SNL: S06E06... HOST: RAY SHARKEY... DATE: JANUARY 10, 1981

or...

Oh, It's That Guy From Cop and 1/2

Up to this point of my Seeso Saturday Night Live Challenge, there have only been two or three hosts who I had no idea who they were even after watching the episode and looking up their resume. I thought Ray Sharkey was a name that was familiar to me but it turns out this familiarity was false due to a mental blend of Jeremy Shockey and Sharky's Machine even though I barely know those references in the first place.

It turns out, I still have no idea who Ray Sharkey is. According to the IMDB, the only two projects of his that I'm familiar with ended up being Cop And 1/2 and the movie Wise Guys with DeVito and Piscopo which are movies that I have seen but couldn't tell you a single thing about either.

I don't mind not knowing the host. One of the past unfamiliars ended up hosting one of my favorite episodes of an earlier season. So, when Sharkey came out and I couldn't place his name, face, or credits, I was willing to give him a shot.

At first, I was excited because he hit the stage with a bit of a wild but fun energy but I think the wildness came from his foot hitting something that caused him to flail while attempting to avoid a fall. Soon after he collected himself, he went on with an annoying tough mafia guy routine. This left me feeling unsure about the upcoming performance.

Thankful, even though they went to the mafia well quite a bit, they didn't overdo it to the point where it ruined the show, like they've done in the past with hosts who specialize in genres that are far from my favorite. This landed Ray as a perfectly fine but unmemorable guest in the new benchmark average episode of the season.

Now, that I've discussed my feeling about the host it's time to travel back in time to my pre-intro intro to this review.

***Greeting from the past***

Well... the deeper past as this all has already taken place with no one but me to witness it as the present. Anyways, I'm going to try something new today so I figured I'd add this heads up for those who like to play along. 

Where I normally like to use this challenge as an opportunity to relax for a bit by getting away from my workspace and watching the show from the couch, today, I'm going to try watching the show from my desk in order to type out my notes as I go.

Though this could potentially save me a lot of time since it means I wouldn't have to transcribe my handwritten notes, I can see the potential for a couple subtle flaws. One of those flaws being that I might miss a couple insights that may come to me when I revisit my notes. The second flaw being the fact that I won't get to relive the episode as I go through the transcribing process which may lead to a weaker final word.

I'm not too worried though. My Wicker Breakdown is my attempt to reproduce how I would explain a sketch in casual conversation, and then my final word is usually just an outro sentence before sharing my favorites list because most of the important stuff is covered in the opening intro.

So, now it's time to see how this new process works out as I give you my first real time rendition of...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. The show starts with a parody of To Tell The Truth where contestants try to guess who the real Jimmy the Weasel from the mafia is. Their options are two Italians in suits that look straight out of the Godfather and Eddie Murphy who looks pretty casual to me but his attitude makes me assume it's gang attire from the day. One of the Italians steps up as the real mafia member only to be shot dead by the second Italian who goes on to take Eddie as a hostage which freaks him out as he announces, "Live from New York..."
  2. Ray Sharkey opens the show with a fun energy that I wasn't expecting especially since I have no idea who he is even after looking at his resume. His monolog is about how excited he is to do a monolog but then ends up talking about his flight while sounding like a mobster wannabe tough guy with a horrible delivery where he says "Forget about it," after every sentence as if that's supposed to win us over.
  3. Drink Before The Job is a fake PSA for the daily alcoholic that needs to take the edge off of work.
  4. A W.A.S.P. (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) couple bicker as they wait for their interpreter because as they openly admit their heritage has ruined their ability to make real conversation due to so much suppression. Ray shows up and interprets all of the passive aggressiveness out of their speech to the point where it's just straight up aggression.
  5. Then we go to a punk club where the owner doesn't want to let Ray perform because he has a reputation of getting way too crazy. Denny and Gail show up as their teen characters who are nervous because they barely managed to sneak in. The girls then end up at Ray's table as the bar own heads to the bar to grab them a couple of drinks. The owner and the girls then watch Ray perform where he instantly goes from an incoherent drug addict to a guy with a great punk lead singer voice, then goes right back to babbling the second the song is done. 
  6. Gilbert does a segment explaining his experience using a low-quality enema which transitions into an editorial about how America's workforce is on the decline as people try to escape the monotony and how no one what humble work or as he refers to it a "Hum Job." He finished the sketch by asking the president for one of these so-called "Hum Jobs."
  7. Next, we going to a different bar where Eddie is serving drinks while he listens to drunks complain. First, it's a couple complaining about couple stuff but then we see Carter in the corner still in a bad way over the election. Ray comes in as a dock worker who tries to cheer Carter up by giving him advice you would give a regular Schmoe involved in a regular lay off. The sketch gets cut off as we go to a live segment on the street where we catch local New Yorkers celebrating the midnight switch to January 11.
  8. Once again, Charles Rocket anchors the news only this time he has Gail as his cohost. Of all the anchors up to this point, Gail has the best first day. Even Jane Curtin, who has been my favorite anchor so far, took at least half a season to find her voice but Gail seemed to hit the ground running.  This week, Gilbert checks in with a crime report, Joe Piscopo does sports and Eddie Murphy talks about not wanting to have to sign up for the draft because of his obligations as the token black on the show.
  9. Jack Bruce and Friends hit the stage to perform Dancing On Air.
  10. Ray interrogates Gilbert about some crime and it doesn't take him long to admit that he was guilty. They then say they want to videotape the confession and they shoot it as if it were a movie with Ray acting as the director and Gilbert chiming in with input as if he were an actor. Each time the story gets more extreme as they stop looking for the truth in exchange for a compelling story.
  11. Have A Nice Day parodies several different horror movies where the scares are linked to images of the old school yellow smiley face. (i.e. there are smiley faces on the shower curtains from the Psycho parody and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre man where a yellow smiley mask.
  12. We then go to Central Park where Eddie is selling white babies and Ann and Piscopo contemplate giving it a shot. While Ray tries to sell the more traditional drugs. Ann and Piscopo end up buying the baby only to get caught by the other mom that bought him last week.
  13. Yvonne and Denny then play surrogate mothers for Gail and Ann who treat the whole situation as if they were the ones giving birth. While both the surrogate mothers want to live there life as usual including drinking, smoking, and caffeine. Where Yvonne feels she's being bossed around, Denny uses the baby as leverage threatening to do a belly flop if she doesn't get her way, which inevitably leads to her getting fired and having to keep the baby as her own.
  14. This was followed by a short film called The Man With The Black Hat where a man steps out of a car. All we can see are his legs and feet with his pants around his ankles. As he walks we learn he is a reverend and no one seems to think this is strange. He then approaches a pair of woman's legs with her panties around her ankles and the two stop to have a quick chat where she compliments him on his black hat.
  15.  Charles Rocket pitches Stop A Nut and tank-like suit designed to protect you from urban attackers.
  16. The Waiter-Maker is a sketch where the women of the show have the hots for Rocket who plays a stripper looking Italian waiter and Ray plays the restaurant owner who treats the waiting position as if it were a spot in the mob. Rocket gets too big for his britches so Ray tried to duplicate his success by turning Gilbert into Rocket's replacement. A year then flashes by and the girls return and though Gilbert is dressed the part, he still has the confidence of a bus boy.
  17. Joe Piscopo then plays the pitchman in a commercial for Nothing.
  18. Eddie Murphy then hits the stage to do his first televised stand-up routine.
  19. Jack Bruce and Friends return to the stage to perform Living Without Ja.
  20. Finally, Ray Sharkey closes the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Alright, my experiment is over and I feel I have mixed results. For one, when I right out my notes I use a form of chicken scratch shorthand that only I can read that allows me to write without having to pause the show. When it comes to typing, I have to focus on what I'm doing so I would have to pause the show from time to time so I wouldn't miss anything important as I write.

Though this start and stop approach to note taking made it feel less like I was taking in the show as a whole, I did find that I was able to get more out of each individual sketch because my writing and watching didn't overlap nearly much as it does when I make handwritten notes so I can see plusses and minuses either way.

However, I do like the fact that I don't have to do the double work of having to write these notes twice. Even though I mentioned up above that I liked to relive the episode as I transcribed my notes, I'm also perfectly fine doing it this way. 

All of the above said, this was my first attempt using this approach, I'm sure that after some more practice, I'll be able to iron out my points of concern. Either way, I don't think I'm going to commit to doing it 100% one way or the other. From here on out, I'll probably use whatever technique fits my mood.

Sorry for all the rambling about my process, I just thought I would share my process just in case it led to more of a noticeable change and I'm also trying to work through what works best for me by committing my thoughts to words. 

Now, it's time to stop talking about the technical stuff and move on to these favorite moments. First, I loved Gilbert being interrogated by Ray recording the confession using a cinematic approach because I feel both did a good job as acting as both the cop and crook while also portraying an actor/director relationship in a pretty accurate way. Next, I was a fan of Ray as Tommy Torture at the punk club because the idea of the character is pretty funny and he actually performs a pretty good song. Finally, I was a fan of the Drink Before The Job PSA because there was a time in my life where that totally could have been aimed at me. 

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.