SNL: S37E15... HOST: MAYA RUDOLPH... DATE: FEBRUARY 18, 2012

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Phonophobia And Me

 

I’m having flashbacks to how I felt before the Channing Tatum episode. Not that I’m worried that May Rudolph will get the same Hot Host treatment which in turn isn’t to say she isn’t hot, but based on my pre-viewing legwork alone, this is looking like it’s going to be a lame episode. With only thirteen segments to make up the night and a laundry list of cameos, the evening has an extreme slapped together as if the blend of nostalgia mixed with pomp and circumstance will be enough to get by.

I wouldn’t say that I’m against this mixture, but it really does have to be blended just right to get an episode like the one earlier this year hosted by Jimmy Fallon. His show has fifteen segments and just as many special guests only somehow he managed to use each visit without there being a five-minute applause break every time a famous face would enter the scene. I could tell from the rough draft of The Wicker Breakdown that Fallon’s show would have been just as fun with or without the extra help.

Tonight seems like it’s going to be more like Amy Poehler’s first homecoming visit, where I was excited to see her back only to have her end up either buried in the background or performing in evergreen content that could have been performed by any host. I’m sure the viewing will still be fun, just like it was with Poehler, but I have no expectations for this showing to be any better than average. I know this sounds like it can seem self-fulfilling, but more often than not, when my feelings are this strong on whether I’m going to hate or like an episode, I turn out to be dead wrong. Here’s to hoping that’s the case with Maya.

We’ll see how things go, as it’s now time to hit play and get to sharing my real-time viewing experience. Though I was happy to see that the opening sketch gave us a break from the typical political opening, with the primary source of the humor being a sports reference that’s over my head and I don’t care about, I almost would have preferred the political content. I do remember the term Lin-sanity being thrown around, but even after the sketch, I barely remembered the guy. Even the announcement of, “Live from New York...” was pathetic.

Maya Rudolph’s opening monolog was okay, but it didn’t change my opinion of what I’m expecting from tonight’s episode. Just last night during Zooey Deschanel’s opening I once again pointed out how I don’t usually like when they have the hosts sing a song but couldn’t put my finger on why I don’t mind sometimes but do others. I realized right now that I didn’t mind Zooey’s singing because it was an original song that was funny, I didn’t like this example as much because it was a cover song that felt like it was just filling the time.

I’ve never liked Bronx Beat even back when both Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler were still on the show because it’s primarily accent-based humor that’s so New York City-specific that I just don’t care. I hate the sketch even more now that they bring it back every time that either Maya or Amy is on. It doesn’t help that I have phonophobia and the sound of these two character’s chomping on their gum almost drove me out of my mind to the point where I would have just skipped it if I wasn’t watching for this challenge. Then they brought out Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg as two gum chomping morons, and I had to turn the volume down so low that I could barely hear anything.

The gum-chomping from the last scene annoyed me so much that it might be enough to rank this episode as one of the worst episodes that I’ve ever seen. That’s how much I get bothered by the chomping. I forgot to turn the volume up until halfway through the Maya Angelou prank show sketch, but it was funny enough that I rewound the scene to watch from the beginning and enjoy, but due to the chewing I now feel like I’m just going through the motions with this one.

I’m indifferent toward both Beyonce and Jay-Z where either performer has songs that I don’t mind and even a few I might like, but none that I can name of the top of my head. Where I don’t mind their music, I couldn’t care less about their personal lives, so the sketch about their new kid was fun because of the impersonations, but any deep reference that got the crowd laughing meant absolutely nothing to me.

Between the low expectations going into the viewing, the chewing, and the fact that I was almost bored to death by the last sketch, tonight’s musical guest didn’t stand a chance, considering I often zone out during performances from bands that I know and love. That said, I would have probably enjoyed Sleigh Bells’s performance if this were any other episode, and I’m just going to go ahead and skip sharing my same old same old view of the news from this time.

Thankfully, What Up With That was the first sketch to follow the news because any sketch from this series will cheer me up no matter who’s the show’s host or what type of day I’m having. I was a tad bit annoyed that they let Bill O'Reilly ramble on as long as they did instead of cutting him off instantly like they always have done in the past to people who I would have liked to hear. I also get that was part of the joke, so this annoyance didn’t last long.

I was looking forward the game show sketch until it was revealed that the primary sense of the segments humor was accent-based and as I said many times, I no longer find sketch funny based on silly voices alone. It would be one thing if the sketch got me to laugh minus the silly talk, but that just wasn’t the case. Then to see a Barack Obama and Bill Cosby mashup was the next sketch to come, I was once again tempted to just turn the episode of but can’t because I’m a completist.

I didn’t mind the second song from Sleigh Bells, but I’m not going to rush to look up more of their stuff. I also didn’t mind the last sketch that made fun of the blind-spots that black people have for Obama’s failure to meet campaign promises because every character involved was open about the fact that saw major flaws but due to their understandable bias views that they were going to vote for him again anyway. I feel that America used to be more open to this brand of honesty without as much denial of “their sides” fundamental problems. It’s now good guys versus bad guys, making it impossible for a la carte planning that cherry picks the best of the policies from both sides.

This reminder that I’m not crazy and that things have changed in both good and bad ways was actually a pleasant way to end this mediocre viewing, that might have actually been as average as I expected going in if my night wasn’t ruined by all the chewing. I think my issue with the sound stems from the fact that my family is filled with people who have sinus problems. It can sound disgusting when they're all in a group, and you can’t yell at them to keep their mouths shut because they need to breathe, meaning you had to hold onto this annoyance no matter how disgusting it grew to be. It’s so bad that my sinuses aren’t all that great and I gross myself out if I accidentally notice my own chewing sounds.

With all of that said, I’m just going jump right in and dig deeper into the details of each sketch, as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a parody of New York Sports Now where Bill Hader played Dan Mardell who must be the host of the real show with Kenan Thompson, and Jay Pharoah played his sidekicks. For this parody, the sports reporting team admit to having Lin-sanity, for Jeremy Lin. Taran Killam played a third sidekick who ruined the fun by making racist jokes in an attempt to fit in with the comments being made by his black friends, who felt their racist comments were okay because they were in reference to an Asian. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it all led to the announcement of, “Live from New York...”

  2. Maya Rudolph then officially opened the show with a monolog about how much botty she used to get back when she was an active Not Ready For Prime Time Player. She was then joined by members of the cast and several male dancers as she sang a song called Do You Wanna Funk.

  3. Bronx Beat With Betty And Jodi brought back the accent based Bronx morning talk show sketch from when Maya Rudolph was on the show. They also brought back her sidekick from the good-ole days, Amy Poehler for more parody morning banter. They also brought in special guest Justin Timberlake, who played their goofball of a boom-mic operator, and Andy Samberg as their camera guy to add to the fun and games.

  4. Maya Angelou's: I Know Why The Caged Bird Laughs! had Maya Rudolph as Maya Angelou to pull childish pranks on her celebrity friends like Jay Pharoah, Kenan Thompson, and Bill Hader as Morgan Freeman, Dr. Cornel West, and Stephen King.

  5. At Home With Beyonce And Jay-Z had Maya Rudolph and Jay Pharoah in the titular roles for more cameos and impersonations as they introduced their baby, Blue Ivy to the world.

  6. Sleigh Bells then took to the stage to perform Comeback Kid.

  7. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Amy Poehler stuck around from her earlier cameo to play a game of Really!?! with Seth in regards to the Congressional birth control mandate debate that didn’t include a single woman. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)

  8. What Up With That? then returned for more repetitive fun with Kenan Thompson as the host who cuts off his guests’ every word by breaking into his theme song. For the most part, this was more of the same, but there was a President’s Day theme to the fictional episode.

  9. Super Showcase was a game show sketch where Vanessa Bayer played a contestant who failed to win the grand prize but the announcer and show models showcased each prize item with an enthusiasm that one would think would be held for a contestant who did actually win.

  10. The Obama Show was pretty much a parody of The Cosby Show only with the Obama Family filling all of the roles. Just like the real The Cosby Show, the primary storyline was Fred Armisen as Barack trying to sneak in a hoagie behind May Rudolph as Michelle’s back.

  11. Sleigh Bells then returned to the stage to perform End Of The Line.

  12. How's He Doing? was a talk show parody hosted by Kenan Thompson where he and his all-black panel of guests shared how they were willing to re-elect the first black President, no matter how crazy the scenarios being thrown their way grew to be.

  13. Finally, Maya Rudolph closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

As much as I wasn’t a fan of tonight’s show, at least these sketches that contained my three favorite moments were at least pretty fun? First, I loved Maya Angelou's: I Know Why The Caged Bird Laughs! because it was one of the few sketches to actually get me to laugh. Next, I really liked this week’s What Up With That, because it is a host-proof series where no matter who’s at the wheel it’s still fun. Finally, I was a fan of How’s He Doing? because it was nice to see, even if just through jokes, people who are open about their biases when it comes to who their electing and not just equating everything to be either pure evil or the ultimate in what’s good.

 
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