Who’s Harry Porter?
There couldn’t be better timing for this episode to arrive. I feel like I’ve been a bit over-wordy with my past couple reviews in my effort to find the right blend of sharing my thought’s on the host, the show in general, the specific episode, the challenge as a whole, and my life as it relates to Saturday Night Live. This has turned out to be quite a complicated recipe to balance, especially on a daily basis, but overall I’ve been pretty happy with what I’ve managed to come up with. That said, with this week being a rambling one, I’m back to feeling burnt out.
Thankfully, I know absolutely nothing of Daniel Radcliffe since I’m just the right age that Harry Potter meant absolutely nothing to me. I was a twenty-two-year-old drunk punk who was discovering Hunter S. Thompson and didn’t have time for the childish made up world. Hell, I’m so unfamiliar that I typed up Harry Porter more than once throughout my first draft of this intro.
Of course, I’m aware of the book and the film series, but I’ve never got into that brand of fantasy with wizards, witches, and whatnot. I prefer for my fantasies to be at least grounded in the present/real world where it’s not entirely clear if you're supposed to be watching reality, or if you’re seeing the world through the altered perspective of a twisted head.
I’m not just talking drug-fueled fantasy worlds. I would probably love the Harry Potter films if they were grounded in our existence, going to some shitty school but in their heads, they were all these wizards and warlocks. Since I do see fantasy as escapism, I prefer to also see what the fantasizer is escaping from. It’s almost like I see fantasy more like masturbation where you know it’s just temporary where the Harry Potter approach is more like cosplay where people really want to live out the fiction in their head. I’m not saying either approach is better, I’m just sharing my preference.
Either way, my lack of knowledge of the host means that this can be a quick one since I won’t be getting too caught up on how I feel about him or his career. This won’t be hard because outside of the world of Harry Potter, all that I know is that he got naked on stage for some play about a horse, that he may or may not have sex with? I don’t know, I’m probably mixing up a couple of stories because by the time the story I’m referencing happened, I only had time to track pop culture reference about celebrities I was already a fan of.
Well, that turned out to be a little longer of an introduction than I thought. At least it was light and fun, which is how I hope to be more of from here on out. Especially as the year wraps up, and I finish my Operation Achieve Anything challenge where I’ve been working through an assignment a day from a self-help book. This might explain why I cam seem extra reflective at times. Next year, I plan to do a similar daily challenge as part of my Daily Breaker segment, but the new challenge will be more focused on my creative ventures and less on exploring the self.
With that, I’m now going to hit play and see how this real-time viewing plays out. Though I don’t typically like the recent run of political openings, I do get a kick out of jokes about the rich being way off when pandering to the poor to get votes, so I was entertained by watching Jason Sudeikis as Mitt Romney try to relate to the common man. I think I don’t mind this because it making light of the individual and not the actual policies that may get the crowd to laugh after the passing of time proved that it wasn’t a laughing matter.
Again, I don’t know Daniel Radcliffe from Adam leading me to have pretty low expectations for the night. His monolog didn’t help because, even though joking, it’s hard to hear a guy gripe about the role that gave him a life where he would be invited on a show to share these insights in the first place. Not that I felt he should have spent the entire time praising the collection of films, but the franchise bashing tones just had a hipster style arrogance to it that rubbed me wrong where he’s even too good for himself or his work. I’m sure there are plenty of examples to be shown that this is far from the case. I’m just sharing my thoughts on this stranger’s opening to the episode.
I’m a fan of the idea of Ricky Gervais, but outside of Idiot Abroad, his Animated Podcast, and a couple of episodes of the British The Office, I don’t know all that much of performances in front of a crowd. That meant that the parody of him hosting basic cable award shows was a little weak to me because it didn’t touch on the areas of his personality that I know. Plus the complaints about his performance seem like rookies whining compared to how sensitive people are these days, unfortunately, now including me as I now watch many more of my words.
I was very pleased to see the Target Lady return even though the serious is pretty much all the same. This is a case where the repetitiveness is a bonus because all that it took was seeing the Target storefront to know the sketch would be fun no matter how the host was involved. I also loved Kristen Wiig’s idea to turn a snow sled into a humongous eye to trick her house-guests into thinking a giant is looking in her house. Actually, I love this added aspect of her sharing the crazy things that she planned to do with the items she would get excited about.
Over the past several years, probably since around the time this episode aired, I’ve been watching more YouTube than television. Yes, I do watch many old shows and clips from network TV, but I also watch it more and more for the YouTuber’s content. Because of this, I was a fan of the sketch that made fun of the YouTube hacky-acts from before the genre flooded the market. I just wish they used actual internet fails for the reference material.
The spin the bottle sketch was just another excuse to try to get a laugh from two guys kissing, which again, I feel was fine at the time because I do think it got, at least, comedy fans to lighten up when it comes to homosexual affection. Only now that man on man action doesn’t have the same shock value, it’s just watching two people kiss. The fact that the men being kissed didn’t really help.
The sketch with the Delaware doo-wop-based play that made fun of Jersey Boys was just okay as far as the actual content goes, but I lived in Delaware for one year in my early twenties, so I always get a bit of a kick when the state is the star of a joke, just like the state was. I did like living there though because you really could travel to a lot of states during vacation when the state that you're based out of is the size of a Las Vegas block. I lived in an apartment where if I missed the turn one way you’d end up in Maryland, and the other way would take you to Pennsylvania.
The Harry Potter parody that followed was sort of fun but more because it also was a bit of a parody of Van Wilder as well with Daniel Radcliffe refusing to leave the nest. Other than that, I didn’t get any of the Potter-specific references. The audience really seemed to love it though so I wouldn’t say that the sketch was terrible. It just wasn’t for me. Even the Van Wilder aspect was just the fact that he wouldn’t leave the school despite being so old. Other than that, it was mostly Harry stuff.
I know of Lana Del Rey because she sings a song in the movie Southland Tales which was the featured movie for my very first Wicker Breaker project, but that pretty much all that I know of her. I’m sure I’ve heard several of her songs because I hear her name often on reality singing contests. This first song wasn’t one that I was familiar with unless someone switched up its temp to perform it somewhere else because there were lines that felt extremely familiar. I do like her soft, subtle voice and am a much bigger fan of this style that big-voiced women who really belt out their tunes, so I could see myself seeking out more of her music.
I couldn’t see myself sitting through another fifteen-minute Weekend Update segment, thankfully, tonight it was only eight. I wasn’t really into it this week. I really wanted to like Fred Armisen and Vanessa Bayer as Kim Jong Un’s childhood best friends. I wanted to see how they addressed the fact that they were just ripping off the Kaddafi routine only switching leaders with Kaddafi being dead because I felt that it could be a funny joke. Instead, they didn’t even acknowledge that there was a change at all and just did the same old routine. I may like it next time, but I was disappointed by the evolution, as I was this the segment where Daniel Radcliffe portrayed Cassey Anthony’s dog.
Based on my pre-viewing legwork, I was most excited about the X27B Theater because I couldn’t wait to see how someone from just eight six years ago might see people from a hundred years in the future would look back at 2012. Though they didn’t make any prediction like I was hoping, I was still highly entertained by what they were highlighting as strange, minus enough real context to adequately explain why the future people would laugh at some of the interaction.
I liked the idea of the politician who put out an ad to bash herself, I just don’t know why they didn’t spread this series out throughout the night instead of having them all play back to back. Yeah, there would have been a commercial break during the actual viewing but to be a running gag in my books you need some space to run. Though these three ads were fine, I would have found them to be hilarious if the first one dropped right after the monolog, so that you could forget about it by the time for round two, to create that “Oh yeah, it’s that sketch back for more,” right before the news. Then hit us again by completing the rule of three right before the goodnights. As is, it kind of felt more like filler.
Though I’m a fan of Jay Pharoah, his talk show segment felt like filler as well, but that could because part of the joke was the Pharoah was unprepared and intentionally filling the scene with his random impersonations. It turned out to be a case where the phony filler felt really, like how sometimes the opening sketch can genuinely feel like your watching C-SPAN. The Pharoah show was followed by the third installment of the fake political ad. So the three sketch series ran like this, fake ad part one, commercial, fake ad part two, sketch, fake ad part three. That’s not a running series to me.
I didn’t know the second song from Lana Del Rey either, but I’m still digging her haunting voice. Once again, I’m pretty sure that some reality show contestant has done this song with a different arrangement because some of the lines sounded extremely familiar. I wasn’t a huge fan of the exit polling sketch because as this last election shows us, these polls are completely worthless and even though the sketch was making fun of the polling techniques, it never managed to keep my attention.
As I keep saying, I don’t like when the show ends on a fake commercial instead of a legitimate full-length sketch, but I do get that it’s a timing thing so that the segment can be skipped if needed. At least this was another case where the fake ad for the app that provided warnings to help you navigate the world without ever looking up from your phone was funny enough that I didn’t mind it was last.
Daniel Radcliffe did not win me over by the time he returned to the stage to say his goodnights. At the same time, he also didn’t manage to lose any points in my book. The episode played out almost exactly how I expected, it was far from a favorite, but that came from unfamiliarity over hate. With that, I’m going to shift gears and dig deeper into the details of each sketch, as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with a sketch called Romney: Believe In America where Jason Sudeikis as Mitt brought his Presidential campaign to the people of South Carolina and awkwardly tried to relate to the commoners while dining at Jim Bob’s Kitchen. Of course, with this being the opening sketch it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York...”
Daniel Radcliffe then officially opened the show with a monolog about how he was over being pigeonholed as Harry Potter and how he really didn’t want to parody the series of films that are the entire reason for him becoming famous enough to host the show in the first place. As he was complaining, cast members kept approaching from behind dressed as Harry Potter characters only to look dejected and turn away when hearing just how much our host hated the references.
This was followed by a string of parodies of Ricky Gervais Promos where following a controversial hosting spot at the last year’s Golden Globe, Jason Sudeikis as Ricky Gervais promoted he’d be pushing the same envelope while hosting a slew of basic cable award shows.
The Target Lady then returned after quite a bit of time off. I love this series even though it’s always more of the same as it was for this evening only with Daniel Radcliffe as a scrawny stock boy who attempted be a tough guy in order to win over Wiig but stand up to Jason Sudeikis who played a harassing boss.
You Can Do Anything! was a talk show sketch where a panel of no-talent hacks who have posted their videos their videos online leading to their invite to perform their lame-ass schtick live on television.
We there then taken to a party where a game of Spin The Bottle broke out where Daniel Radcliffe with extreme trepidations about playing since every one of his spins kept landing on random homeless men.
Delaware Fellas was a parody of a lame/low-budget rip-off of Jersey Boys that followed a random doo-wop group from Delaware instead of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons. As lame as the performance turned out to be, it was still endorsed by Joe Biden since he was Delaware-based.
Hogwarts Academy brought us into the Harry Potter world for a ten-year school reunion where we got a bunch of updates that went over my head. There was a Van Wilder angle that I did enjoy where our host as his Potter character was still attending as a hanger-on to his glorious/youthful ways.
Lana Del Rey then took to the stage to perform Video Games.
Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, with Kaddafi dead, Vanessa Bayer’s and Fred Armisen’s childhood friends characters were repurposed to where they did the same exact routine only now they were both Korean and life-long BFFs with Kim Jong Un. Daniel Radcliffe also dropped by as Casey Anthony’s newly-adopted Yorkshire Terroir to comment on the misfortune of having to now live with a murderous mom. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)
X27B Theater took us to the year 2112 where a theater group performed a play about how life used to be during the time of this episode’s airing. This led to a pretty entertaining look back at how we got to where we were in 2012, if only they knew just how wacky things would actually get a mere four years later.
We then got a fake political ad for Glenda Okones For Mayor where Kristen Wiig in the titular role wore a frowny face to run an attack ad on herself where she claimed that she was unfit for the position.
I’m guessing during the actual airing we would have gone to commercial before returning for round two of the Glenda Okones For Mayor fake ad where this time Kristen Wiig listed further flaws in her personality that would make her unelectable.
The Jay Pharoah Show gave Jay Pharoah a segment to test out his fictional talk show where he interviewed Daniel Radcliffe despite the fact that Pharoah was just like me and knew absolutely nothing about the Harry Potter franchise. It didn’t stop our fictional talk show host from performing his usual celebrity impersonations while attempting to force them into seeming relevant.
Lana Del Rey then returned to the stage to perform Blue Jeans.
Finally, Daniel Radcliffe closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
Though I wouldn’t say that Daniel Radcliffe won me over as a fan, I would say that thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night, I would say that I stayed entertained. First, I loved the X27B Theater sketch because for comedic effect or not, I love the idea of watching what people from the future would think of our modern time. Next, I really liked The Return Of The Target Lady because the sketch is failsafe in my book, no matter who is the host... though I think Ben Affleck once screwed it up. Finally, I was a fan of You Can Do Anything! because it was fun to see a six-year-old take on YouTube from that time.