SNL: S21E06... HOST: LAURA LEIGHTON... DATE: NOVEMBER 18, 1995

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A Fun Night Minus Any Melrosedramatic Acting

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I had no idea who Laura Leighton even was before going into this viewing. Though I was excited to see both Duckman and The Larry Sanders Show as entries on her IMDB CV, these were both one-off roles, so I was nervous when I found her true claim to fame was Sydney from Melrose Place. Though I may say her character name with a sense of familiarity, I’ve never actually seen the show Melrose Place since I hated most one-hour primetime shows since they reminded me of my childhood bedtime.

Granted, by the time Melrose Place had hit the air, I was in full control of my sleep time. That said, to this day I still hold on to the bitterness that came at 10:00 in the P.M. after the sit-coms were over and I’d hear the theme song to M*A*S*H*, Hillstreet Blues, or some other boring hour-long adult show that I wasn’t allowed to watch.

As far as how this relates to SNL, more often than not, most of the hosts who come from the realm of this night-time soap opera style of acting, often annoy me and rarely make me laugh. The actors and actresses from these shows usually carry over the melodramatic acting which is expected of them while acting within their genre. These are also good-looking people who think they are funny because they like to laugh and smile along with the ugly people who entertain them. This alone led me to have low expectations for the night.

Thankfully, I was wrong in this instance because Laura Leighton turned out to be pretty fun. It might have helped that she reminded me of Madeline Kahn in her first full sketch where she played a fortune teller. I’m such a fan of Madeline Kahn that I might have let down my guard for the night, but I don’t think that’s the only thing to either credit or blame for this successful episode.

I’m also continuing to enjoy watching the cast grow into the excellent collection of characters that I know they will become. Then to add icing to the cake, it was also fun to see Rancid as the musical guest. At the time this episode originally aired,  I was deep into my love of this brand of punk and remember how it blew me away that they were getting this big break since I liked them when they were still underground making DIY records, so it was fun to see their growth as well.

With all of that said, it’s now time to shift gears and share what I saw as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started on Air Force One showing actually footage of Bill Clinton living it up in the First-Class portion of the plane which then cut to Norm MacDonald and Darrell Hammond as Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich dealing with third world accommodations while traveling back in coach. Of course with this being the opening sketch it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”   
  2. Laura Leighton then officially opened the show with a monolog about how just three years earlier she was a pathetic broke waitress. She then went on to share about her Melrose Place success only to be interrupted by Mark McKinney’s and David Koechner’s old-timey English characters Lucien and Fagan who lavished our host with flowers while sharing their favorite moment from her on her show. They finish the scene by presenting Laura with a portrait of the two of them enjoying her performance on their TV screen while they are “bare-assed naked.”  
  3. This was followed by the classic fake ad called Old Glory Insurance which was an insurance plan aimed at protecting old people from robot attack when they come to steal their medication.
  4. Laura Leighton then played The Fortune Teller who finds herself with Norm MacDonald as a very skeptical customer. He received an appointment as a present and wouldn’t stop making fun of the soothsayer for incorrectly guess at the name of his hometown even though the rest of her information was one hundred present accurate, including who killed his mother.
  5. We then got a fake a for a Life-Time video series called Home For The Holidays that featured family fights from Thanksgiving for those who can’t make it home for the holidays.
  6. What a Woman Wants was a talk show sketch hosted by Molly Shannon and Laura Leighton who took phone calls from men to answer any question that they might have about women. Though this is supposed to be an informative show, all roads lead to sexual talk from both the two female host as well as all of the male callers.
  7. Cydney was a sketch that took place in the world of Melrose Place where Laura Leighton’s character found herself in a surreal ad campaign for a perfume that shares her name. Apparently, this Cydney character was a complete bitch because she couldn’t make it through a take without complaining about the five “midgets” who were meant to add to the surreal sense of the scene. I have “midgets” in quotes because that’s what Cydney and the director referred to them as despite being constantly reminded that time had changed and they preferred to be called little people. After one final rant, Cydney awoke back in Melrose Place to find that it was all just a dream.
  8. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, Norm MacDonald kept getting pranked by Howard Stern fans who were sneaking in plugs for Stern’s book Mrs. America. Colin Quinn also dropped in as a character named Joe Blow who shared some local news, and by local, I mean so local that he only talked about the things that were happening in his own life.
  9. Rancid then took to the stage to perform Roots Radical.
  10. Roberta was a sketch that took place at a party where Cheri Oteri played the titular Roberta who was the host’s (Laura Leighton) co-worker who invited herself after overhearing Laura talk about the event at work. Roberta was such a bore that she ruined everyone’s story by sharing some boring story from her life that she felt was similar which also ended up ruining the entire night.
  11. Spade In America then returned for another installment where this time David Spade interviewed Sean Penn who would only allow this to happen if he could tattoo Spade while they talk. This segment turned out to be more about the tattooing Spade than anything all that informative about Penn.
  12. Self-Punishment was a sketch that took place in a bank with Laura Leighton as a loan officer discussing an application with Mark McKinney. Jim Breuer played an assistant who would check in from time to time only to literally beat himself up whenever he learned that he had made a mistake that slowed down the whole loan process.
  13. Rancid then returned to the stage to perform Ruby Soho.
  14. Git With You was a sketch where Laura Leighton stepped out of a fancy restaurant to then be approached by Tim Meadows who tried to pick up on her while she was waiting for a cab. From time to time he would slip into talking about art, foreign films, and romantic things that he’d like to do, only to ruin any sense of sentimentality by blurting out, “I want to get wit you.” This proclamation was always followed up with examples of how he might not be as refined as he kept accidentally implying he might actually be. In the world of the sketch, I think he was supposed to be a genuine thug, and not a gem with a fake thug persona the way I might be explaining him to be.
  15. Finally, Laura Leighton closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

Though I really wasn’t expecting much from this episode, I’m happy to say that it turned out to be pretty good with extra help from these three of my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the fake ad for Old Glory Insurance because it’s a such a classic and I love how it’s specifically aimed at old people who are afraid of robots attacking in order to steal their medicine. Next, I really like The Fortune Teller sketch because once again, Norm cracked me up the way he focused on one minor missed detail while the rest of the soothsayer's insights were spot-on. It felt like Norm being Norm with no actual acting involved. Finally, I was a fan of Cydney perfume ad because even though it was offensive with all of the “midget” talk the little people’s comebacks were funny, plus I still can’t help but laugh at the cheesy special-effects that turn a full-grown man into a little guy.

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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.