Another Solid Showing From An
Ever Improving Year
I just did a real quick read through of my review from Steve Buscemi’s inaugural hosting visit to see what I’ve already said about the man. I’m not surprised that I shared how he will always stand out to me as one of the actors who inspired my love the indie world of film. That said, I was a bit surprised to see that I didn’t dig deeper into the list of his earliest works that led me to feel this way. Though I did go into explaining how I was a fan because of his every-man look, to where I could relate to his characters more without having to suspend my disbelief the way I have to with many lovable loser-types who also happen to look like male models.
Though I recognized his face going back to junior high thanks to his involvement in the early Coen Brother films, it wasn’t until his role as Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs that he really stood out to me, because that was the first indie film that led me to see indie as a legitimate genre and not just a movie made on the cheap. Not that I felt low budget meant shitty, prior to this role, but this was the turning point to where I saw that these types of films typically followed their own rules, which is the real reason I fell in love.
Hell, I love the genre so much that I’m still proud of the A Brand Apart tattoo that I have on my leg that features tonight’s host’s outline, despite the fact that I lost interest in violence in cinema ever since the first Mission Impossible when I completely stopped actively seeking out action films. This change in interest started out simply because I couldn’t stand how all of the green screen action killed live-action stunts which were what initially made the genre interesting to me and not just the shooting of guns.
After I gave up on action, I started to think about how, in my real life, I avoid violence, and/or aggressive confrontations at all cost, so why would I then seek this out as my leisure time entertainment. Granted, there have been films to get around this general disinterest, or other films that go dark in different ways that you might argue would contradict this stance, but for the most part, I don’t like good guy/bad guy flicks where death is the ultimate outcome.
Thankfully, Steve Buscemi is an eclectic enough actor that even after this change in my personal taste he was still putting out films that I love like Trees Lounge, Ghost World, and Ed And His Dead Mother. Add to that all of his roles in Adam Sandler films as well as his many cameos, I might be more familiar with our host for the night’s resume than anyone who’s hosted so far, at least during these more recent years.
Because of this, I’m perfectly prepared for the various ways that this episode could go down, with all roads leading to just a little above average. Though I feel Buscemi can be a really funny guy and is in a lot of hilarious films, my very first thought when thinking of him is not his comedy skill. I see it in him to control each sketch as the host, but considering this season has a tendency of hiding their hosts in the background throughout the first half of the night, I can see exactly that happening with tonight’s episode.
With that, it’s now time to hit play so that I can share my real-time viewing experience as I test my expectations for this show. As always, if you’ve read any of these reviews from the past couple season, then you know how I feel the opening political sketch, especially the brand like tonight’s that playfully passes off Obama’s ineptness by making his flaws just seem silly, and how it’s someone else who’s holding back his promise of hope.
This sketch really drove me nuts because it points out that most presidents are puppet heads with corporate leaders and other money men holding the true power, yet when you try to point this out outside of a sketch, these claims are dismissed, and you’re called a conspiracy theorist. Again, the frustration comes from the confusion over why anyone would think this way over the validity of the belief that our president has always been just a puppet head.
I was a little nervous when I saw that Steve Buscemi would be “taking questions from the audience” as part of his monolog, considering the fact that “audience questions” typically means that they don’t know how to write an opening for the host, but this instance turned out to be pretty funny. I was entertained by the way he broke down his career prior to landing lead roles, and the laughs kept on coming when the “audience members” provided some pretty hilarious examples of character actors who wanted to go the same route.
Being from San Diego, I’ve always felt a bit like a Mexican food aficionado. Because of this, the fake ad for Frozen Mexican Dinner as a digestive aid was a little more funny to me than it should have been. I mean, this episode aired in 2011, so I’d assume Mexican food jokes would have already been played out by this time. Maybe it’s because they were treating it more like an over the counter drug and not just people merely pointing out how a microwave burrito reacts in your gut.
Speaking of drugs, The Miley Cyrus where Vanessa Bayer as Miley interviewed Steve Buscemi as a pothead started out pretty fun until about a half minute in when Maya Rudolph took over the scene, and our host went away, not to return until the very end of the sketch. Yeah, it was cool to see Maya, but it’s no longer as fun to laugh at the late Whitney Houston knowing how deep her troubles went, which is why, in general, I stopped laughing at trainwrecks. I used to laugh because I could relate, which is the exact same reason my perspective on this brand of humor has changed.
When I lost interest in action films, I also lost interest in Superheroes, but I can still find humor when they’re referenced in jokes that I get, as long as they don’t go too deep since I never read comic books as a kid. The comics I loved were comedians. That said, I got the joke from the Batman SNL Digital Short, that was far from a favorite from the series due to this lack of a connection, but I still found it amusing as I watched. The same way I was amused by the parody of the Dateline murder mystery segment, which I only kind of liked because my mom and sisters are obsessed with these murder shows, so I had a similar connection to the sketch’s references.
I have mixed feelings about the next sketch that referenced the Penn State scandal where Jason Sudeikis played a head coach who defended Steve Buscemi by saying he’s not a pedophile even though absolutely nobody made this claim. Though the actual sketch was hilarious with everyone in the sketch being innocent, the primary source of the humor was still center around the molestation of kids. Plus, if this sketch were real, I’d feel terrible for Buscemi for getting this treatment strictly because of his looks. Like with how I feel that comedy stemming from straight men making out sort of help to normalize male to male physical contact, I also sort of see the benefit of this type of humor as well.
Take the season featuring the original cast, when they would make a pedophile joke the entire audience would hoot, holler, laugh while the “kids” in the sketch were being treated like definite victims. Hell, at the time it even seemed like the audience was cheering the perverted characters on. As the show has evolved, the pedophile is no longer showcased as harmless with a quirk but disgusting creeps to be avoided at all cost the way that they should be, and I do feel like highlighting these horrible actions help to bring secrets people used to keep to light.
The Black Keys are another group who I know by name only, but I kind of liked their first song. That said, since I wasn’t able to sing along, I zoned out a little until Bobby Moynihan debuted his Drunk Uncle character on the news. I find this character to be funny because I am still sort of a drunk uncle to my nieces and nephews, at least in my older sister’s case, it’s the kids’ sober father who has the Drunk Uncle’s point of view. I probably have fewer problems with his kid’s generation than I do, but I am the one who sometimes speaks with the slur.
Though I love Kristen Wiig, I’m not a fan of all of her characters and her as the woman who ruins everyone else’s surprise was never a favorite of mine. I don’t really know why, but it might be because it just seems like a couple of her other character sloppily slapped together to create a new one that lacks the charm of the originals that were picked apart. This installment was fine, as were all of the others but still, it’s not a favorite segment of character.
I also don’t really know why I’m such a fan of the series of sketches from Paul Brittain where he plays "Sex" Ed Vincent who keeps hosting symposiums on sex. Usually, I’m not a huge fan of sex-based humor, but this series keeps cracking me up, possibly because there was no physical contact involve making it clear that it’s a joke and not just a lecherous-looking attempt to feel up the host or vice versa. I also really like that it’s Paul Brittain’s most featured character because I’m starting to like this guy, and bummed that he didn’t last longer than he did.
The second performance from The Black Keys was better than the first, but it was another song that I never heard before, so I was disappointed that I didn’t get to sing along. I wasn’t disappointed by the final sketch of the night, it wasn’t the best, but I was laughing at Steve Buscemi’s heartfelt descriptions of even the most commonplace Christmas decorations. It kind of reminded me of Howard Stern Show’s JD Harmeyer’s collection of souvenir spoons which is both charming and hilarious at the same time.
By the time Buscemi returned to the stage to say his goodnights, I was perfectly content with what I just watched, as it played out exactly as I predicted. Funny enough because Buscemi is excellent at what he does, but just slightly above average more based on the fact that they underused the host and not really because of the quality of the show as a whole.
With that, it’s now time to wrap this one up by digging deeper into the details of each sketch, as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with A Message From The President Of The United States where once again, Fred Armisen portrayed Barack Obama to share with America the list of people and institutions who are actually more powerful than he is, despite him being the “leader of the free world.” Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York...”
Steve Buscemi then officially opened the show with a monolog about his career since hosting the show back in the ‘90s, having just landed his role in Boardwalk Empire. He then attempted to tackle questions from “audience members” who all work as stereotypical character actors who would love his advice on how to evolve in their craft to start being cast in lead roles since he managed to do so with his career.
We then got a fake ad for Frozen Mexican Dinner where Paul Brittain played a musician who was complaining about feeling constipated. This led fellow band member Fred Armisen to offer up a single dose of Frozen Mexican Dinner as the fail-safe solution.
The Miley Cyrus Show then returned for another installment with Vanessa Bayer impersonating the show’s pop star of a host. This week she interviewed Steve Buscemi as a pothead so that Jason Sudeikis as Billy Ray Cyrus could bring in Maya Rudolph as Whitney Houston to moderate an intervention for his daughter who was recently caught smoking pot with her first guest.
We then got another SNL Digital Short that had Steve Buscemi as Commissioner Jim Gordon who is repeatedly flustered by Andy Samberg as Batman who kept make unannounced appearances through during the Commissioner’s personal affairs.
This was followed by another parody of Dateline, after a long break, where Bill Hader portrayed host, Keith Morrison who revels a little too much in the misery of The Mystery Of The Chopped Up Guy while interviewing Steve Buscemi as a murderer.
Coach Bert had Jason Sudeikis as the head basketball coach for Central University, who attempts to make it clear that the titular Coach Bert, played by Steve Buscemi is not a pedophile. He does this due to the fears based on the news coming out of the Penn State scandal, not realizing that in the process, he’s making it look like their trying to preemptively deny an issue.
The Black Keys then took to the stage to perform Lonely Boy.
Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Kenan Thompson returned as Herman Cain to announce that he’s suspending his presidential campaign while also making excuses for his marital indiscretions. Bobby Moynihan then introduced his Drunk Uncle character to give advice on how to deal with family during the holidays. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)
Surprise took us to the Playskool Toy’s Corporate Office where Steve Buscemi played a manager who wanted to surprise Vanessa Bayer with a job promotion, only Kristen Wiig’s reoccurring character who can’t keep a secret, once again, ended up ruining the entire celebration.
"Sex" Ed Vincent's Couples Workshop Sex Intensive brought back Paul Brittain’s character to host another three-day symposium on sex to help couples spice up their marriage in both the bedroom and in the kitchen.
The Black Keys then returned to the stage to perform Gold On The Ceiling.
Ornaments had Steve Buscemi as a man who proudly showed off his favorite Christmas ornaments, pointing out each unique detail, while Kristen Wiig played a ditzy character named Sheila who simply added the decoration to the tree after Buscemi described each piece even though there wasn’t anything special about any of the decorations at all.
Finally, Steve Buscemi closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
Though Steve Buscemi only lived up to my slightly above average expectations, even though I’m a huge fan of his film work, as I always point out, average equals good and thanks to sketched like these three that contained my favorite moment of the night, this evening viewing was slightly better than that. First, I loved the Coach Bert sketch even though I was on the fence about the pedophilia based humor, but there’s just something hilarious about when people try to defend the innocent and make them look guilty in the process when properly played out in a joke. Next, I really liked this week’s SNL Digital Short because it was funny to see Batman keep popping up and ruining Commissioner Gordon’s night. Finally, I was a fan of the Frozen Mexican Dinner fake ad because even though the Mexican food joke was a little played out and cliché, as a native San Diegan, who was raised on actual good Mexican food, I still thought it was also fun.