On Watching SNL

I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live for at least a decade. But when Andrea told me that last week’s episode with Carls Barkley (Season 35, Episode 11) was very funny, I figured that I would waste an hour watching it.

  1. I thought the opening about Yemen was a bit racist, but still very funny.
  2. The insurance company commercial was fun.
  3. Reel Quotes was very funny, but I thought it could have been smarter (which would have made it less funny).
  4. MacGruber I was delicious—a simple idea well executed.
  5. The bimbo skit? What was with that? I get it, and I assume that the character is recurring; but it just doesn’t work very well. But then, the joke with such characters is that they are people we laugh at—people we are better than. It rarely works; the only exception I can think of is Julia Sweeney’s Pat, which transcended this limitation because the more we saw her, the smarter he got.
  6. MacGruber II was pushing it, but pulled it out in the end.
  7. The NBA game broadcast with the kid? I don’t know: sort of funny, I guess.
  8. MacGruber III was good. They took a clever idea and pushed it much too far. The fact that they ended up with silly instead of annoying is an indication of their talent.
  9. Weekend Update was weak, I thought. The James Carvell bit was good; the Nicholas Cage bit seemed more like Keanu Reeves and was pretty stupid; the David Paterson bit was kind of funny and the guy does him well, but it struck me as kind of cruel.
  10. The Haney Project was fun, mostly just because Barkley was so good natured about his reputation.
  11. The Alicia Keys bit really didn’t work for me. It is a funny idea, but I’m not sure how it could be made to work. It did one thing that few SNL skits ever do: it had a good ending. I tend to think that the problem is not with the writing; it is either the acting or me.
  12. The Scared Straight skit was amusing. I guess the actors were a bit punchy by that time, because most of them lost it at one time or another. It bugs me a little bit that both the guys were black; if Will Ferrell were in the cast, I’m sure he would have been part of it–it’s his style; and that would have made it a little less offensive.
  13. Barkley’s Bank was very weak. Again, it is nice that Barkley is okay with his rep, but the skit didn’t do much; and given the potential, that’s a shame. They will usually throw weak stuff to the end on the assumption that fewer people will be watching and that they may not have time for it anyway. I had hoped for a MacGruber IV, but I was disappointed.

Overall, the show was much better than I would have thought. But I will probably go another decade before I tune in again.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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