Posts Tagged ‘SNL’

Saturday Night Live Pt. 2

July 1, 2019


Beck Bennett

On the surface, Beck has a deep and blustery voice that makes him perfectly suited to play alpha male characters like frat boys or executives. However, he is also good at being flustered and barely holding it together as the world craps on him too. Combined with Kyle Mooney, he has a flair for absurdist humor in the vein of Kids in the Hall or Tim and Eric. For example, in one sketch Beck plays the boss at a dinner with his employee who is looking for a promotion. Except, the boss is literally acting like an infant. He could have gone stereotypical but he goes hyper-realistic and it just works way better. The sketch above is his take on the put upon protagonist in a commercial where the narrator just might be misleading him. It is a brilliant parody.


Kyle Mooney

As previously stated, Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett have been writing partners for a long time and it shows. The two are brilliant at creating weird worlds with brilliant touches of insanity, many of which are parodies of popular fiction tropes. For example, they both have created a series of Eighties sitcom parodies, reality television parodies, and YouTube garage shows. As for Kyle himself, he is great as the put upon nerd who can never get any respect. Seeing as how his sketches keep getting cut for time, I feel like he might have a lot to draw on. His patheticness is definitely a strength and sets him apart from everybody else.


Aidy Bryant

Aidy is also a wonderful straight woman but I think her strengths lie elsewhere. She is very strong when she gets to act neurotic and troubled. The best example in my mind is her adorkable character Morgan from the ongoing sketch series Girlfriends Talk Show. She is a perfect picture of the good girl who wants to be accepted but cannot bring herself to be bad to earn respect because she does not even know how to be bad. However, she is also really good at playing against expectations by playing brash and borderline crazy characters like her persona Aidy B She is also one of the strongest singers on SNL right now.


Heidi Gardner

Unfortunately, Heidi is new so she has not gotten as much of a chance to shine but she has already proven herself to be a strong hand to have around. She has a bright-eyed and bubbly exterior which is always good to set up darker, against-type jokes. She reminds me a lot of Kristen Schaal so of course, she has done an impression of her on the show. She is most often used as a straight woman in sketches probably because of her newness and her ability not to break. However, as the scene above shows she is incredibly good at playing dumb. When I saw this sketch, that was the moment that everything clicked for me. I see her going places.


Ego Nwodim

Ego is even newer than Heidi and is also still working her way into the cast. I really like her energy as she burns bright with enthusiasm in every sketch she is in. She is mostly used as background and side characters in things so far but, like any good cast member, she has the possibility of being great. The above sketch is a pitch-perfect parody of day time talk show guests who are all bluster to cover up that they are just normal people like the rest of us.


Chris Redd

Chris Redd is another relative newcomer who has not gotten as many chances to shine, usually relegated to a background or straight man character. However, there have definitely been some great flashes that show he will be a great performer for years to come. For example, the above sketch shows he has rapping skills and great comedic timing. He has also rapped alongside Pete Davidson. He also appeared in the brilliant parody Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.


Mikey Day

Mikey has not done a lot quite yet either but he seems to be Saturday Night Live’s go-to guy currently to play politicians. He has played a lot of members of Trump’s inner circle at this point and will probably continue to do so. These are the sketches I tend to skip over because they are usually just retreads of news articles I have already read. However, the one exception is his portrayal of Donald Trump Jr. He portrays him as the weasel he is but also portrays him as a loving older brother with the patience of a saint with Eric Trump. It is almost cute the way he does it.

 

Bonus:


Vanessa Bayer

This is a bit of a cheat because Vanessa left the cast a while ago but I just wanted to highlight her because I absolutely fell in love with her performances while watching clips. Her strengths lie in bright, sunny and often loud characters. One of my favorites is Laura Parsons, a young school child who wants desperately to be an actress. She acts in a perfect parody of all of the bad acting habits people learn in middle school and high school and it makes everything she says hilarious. But my hands down favorite is weather reporter Dawn Lazarus because she embodies the anxiety I get when I have to speak in public.

Saturday Night Live Pt. 1

June 29, 2019

Lately during lunch hours when I am alone at work or as I clean up my desk, I like to watch videos on YouTube as a way to relieve stress. If I am doing something mostly clerical I might put videos on in the background as well. One of the best things that I have found to watch on YouTube is Saturday Night Live clips. SNL is an interesting show because it has been on the air for so long that people have so many opinions about it. When I was growing up, the prevailing thought was that Saturday Night Live was good in waves. Nobody can agree which eras were good and which were bad and a lot of people have strong opinions. In discussing it with my brother lately, I realized that SNL was always a mixed bag and the best sketches utilized the strengths of the cast and writers instead of forcing it. In my opinion, the current Donald Trump sketches are an example of ‘forcing it’ and I tend to skip them. However, there is plenty of other stuff in the current SNL that I think is really great. Let us take a look at the current cast in no particular order.


Cecily Strong

My favorite current cast member is probably Cecily Strong. She is often the straight woman in a lot of sketches, showing her great skills for reaction faces. However, when she gets to cut loose she really gets to cut loose. While her character Jemma is a supporting character, the squeaky British accent is comedy gold. Her very best is Cathy Ann. Cathy Ann is a very specific character who feels as real as any drug addict I have ever met. Her language patterns and composure are a master class in creating absurd comedy from life.


Leslie Jones

She is probably the most famous outside of Saturday Night Live right now as her twitter game is strong and she was very prominent in the Ghostbusters reboot. Leslie’s strength comes from being loud, proud, and brash as hell. The quote from former head writer Tina Fey was: “If Leslie Jones suddenly appears at the end of a sketch acting vaguely horny and angry at everybody, it means the writers couldn’t think of an ending.” That’s because Leslie is funny without needing a premise or context. Her enthusiasm is infectious.


Michael Che and Colin Jost

Weekend Update has had a long, long history and was probably an inspiration for things like The Daily Show and its successors. It is a simple premise with two anchors delivering rapid-fire jokes based on the news and presenting character bits from other cast members. The past few Weekend Update hosts have been head writers and that is now Che and Jost. Part of what makes them so good is that they have each other’s backs and often genuinely laugh at each other’s jokes. I believe that this stems from them being so close in real life and probably also from spending a lot of time together on the job. As head writers, I think they are also knocking out of the park lately.


Kenan Thompson

He is probably the cast member with the most experience doing sketch comedy. He was in the kid’s sketch comedy series All That as a young kid which grew into a short sitcom career. He has also been on SNL for quite a while now. His experience really shows as he is a really steady hand and a rock that other performers can depend on for support. He is an excellent straight man who rarely cracks (which is apparently hard to do). He is also really good at being slightly weird. His eerily weird or off-kilter characters are some of his best. However, his Steve Harvey impression is my favorite. He was able to take an impression and make it into a character instead of just being schtick.


Pete Davidson

When I first experienced Pete Davidson, I was not really a big fan. He has a different kind of low key sense of humor that was a bit out of place at first. Eventually, I realized that this is kind of a blessing. While others run around being zany and wacky, Pete makes an impact by not making an impact. His best role is often just playing himself and few cast members can say the same. I think I was also put off by his tattooed appearance but I got into it the more I adjusted. He has also raised awareness for mental health issues and has fought to erase the stigma of such problems.


Kate McKinnon

Everybody knows Kate McKinnon by now. (Well, not literally everyone). She rose to mainstream consciousness through playing Hillary Clinton on SNL and being in the Ghostbusters reboot (and being the best part of it). She is best at being completely and utterly crazy. Not shouty, dangerous crazy but off-kilter, existential crazy. The kind of person that would make your skin crawl if you met them in real life. All she has to do is deliver her trademark thousand-yard stare and I believe that she is crazy. My favorite of her appearances was actually this sketch where she plays a crazy apartment building tenant.


Melissa Villasenor

Melissa has very mischievous energy in my opinion. When I see her smirk, I know that she has something great up her sleeve and I can settle in for some laughs. She is also really cute which makes her dark or edgy roles have more impact. From what I have seen, she tends to be used as an excellent impressionist and vocal mimic. She is so good at impressions that she is often given celebrities to play against physical type. A good example of that is her playing Owen Wilson despite not remotely being a white male. It shows growth in SNL and in comedy in general, I think


Alex Moffat

I have not seen a lot of Alex Moffat but I have liked what I have seen so far. He is really good at playing arrogant pricks. One of his strengths is making a face that makes you absolutely want to punch him. (I am sure he is probably a fine individual in real life). He plays smarmy really well and has the ability to spit words out carefully and quickly. His “Guy Who Just Bought a Boat” is an absurdist character but much like a lot of the rich jerks I have met in my life, the kind society likes to hate. His Eric Trump is really adorable and creates a sympathetic character while still letting the audience despise him and his family.

Media Update 5/23/19

May 23, 2019


Tuca and Bertie

I was a big fan of Bojack Horseman when it came out but it did take a little while to get into. Bojack is definitely darker and usually takes a more depressing turn. This show is from one of the creative forces behind Bojack, Lisa Hanawalt, but now she gets to get her own show. This show is similar to Bojack but it has more of a joyful energy. It stars Tiffany Haddish as courageous, loud, yet unfocused Toucan Tuca. The other star is Ali Wong as the intelligent, creative, yet anxious Songthrush Bertie. Bertie lives with her boyfriend, the nerdy Speckle the Robin played by Steven Yeun. They all live in the same apartment building in a world where anthropomorphic birds live. It is a much cartoonier world than Bojack’s satire of Hollywood and often kind of feels like an acid trip. But it also approaches real-life anxieties and situations but this time with a more feminine message. Haddish and Wong work so well together, their chemistry is on another level. The characters are such perfect foils for each other. Tuca needs Bertie to rein her in and Bertie needs Tuca to coax her out of her shell. The show is so funny and so real that I am definitely hooked on it. I look forward to each episode, where with Bojack I kind of dreaded it even though it was so good. It has such happier energy. I definitely recommend it.


Wine Country

This movie was born out of a friend group to Wine Country out in Napa. Normally, that would be uneventful but the friend group was made up of ex-Saturday Night Live castmembers and writers. Amy Poehler plays a Type A personality who has planned the weekend down to the last second. Rachel Dratch plays the friend who is turning 50 on the trip and is rethinking a lot of things. Ana Gasteyer plays a woman who is a food company executive who is stuck in work mode too much. Maya Rudolph is a woman who just wants to have fun because she is avoiding thinking about something. Paula Pell (a writer on SNL) is a woman who thinks of others more than herself. Emily Spivey (a writer on SNL, 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, and also this movie) is a writer who is just miserable in life. All of them come together on a disastrous weekend that threatens to destroy their friendship. They are all joined by characters played by Tina Fey and Jason Schwartzman. The movie gets fairly dark but it has a lot of great comedic writing and the stars are all seasoned comedians. By the end, I was really happy that I had watched it and there were definitely some good laughs to be had. I recommend it.


Dead to Me

This one is dark. This is a show about a two women who meet at a grief group and form an unlikely friendship, bonding over what they have lost. Christina Applegate plays a realtor who is righteously angry and depressed after her husband was killed by a hit and run driver. Linda Cardellini plays a goofy woman who works at an assisted living center and is dealing with her own stuff. The friendship blossoming between both women is really fun to watch and the chemistry between them is really great. Their dialogue is sharply written and feels like people I have known during hard times. There is a lot of gallows humor that helps carry the show forward while things are very dark. The show is a lot about grief so it is a pretty sad show as one might expect. The show also stars James Marsden as Cardellini’s ex-husband in a very tricky situation. Under it all there is a mystery that I think I have solved but I am interested to see if I am right. I will probably continue watching this in small doses as it is pretty heavy. I recommend it as well.

Music of the Week:
Iggy Azalea – Sally Walker

The Browning – Optophobia

Ezra Collective – What Am I To Do?

Jade Bird – I Get No Joy

Ariel Posen – Angeline

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Gal Pals”
– I watched more Supernatural Season 14
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 2
– I watched more Ash vs. The Evil Dead Season 3
– I watched more Losers
– I watched more Santa Clarita Diet Season 3

 

 

Media Update 2/8/18

February 8, 2018


Mad Men

I let the craze for this show pass me by. I don’t watch a lot of live television and I do not own any DVR device so the shows I watch are limited. In fact, I just cut the cord and I am without cable and feeling fine. Once again, Netflix has my back and delivers a lot of the shows and movies that I missed. (Not sponsored) Jon Hamm is a heck of a charismatic actor, of course, and I had heard so much about how real this show is. Readers of this blog know that I have been enjoying a lot of period shows lately but this is a different animal. This show is about advertising workers on Madison Avenue (hence “Mad” Men) trying to climb the ladder or hold on to the ladder. It is also about the women in the business (mostly in the secretarial pool) who have a much more brutal path to survival. It is the sixties. Everybody drinks and smokes, everybody wears a suit or a dress. Everybody is also hiding something or working a secret angle to get either what they deserve or what they should have never had. So far, there are no heroes. There are no good people to root for as everybody comes across as cynical and sinister but we shall see how that shakes out. I recommend this one but know that it is a pretty dark show.


A Futile and Stupid Gesture

I remember watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation without knowing exactly what “National Lampoon” was. Because I did not know, it was just something my eyes slid over whenever I encountered it after that. When I heard interviews with guys like Conan O’Brien and other Simpsons writers, I had heard of the Harvard Lampoon but never connected the dots. This movie is the story about how two former editors of the Harvard Lampoon (a comedy publication at Harvard) created a national version. It was a mix of clever humor and extremely crass humor and it eventually employed most of the first staff and cast of Saturday Night Live (who had to tone it down a bit for television). Primarily, the movie is about Doug Kenney who seemed to be the driving force and the heart of the magazine. He was a man who thought the world was one big joke and it led him to high highs and low lows. He had a brief life and he created a magazine and two movies (Animal House, Caddyshack) that helped change the face of comedy. The movie includes many of the funniest people of the current era of comedy playing a lot of the funniest people of the seventies. Will Forte plays Doug Kenney and he portrayed why Kenney was both so likable and so frustrating to those around him. I recommend this as it was a funny and sweet movie.


American Made

I have liked pretty much everything I have seen Tom Cruise in. His personal eccentricities aside, he is a highly charismatic actor. He also has seen the writing on the wall and has started to take roles aside from action again because he knows he’s getting older and maybe he got bored of those sorts of roles. This movie is a comedy/ drama about a pilot who gets caught up with the CIA, the Contras, and Pablo Escobar in the middle of the eighties. He is just a regular joe who tries to navigate difficult political waters to make a living for his family while also trying to actually survive. This is a great look at the dumb and dangerous sorts of things that were happening under Reagan. Heck, they could still be happening for all I know. Tom Cruise plays Barry Seal, a TWA pilot who gets bored and jumps at a dangerous new career. Domnhall Gleeson plays his CIA contact and shows that the CIA are not the mysterious, cool guys that are usually depicted in movies. I also really loved Sarah Wright as Seal’s wife who will do whatever it takes to keep her family together through a very tumultuous period. I definitely recommend this one as it was a lot of fun and did not go exactly where I expected.

Music of the Week:
Marilyn Manson – KILL4ME

Portugal. The Man – “Feel It Still

2NE1 – I AM THE BEST

Toots & The Maytals – Premature

LCD Soundsystem- Daft Punk Is Playing At My House

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Outrageous Behavior”
– I continued watching Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 1
– I continued watching Gurren Lagann
– I continued watching Little Witch Academia Season 2
– I continued watching Peaky Blinders Season 1
– I continued watching K Season 1
– I am so hyped for Black Panther


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