(Because I could rant about the history of SNL for 9 straight days if people found it entertaining.)
Christopher Walken’s most recent hosting stint on SNL was legendary; one of the best episodes I’ve seen in years. Nearly every sketch delivered, and had they booked a respectable musical guest (instead of the unfortunate Panic At The Disco), this might have been the best Walken SNL ever. Sketches like ‘Walken Reunion,’ ‘Surprise Party,’ and ‘Gardening Tips From A Man Who’s Very Afraid Of Plants’ were significantly funnier than their titles would suggest.
This was Walken’s first hosting stint in over five years, which I had to actually look up on Wikipedia to confirm for myself. It seems as if he hosts every year (he’s hosted 7 times, and according to Lorne Michaels, can host whenever his schedule permits).
Walken’s SNL brilliance lies in the fact that he’s amazingly skilled at live performance and stage. When he acts as if he’s off-script or about to break the sketch with his scatterbrain delivery, he’s actually fooling you. This guy knows exactly what he’s doing at all times, and it’s one of the reasons why we love the guy so damn much. Ever since he became known for being ‘the weird guy,’ younger generations seemed to forget just how brilliant of an actor Walken was and still is. Sure, Balls Of Fury didn’t help the argument any, but I won’t dispute a man that likes to work.
I also admire that they didn’t beat a dead horse and revive ‘The Continental,’ a once-brilliant sketch that has been running on nostalgic fumes since 1996. Most don’t know that ‘The Continental’ is a parody of the 1952 CBS series of the same name, which used a subjective camera view as lead actor Renzo Cesana spoke directly to the females in the audience. I’m sure it would have been a passable sketch, as Walken can solo-command any scene he chooses, but it wouldn’t have fit in with the theme of last week’s cast-heavy episode.
It doesn’t hurt that the current SNL cast is one of their more talented ensembles in a very long time. Bill Hader is a premiere impressionist, Andy Samberg is single-handedly bringing the YouTube fanbase back to the show, Kristen Wiig is on par with Gilda Radner as the funniest female in the show’s 33 year history, Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis are extremely versitile in their straight man/wacky man roles (I find Sudeikis to be my favorite cast member, frankly; his delivery is consistently hilarious and he reminds me of a smarter Will Ferrell), Darrel Hammond is the seasoned veteran, Amy Poehler practically stars in every sketch, Fred Armisen can quite simply play every ethnicity and role perfectly, Seth Meyers has stepped into the Head Writer position seamlesly and newcomer Casey Wilson is doing her best to keep up.
Keenan Thompson has been a strong performer since he was a child, but doesn’t always receive decent material to shine with. Same goes for Maya Rudolph, who actually left the show during the strike. Having the entire cast come out and do their own Walken impression during ‘Walken Reunion’ was hilarious and brilliant, in that they all sounded pretty good (Hader was uncanny as always).
I am, however, growing increasingly irritated with the obvious pro-Hillary stance that SNL has been taking since the Strike ended. For a show that’s quite aware of the effect they’ve had on past elections and overall swaying of the social landscape in favor of one popular candidate or the other, all they seem to be doing is a detriment to Barack Obama and his future presidential campaign against John McCain. I can only hope that SNL is swaying in this direction merely because Amy Poehler plays a good Hillary, and Fred Armisen drew some controversy (for whatever meager reasons) when he played Obama. The bottom line, however, is that the sketches are not funny, which is the main thing they should be focusing on.
McCain is playing it cool right now. That old, lumpy bastard is chilling in Europe, while his competition tears each other to shreds until there’s nothing left to do but swoop in and pick the bones. He may be tempermental, he may be old enough to die at any second (hell, he might have died while I was writing that sentence, for all I know), but he’s not an idiot.
I find Panic At The Disco adorable. Not ‘adorable’ in that I want to hug them until they break and bleed, but ‘adorable’ in that their recent attempts at being taken seriously have faltered into a rut of predictability and unoriginality that I should have seen coming from a mile away. I love it when a pop-rock band discovers acid and Sgt. Pepper, and all of a sudden they’re dropping the unnecessary punctuation from their name, wearing paisley and being accompanied by a horn section. That’s adorable to me, in that we’ve seen this no less than a billion times in the last 30 years. We’re all way ahead of you, Panic. You guys deserve a gentle pat on the head and a cluck of positive reinforcement; good luck being taken seriously, although, I must admit that I find ‘Nine In The Afternoon’ to be a fairly catchy number.
As a statement to how hard they’re rolling with this new ‘we’re older, more mature and ripping off the Beatles…just like everyone else!’ formula, they performed ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ as their second song on SNL, only with a slower tempo, acoustic guitar and shuffling drums. It was seriously awful; one of the worst SNL performances I’ve seen since Ashlee Simpson 23-skidoo’ed her way into YouTube immortality. If you’re a pop-punk band, just be one. Don’t pretend you’re Brian freaking Eno. Write your catchy song, wear your eyeliner and make your money. Spare us your pipe dream of mining talent from a dry well, and don’t disrespect your fanbase by slagging your previous work. That’s what desperate people do. You should hear me belt out ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ when we sing karaoke, though. I flat-out destroy that thing.
My time is up. Sound off in the comments and enjoy your day.