SNL: S36E20... HOST: TINA FEY... DATE: MAY 7, 2011

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Homecoming Episode

 

Though I don’t regret anything that I said in my last Tina Fey review, I still do feel bad that she just happened to be the host at the moment a perfect storm of real-time current events synced up with events from the episode that inspired me to delve into exploring my distrust in modern comedy. Being that a small part of this challenge is to personally examine where my relationship with laughter started to go off the rails whether I planned to share my findings or not. I just happened to opt to want to share what happened to come up during the viewing, that had been bouncing around in my head for a little while.

I think that I may have gotten the issue out of my system, at least for the most part, thanks to the vomiting of thoughts that came out during that review. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, during Tina’s last visit, I was left feeling incredibly frustrated with the comedic trendsetters from this time. These were the people who taught me that it was okay to be offensive, as long as you highlighted the offensiveness as a flaw while the person/people who are being done wrong are always the innocent in the situation. These influencers then seemed to shift their tone overnight while acting as if they had absolutely nothing to do with how we’ve come to this new situation where you’re treated like an asshole for still liking their old offensive work.

It’s not that I’m hung up on holding on to those offensive ways, my issue is with the new way of arguing as if we all didn’t have/or are still in the middle of adjusting to the new path. The more I thought about this since Tina Fey’s last visit, the more I started to realize, my biggest issue may be that, when I first began to write screenplays, these influencers helped me develop my comedic taste and I felt like I was so close to being a small-time success with my offensive style. My jokes were quirky, convoluted, and a bit surreal in ways that I hoped might get people to actually think about what I was trying to say, on top of being entertained by the surface level story I was trying to tell.

Whether or not I was successful in my efforts is beyond the point, I’m just sharing my intentions. So, now it’s feeling like the genre that I used to love is completely gone with seemingly no hope for it to return in the future, and even if it did, any interest in heading back in that direction is dead. Now I’m more struggling how to handle jokes that used to be entirely acceptable, that are now deemed unacceptable. For the most part, I’m completely fine with moving on, but no longer know how to handle inappropriate things that I still find to be hilarious. Even worse, I hate feeling like an asshole for poopooing people’s humor that I used to love, missing the constant laughter, and not any of the unintended hurtfulness that may have also been involved.

This goes beyond race, sex, or any of the other traditional P.C. pushing content. I no longer know how to even casually joke amongst friends. Another part of my personality that I developed thanks to my comedic heroes is the way that they can be playfully mean. I’m not talking to the point of being a bully but things like seeing an old friend and jokingly creating them with something like, “What’s up, chucklehead,” or some other playful insult that would be thrown right back. As I started to grow more and more sensitive in general, the less this approach remained to be any fun.

This was the way my entire family interacted my entire life which trained me to be really good at walking that line between being playful and hurtful. Again, coming from a family of alcoholics and enablers, if you were to go too far, a drunk might explode and start yelling for the night only to forget any issues in the morning. Or, an enabler would deny any hurt feelings until the end of time they might just give you the cold shoulder treatment for a while if things ended up going too far. That’s not to say that we always pushed things to the breaking point, but it was a risk with the way that my family had fun.

As the youngest of my cousins, before a bit of a gap between the next batch, I was the butt of many jokes when I was young which is probably how I grew to be so good at picking up on even the slightest of flaws to joke about. At times, entire conversations could seem more like a roast than an interaction between people who could care for one another, but at the same time, everyone involved would be just as harsh in their response. I think the hardest part about moving home or even attempted to reunite with old friends is that I no longer have interest in being playfully mean at all, but it can be hard because even after close to four years, I still slip into that mode by default.

This really sucks because as I try to figure out who I now am, my default mode is silence and I can come across as annoyed when people try to get me to play like I did in “the good old days.” This approach to trying to be nice by holding my tongue can now make me come across as a grumpy jerk, which is part of the reason why I feel the need to isolate myself until I can figure out my non-funny place on this Earth. I wish I could just say fuck the world and go back to my old ways of going with the flow and dealing with the consequences as they come up, but that part of me has just been too beaten down over the years.

Thankfully, whether I share my progress through these reviews or not, this challenge really has helped me at least start to resolve my issues with being a forty-two-year-old manchild who’s still dragging his feet a little when it comes to wanting to grow up. Keeping in mind, I’ve never had a wife or any kids by design because I always wanted to be able to afford to struggle and chase my dreams without ruining anyone else’s world. I don’t regret this decision, I just need a little more time to figure out how to mature.

Sorry, this turned into another rambling intro to a Tina Fey episode but my review of her last visit, just managed to get stuck in my craw and I wanted to share how my thoughts have evolved since sharing how I felt that comedy, in general, has let me down. I’m not entirely sure what to expect from this viewing. My pre-viewing legwork didn’t lead me to lean either way, so, I guess it’s time to just hit play, in order to share my real-time viewing experience.

As usual, I was happy to see that the first sketch wasn’t a typical talking head start with some cast member impersonating some politician addressing the nations while not moving around. At the same time, it was still at least somewhat political being that it was about Osama bin Laden’s death, with Fred Armisen as a talking head making jokes about an issue that still doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t know what I thought was weirder, the fact that they ditched the most wanted man in the world’s body into the sea minus any evidence that it was really him, or the fact that no one else thought this was weird at all. Not that I felt that more people should have bought into some form of conspiracy, but I just found it odd that nobody seemed to question this decision at all. In fact, most of my friends even acted as if it were the obvious/only choice, while I saw it more like burying Bigfoot in an unmarked grave with no photo evidence at all.

Tina Fey’s monolog was sort of fun, but it kind of felt like a performance from someone who you wouldn’t know had a history with sketch if you didn’t know any better. Mainly because she seemed more focused on plugging her book, her show, and the fact that she was pregnant over telling any funny jokes. The fact that she also resorted to the monolog song with Maya Rudolph felt like they were resorting to cut and paste structure that you’d expect from a non-alumni host.

Though it was political, I actually enjoyed the GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate because during the real Presidential campaigns there’s nothing I love more than watching the debates between the most hopeless of the Presidential hopefuls, making jokes about these debates pretty fun. Between my one older sister, and two younger sisters, I’ve seen the movies Grease and The Little Mermaid more than any straight man my age should. That said, I like both films due to all of the repeat viewings and jokes that I made to keep myself entertained, so I liked The Little Mermaid parody where Sebastian discovered bin Laden’s body while singing their version of Under The Sea. Plus Sebastian was filled with the same questions I had/have, keeping in mind, I don’t claim to have the answers to anything, I’m just interested in hearing more details on almost anything. I think this is because I had very little guidance in my life and have been left to my own devices to figure anything out and don’t buy into the first story that I’m told.

The Michael Bolton/Lonely Island collabo was fun, but once again it was a case where the song wasn’t catchy enough to get stuck in my head which probably explains why it didn’t turn out to be a classic SNL Digital Short that I was already aware of. All I know about Ellie Goulding is that I always jokingly call her Elliott Gould when I see her name as the original performer of songs being sung during reality talent show broadcasts. I didn’t mind the song, but I didn’t know it either, so I ended up zoning out a bit.

Thanks to Jason Sudeikis as The Devil, the news did manage to win me back because it turns out I’m a huge fan of Sudeikis as the red man. I was also entertained by another visit from Stefon, and even enjoyed the visit from Gaddafi’s two childhood friends, even though it’s another reference that bums me out knowing the results of how things played out in the end. As I said up above, I’ve never had any interest in having children, so the birthing class didn’t really relate to me at all, and it didn’t help that the sketch felt like it was ten minutes long.

Though I actually really like Nasim Pedrad’s Bedelia character because I think she would be a pretty cool kid in the real world, who prefers to joke with adults, I’ve yet to find a single sketch from this series to be all that funny at all. I kind of feel like this character would be great for a movie similar to Cyrus starring Jonah Hill. I didn’t know Ellie Goulding’s version of Your Song, but I liked it way more than the first performance not only because I knew the tune, but I also prefer more subtlety when it comes to female vocalist over gigantic voices that really belt out their songs.

Like with the birthing class sketch, the Pregnant In Heels sketch didn’t mean much to me due to my lack of interest in parenting. Again, it was still at least sort of funny but it kind of reminded me of a comedian who switches to nothing but material about their kids the second they become a parent. The Googie Rene's Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn was also fun enough but very reminiscent of Googie’s past couple appearances.

I’m not usually a fan of the show ending on a fake ad but tonight’s final Mother’s Day Hallmark parody was a very fitting end to this Mother’s Day episode. Unlike with last night, tonight, I was back to being happy when Tina Fey came out to say her goodnights, not because I was happy that the show was finally over, but I was delighted with the quality of the show as a whole, no matter how rough I may have sounded in my intro and throughout the entire review.

As I’ve pointed out, though I don’t always share my findings, this challenge is as much about me trying to figure out my current relationship with my humor from the past as it is about revisiting each episode so thank you for bearing with me as I meander through my thoughts through some of these reviews.

With that, it’s now time to shift gears in order to wrap this one up by digging deeper into the details of each sketch, as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with Osama Bin Laden’s Video Will where Fred Armisen portrayed the terrorist leader for a pre-recorded reading of his last will and testament that was extremely ironic considering how his final days actually went down in his compound. 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 the fact that she was pregnant for this appearance. She was then joined by a pregnant Maya Rudolph, and the two performed a duet about being pregnant, dedicating their performance to their unborn children who were eventually portrayed by Kristen Wiig and Kenan Thompson.

  3. We then got parody coverage of the GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate where the off-putting nature of Tina Fey and Darrell Hammond as Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, along with a handful of other castmates portraying other Republican long-shot candidates throughout the debate almost assured a Democratic win in 2012.

  4. Below The Waves was a knock-off parody of The Little Mermaid that provided a lively musical performance by Tina Fey as an underwater princess and her sea creature friends, who were all interrupted when Osama bin Laden’s dead body floated into the scene.

  5. For this week’s SNL Digital Short The Lonely Island attempted to lay down a new hip-hop track with the real Michael Bolton who turned out to be too obsessed with the idea of singing a Jack Sparrow-themed song from The Pirates Of The Caribbean instead.

  6. Ellie Goulding then took to the stage to perform Lights.

  7. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Jason Sudeikis returned as The Devil to comment on the death of Osama bin Laden, who was already making an ass of himself down in hell. Fred Armisen and Vanessa Bayer also dropped by as two of Muammar Gaddafi’s best friends from childhood who tried to defend their friend’s actions while at the same time distancing themselves from his behavioral quirks. Stefon was the last guest of the news, and once again, he shared more New York tourist spots this time making recommendations for Mother’s Day. (Clip 2) (Clip 3) (Clip 4)

  8. Birthing Seminar brought back Maya Rudolph so that she could portray the parent-to-be/star of an outdated birthing video that proved to be more nauseating than educational to our pregnant host and the rest of the birthing class.

  9. Bedelia's Sleepover brought back Nasim Pedrad in the titular role as her kid character who is more interested in hanging out with her parents over her peers. This time, Tina Fey played her mom who joined Bedelia at a teenage slumber party.

  10. Ellie Goulding then returned to the stage to perform Your Song.

  11. Pregnant In Heels had Abby Elliott as a pregnancy coach who attempted to prepare our pregnant host for a glamorous delivery where she would be dressed to the nines.

  12. Googie Rene's Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn brought back the series of sketches were Kenan Thompson as the titular pitchman attempts to hawk his raggedy old clothes.

  13. We then got a fake ad for the Hallmark "Mother" Collection which claimed to be the perfect greeting card for weirdos with an unhealthy mother fixation with Paul Brittain as the weirdo in question.

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

Though the review up above may have focused more on my feelings toward my last Tina Fey review over tonight’s actual viewing, thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night, it turned out to be a pretty fun show to watch. First, I loved Below The Waves because it hit me in the nostalgias from watching the real The Little Mermaid some many times with my sisters. Next, I really liked the Hallmark "Mother" Collection fake ad because it was such a great end to this Mother’s Day episode. Finally, I was a fan of Bedelia's Sleepover because as I said, this series might not be the funniest but I feel that the character would make for an excellent quirky indie film just like the movie Cyrus.

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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.