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TV Review: Saturday Night Live, November 18, 2006 with Ludacris

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One of my funny quirks (well, it’s funny to me) is that I tend to sleep through Saturday Night Live episodes at times. That’s why you didn’t see an Alec Baldwin/Christina Aguilera review from me last week. I did manage to catch everything from Weekend Update on, and it seemed more of the same from Lorne and the gang.

That might sound ludicrous considering Baldwin hosting and six cameos. I’ve been accused of rehashing the past too much with earlier SNL reviews, but how else can you explain cameos from Steve Martin, Martin Short, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, and Paul McCartney? The only cameo appearance that didn’t tie in with SNL‘s past was Tony Bennett’s, and that only came about due to Alec Baldwin playing him as a recurring character.

I will review the Baldwin episode when it is rerun, since SNL is improving. It’s obvious Baldwin is being groomed for Most Frequent SNL Host in History status. I have the feeling he’ll host fifteen more times before the show gets sick of him twenty-five years from now.

Oh, this week we had cast members in turkey suits introducing Ludacris as musical guest. So SNL isn’t thoroughly obsessive about its past, then? Huh?

Ludacris was a pretty damn entertaining host. I wasn’t expecting much from the man — combination hosts/musical guests are a mixed bag and there’s a tendency for a general-interest sketch comedy show to “go black” whenever there’s a black host. Ludacris’ SNL episode is no exception, but he carried the show. While not a classic, none of the sketches were of “Big Wigs” quality — well, aside from a sketch about a lesbian cruise, and even that wasn’t too offensive. SNL wasn’t trying to top the orgiastic self-love of last week and it would seem churlish if it did.

A few years into his Saturday Night Live tenure, it’s obvious Kenan Thompson isn’t that good a cast member. Thompson is leaning towards a Tracy Morgan acting style, charming if not overly versatile. The man has a lot of pre-SNL sketch comedy experience, but he seems a bit faceless as an SNL cast member. It seems a bit rote for SNL to include him in a lot of sketches due to there being a black host, but it’s expected and Thompson is at least credible enough an actor to hold his own against Ludacris.

I also don’t confuse Thompson with another cast member like I do with Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis. Is it wrong of me to confuse the two? Either they look similar or I’m just an idiot.

Jason Sudeikis is the new George W. Bush. His Bush impression isn’t great, but it’s an improvement over Will Forte’s. Since Will Ferrell left, the Dubya role has been filled by Chris Parnell, Darrell Hammond, Forte, and now Sudeikis. The new version of Bush isn’t great — Sudeikis is a bit too intense in his delivery and he always looks stern for some reason — but Forte always came across as too whiny a Dubya. Saturday Night Live can be predictable at times, but no one saw this coming! The cold openings are improving after a slow start this season.

I feel the need to mention “The Bitchslap Method,” a fake infomercial for — well, you can spot the one-joke premise already. As much as I’m not a fan of Maya Rudolph and her sometime habit of overacting, she and Ludacris helped sell this sketch. I like current SNL for being direct with its premises and for trying new things even if they are often stupid. Does Ludacris’ character need such an obvious last name, though? Who in the hell has the last name Bitchslap? Please don’t follow my question up with “Dave Chappelle.” I’m on to you.

Where was Fred Armisen this week? The interminable commercials that currently air on Canadian television were given more screen time than Armisen. That’s just not right.

As for Ludacris’ music, I can take it or leave it. I’m not a rap music fan, but he’s more popular at the moment than musicians I like, such as Candie Hank or Otto Von Schirach (yes, I’m aware they’re also influenced by rap, please send no money). Tenacious D does musical guest duty in two weeks. I wonder if this makes Jack Black the first host to then become a musical guest. I know he first appeared on the show as part of Tenacious D before his first hosting gig, but come on. Special guest status doesn’t count.

Finally, the “Blizzard Man” sketch (Andy Samberg doing bad white-boy raps — white-boy rapping is a thing he does from time to time) was decent, but not as good as the fake “Least Bought Albums” Billboard chart that followed it. DJ Rumple Sxillsxio with “Rap Scratch Fever?” Jermaine with “My Name Ain’t Jermaine (Yeah It Is)?” The writer gave more attention to detail with the chart than with the actual sketch! What the hell, at least someone’s working for more than a paycheck on SNL! That’s never a bad sign.

I doubt anything by Ludacris would reach #1 on a “Least Bought Albums” Billboard chart, though. I’d make a BulletBoys joke at this point, but that’d be too obvious and I’d have at most five hair metal fans on my ass. Thank you! I’ll be here all night! Enjoy the veal!

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About Cameron Archer

  • Al Barger

    Cameron, it seems like you’re just looking for excuses to carp on SNL. Particularly, it seems like YOU’RE the one obsessing on past SNL glory much more than the current cast and writers. You’re reaching back to last week to bitch about a couple of cameos, but the continuing prospect of cool cameos is a commercial selling point for the show. Plus, the rivalry between repeat hosts is a perfectly good avenue for satirizing star egos. Plus, you’re REALLY reaching to complain about them dressing people up in turkey outfits at Thanksgiving.

    Tony Bennett’s presence was not just because of the Alec Baldwin sketch- though that would be a perfectly good reason. Bennett also has a big network special coming up, which includes a duet with Christina Aguilera. Thus, he was there to sing with Christina- which worked out better than I might have guessed.

    You seemed to miss out with the Blizzard Man sketch, in that the point was not so much the bad rapper but watching the real rapper totally getting into something so actively awful.

    Also, Maya Rudolph ROCKS. It seems particularly silly to complain about “overacting” in a sketch comedy show. Such a thing is much more about caricature and parody than about “realistic” acting.


  • Cameron A.

    So what do you want in the Matthew Fox/Tenacious D review, then? You don’t like something in my writing style or review of the show. What don’t you like?

  • jose

    and will forte was way funnier as bush – the new guy was flat. yes forte played it whiney, cuz he was playing a whimpy whiner.

  • Me

    Your comments, “A few years into his Saturday Night Live tenure, it’s obvious Kenan Thompson isn’t that good a cast member.” is wrong. Sorry to have to tell you this. Please contact anyone who studies the art of acting to understand further. Thanks.