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by Nummer and H-Bomb
Episode 19: Will Ferrell / QOTSA (5/14/05)
CONEY RATING SYSTEM
0-10 Coneys – Garbage
OAD = Original Air Date*
(*To be fair, coneys will be awarded the same as they were the first time they aired)
Tonight’s episode was nearly perfect. For the first time in ages we were given a consistently funny show from cold opening to good night credits. Having Will Ferrell back at SNL reminded you how good the show can be when all three elements: cast, host and musical guest are running on all cylinders. Luckily for this season, marred by so many average and forgettable episodes, the best was saved until nearly the end.
Right out of the gates, Ferrell had us laughing with his backstage preparations during the cold opening. Whether is was interacting with past cast members Chris Parnell (what was his name again?), Amy Poehler (sorry you got cut out of Anchorman) or newer blood like Finesse Mitchell (don’t call him Keenan, don’t call him Keenan), all eyes were on Ferrell as he delivered energy last seen this season in the Paul Giamatti episode.
Ferrell then launched into a monologue that before long had him singing Streisand while subsequently “peeing” his pants due to nerves. Although this is a bit SNL has used countless times over the years, Ferrell’s ability to keep a straight face through nearly any situation made it brilliant.
Next came the first of what would be three recurring Ferrell characters sprinkled throughout the show. Ferrell yet again assumed the role of Alex Trebek (last seen Winona Ryder/Moby 5/18/02) in attempts to guide three celebrities through his fan favorite Jeopardy parody. This is a sketch not many will argue didn’t grow stale towards the end of its 12 original appearances between 1996 and 2002. Surprisingly, seeing it again didn’t come across nearly as annoying I predicted. In addition to Ferrell’s Trebeck, Hammond’s staple Sean Connery, Keenan and Poehler used this as an opportunity to dust off their Sharon Osbourne and Bill Cosbly impressions to fill out the celebrity panel. They both did well in their respective roles, but it is no secret this was built for banter between Hammond and Ferrell. “Not in the R’s? That’s not what your mother said Trebek”. Best.
Ferrell followed up Jeopardy with an out of the blue parody of a corporate celebration in “Oracle Conclave 2005”. This was a great new character for Ferrell and is the latest in his line of sketches designed for him to talk and yell at people off camera (think “Get off the Shed”). Ferrell’s complaints about this “shoddy ass conclave” forcing him to feel “not at all right” helped create the best office environment satire NBC has put out in 2005 (I’m talking to you “The Office”).
Ferrell’s next highlight was his welcomed return of Robert Goulet. This time Goulet is hawking ringtones and mobile phones shaped like his head which he describes as “usual cell phone fiddle faddle”. Seems Goulet has teamed up with some “dubious” business partners in the Phoenix area and is now in a position to unload thousands of these phones. Totally best. I really hope an SNL fansite somewhere posts the ringtone examples Ferrell demonstrated. If I could somehow get those on my phone, all would be right with the world.
Some of the odder moments came with the “Inspired Waiter”, “Going 2 C Movies” and “Luxury Spy” sketches. All three of these segments likely would have bombed with any other host in the lead. However with Ferrell playing characters with bad breath due to a tooth infection, the consumption of an egg salad panini followed up by smoking dog shit, even the weakest of sketches can find a shining light. It was also interesting to see Parnell and Sanz use two of their seldom seen characters to round out the “Going 2 C Movies” sketch. Neither Parnell or Sanz have used these characters since 2003. It is nice to know Vasquez Gomez-Vasquez still knows what’s “the best in the biz”.
Coming off the much talked about “B.Y.O.B” performance from System of a Down last weekend, Queens of the Stone Age delivered two solid songs – complete with Will Ferrell reprising his role as the deceased Gene Frenkle on the cowbell to make up QOTSA’s ever changing lineup. This isn’t the first time Ferrell has jumped on stage with a musical guest, back in May 2001 Ferrell shared his unique flavor with Weezer during “Island in the Sun”. My only QOTSA complaint would have to be the questionable audio mix that plagued the first song. Worst.
With so many positive segments in tonight’s episode, there were really only two areas that didn’t deliver quite as highly as the others: Weekend Update and the completely unnecessary return of Armisen and Rudolph’s “Art Dealers” sketch. The Nooni and Noone’ art sketches started off strong back in January with host Topher Grace (earning 3 coneys on the initial appearance), but as I pointed out in the Spade review (3/12/05), there are three parts to this sketch: weird food, silly chairs and mispronounced names. If it wasn’t for Ferrell’s over the top portrayal of the middle aged art dealer son, the sketch would have been another by the numbers wash.
Weekend Update, although a slight improvement over last weekend’s effort, also treaded the average category. Seth’s guest stint as John Bolton’s assistant was predictable and Poehler again outshined Fey in the world of successful joke delivery. The main reason Update didn’t again fall in the 2 coneys or below field was the great riff Poehler had about a beer spill in Toronto. You can’t go wrong with stories about Poehler sucking beer out of dirt.
The over–the-top moment of the night was delivered by the latest Smigel cartoon. Smigel used this latest TV Funhouse segment to debut “Shazzang” – a bizarre parody of a 60’s cartoon. This had to be one of most violent things SNL has ran in a long time. At first I wasn’t quite sure how far they were going to take the joke, but as it kept going and going, I realized this was Smigel’s best work of the season.
So here we are 19 episodes into the season. Lets give thanks to Will Ferrell for making sure at least two of them achieved “Instant SNL Classic” status. Here’s hoping it won’t be too long before we see him back hosting again.
Next week brings the season finale with host Lindsay Lohan and musical guest Coldplay. What cast members will say goodbye? Are there any crazy cameos planned? All will be revealed soon.
In what has become a nearly unbearable season of SNL, it was so wonderful to finally have a good episode to write about. Obviously, being the huge Ferrell fan that I am, I was not at all surprised to see the SNL veteran deliver the best show of the season. Granted that’s not really saying much considering the less than stellar Season 30, but Ferrell definitely has a way with making even the weakest of material seem pretty damn funny.
Laughs were abundant from the start with the Ferrell-based cold opener. It wasn’t really even the material that made this skit laughable, but more Ferrell’s own facial expressions and reactions to the cast members. Without his own personal spin on things, this opener would’ve surely failed, as would have several other skits, including the monologue, Inspired Waiter, Going 2 C Movies and Luxury Spy. Each of these bits definitely depended on Ferrell’s unique approach and technique to make them work.
The show also marked the return of three of Ferrell’s most beloved characters. The first came with the appearance of Alex Trebek in the infamous Jeopardy sketch. Ironically, even with this skit’s predictable plot, it was refreshing to watch an old favorite that can be relied on for at least a few laughs. Most of this humor, inarguably, stems from the sarcastically rude repartee between Ferrell’s Trebek and Hammond’s Sean Connery. “Here Trebek, I’ll show you a finger.” “That’s not a finger and you know it.” From “Jap Anus Relations” to wagering “poop” during final Jeopardy, it was fun to see these two characters together again.
Ferrell’s second recurring impression came in the form of the Blue Oyster Cult’s cow-bell toting Gene Frenkle. We were treated to Frenkle’s cow-bell talents during Queen of the Stone Age’s first set, “Little Sister.” It was a great performance made even better by the antics of Ferrell. Although his belly disappointingly appeared a lot smaller than it did back in the legendary Behind the Music sketch, I really enjoyed everyone’s extremely serious faces at the end of the song.
The third and most anticipated return appearance, at least in my opinion, was that of Mr. Robert Goulet. Goulet’s Ringtones was by far the best sketch of the night. “Dinga donga dinga donga. Someone’s calling you. Goulet.” Totally best! Everyone should really have a Robert Goulet Head cell phone. They are a really great bargain, even if they don’t work.
The most surprisingly funny sketch of the evening was certainly Oracle Conclave 2005. Here, Ferrell posed as the Oracle coordinator, James Philow, who incidentally also opened up for Hootie at the Pfizer Conference in Hawaii. This skit was just another example of Ferrell’s amazing ability to turn an otherwise lame bit into something hilarious. I really couldn’t picture any other host pulling this off as well as Ferrell.
Despite the majority of the show being quite funny, however, there were a few disappointments. First of all, I couldn’t believe they chose to reprise the Art Dealers skit once again, although Ferrell did manage to make it a bit more bearable. Nooni and Noone really need to take a break from the spotlight, though. And what was up with Smigel’s cartoon, Shazzang?? I’ve honestly never felt as repulsed during a cartoon as I did watching this. I’m still not quite sure what Smigel’s point was supposed to be, but it usually takes a lot to shock and disgust me and the writer definitely managed to pull off both.
Regardless of this being a lousy season, this week’s show was outstanding and would’ve undoubtedly held its own even amongst a season of excellent episodes. Ferrell is brilliant at live comedy and really makes me miss the old days of SNL. I look forward to his return as host as well as a continued successful career.
1. Cold Opening: Backstage with Will Ferrell
2. Monologue: Will Ferrell
3. Sketch: Jeopardy
4. Sketch: Oracle Conclave 2005
5. Commercial Parody: Para Tri-Cyclen
6. Sketch: Art Dealers
7. Music: Queens of the Stone Age (with Will Ferrell): “Little Sister”
8. Weekend Update (Guest: Seth Meyers)
9. Sketch: Inspired Waiter
10. Robert Smigel Cartoon: Shazzang! “The Flaming Ruby of Taruba”
11. Sketch: Goulet Ringtones
12. Sketch: Going 2 C Movies with Terrye Funck and Vasquez
13. Music: Queens of the Stone Age “In my Head”
13. Music: Queens of the Stone Age “In my Head”
43 / 56 Coneys
38.5 / 56 Coneys