as very aggressive versions of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip who both tried to coerce Elton John into performing their musical selections at Andy Samberg as Prince William’s upcoming wedding. The sketch ended with the Queen taking to the drums and Prince Philip grabbing a guitar to provide the music for Elton to sing another legitimately good punk rock song that I ended up liking more than either of Elton’s actual performance.

  9. The Silver Screen was a movie review show parody where Elton John and Taran Killam played two old gay classic film buffs who bickered with one another while attempting to interview Nasim Pedrad as Vanessa Hudgens.

  10. The Old West took place at a western saloon where Elton John played a gay cowboy who only had eyes for, fellow cowboy, Jason Sudeikis who does not reciprocate any interest.

  11. Elton John then switched back to musical guest mode and returned to the stage with Leon Russell to perform Monkey Suit.

  12. Finally, Elton John closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Tonight was the first episode in quite a while that neither exceeded nor failed to live up to my expectations going into the viewing, instead, it was exactly what I thought it would be, the best of the average from this season, thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved The Old West sketch because Elton John as a very butch but still gay cowboy, who intimidated everyone in the room was hilarious to me since I’m not a huge fan of all the machismo that’s typically portrayed in the western days. Next, I really liked The Lawrence Welk Show sketch from the opening of the show because I don’t think this series has landed on my favorite list as much as it should since it’s usually so repetitive, plus Elton John’s involvement made this one extra fun. Finally, I was a fan of the Royal Engagement sketch not really because the actual sketch was all that funny but because it was another sketch when I loved the parody punk song more than either musical performance.

 
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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.