Since NBC has gotten so much better at putting buzzworthy clips from SNL online, it's made me less eager to recap the full episodes. Or perhaps it's just ennui from this season in transition. Either way, it's given me a chance to catch up with the past few episodes later, and see if I have a fresh perspective on them.
With Dana Carvey hosting, you knew he'd bring back some of his classic characters, because he had done so before. What you didn't expect was that he'd do so right off the bat in the cold open with Mike Myers returning for a "Wayne's World" reunion. Wayne's World! Excellent! Party time! They even wrote the script to include a callback to their other reunion, which happened not on SNL or even NBC, but at the MTV Movie Awards in 2008. You can see the clip and my first impressions of the Wayne's World reunion on SNL.
The monologue was a little different, because Carvey gave a shoutout to his two teen-aged sons in the audience, who he said had never seen him when he actually was on SNL as a cast member. A mini moment of poignancy. And then he got funny sincere by talking with pride about his cast (1986-1993) being the best SNL cast, because as everyone knows, when it comes to SNL, people have their favorite seasons and casts and say the show hasn't been funny since then. The crowd applauded for Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, more for Andy Samberg, and then even more when Jon Lovitz stepped onstage. "What are you doing here?" That was Carvey asking, for the record.
For the first ad spoof, they went back to the "black noise" well voiced by Jay Pharoah as Kenan Thompson slept, which first aired in episode #36.2 with Bryan Cranston. Just seems "edgy" for the sake of being "edgy."
After the break, we saw the return of Carvey's "Church Lady," who also had a surprise guest in Justin Bieber. He was there without warning, but he had his own movie to promote, and the kids (well, the girls) seem to love him, so why not, right? And oh yeah, Nasim Pedrad as Kim Kardashian (with her sisters) and Bobby Moynihan as Snooki. Sometimes, it doesn't really matter if it's perfect, because these two are perfect in their own ways.
After another break, we're treated to a Vh1 spoof called Celebrity Teen Crisis Center, with celebs answering phone banks for teens. First up, Hader as Alan Alda. Next is Carvey as Mickey Rooney (another of his SNL callbacks), giving bad advice to Paul Brittain. Of course, when this episode aired last month, did we know Rooney would come out publicly to admit that he'd been mistreated in elder care? Fred Armisen gives Ice-T a try. Man, they love having Armisen pretend to be black, don't they? Abby Elliott is Anna Faris giving bad advice to Taran Killam. Of course, this all feels like it was just a build-up to seeing Pharoah do Eddie Murphy. But do you think he botched that last line, or do you think it was written like that? Debate it or don't.
OK. That film trailer spoof of Single White Female which was The Roommate, but with Samberg and Bieber? Still felt phoned in. The fact that Samberg says the name of the movie in the trailer and then declares himself to be a famous actor? I. Don't. Know. Let's move on.
For the first time in almost two decades, Mike Myers joined Dana Carvey on the Saturday Night Live stage to reunite for a Wayne's World sketch. Wayne's World! Party time! Excellent!
But first: A special note. SNL's cold open began with a voiceover from the late Phil Hartman. While the live studio audience already was cheering knowing they'd get to see Wayne's World again, hearing Hartman's voice reminded me how sad it is that he's not with us. A subtle tribute.
Wayne and Garth had gone on to star in two films together, and met up as recently as the 2008 MTV Movie Awards. On last night's SNL, they picked up where that conversation left off, as Garth noted he'd acquired pubes, and Wayne revealed that a monkey finally had flown out of his butt. Since they've been doing this for more than 20 years, they also acknowledged that weirdness of still broadcasting a public access show from the basement of Wayne's parents home. Well, they didn't acknowledge that, but Wayne did ask of Garth: "How old are you?" Garth's reply: "It was never determined."
These two old boys talked about the Oscars, but really just wanted to talk about Winter's Bone. Paging Beavis and Butt-head, also returning to TV: 1993 called, and they want you back.
Remember when Wayne went schwing! over Madonna, and then later Tia Carrere? Cut to 2011, and suddenly he's fixated more on Mark Wahlberg? Seems like someone's having a mid-life revelation. Sphincter says what?
Watch the whole thing unfold now:
How do you think this reunion compares to their 2008 MTV Movie Awards appearance?
For those nostalgic for early 1990s SNL, the return of Dana Carvey as host would bring back memories, but Justin Bieber wasn't even alive during those years -- which makes it that much more awkward to hear Carvey as the Church Lady get all hot and bothered over him.
Then again, Church Lady herself did start this scene by noting how much evil is on our TVs, and also welcoming the Kardashian sisters (Nasim Pedrad, Vanessa Bayer, Abby Elliott), and Snooki (Bobby Moynihan) first to her panel. "Well, isn't that special?" After casting out those demons, Church Lady seemed herself to be cast under the spell of the Biebs. "I want a taste of that sweet Bieber," she says? Could she be influenced...by Satan?!?
Of course, the Biebs has his own 3-D movie to promote (out next week), so SNL had no problems including him in the show in more than just that cameo. More Biebs = more ratings, right?
So he showed up in this video spoof trailer for Single White Female. Er. I meant The Roommate. Bieber shows up early to college to find Andy Samberg as Declan, his obsessively creepy roomie. I'll have more to say about this in the recap. For now, though. Roll the clip!
File this under odd occurrences. Last night in late-night TV, Dana Carvey was a guest on Late Show with David Letterman and did all sorts of voices, reminiscing about "Chopping Broccoli" and Johnny Carson, and impersonating several celebrities.
Carvey also impersonated both Jay Leno and Robin Williams, and after he jumped around the set pretending to be Williams, acknowledged that if you had changed the channel just then, you might have been seeing Williams do his thing himself on Leno's show. Shhh. Don't tell anyone. But roll the clip! (The Williams bit starts at 9:11, btw) And if you'd like to see what Williams had to tell Leno, you can watch that here.
Carvey is a guest tonight on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. And oddly enough, last night, another famous impersonator was on Fallon, as Rich Little was showing off his Johnny Carson. Wild. Wacky. Stuff. Now if Carvey pretends to be Little tonight, I won't know what to do.
A lot of the way that show was conceived was by thinking about what talk shows weren’t doing. Dana Carvey was asked to do that gig months before it landed in anyone else’s hands, right after Carson announced that he was retiring. Lorne knew that he was going to get to oversee the show, and the first person he wanted to host it was Carvey. He wanted Conan and I to work on it, and at that time no late-night talk show was doing any sort of sketch comedy at all. That idea expanded when it was decided that Conan would become the host. But before that happened I thought that the show would feature Carvey playing a lot of different characters. Months later Conan called me and said that this idea would work in reverse—he could be the straight man to all of these crazy characters. The sketches evolved into playing with visual jokes because Conan and I bonded over our love of cartoony humor.
-- Robert Smigel, explaining his approach as the initial head writer for Late Night with Conan O'Brien, in October's "comedy" issue of Vice Magazine.
Last week, we saw what Dana Carvey and Spike Feresten thought FOX would want to see on TV with their spoof of Lost. Now we see another sketch from their pilot, also called Spoof, apparently, that looks at the life of Charles Darwin, who introduced us to the concept of evolution. Bonus points to comedy nerds who recognize the Catholic leader as Brian McCann. So, is this making you more or less excited about such a TV show? Roll the clip.
So FOX has cancelled The Wanda Sykes Show, but according to its new fall lineup presented at the upfronts for advertisers and the press today, there's nothing scheduled yet to replace Sykes in the late-night Saturday slot. The network has two competing sketch shows vying for the 11 p.m. Saturday time slot -- including one from Dana Carvey and Spike Feresten; the former an SNL veteran, the latter of whom used to occupy this position on the schedule. Here's a clip from their pilot, Spoof, which parodies Lost in a bit called Weird Island. Based on this, if you were a FOX programmer, what would you do?
Roll the clip!
If you were to tell me that Saturday Night Live would gather up all of its grand presidential impersonators for a one-time reunion, then I'd remind you that Phil Hartman is dead, and stop playing me. But you kept at it, and told me, hey, what if we got Jim Carrey to play the ghost of Ronald Reagan with a dash of Ace Ventura, then I'd go, oh, really, well, which SNL is this going to be on?
Oh, it's not on SNL. It's on Funny or Die. OK. Ready for the viral video action! Wait. This is a PSA? Or as you kids call it, a public service announcement. For the banking crisis. Directed by Ron "used to be Opie or Richie Cunningham if you're an older person, and just another big movie director if you're a kid" Howard. For real this time. If you think SNL's political "cold open" sketches are weirdly too focused on making points, then full speed ahead into the danger zone. At least Dan Aykroyd looks more like Jimmy Carter a generation later (can you believe Aykroyd pretended to be Carter with a mustache on live TV?), as does Chevy Chase as the late Gerald Ford. As for Dana Carvey as Bush 41, Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton, Will Ferrell as W., Fred Armisen as Barack Obama and Maya Rudolph as Michelle Obama, well, you're not going to see anything here you haven't seen before. Just all of them together in a room. Isn't that special? Roll the clips.
There's also a behind-the-scenes video, if you need to see how and where the magic happens. Which means bloopers and jokes. You like bloopers and jokes.
I was going to say something about Tracy Morgan, but before I do that, let me take a moment to note how the other alums for Saturday Night Live are getting love in a variety of ways (and I'm not just talking about Chevy Chase's lovely return to TV with NBC's Community, although there is Chevy to be chased in this post) on this, the show's 35th season.
First, I don't know how many of you noticed the new T-Mobile ad during last week's live SNL broadcast. Companies have gotten rather shrewd about incorporating humor and SNL-type elements in their real ads that air during the breaks on NBC's SNL telecasts; T-Mobile's new ad for its myTouch 3G takes the cake for SNL-relevance (although you're a couple of weeks late for me, since I just got a new iPhone 3GS!). Here is that ad, featuring Chevy Chase, Molly Shannon, Dana Carvey and Darrell Hammond. Roll the clip!
And it's beginning to feel cold like Christmas in NYC on recent windy, chilly nights, and in a month, the window display at Barney's New York store will devote its holiday display to the 35th anniversary of SNL. The reported scenes include classics such as the Coneheads, last year's Tina Fey/Sarah Palin sensation, and a couple of nods to the late 1990s, including Molly Shannon's Mary Katherine Gallagher and Chris Kattan's Mango. Here's one of the draft sketches from Barney's New York creative director Simon Doonan (via FishbowlNY):
Jon Lovitz opened the doors last weekend on the Los Angeles comedy club that bears his name and carries a theme of a tropical beach, complete with leis for the audience members. The Jon Lovitz Comedy Club operates out of the Universal CityWalk complex at Universal Studios Hollywood, with shows booked only for weekends for now. This month's headliners: John Caparulo, Kyle Cease and Brad Williams.
Guess he got out of his "lifetime contract" with Jamie Masada at the Laugh Factory? While we figure that one out, let's see how the local TV news covered the opening, with appearances by Dana Carvey and Judy Tenuta.
Dana Carvey talks to the San Jose Mercury News about returning to stand-up after "semi-retiring" to be a husband and father: "I've been at this for 25 years," Carvey says. "I did SNL. I did some movies. My kids have grown up. I've saved a lot of money — that will go over good — and I'm having fun."
Lenny Clarke lives on Martha's Vineyard, and it's a rare but true thing to see him perform on the island, which he'll do Aug. 17 during a break from filming Rescue Me.
My friend and former colleague Lauren at the Boston Herald interviews Chelsea Handler about her latest book of essays, which has been a bestseller all summer. “When I got that news, I was like, OK, well, this must signal the end of the world. I’m on The New York Times Bestseller List? It’s not like I’m Salman Rushdie. I mean, I have a show on E!.”
Artie Lange is already out of rehab, and talks to SF Weekly about enjoying the Bay Area.
Russell Brand reveals to Defamer that he keeps up with pop culture and music, which is a good thing since he's hosting this year's MTV Video Music Awards. Brand describes Miley Cyrus as "confusingly attractive," the people of The Hills as having "the general air of louche attractiveness and easy availability." Here is a promotional clip with Brand, Britney Spears and the elephant in the room. No, really.
Dana Carvey's new hourlong HBO special, Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies, debuted last night, and within a few seconds, you most likely thought to yourself...Dana Carvey? Whatever happened to that guy, anyhow? The next hour attempts to answer that question. And the answer is...He's still here, ready to entertain you with silly voices and impersonations. Seriously, though. It had been six years since his last movie, 2002's The Master of Disguise, came and went, so keep this in mind while you're watching Carvey onstage in Santa Rosa, Calif., where he filmed this set in March. He's catching up with us, and catching us up on him.
In this sense, much of the hour shows us what we would have seen and heard him doing onstage over the past six years, which allows him to revisit Al Gore and delve into lengthier pieces on President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Ahnold (well, despite the hackiness of an Ahnold impersonation, he is still the governor of California). The jokes aren't always timely -- Carvey does try a quick bit on Barack Hussein Obama, comparing the likelihood of that name on a presidential candidate as Charles Manson Hitler. But then the comedian just as quickly veers back to the Clintons. The special puts Carvey in an extremely good light. Literally. He doesn't seem as old as he is in this lighting. He also notes that, like many in the audience, he, too, is a Northern Californian Baby Boomer. "I'm one of you," he quips, both to ingratiate himself with the crowd as well as to set up a series of jokes about that stereotypical lifestyle. The audience eats this all up. About 35 minutes in, after another applause break, Carvey says: "You are encouraging me way too much, but I'm loving it." A set piece in which the oracle of Ronald Reagan explains the presidential precession after him serves to squeeze in Carvey's trademark takes on George H.W. Bush and H. Ross Perot. But there's no Church Lady, no Garth in this hour. Although anyone who saw the recent MTV Movie Awards and the reunion of Wayne and Garth will notice that Carvey repeats a joke (though he really says it earlier here, through the magic of tape delay!) about how to explain bisexuality to a kid. By the way, it's funnier in his Garth voice. He closes with a segment about how parenting and kids are so different now from when he was growing up in the 1960s. Perhaps being a husband and father has kept Carvey out of the limelight in recent years. But this hour on HBO represents Carvey's statement to the world and to the industry that he's back and ready to work. If you'll have him.
Related: Looking to see when it'll air on HBO again? Click here.
HBO has posted two video clips from the special on Funny or Die. This clip includes Dana Carvey's bits on disorganized religion and talking to his elderly parents. And this clip features Dana Carvey comparing his Indian cardiologist to a Brooklyn doctor.
Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, HBO produced and broadcast a special devoted to young comedians. Not all of them hold up quite so well. One year introduced Steven Wright, but the rest of the hour makes you wonder what happened to America's sense of humor. Then there was 1992, and the 15th annual special, taped at the Tempe Improv, hosted by Dana Carvey, introduced Judd Apatow, Bill Bellamy, Nick DiPaolo, Janeane Garofalo, Andy Kindler and Ray Romano.
Yeah. Quite a lineup there. I mention it because the special aired over the weekend and shows up on HBO Comedy again tonight, then again on Jan. 24 so you can take a look for yourself.
As host, Carvey managed to trot out most of his SNL character voices and impersonations for easy crowd pleasing. Bellamy is wearing a red suit, as if to make viewers think of Eddie Murphy. Apatow, whom you know now as a big-shot comedy producer and writer, wore a buttoned-up shirt without a tie. Romano noted up front that he was 34 at the time and asked if that still counted as young. Watching them all, you can see that Romano, Kindler and Garofalo had found their comedic voices that still make you laugh today. And if you think DiPaolo sounds bitter onstage today, just watch and hear his mood on the night of his big break! A few circumstantial pieces of evidence of HBO special bonding: A) Apatow and Garofalo immediately worked together on The Ben Stiller Show, B) they again worked on The Larry Sanders Show, with Apatow also writing an episode that had a part in it for Kindler, C) who also showed up a decade later as a recurring character on Everybody Loves Raymond.
Also filed under fun facts, the pre-show interviews with the comedians, which knowing where they all are 16 years later, is why these quotes should be filed under fun facts...
DiPaolo: "It means a lot. It means I'm going to be a big star someday. Either that, or I'm going to be next week working in St. Louis at Yuk Yuk's again. For minimum wage."
Garofalo: "I have no self-esteem left, and I hate to be the girl comic that talks about those types of things and I never thought I would be, but I'm a beaten man."
Kindler: "I'm going to do a new thing where I just sell my paintings after the show. Along with the T-shirts and the coffee cups and the Andy Kindler signature crock pots that are available, in the lobby, and the Andy Kindler comedy video, which is always available, in the lobby, after the show. And I'd leave the record tab in, so if you want tape Murder, She Wrote over it, who really cares."