SNL: S37E02... HOST: MELISSA MCCARTHY... DATE: OCTOBER 1, 2011

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A So-So Start With A Slap-Happy Second Half

 

I first discover Melissa McCarthy back when she was on the show Mike And Molly. As someone who’s six foot four, I’ve always related to the fantasies of Fred Flinstone-style relationships with a big guy married to a woman who is way out of his league. Granted, I’ve never really enjoyed the whole “league” analogy, but I also see this as a bit of the male equivalent to the female fantasy of being a commoner who gets swept away by their Prince Charming. This is the same way that I feel about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope that ugly nice guys are no longer supposed to explore.

The thing that I actually liked about Mike And Molly was that it felt more reality-based when it comes to my actual close calls with love. Unfortunately, this show didn’t come out until I was already over scripted TV, so I don’t know the program well enough to have any examples to share. I just liked the fact that their character’s love connection wasn’t a part of the joke. Granted, I still get caught up in fantasies where it may seem that as aesthetics mean everything, but even then, who’s to say that a person like Melissa McCarthy couldn’t fulfill this role.

Sometimes I feel like writers who may be more focused on the feelings that these prototypes bring to get a lot of unnecessary blame for the casting choices of the casting agents, producers, and directors who are the ones concerned about looks. That’s not to say that I think Melissa isn’t good looking, I’m just trying to navigate an argument based on, what seems to be, everyone else’s standards when it comes to looks where I’m at the bottom of the chain. I think it would be pretty fun to see a film with Melissa McCarthy in the equivalent of me looking male character in a Manic Pixie style movie with a Manic Pixieish man as the dream that shows the difference between this unacceptable male fantasy and the female Prince Charming fantasy because I just don’t get the difference.

I think that she would be the perfect fit because I do feel that Melissa McCarthy has the perfect blend of attributes combined with the personality/humor to make her appealing to anyone. Along with Mike And Molly, I’ve loved everything that I’ve seen from tonight’s host, and never once used the “for a girl” qualifier. Then again, I’ve been way past the “for a girl” qualifier ever since I was very young with Paula Poundstone, Laura Kightlinger, and Kathleen Madigan being favorite comedians minus any qualifiers since I was very young. I actually started to actively avoid the add-on back in the day when first her Jerry Lewis’s take on women in comedy because I thought he had such a ridiculous take.

Alright, I’ve waxed poetic long enough, it’s now time to hit play so that I can move on and share my real-time viewing experience that I have incredibly high hopes will be good. As usual, I loved the Lawrence Welk sketch because the last couple show openers have been too political. Also, as usual, I loved the routine with Kristen Wiig’s tiny-handed character every time, even though this series is always almost an exact duplicate of the last. It’s funny how when it comes to reoccurring characters where sometimes you can feel like a kid, perfectly content hearing the same joke over and over again, while other times once is enough before you’re ready to move on.

Melissa McCarthy’s monolog was great because it was an actual performance and not just someone saying their lines like someone about to hand out an award. Not only was she hilarious when delivering her lines but her physical comedy also got me laughing with her dancing alongside Kristen Wiig, Taran Killam, and Bobby Moynihan, who always cracks me up when I see that he has an actual ability to bust a move. The energy level from everyone was great, boosting my expectations even more.

The ad for the doll that distributes HPV vaccinations was kind of funny in a surreal/dark way but being that I don’t seem to hear anything about HPV anymore, it felt like it missed the dark, edgy mark that it might have hit when this episode originally aired. At times, minus the vaccination aspect, it also felt a bit too much like a real ad for a doll, which is perfect when your into the joke but just meh, when the jokes no longer relevant. Not that I’m saying HPV is irrelevant or no longer a thing, it’s just something that’s no longer brought up in my circle of friends since I’ve evolved to become a shut-in.

I also wasn’t fully into the Arlene sketch because though the joke was about roles being reversed, it was still a sketch that was making light out of workplace sexual harassment. I don’t point this out the way people love to say, “Oh, you don’t have a problem when X does Y...” I’ve shared my views on how I feel about sexual humor in general no matter the gender involved. The sexual based comedy that does manage to get me laughing is either so over-the-top and silly that it can’t be mistaken as reality-based, or all of the characters, actors, and actresses involved all clearly seem to really want to be involved, and even then it’s fifty/fifty because deep down I’m a bit of a prude.

This week’s SNL Digital Short was another fun one, but it was too convoluted and quirky to explain how I feel about what I just saw. So let’s just say that I liked it for the randomness that used to totally be my comedic style back when I still joke around. I also liked the talk show sketch that made fun of internet trolls because it was interesting to see this take on this Internet type before they were given the troll name. It was also funny to see how lighthearted these online jabs were at the time when compared to a present-day troll.

I also really enjoyed Jay Pharoah impersonating Chris Rock performing in Broadway plays because I’ve been saying since Jay joined the cast that he Denzel Washington sounded more like Chris Rock, so it was great to see him go whole-hog with this impersonation, proving how right I was. This sketch was followed by Lady Antebellum’s first performance. They are another musical group who I only know from contestants singing their songs on reality singing shows, but I can’t stand country, so I often zone out during these performances, just like I did during this performance.

It also didn’t help that tonight was another late night from constant changes to my plans that were outside of my control. This is might also be why I wasn’t won back by the news. As usual, the stories weren’t all that interesting while watching through modern eyes, and the Weekend Update guests were pretty average. The most fascinating part was probably the announcement that Amazon planned to put out their own tablet to compete with the iPad. I just could have sworn that my Kindle Fire was older than it actually is.

With the news being the halfway point, I feel a bit let down by what I’ve seen so far, as far as this review may go but, it’s been entertaining enough to not actually dread this late night viewing of today’s episode. I was really hoping for the first sketch to send us into the second half would be a good one, especially since it looked like the funniest from the pre-viewing legwork. This sketch took place in a focus group for ranch dressing where Melissa McCarthy goes nuts and starts to drink each newly formulated salad topper straight from the bottle to emphasize just how much she loved the product. It reminded me of a scene that I wrote for a feature length film that was pretty much made up of sketches. In the scene/sketch/segment the main character takes a tour at a barf bag manufacturing plant where a room full of testers were eating this way to prime their pumps and get the spew flowing to test out each new bag.

Just like with last night’s season opener, tonight’s episode definitely got better during the second half as the sketch that followed where we went back to the ‘30s in order to see Melissa McCarthy continually fall down stairs while portraying an old-timey actress, had me laughing more than the best content from the first half put together. Keep in mind that by this time, I was so slap-happy tired that my standards may have dropped a little bit. Hell, I even liked Lady Antebellum’s second performance better than their first, but it was still a bit shmaltzy like a song from an ‘80s movie, but it also didn’t have as much of a country sound.

I have mixed feeling about the final sketch at the bar. Where I liked it because of the way Andy Samberg own up to all of the complaints about his as if he was genuinely proud, I got a little bummed out when I thought of the self-deprecating inspiration that must have gone into the writing of the joke because it hit a little too close to home. Part of the reason for my mid-life meltdown was that I finally got to the point where I started to believe the mean jokes that I had been saying about myself for the sake of comedy for decades of my life. Because Of this, I’ve grown not to find as much humor when I see others doing this to themselves.

I know that sometimes I can seem like I’m selling my self as an innocent, which I am, in that I always felt anything offensive that I ever said was for the sake of comedy to earn friends as a fake extrovert and thought everyone else was on the same page. Though I don’t personally get offended by much enough to act on it, these excuses I give are efforts to share why I may be the way that I am, or more accurately, was the way that I was, now that I’m struggling to figure out my new/genuine personality. That, and the sketch was also kind of slow.

Thankfully, by the time Melissa McCarthy returned to the stage to say her good nights, I was happy for the show to be over. This time it was, a little from column A, and a little from column B since I was both just happy to be done while at the same time also feeling happy with what I just watch. Though this was far from a favorite episode and kind of let me down, I did see many signs that I feel confident in Melissa next go around as host.

As I often point out, most of my favorite comedic actors/actresses have let me down for their very first visit, since they seem to be such huge fans it takes them that initial visit to learn how everything works. I definitely feel like that was the case tonight because the energy/effort was there. With that, it’s now time to switch gears so I can wrap this one up and get some sleep. In order to do so, I will now dig into the details of each sketch, as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with another installment of The Lawrence Welk Show with Fred Armisen as starting the sketch as Lawrence Welk per usual to introduce Kristen Wiig’s tiny-handed Dooneese character and her sisters to pretty much sing the same song once again. The only difference being, this time there was a Thanksgiving theme to the performance, and Melissa McCarthy as a muscle-bound, bucktoothed freak also got to play along. I do genuinely love this series, despite its incredibly repetitive nature. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York...”

  2. Melissa McCarthy then officially opened the show with a monolog about how big of a fan of the show she is and then said goodnight to her kids, telling her mom to put them down for bed because thing might get too strange during the episode. She went on to share that despite loving her role as an actress when she was a kid she really just wanted to dance. This is when she enlisting the help of Kristen Wiig to show off a series of perfect dance moves until the two were joined by Taran Killam and Bobby Moynihan who had a couple of steps of their own.

  3. We then got a fake ad for Lil Poundcake which was a realistic doll that gives HPV vaccination shots to the little girls who play with it.

  4. We then got introduced to Melissa McCarthy as a character named Arlene who hits on Jason Sudeikis at their office job by sending flowers and balloons to herself in an effort to make him jealous, only he had no interest at all.

  5. We then got another SNL Digital Short where Andy Samberg and Bill Hader played two cops who found solitude in their desk work by listening for musical sounds throughout the office. This turned into a Stomp-style song where everyday office items were used to make music until everyone opened fire on members of The Blue Man Group after they randomly showed up for no reason at all. It turned out, all of the cops thought that they were aliens.

  6. The Comments Section was a talk show hosted by Jason Sudeikis where he interviewed a panel of formerly anonymous Internet trolls (before they were known by that term) to relive their snarky comments. Of course, it turned out that each of the trolls was bigger trainwrecks than those they were making fun of. During each interview, their anonymity was put to the test when Sudeikis brought out the people who the trolls were making fun of.

  7. Rock's Way had Jay Pharoah as Chris Rock to showcase his various appearances in Broadway productions where he kept breaking the fourth wall to perform quick stand up routines that make fun of each of the plays’ content.

  8. Lady Antebellum then took to the stage to perform We Owned The Night.

  9. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Vanessa Bayer and Fred Armisen returned as Gaddafi's two childhood best friend to whisper more secrets about their powerful friend in between praising his brand of leadership. Kenan Thompson also returned as Tyler Perry to comment on the fact that he was recently announced as the richest entertainer of the year by Forbes’. He then went on to promote his new brand of over the counter meds called Tylernol. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)

  10. We then went to a Focus Group for a new line of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing flavors where Melissa McCarthy was a little over ambitious in her effort to have her voice be heard by chugging bottle after bottle of test products and then enthusiastically shared her thoughts.

  11. The Essentials With Robert Osborne took us back to the ‘30s to see clips from the making of various movies with Jason Sudeikis as the titular direction. Melissa McCarthy played a character named Lulu Diamond who kept falling down the stairs in these rapidly-produced films that didn’t bother to reshoot the scene, opting instead to keep going.

  12. Lady Antebellum then returned to the stage to perform Just A Kiss.

  13. Complaints took place in a bar where Andy Samberg tried to flirt with Melissa McCarthy despite the fact that he was receiving complaints the entire time, from all of the women who he’s hooked up with from the bar in the past.

  14. Finally, Melissa McCarthy closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

Though Melissa McCarthy didn’t live up to my extremely high hopes for her first visit, thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night, it was still a pretty fun show to watch. First, I loved the Hidden Valley Ranch Focus Group sketch because it reminded me of a sketch/scene from the very first feature-length screenplay that I ever wrote. Next, I really liked The Essentials With Robert Osborne because I’m really liking these TMC-themed sketches of late, plus I was slap happy enough to be thoroughly entertained my Melissa McCarthy continually falling down stairs. Finally, I was a fan of Rock's Way because Jay Pharoah does such a brilliant Chris Rock.

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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.