Monday Morning Quarterback: SNL Season 35, Episode 8

Posted by Jesse December 6th, 2009 at 11:12pm In SNL

This cannot be ignored: during a typically hit-or-miss Saturday Night Live episode hosted by Blake Lively, they aired a sketch that made me cry laughing and nearly fall out off my couch in the process. I’m pretty sure that the “Under-Underground Rock Festival” ad, as seen above, is really freaking funny on its own, but it held a special place in my heart for its semi-obscure inspiration. It’s actually a hilariously close parody of a web ad for a yearly (and quite popular) music festival curated by shock-mook-rap act Insane Clown Posse, which I wrote about over on my personal blog a little while ago. The real ad is funny enough on its own, by the fact that SNL writers saw fit to parody this at all really tickled me, and they did a bang-up job with the target, however broad, with such zeal it almost came off as a sort of deranged affection (but maybe that was just my deranged projection).

It was a delirious high in an episode that had several, including a wonderfully strange last sketch of the night featuring Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis as Southern dandies/hillbillies (dandbillies) grappling over a stolen potato chip at a NASA job interview. I love pretty much any SNL sketch that reminds me of the Kids in the Hall. It’s also possible that I particularly love this sketch because there’s almost no chance for a repeat engagement; Forte and Sudeikis last made a bid for too-strange-to-reprise with their ESPN Classic characters, forever announcing female sports sponsored by feminine care products, and while I enjoyed the fact that the second go-round somehow scored a leadoff spot, it makes me wonder if there’s anything this cast wouldn’t be game to do over (hopeful answer: a sketch about potato-chip stealing at a hilariously crummy version of a NASA office).

Of course, I’d rather see the ESPN Classic guys (who are at least hilariously played by Forte and Sudeikis, who have become the go-to guys for infectious enthusiasm) than a revival of Kenan Thompson’s Virginiaka character, trotted out every time a young white female host wants to play one of her white-ghetto daughters. There’s a fine line between kidding racial caricatures and just dusting them off — similar to the fineness of the line between kidding Tiger Woods and making light of domestic abuse. Kenan Thompson can be hilarious, but he was front and center for the two worst sketches of the night.

Luckily, it was a pretty well-rounded episode, with just about every cast member getting some kind of a showcase (even if that showcase was a bizarre Brittany Murphy impression based primarily on her work in Clueless) in a lot of acceptable if not quite floor-worthy sketches. The Late Night with Chris Hansen idea was sort of inspired, though it seems a little late given how long To Catch a Predator has been a thing; the Gossip Girl: Staten Island bit was kind of a gimme, but had a lot of fun goofy performances.

I fast-forwarded most of Rihanna’s performance, but I applaud her work in the “Shy Ronnie” Digital Short; it was more memorable than Blake Lively’s generally game but sort of marginal presence. She was no January Jones, but she wasn’t quite Scarlett or Gwyneth or Sarah Michelle Gellar, either. But if the show can make me cry laughing and gape my mouth out of weirdness in a single episode, I can’t complain too much.

Episode Grade: B


December 2009
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