SNL: S36E21... HOST: ED HELMS... DATE: MAY 14, 2011

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or...

A Tale Of Two Buckinghams,

And A Live Action Gay Duo!!!

 

Part of me wanted to repeat my approach to writing this intro to somewhat match what I did a couple days ago when Helen Mirren was the host. I started that review by pretty much just restate what I wrote for my The Daily Breaker post since both were celebrating the fact that I’ve been at this challenge for 700 days straight without missing a single daily SNL review. Today, as part of Operation Achieve Anything, which is The Daily Breaker’s special project for this year, I shared the insights that came to me following the last two Tina Fey reviews after I was able to process the psychedelic Thanksgiving experience that I shared details of in my Gwyneth Paltrow review.

Since these new insights have absolutely nothing to do with Ed Helms, feel free to click here if you are one of the few who follow my progress and may be interested in reading these newly developed insights on my current relationship with modern comedy and comedic content creators. I’m really hoping that this is a sign that I’m working through my issues with humor so that I can get back to having much more fun.

Speaking of which, I love Ed Helms. He was one of my favorite anchors from The Daily Show because the arrogance of his news anchor character always ended up with him seeming more like a loveable goofball and not like a real deal pompous jerk. I feel that his era of providing comedic news was the last from these satirical news shows where the praise didn’t get too deep into the performer's heads to where they started to think they were real reporters. It felt to me that during those days, when the main focus was still the comedy, everyone was more open to point out any areas of political failures without holding their loyalty to the modern idea of “sides.”

I’m also a pretty big fan of every movie that I’ve seen Ed Helms because of his “everyman” style of acting. He feels kind of like a funny friend from management back when I used to work warehouse jobs. These were the rowdy ones amongst their friends, who were still really fun and willing to play along, only to be overwhelmed by the debauchery a bunch of real drunks can drum up, and like his character from The Hangover, these types would end up in more trouble than the rest of us career drunks.

At least that’s what comes to me when I see his name and face. With that, it’s now time to hit the play button so that I can share my real-time viewing experience. Though I do feel like I’ve started the mending process when it comes to my relationship with comedy, it’s going to take much more time for me to enjoy any form of political content. Hell, I only started to follow news when I was a kid in the first place, just to be on top of all of the late-night jokes and not because I was actually interested in the subject of politics.

Also, as I keep pointing out, the recent current events being made fun of are often too old to still be relevant but too recent to elicit any nostalgic fun. It also didn’t help that they turned the Presidents speech into a Def-Jam Comedy routine, adding to my mixed feeling about the network who fired a person over a comment on the acceptability of blackface. Again, I’m not arguing that blackface actually is okay. It’s that fine line of who/what gets a pass these days. Also keep in mind, that I’m more hung up on one specific post, from a guy my age responding to another post about how, in some instances, this was seen as acceptable until recent days, which led the first guy to say, “What’s recent to you, 120 years ago?” Apparently, this episode aired much longer than eight years using this logic. I’m by no means defending the action, I’m just confused by the confusion.

Ed Helms’ monolog was great, especially his joke that kicked things off when he talked about how people always ask him who he’s married to, which led him to share how he isn’t married, and how he just looks like a man who should be married, referencing that everyman charm that I mentioned up above. The actual routine was also pretty funny, both the telling of his story and his twirling of the batons to show of his childhood feat.

As usual, I hated the fact that the first face ad was a repeat from just a couple of weeks ago, in this current age of the internet, but at least it was a commercial I liked, so I wasn’t too upset to see it again. It also helped that one of my favorite installments of What Up With That? was to follow, which was the one where the Bill Hader version of Lindsey Buckingham had a run-in with the real Lindsey Buckingham, highlighting how spot on his impersonation actually is. Like with Robin Williams, I loved how Paul Simon couldn’t stop bopping his head to the music even though he was supposed to be annoyed.

From one favorite to the next, I also loved the live action version of The Ambiguously Gay Duo that followed, which probably explains why this is only the second or third show from this season that I know for a fact that I saw very close to the night it originally aired. Not only was this special installment of TV Funhouse brilliant, but I also loved all of the fantastic cameos that were involved. I was also a fan of Paul Simon’s first song even though I’ve never heard it before. When it comes to Paul, he can really do no wrong when it comes to his involvement with the show because I personally think that he’s an important to the show’s history as any of the members of the original cast as the second ever host of the show who’s never slowed up on his visits.

The news was the news as usual, but at least tonight was another night where I liked most of the Weekend Update guests. I especially liked when Bobby Moynihan’s secondhand news telling character mix up Osama bin Laden with Oksana Baiul. I also really got a kick out of the sketch where the male members of the cast and the host played drinking buddies who told increasingly crazy stories in between singing the chorus of the song Wild World by Cat Stevens. Especially since this was another installment where I was enough of a fan of the song to be able to sing along.

I loved the One Take Tony sketch because once again, it took me back to the days when I used to work in film and would meet real-life characters who were unjustifiably confident just like this. I also loved the dog in the hat that randomly showed up and how Louie Armstrong randomly ended the scene. I wasn’t a huge fan of the second song from Paul Simon, so apparently, he can do, at least, a little wrong. I think I wasn’t as big of a fan because, as I’m learning, it turns out that I’m not that big of a fan of anything that sounds like the blues. Maybe because I’ve grown tired of being brought down by the music I listen to.

The Ann-Margaret sketch was a pretty fun one, even though I wouldn’t say that I know enough about Ann-Margaret to really get the reference but what’s really to get about an actress from Ann-Margaret’s era dancing around like a nut job the way her character might randomly dance in some stoner from the time’s latest film. Once again, I’m not a huge fan of placing a fake ad at the very end of an episode for reason’s like this, where the sketch was fine enough to be mid-episode filler, but ending on this note felt like a weak way to end an otherwise excellent episode.

Tonight I was happy when Ed Helms came out to say his goodnights, mainly because I was thrilled to see another solid episode, but I also got a late start due to a couple of technical issues, making me also happy to finally be done with my day. With that, it’s now time for me to start 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 a parody of The Situation Room where once again, Jason Sudeikis as Wolf Blitzer threw to a speech being delivered by Fred Armisen as Barack Obama where he was addressing the immigration crisis instead of going overboard with patting himself on the back over killing Osama bin Laden. Wolf Blitzer was eventually joined by Vanessa Bayer as a second commentator to provide the play by play as the President’s speech became, pretty much, a Def Jam performance. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York.”

  2. Ed Helms then officially opened the show with a monolog where he attempted to relate how he equates the art of baton-twirling with pursuing a career in show business. He did this by reenacting a baton routine after telling a tale from his childhood where he learned to twirl to perform for his brother’s birthday party only to be beaten by the boy and his friends with the same baton he used for the show. Only there was no reenacting of the beating part, this was just Ed recapturing his pride.

  3. We then got a repeat of the Corn Syrup Producers Of America ad from earlier in the season. This was an ad that made fun of a Nasim Pedrad as a mother who trusted the corporate science that said high fructose corn syrup using a pretty compelling argument. That is until the end the ad when it showed how unhealthy her kid was because of these misguided views that any “science” can be trusted, even when profit is involved.

  4. What Up With That? then returned for another installment of my favorite repetitive series, where, as always, Kenan Thompson, continually cuts off his guest to perform his theme song instead of giving a proper interview. This week, Kenan’s special guests were tonight’s musical guest, Paul Simon, Chris Colfer, and for the first time, the real Lindsey Buckingham who had a hilarious integration with Bill Hader who was Lindsey Buckingham as well.

  5. We then got an extremely special/classic installment of TV Funhouse where we got to see a live action version of The Ambiguously Gay Duo that was filled with an amazingly star-studded cast.

  6. Paul Simon then took to the stage to perform Rewrite.

  7. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Bobby Moynihan dropped by as his character to share more secondhand news. Jay Pharaoh returned as Will Smith to defend the fact that he left his dressing room/trailer in the middle of a very busy New York street while making Men In Black 3 by reminding everyone that things are always better in his presence. Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen also returned as their two news characters Kat and Garth to come up with new vacation-themed songs on the spot. (Clip 2) (Clip 3) (Clip 4)

  8. Song Memories brought back another repetitive sketch that I enjoy but wouldn’t say that I really love, where several male cast members play drinking buddies who share increasingly crazy stories in between singing the chorus to a popular song which tonight was Cat Stevens’s Wild World.

  9. One Take Tony took us back to the old days of the silver screen where Andy Samberg played an actor who swore that he could perform all of his scenes in a single take while Ed Helm as the director allowed him to give it a shot and just let the camera roll. Of course, this led to one of the most terrible performances in the world.

  10. Paul Simon then returned to the stage to perform So Beautiful Or So What.

  11. Ann-Margret Tries To Throw Away A Wad Of Paper Into A Trashcan had Kristen Wiig as Ann-Margret to dance all around the house in her pursuit to throw a wad of paper away for her new boyfriend who was played by Ed Helms.

  12. Republican Candidate was a fake political ad where Ed Helms played a generic Republican candidate for President who delivered a brief and generic message of hope.

  13. Finally, Ed Helms closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Though I was extremely delighted for this episode to be over due to my late start to the day, thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night, I still really enjoyed tonight’s viewing. First, I loved the special TV Funhouse: Live Action Ambiguously Gay Duo because I remember watching this when it was new and not knowing the twist and being blown away when the cartoon characters were all replaced with some of my favorite people playing along doing cameos. Next, I really liked this week’s What Up With That because I think that it was the meeting of the two Buckinghams that introduced to this series since this season was mostly new to me since this was the first year that I didn’t watch live as the show aired. Finally, I was a fan of One Take Tony because of the way that it took me back to the days when I used to work on films.

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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.