SNL: S38E01... HOST: SETH MACFARLANE... DATE: SEPTEMBER 15, 2012

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or...

The Best Season Opener So Far...

At Least That I Can Remember...

 

I am so happy that I’ve resolved my issues with offensive humor to where I’m no longer as hung up on the shock value-based trendsetters who’ve now seemed to change their tune by giving into the new oversensitive PC world. Being that shock value humor is the entire reason I instantly fell in love with Family Guy, and any other content created by Seth MacFarlane. Not that I had this issue with Seth because he still seems to be sticking to his guns about how his humor is actually a tool to highlight social issues and not just blindly blurt out uncouth terms to get a laugh.

Then again, I haven’t seen anything new from our host in years, ever since I stopped watching television in general. Not that I turned on the show, or feel it was better back whenever, but because I just shifted my attention to more Internet-based content. I’ve recently realized that the reason I made the switch to get most of my entertainment through podcasts, YouTube, and other forms of true independent content is that these creators seem more apt to make up and follow their own rules. Especially at the level of content that I listen to that others might see as amateur, at least when it comes to my middle-aged peers.

As I said in a recent Twitter post, I almost find these content creators’ efforts to turn their passion into a job more compelling than their actual content. Even if I didn’t relate with my own ambitious efforts, I’m growing more and more interest in watching average people develop their voice over anything that could ever be scripted. These are the people who are still taking the risks that used to be what drew me in to become a fan of these offensive shows.

Though this intro might sound critical of tonight’s host, I’m actually excited to see tonight’s episode because I do think that Seth MacFarlane is a comedic genius who I will find entertaining no matter what. I just go into these reviews blind, and this was the only thing that I could think of as an introduction so that I could hurry up and get to sharing my real-time viewing experience without getting hung up on what I want to say for too long since nothing else was coming to mind. With that, it’s now time to hit play and share my findings.

First off, I like that the show now has an actual black guy to play Obama, even though I do think that Fred Armisen’s impersonation was better. I’ve just been conflicted with his impersonation ever since the news keeps posting stories about how SNL has taken a new stance on offensive material that they’ve literally been pushing my entire life.

Keep in mind, I’ve still yet to see any of these examples in person since they’re still several seasons away, so I’m now trying to hold off on my thoughts on the hypocrisy that I’ve been seeing as divisive click-bait headlines. Also, keep in mind that my overall outlook on life has drastically changed to be more positive over the past couple of weeks and am still sorting out my readjusted beliefs. Other than that, I’m also a bit disappointed that they’re back to the talking head behind a podium start to the show that they manage to escape during most of last year. I did really love Armisen’s way of addressing the issue at the beginning of the sketch, especially since my issue was never with him.

One of my favorite things about Seth MacFarlane is that his natural voice is so close to Brian the dog, that this aspect alone was enough to make the monolog fun. I also love to see the change in facial expressions and ticks that Seth seems to have to put himself through to put on an accurate performance. Of course, the song that ended the segment was brilliant as well. I’d say that I have a creative crush on this man because I wish that I could articulate my thoughts as well as he can while still holding onto his silly side. Other hosts can do this as well, this creative fanboy obsession with our host is just extra strong since I also look up to him as a writer first and a live performer for fun.

The fake anti-Romney ad was so dry and potentially accurate that it was more depressing than fun. It wasn’t until the sketch was damn near over that the examples of how horrible Bain Capital was started to become over-the-top enough to get me to laugh out loud. I actually love when a sketch can adequately pull this off and not just come across as a real political ad, the way that I feared it would be.

I’ve never liked Fred Armisen’s aggressive producer character who inappropriately fills in for talk show host because the character is more mean than funny. I’m willing to bet I would have liked this character more in the past when being mean to each other was a sign that you were comfortable enough to be friends. I was raised to think ribbing one another was innocent fun until I started to believe all of the mean jokes that I used to make that was directed towards myself as well as others.

I remember when Clint Eastwood talked to the empty chair back when this happened and never really thought that his effort to be creative to prove a put was that big of a deal, even if it turned out to be an epic fail. Even though I’m not conservative at all, I kind of got the point and felt that the bashing was much ado about nothing, especially considering how even the opening sketch was a joke about how Obama did nothing during his first time. This is probably around the time that I started to get confused over who’s allowed to joke about what in this country.

As I said earlier, this was also around the time that the internet started to become my primary source of entertainment, so I was really excited to see the real Psy make a cameo appearance in the Lids sketch. Enough time has passed since Gangnam Style was ubiquitous that this sketch really tapped into some nostalgic good times. I really liked how they held off introducing the real Psy until the end of the sketch because the explosion that came from the crowd actually gave me the chills.

I’m also a fan of seeing the behind-the-scenes workings that go into puppetry since puppeteers aren’t always also ventriloquists, so it cracks me up that they don’t even bother to put any effort into hiding the fact that they’re moving their mouths. On top of that, the overall sketch was also pretty funny on its own. Up to this point, I’ve been delighted with tonight’s episode, so I wasn’t zoned out through the Frank Ocean/John Mayer collaboration even though they are both performers who are outside of my preferred genres.

As I often point out, my issue with Seth’s run on Weekend Update is more due to the fact that I don’t like the current events from the time since he started and nothing to do with his performance. Whether or not I like the segment depends one-hundred-percent on the guest. I’m also just realizing that I’m not a big fan of the single news anchor format because I prefer to not have to wait for the guest for there to be any form of banter.

That said, tonight’s guests were pretty entertaining leading me to really like this installment. I especially enjoyed Seth MacFarlane as Ryan Lochte, especially since this was before his controversy during The Olympic Game in Brazil and highlighted that he was always a goofball or at least known as one. It was also fun to see Cecily Strong first speaking performance since both she and Vanessa Bayer grew to be my favorite of the more subtle cast member when I did get back into the show about two seasons in the future from when this episode initially aired.

As someone who stammers and mixes up my words while I talk, I got a kick out of the Drill Sergeant where Seth MacFarlane was overly self-conscious about his stutter. His demand for honesty combined with his sharp sense of denial created a couple of “Who’s on first” style jokes of misinterpreted double sided questions had me laughing out loud a handful of times.

The Steve Harvey sketch also had me laughing out loud because Kenan Thompson as Steve Harvey cracks me up as does the real Steve who wasn’t involved and having Seth MacFarlane as pretty much a third Steve Harvey option tapped into some convoluted humor that I adore. As I said during the monolog, I really enjoy watching voice-over performers many facial tics while they do their various voices, so I really enjoyed the double date where both Seth MacFarlane’s and Nasim Pedrad’s faces were dancing together as the attempted to communicate through their fake voices to hide the fact that both blind-daters were nervous. I liked it even more when Nasim started to take the conversation into some funny, dark places.

The second song from Frank Ocean and John Mayer was as good as the first one but still not for me. The final sketch of the night, however, was up my alley because when I used to live in Delaware, I and a couple of friends used to travel through Amish country often because there was a really cool punk rock record shop in Lancaster, PA. This Amish-based ad took me back to those days where we would get stuck behind a buggy on the way into town.

I was so happy to see Seth MacFarlane take to the stage to say his goodnights. This was the strongest season starter that I’ve seen in a while, and not just because of my creativity crush on the host. This was the first time in years that it didn’t seem like the first episode was designed to work out any summer vacation bugs or to go easy on the new Not Ready For Prime Time Players. Let’s hope that they can keep it up for the whole year. I have to admit that I’m nervous because, while perusing the upcoming episodes, I saw a lot of shows that had thirteen of fewer segments to make up the night, which is a pet peeve of mine.

Oh well, we’ll see how things turn out. Until then, it’s now time to dig deeper into the details of each sketch to wrap this one up, as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with parody coverage of a Democratic Rally where the show finally let an actual black man portray Barack Obama as Jay Pharoah took over the role. During his first impersonation he shared how despite the lack of success, when it comes to running the country during his first term, he was thrilled to go against Jason Sudeikis and Taran Killam as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan since those two idiots guaranteed his second Presidential win. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York...”

  2. Seth MacFarlane then officially opened the show with a monolog where he carried on a crazy conversation while bouncing back and forth between all of the voices that he performs for his show Family Guy, and then wrapped things up with a traditional Seth MacFarlane song and dance.

  3. Obama For America brought back Jay Pharoah as Obama for a political ad that over-exaggerated testimonials regarding Mitt Romney’s behavior.

  4. Sex After 50 brought back Fred Armisen’s aggressive producer character who always fills in for talk show host that cover topics that he has no business providing advice for. As the sketch title suggests, this time he was hosting a show about sex after 50 where he gave more terrible advice to the audience.

  5. Eastwood And Chair promoted a traveling show with Clint Eastwood and an empty chair, making fun of the bizarre example that the actor/director was attempting to make while at a Republican event about how Obama seemed to never be there to answer any of the countries most pressing issues during his reign.

  6. Lids had Taran Killam and Kenan Thompson as two mall hat shop employees who get a special visit from Bobby Moynihan as viral-hit-maker Psy along with the real Psy who played Turbo-Psy who danced around the store’s merchandise while attempting to make a video for their new attempt at a new viral song.

  7. We then went to a Puppetry Class where everyone in the class had a typical/innocent approach to puppeteer accept for Bill Hader who played a puppeteer with a puppet twin who both seemed to be sociopaths.  

  8. Frank Ocean then took to the stage with John Mayer to perform Thinkin' 'Bout You.

  9. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan dropped by as Honey Boo Boo and Mama June to ramble on about the upcoming election. Seth MacFarlane also stopped by as Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte to share that he was excited over the new TV offering for the upcoming fall season. Cecily Strong then may her Weekend Update debut with Jay Pharoah so that the two could discuss the Latin vote in the 2012 election. (Clip 2) (Clip 3) (Clip 4)

  10. Seth MacFarlane then played a Stuttering Drill Sergeant who struggled to taunt any recruit who attempted to call him out on his speech impediment.

  11. Kenan Thompson then returned as Steve Harvey for a parody of the comedian’s new daytime talk show. This inaugural episode, Harvey offered aid to Seth MacFarlane, who played an extremely dull man, by dressing him up to look like the two could be twins as if the fancy suit, bald head, and mustache would solve all of MacFarlane’s excitement issues.  

  12. We then went on a Blind Date between Seth MacFarlane and Nasim Pedrad and all that either potential mate knows how to do to calm their nerves was talk only using cartoon voices.

  13. Frank Ocean then returned to the stage with John Mayer to perform Pyramids.

  14. Wooden Spoon Warehouse had Seth MacFarlane and new featured player, Tim Robinson played two Amish pitchmen who attempted to recite the strange symbols that made up their wooden spoon company’s web address, that seems foreign to them due to the fact that they are illiterate when it comes to technological terms.

  15. Finally, Seth MacFarlane closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As the subtitle suggests, tonight’s episode was the best season opener that I’ve seen in quite some time thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved Turbo-Psy At Lids because I’ve grown to like sites like YouTube over TV, so it was fun to see Psy make a special appearance to merge these two worlds, plus, enough time has based that it was fun to see a Gangnam Style reference again. Next, I really liked the Wooden Spoon Warehouse because it took me back to the days when I used to visit Amish town in Pennsylvania a couple of times a month. Finally, I was a fan of the Obama For America ad because I’m a fan of when a sketch can have me bored at the start only to win me over by the end the way Kenan’s escalating issues with Bain Capital managed to get me to laugh despite sighing a lot at the start.

 
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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.