SNL: S21E12... HOST: DANNY AIELLO... DATE: FEBRUARY 10, 1996

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A Night Filled With LOLs And Aiello

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Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always liked Danny Aiello and know that he can provide a touch of comic relief in his otherwise serious roles, but I have to admit, I had pretty low expectations when I first saw his name in the line-up of SNL host. That’s not to say that I thought he would be bad but I did brace myself for nothing greater than just an average night watching the show.

Boy howdy was I ever wrong. Even after reading the titles of the sketches for the night, I wasn’t all that impressed, but this episode led to more out loud laughter than I’ve experienced with the show in quite a while. I think that it really helped that Aiello is just naturally funny without really having to try. He’s like that funny uncle, not the one who drinks and makes fart jokes like myself but the one that sneaks in more mature jokes while still being funny enough for kids.

Not only did I like his brand of humor, but he’s also a great actor as well. At no point did I feel like he wasn’t the character that he was portraying in the scene. There was not over the top out of character acting that came across as a desperate attempt to squeeze out any extra laugh that can sometimes pull the viewer out of the reality of the scene. Instead, he seemed to live in the moment in a way that made some of the more mundane moments extra comical to me.

The Ma’s Spaghetti Sauces sketch is a perfect example. Normally, I don’t like sketches that play off of generic Italian mobster clichés because they normally over-focus on the attitudes and accents which never been all that funny to me. In this sketch, however, it just felt like a collection of guys who happen to be mobsters enjoying a family-style dinner. Other than a few subtle hints it was to tell whether or not they were mobsters at all. This made it extra funny when things turned violent while at the same time, every also remained calm. This had me laughing throughout the entire sketch harder and longer than I’ve laughed in a super long time.

So, now that I’ve shared my thoughts and examples, it’s now time to move on and share what I actually saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a parody of Inside Politics where Mark McKinney and Norm MacDonald as Steve Forbes and Bob Dole answered questions about what they have to offer as the Republican candidate for the ’96 Presidential Election. Forbes seemed to be in it for shits and giggles while Dole fumed over the fact that he was stuck in second place to the multi-millionaire. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Danny Aiello then officially opened the show with a quick monolog about how he really got a kick out of watching Christopher Walken sing and dance from his episode, which aired just a few weeks ago. He then admitted that this inspired him to sing the song Chubby Clementine by Bobby Darin.
  3. Ma's Spaghetti Sauce was a sketch that took place at an Italian family dinner where a comment about Ma’s (Cheri Oteri) special homemade spaghetti sauce set off a brutal family fight amongst the group of made-men with Ma initiating most of the violence.
  4. The Kevin Franklin Show was a talk show sketch where Tim Meadows played the titular host who was openly wrong about every single piece of information that he added to the conversation between him, Danny Aiello, and Coolio who played themselves as the guests on the show.
  5. This was followed by a fake ad for Time-Life's Valentine's Day Arguments which was a series of video cassettes that provided virtual Valentine’s Day fights with various themes for those who may be missing out on the romantic holiday, including a special collection for gay lovers.
  6. Cheri Oteri then brought back her Althea character who is a hyperactive kid and this week, she annoyed the hell out of her Greyhound bus driver during an extremely long trip to Florida that seemed even longer with her line of annoying questions and insights. 
  7. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, David Koechner returned as “Norm’s brother” Gary to ramble on with a personal commentary about the Republican Party. Football player, Larry Brown, also dropped by so that Norm could interrogate him as to why as the MVP Super Bowl winner didn’t win big enough to cover the point spread which led Norm to lose a huge bet.
  8. Coolio then took to the stage to perform 1, 2, 3, 4.
  9. Spade In America the returned for another installment where this week, David Spade talked with Chris Farley as Newt Gingrich which turned out to be just an excuse for the two to promote their latest movie, Black Sheep.
  10. Danny Aiello then played an insurance salesman who was blatantly open about his love of  Hi-C And Turkey while asking for lunch from one of his clients while trying to pitch the sale of a new life insurance policy.
  11. Coolio then returned to the stage to perform Gangsta's Paradise.
  12. This was followed by a parody of Martha Stewart Living where Nancy Walls, as Martha Stewart tried to deny her New Jersey background only to have her geographic root slip out throughout the segment.
  13. Fuzzy Memories also returned for another installment where this week Jack Handey recalled the time where he tricked his brother into jumping off the roof while using an umbrella as a parachute.
  14. Finally, Danny Aiello closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As I said up above, this was a surprisingly fun viewing thanks to sketches like the ones that I’m about to share as I give you my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved Ma's Spaghetti Sauce because the calm but cartoonish violence really got me laughing out loud. Next, I really liked the Greyhound Bus sketch because not only do I like Cheri Oteri’s Althea character but Aiello’s reaction to her was grand. Finally, I was a fan of Spade In America’s sneaky sketch with Chris Farley that was actually a plug for the movie Black Sheep because it was fun to see Farley back on the show.

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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.