Thursday, October 14, 2010

SNL cast/writers at Comiskey

Vanessa Bayer, Paul Brittain and Michael Patrick O'Brien
SNL cast and writers/Chicago imports Vanessa Bayer, Paul Brittain, Shelly Gossman, Michael Patrick O'Brien and John Lutz all took to Upright Citizen's Brigade's stage on Sunday to perform in Comiskey. Fortunately for us, Keith Huang documented the event photographically and after the jump are photos from the show. 

Happy birthday, Jay Pharoah!

Happy birthday to SNL featured player Jay Pharoah. Have a good 'un, sir! Keep being great!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jane Lynch/Bruno Mars - Sketch-by-Sketch Review

Sorry for the delay in posting this. 

Cold Open - This week's cold open featured Nasim Pedrad as famed attorney Gloria Allred. I thought Nasim Pedrad did a great job at anchoring the sketch and I like that SNL didn't hold back in calling out Allred on the despicable human being she is - I mean really, that sketch was vitriolic in tone. That said, there was something about it that didn't work for me? Maybe it just didn't work as a cold open. Don't get me wrong though, there was some great stuff here - most of all, Nasim's performance.

Monologue - This marked the second consecutive sing-song monologue but who's complaining? This was, as one Sue Sylvester might say, "outstanding". And that can be attributed to comedy goddess herself Jane Lynch who just killed this. The premise of the monologue was Lynch singing a Glee theme song penned by hers truly. The only problem is that the theme song centers solely around Sue Sylvester. Some great stuff here including, "Blame my co-writer, Jose Cuervo," "This will all be clay-mation" and "Glee, glee, glee, glee, glee, me, me, me, me, me". Great start to the show.

Damn It, My Mom Is On Facebook - Commercial parody featuring a filter which scans your page for references to things like sex, drugs or alcohol and cleans it up lest your mother see. Great concept that was executed brilliantly and made all the more relevant in the wake of The Social Network's release. Some choice quotes - "Who's your friend? She looks ill." Or "October means getting all my fall motif sweaters down. Or maybe I should just leaf them up there. Ha ha ha."

Gilly - So, a Glee sketch was inevitable, right? It's funny though, because for a show (disclaimer - which I love) that is so ripe for parody, I didn't think SNL went as far as they could. And while incorporating Gilly into the sketch was a clever touch, I'm not sure it actually worked. For the most part though, I just felt like it paled in comparison to 6-Bee from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. This sketch did have its moments though - Taran Killam as Finn was pretty hilarious. "What does it mean - believe?" Likewise Fred Armisen's resemblance to Artie was uncanny. "You know that I couldn't have done it, 'cause of my glasses." Kenan Thompson probably stole the sketch based on his appearance alone. I also have "Little Orphan A-Hole" written in my notes, so there's that. But aside from that, it just didn't go as far as I would have liked and the parodies all seemed very pedestrian and obvious. Just as not as sharp as I would have expected.

New Boyfriend Talk Show - Andy Samberg starred in this sketch which featured a young boy interviewing his mother's latest conquests. It was a simple enough concept with a great execution. Jane Lynch and Jason Sudeikis were both terrific in their respective parts - Lynch as the whorish mom and Sudeikis as the incredulous one night stand. Some of my favourite bits include, "Are you my new daddy?" and Sudeikis' dismay at 100 episodes in just 4 months. All in all, this was a great vehicle for Andy Samberg and he did a great job.

Christine O'Donnell - I loved this. It was a campaign ad "paid for by the coven to elect Christine O'Donnell, who is not a witch". Concise, to the point, absurd and hilarious. Kristen Wiig did a wonderful job here, possibly outdoing her previous impression of O'Donnell. There was also this -
"Besides, if I were a witch, why wouldn’t I just cast a spell making all of you forget that I’m a witch? It’s certainly not because the spell requires one newt per person and I lack a sufficient number of newts."
Perfection. SNL should concentrate on these silly and absurd depictions of politicians - the pay-off is so much better than some of the straight cold opens we've become accustomed to.

Secret Word - Ordinarily, I wouldn't consider myself a fan of this sketch and I'll admit, I groaned slightly upon seeing the title card on my screen. But you guys, the writing on this sketch this week was on a different level possibly owing to the presence of Jane Lynch who killed in her part of a Phyllis Diller-esque comedienne. Kristen Wiig was more hilarious than usual as Mindy Grayson, delivering lines such as "I sleep with my face in mayonnaise!" However it was Lynch who stole this sketch with her delivery of bawdy lines that included jokes about her less-than-endowed breasts. (TB also stands for "tiny boobs", didn't you know?) Also, kudos to Bill Hader who cracked me up with the line, "And I am not full of bananas!"

Digital Short - Definite step-up from the previous two efforts. This featured Jane Lynch as a therapist who incorporated herself into her patient's relaxation exercises. The simple and linear structure really paid off while the typical absurdity of the digital shorts remained intact.   Lynch managed to yet again steal this one. Not one of the best digital shorts ever, but a step in the right direction.

Point Of No Returns - This saw newbie Jay Pharoah showcase his impressionist skills - this time he took on two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington. The impression was, of course, spot-on.  I'm not sure that the sketch content was fully there, but the writer of this sketch deserves credit for at least creating a situation to put Denzel Washington in - they could have resorted to something like "The Denzel Washington Talk Show". It worked to a certain extent and the commitment from Jay Pharoah was nothing short of impressive.

Weekend Update -  I feel like Weekend Update was a little condensed this week, probably owing to the high number of sketches. Anyway, here were some of my favourite jokes -

"North Carolina state representative Larry Brown created controversy this week when he sent an e-mail to other lawmakers referring to homosexuals as "queers" and "fruit loops". And the "Larry Brown gets caught with a male escort" countdown begins now."

"According to a new study, 85% of men said that their latest sexual partner had an orgasm while only 64% of the women surveyed reported having an orgasm. I think that the takeaway here is that women are kinda bad at noticing their own orgasms."

Andy Samberg made an appearance as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg i.e the subject of The Social Network. That was good for a couple of laughs - Zuckerberg's assertions that parents do count as friends and his insistence that all guys use what they've got to attract girls ("I guarantee you that the first thing the guy who invented the wheel did was roll it over to some ladies - 'Hey girls, it's called a wheel - hop on!'") were pretty funny. Fred Armisen's bit as Mexico's tourism spokesman was amusing if not a little repetitive. 

The Suze Orman Show - Were you dying for some lame-ish lesbian jokes? Fear not, 'cause The Suze Orman Show made an appearance. Basically, Jane Lynch played an old girlfriend of Suze Orman who was now insisting that she was straight. "Tell that to your haircut and crocs." Just a little one-note and definitely one of the weaker ones of the night.

Sunday Night Football - Bizarre much? It featured Jane Lynch singing an extended theme tune to Sunday Night Football. Funny enough at first, but dragged on a little. Bill Hader's impression of Cris Collinsworth was the sketch's saving grace, at least for me. Jane Lynch can belt out a tune though. 

Tax Masters - So, it's a shame that this one got cut early, because it was certainly a good premise and featured a good performance from Jason Sudeikis. Sudeikis played Patrick Cox, a spokesman for Tax Masters who has a half-formed twin brother on the side of his face. Unfortunately, it was kind of cut off early and the pay-off with Fred Armisen at the end was super-rushed. But nevertheless, I liked what I saw.

So overall, Jane Lynch definitely met my high expectations and I was glad to see that SNL used her to such a great extent. She was featured in most of the sketches and I feel like it's a testament to Lynch and her genius that the show had so much content this week. She acquitted herself exceedingly well and I realised that she would have made an excellent SNL cast member in an alternate universe.  So, let's give a hand for Jane Lynch!

Cast members-wise, the stand-outs were Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis and Andy Samberg. Wiig was particularly good in Secret Word and as Christine O'Donnell while Samberg delivered on New Boyfriend Talk Show, Dammit My Mom's On Facebook and as Mark Zuckerberg. Sudeikis impressed in Tax Masters, Gilly and New Boyfriend Talk Show.
Meanwhile, the conspicuous lack of Bill Hader continues. I'm not sure what this can be attributed to, but this absence of Hader is rubbing me up the wrong way.

On the featured player front - I'm still kind of waiting for Paul Brittain to arrive. His Johnny Depp impression last week was stellar, but aside from that, he hasn't had a moment. Get on that, writers! Vanessa Bayer was largely out of view this week, while Pharoah had his Denzel Washington sketch. Taran Killam has impressed me thus far - despite not headlining a sketch yet, he's shown himself to be great at playing a sidekick or second funny guy. That may not seem like high praise, but he's blending in with the cast exceedingly well and it's only week three of the season. Can't wait to see more from him. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this show - dare I say it's my favourite thus far? Lynch was an excellent host and the writing was largely improved on last week (which, don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed.)


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jane Lynch/Bruno Mars- Thoughts

EDIT - I evidently saved this to drafts instead of posting it last night. Sorry for the delay.

Share your thoughts on tonight's show with Jane Lynch and Bruno Mars. Did comedy genius Lynch live up to our fiercely high expectations? Was there a Glee parody? Best sketch? Worst sketch?

Comment, comment, comment!