SNL: S37E07... HOST: JASON SEGEL... DATE: NOVEMBER 19, 2011

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Bring Back The Land Of Gorch

 

Like with Charlie Day, I’ve always been a pretty big fan of Jason Segel, because he seemed like another actor who I could write for back in my screenwriting days. I discovered our host back when he was on Undeclared, having missed getting into the show Freaks And Geeks which I still need to watch someday. Jason stood out to me because at the time the show initially aired, I was working at Kinko’s and his character was in charge of running a copy center. I also related to the fact that he hung out with people who seemed a little young, considering this was also around the time that the roles were reversed in my world and I went from someone in their twenties mainly hanging out with thirty-year-olds, to being a thirty year old with new friends in their mid-twenties.

Once I was able to put a name to his face, I realized I’d already known him from Can’t Hardly Wait, Dead Man On Campus, and SLC Punk, which were three movies that I used to love a really long time ago. I became a solid fan with his film Forgetting Sarah Marshall because he portrayed the penultimate lovable loser who I used to capture in my own work. I always felt that if I could get my work to the point where it was producible enough for mainstream casting, he would be a good fit for a couple of roles. This thinking solidified when he teamed up with The Muppets where I got to see a little bit of a lighter side and not just a guy who can be funny when he pouts.

Considering this episode is to promote said Muppet movie, I’m excited because it means he will probably be tapping into the lighter side of his characters in order to avoid scaring off any potential viewers of his family-friendly/Disney produced work. Not that I’m not a fan of his darker sense of humor. It’s just, after watching Ben Stiller’s episode through the present day comedy filters, I’m not looking forward to any newer content that even tries to have an edge. Witnessing these more recent attempts to be crude, just bring up too many internal debates as to whether or not these newer attempts at older humor are right or wrong by people who now act like their saints.

Keep in mind, I also always point out that you hate in others what you hate in yourself and part of me hates myself for buying into all of these old influencer’s reasoning for why shock-value based humor can actually lead to go when done correctly. I think the fact that I still believe this sentiment to the extent that it’s a valuable tool when used correctly, which is the only reason I struggle at all with how things seem to be developing. I’ve always felt if you sanitize history it just leads to confusion as to how we got to where we are.

Damn it, I didn’t mean for my intro to head down this road. It’s just, knowing that our host does have to potential to go pretty dark with his humor, in ways that aren’t accepted these days, I’m bracing myself to defend or criticize more jokes that wouldn’t bother me one bit back in the day. I wish I could get past this hang up on how I now feel about comedy because I think that I’ve already said everything that I need to say on the subject.

Oh well, here’s to hoping that this one will be fun as it’s now time to hit play and share my real-time viewing experience. Though I’ve had a little more fun with the past couple GOP bashing political show openers, tonight, I was back to being a bit bored with the talking head segment making fun of how boring Mitt Romney is. Being that the real Mitt was so dull, I never paid attention to enough to get or even care about any of the specifics of the references that made up the sketch. Thankfully it was quick and didn’t ramble on for fifteen minutes like a couple of the other show openers from this season.

A couple of years ago, I watched every one of The Muppet Shows as well as all of the feature-length Muppet films as part of another TheWickerBreaker.com challenge, so I was excited to see the little felt creatures pop up during the opening monolog. I’ve also always loved whenever a genuine Muppet would make any form of an appearance on Saturday Night Live and wish that one of these days that the show would bring back The Land Of Gorch Muppets from the old days, and it was nice to see them at least get referenced during the song.

Again, I can’t believe that the show is still resorting to repeating content this late in the game while there was a modern internet. Especially since I didn’t think that the Red Flag Perfume ad was all that good during its first go around. Though I used to hear Howard Stern talk about Regis And Kelly all of the time, I never sought out the show on my own, so I usually have mixed feelings about these Regis And Kelly periods, depending on whether or not the jokes line up with anything that I remember from Stern. That said, this installment was pretty fun because it provided a good excuse for the cast to trying out their impersonations without having to resort to an award show parody. After all, the impersonations were more important than anything to do with the real morning talk show.

The fake ad for the mattress designed with masturbaters is a sketch that I know for a fake I would have found to be hilarious back in the day when I was still fully onboard with sock value based humor, only now it just led to a little bit of a chuckle. This sketch got me thinking that it’s as much that I now clearly see all of the moving parts to why this humor works. Just like how working in film and television after learning story structure for years revealed all the smoke and mirrors responsible for movie magic, ruining my love for the medium in the process. This brand of crudeness has had a cut and paste feel for years, which might be the actual reason that I’ve been turning away from the genre while feeling at least a little sense of loss.

Same goes for the Vogelchecks sketch where the primary humor stems from the male cast members making out, even though these sketches are always make-out-fests no matter the gender of the guests. It’s still the man-on-man action that elicits the biggest laughs from the crowd. That said, I do feel like sketches like this with straight men being physical with one another actually did help out the cause at the time. Yes, it was straight guys trying to prove that they weren’t homophobic, but because of this brand of humor, the reaction is no longer seem to be, “Ew, that’s gross,” when people see men kiss outside of the world of comedy in general. Or at least that’s how it went when it comes to my development of acceptance. This is probably why I’m so stuck on the argument that offensive isn’t always wrong by default.

I remember really liking one of the songs from Florence And The Machine’s first visit, but I wasn’t familiar with the song from this first performance, and though I didn’t mind it, I don’t know if I’d actively seek it out. This led me to zone out a bit during the news as usual until Kermit arrived to wake me up as he played a round of Really?!? with Seth. I really needed the little green frog since the real Governor Jon Huntsman did nothing for me at all. Then again, the Really?!? segment also drove me nuts because it was based on the time when Congress categorized pizza as a vegetable. Between that, and the fake that corporations are now people, I don’t understand why others don’t understand why there is so little trust in the information we receive any more.

I loved the sketch that took place at the company retirement party because I related to everyone involved. Whether it be Fred Armisen, who was being celebrated, while clearly not wanting to be there, or it be, Kristen Wiig, who was furious at being forced to say something special. Maybe not now, but I also related to Jason Segel as the office party drunk who was a little too enthusiastic about mixing things up while slurring through secrets that everyone in the room already knew.

As a huge fan of the movie New Jack City, I was excited about the New Jack Thanksgiving fake ad, that is until the sketch’s time came and it was revealed it was actually in reference to the New Jack Swing music trend from the ‘80s. It was still funny, and I still related, just in a much different way. I liked this week’s SNL Digital Short that took up back to the ‘80s for an instructional video on how to seduce women through parlor games. It was great at capturing that training video style that’s not quite as high quality as an infomercial but at the same time is shot just a tad bit better than a public access show.

I absolutely loved the sketch with Jason Segel as Andre The Giant attempting to select a flavor at an ice cream show with an eclectic selection of flavors because I was a huge wrestling fan as a kid which was right at the time that Andre was reaching the prime of his fake fighting career. Back when all of the wrestlers were just gigantic men who all knew about three moves. Jason’s impersonation of the big guy was brilliant, especially how well he nailed down the giant’s guttural voice.

I wasn’t familiar with the second song from Florence And The Machine, but I liked it better than the first song. It’s interesting how there doesn’t seem to be any consistency in whether the first or second song of the two is better. Even when it’s a band that I know, I wouldn’t say that I’ve noticed a trend of there being any consistency as to which song I usually like more. Toward the end of the song, I did start to recognize the chorus, but I probably only know it from a contestant singing it on a reality show.

The sketch that featured the fictional band The Blue Jean Committee was a fun one but, unlike a couple of these fake bands, they didn’t outperform tonight’s musical guest, but it was another case where they legitimately performed a decent song. By the time Jason Segal returned to the stage to say his good nights, I felt very satisfied by the viewing. As expected, the star of the newly Disney produced Muppet film, dialed back the offensiveness enough to be somewhat safe, while still being his usual edgy self, who may have gotten just a little dirty while still keeping it light and fun.

With that, I’m now going to dig deeper into the details of each sketch so that I can go ahead and wrap this reviewing of my viewing up, as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a sketch called Mitt Romney: Raw And Unleashed where Jason Sudeikis played Mitt as he desperately tried to prove that he can be less boring than he appears to be, in his effort to win over more votes. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York...”

  2. Jason Segel then officially opened the show with a monolog about how lucky he felt at the time having landed one of the lead roles in the upcoming The Muppets film that he was there to promote, with hosting the show being the icing on the cake of him achieving two childhood dreams. He was then joined by his Muppet co-stars to sing a song about how great it was to host his favorite childhood show. All of the SNL praise led the Muppets to get disgruntled, wanting more recognition of their own as they sang along.

  3. We then got a repeat of the Red Flag Perfume commercial from earlier in the season which was a scent designed to scare men away from cray/creative women.

  4. Kelly Auditions took us to the set of the show formerly known as Regis And Kelly to see the auditions for Regis’s spot since he recently retired from the show. Nasim Pedrad played Kelly with our host and the cast swapping out pretty rapidly to impersonate each potential replacement.

  5. We then got a fake ad for the Kemper-Pedic Me Time Mattress where Jason Segel played the sample user/pitchman to promote his patented bed that allowed him to masturbate in bed without waking his wife, Vanessa Bayer, who slept soundly throughout the entire fake promotion.

  6. The Vogelchecks then returned for some man-on-man make-out action from this family that is too comfortable physically showing their affection towards one another, even in front of their first time Christmas guests including the real Paul Rudd, who randomly joined in on the action.

  7. Florence And The Machine then took to the stage to perform Shake It Out.

  8. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, the real Governor Jon Huntsman dropped by to comment on how his campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination is going, especially in New Hampshire. Seth Meyers also played a game of Really?!? with Kermit The Frog in regards to pizza being declared a vegetable for the sake of school lunch programs. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)

  9. We then went to a Retirement Party for Fred Armisen that got marred by his secretary, Kristen Wiig’s inability to come up with something nice to say despite working for the man for so long. Jason Segel also fudged things up with his drunken plot to spill well-known company secrets during his farewell speech.

  10. A New Jack Thanksgiving had Bobby Moynihan as an eccentric music producer who attempted to promote his collection of New Jack Swing-style music for a holiday album while swearing the entire time that the style never went away.

  11. We then got another SNL Digital Short where, through an ‘80s style instructional video, Andy Samberg did a terrible job a demonstrating the are of  Seducing Women Through Chess.

  12. Andre The Giant Chooses An Ice Cream Flavor had Jason Segel as The Eighth Wonder Of The World who takes time to ponder over many mini samples at an ice cream shop with an extensive variety of flavors.

  13. Florence And The Machine then returned to the stage to perform No Light, No Light.

  14. The Blue Jean Committee was a sketch that featured another fake SNL band. This group was denim-clad from head to toe based out of Western Massachusetts who swore they were about to go national. They then attempted to wow the crowd at a local dive bar by performing a song called Massachusetts Afternoon.

  15. Finally, Jason Segel closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

This may not have been the very best episode of the year, but thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments, tonight definitely felt like the first show from the season where it felt like they fully found their legs and would love nothing more for the rest of the season to be at least this good. First, I loved Andre The Giant Chooses An Ice Cream Flavor because of my love of wrestling as a kid, plus it was amazing how Jason Segel got the wrestling giant’s voice spot-on. Next, I really liked this week’s SNL Digital Short: Seducing Women Through Chess because I liked how they captured the ‘80s aesthetic, plus it had me surprised by how hard it got me to laugh a couple of times. Finally, I was a fan of Kemper-Pedic Me Time Mattress because what young man doesn’t have a history of joking about masturbation?

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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.