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by Nummer and H-Bomb
Episode 11: Paris Hilton / Keane (2/5/05)
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)
Despite being filled with such horrible recurring characters as Versace, Trump, Starkeesha and Merv the Perv, this episode ended up just two coneys shy of the wonderful Giamatti episode. Now before Giamatti gets any more depressed in the wake of his recent Oscar snub, let’s make it very clear that Paris Hilton actually had little to do with tonight’s better than average SNL. Not only did Hilton’s first two appearances feature Tinkerbell, but she had also uttered the word “hot” a whopping six times. By the end of the fourth segment, I had prepared myself for a repeat of the disastrous Donald Trump episode in which he played himself in nearly every sketch just to continually say his own catch phrase.
Eventually Paris ceased playing Paris and simply moved to basic characterizations of herself like a spoiled purse shopper named “Porsche” or a man-stealing Barbie doll. Reducing the cue card dependant Hilton to supporting characters allowed for shorter sketches and additional show segments (ie: more coney opps) than any Season 30 episode to date. So rest easy Giamatti, Paris nearly caught up to you only because of a coney technicality and a lot of help from a very good Brit pop band.
Keane aside, highlights of the night go to Armisen’s I.T.F. Computer Institute, Horatio’s wonderful rendition of “Jenny From the Block” during an American Idol audition and the return of T. Sean Shannon’s “Bear City” films*. Parnell also turned in a three part commercial parody about how to save money while raising kids. The premise was pretty funny at first featuring products like used pacifiers and children’s books “riddled with spelling errors”, but the joke got old by the time we started hearing about medicine vaccinations. However, parents can now see how to spend no more than 5% of their disposable income on the children (leaving more room for Vodka brand launch parties and skiing).
The rest of tonight’s episode was filled with average sketches demonstrating how most of the cast are either still searching for stand-out ideas or have simply given up. Are people really bursting into laughter during read-throughs while reviewing another Merv the Perv sketch? Moments like these remind you how many cast members (Dratch, Maya, Sanz and Hammond) are probably biding their time to the end of the season so they can finally move on from SNL.
Speaking of Merv The Perv, I have an exclusive on-site report for this particular sketch: During a stop to Rockefeller Center on Friday afternoon, I saw Paris, Poehler, Seth, Parnell, Maya and Dratch rehearse this sketch a few times. Paris butchered her opening line “The prom is in two weeks and I still don’t have a date” so many times I lost count. My tour group was getting quite the kick out of the frustration this tongue twister of line was causing poor Paris (decked out in low rider jeans and one of those seldom seen vintage AC/DC tour t-shirts). After nearly each flub, she would dart off set, sit down against a wall and read through the scene again. Totally hot.
Next week gives us comeback kid Jason Bateman as host and former American Idol Kelly Clarkson as musical guest.
*Tonight’s Bear City (about buying cigarettes) was actually set to air during the 10/30/04 Kate Winslet/Eminem episode. Presumably, it was cut for time.
Okay, so my pre-show comments were a little off regarding the buzz around this week’s show with host Paris Hilton. But I would hardly blame Hilton for the lack of humor as it seemed that she was hardly even in the episode with her secondary characters. No, this latest batch of sketches was just straight up boring and uneventful, with even the funniest material achieving mere average status.
The evening started off with an American Idol spoof, which has been typical at least once or twice a season since the “talent search” show began. I haven’t been able to catch any of Idol yet this year, and I must admit, it definitely made a difference to me, as far as the amusement factor of the sketch was concerned. Although fairly entertaining, I didn’t find this skit to be nearly as funny as its predecessors. Don’t get me wrong, Armisen’s voice box routine was amusing, but not having a clue as to who they were making fun of really took away from the overall sketch. Aside from that, I’m sure Maya and Sanz were dead on with their impersonations of the recent contestants who are obviously willing to act like idiots to appear on the show.
Next came Hilton’s monologue, which was one of many less-than-average skits put forth during the show. Out of all the ideas the writers could’ve used concerning the antics of Paris Hilton, they decided to showcase her dog, Tinkerbell, instead. Note to SNL: a cute dog doesn’t always make for a cute skit. And unfortunately, it wasn’t just the monologue that proved mediocre; the list goes on with the likes of Versace, cheapkids.net, Merv the Perv , Man at the Bar and Purse Shopping. In my opinion, Merv the Perv and Versace wore out their welcome long ago, although Versace’s scenery change from her mansion to the Swiss slopes seemed to make the skit a bit more tolerable this time around. As for the cheapkids.net spots, the concept started off as humorous, but certainly didn’t need to be drawn out into three separate segments. In fact, by the third one, I actually found myself more depressed than amused. Seth Meyer’s Man at the Bar sketch was entirely predictable and simply felt like an easy way to finish out the show’s time slot. Hilton, in an otherwise dull performance, granted some brief moments of comedy with her reactions of “Noo!” and “Duude!” to Meyer’s attempts at kissing her. And finally, with Purse Shopping, we see the return of one of the worst SNL characters ever, Starkeesha. Enough said.
In spite of the above skits, there were also some sketches that were moderately funny. Bear City, of course, is a favorite of mine. The Exclusive Connection Phone Line was a close second for the night’s laughs. Sanz giving himself the Vulcan Nerve Pinch actually had me laughing out loud, as it apparently did Maya. Armisen’s I.T.F. Technical Computer Institute was also pretty good, especially with Armisen playing the zany, almost car salesman type director, Rafael Alonzo. “You have to learn computers!!” I even got a kick out of Inside Barbie’s Dreamhouse. Poehler did a great job as the older, more classic Barbie to Hilton’s “Fashion Fever Barbie,” who consequently Ken is having an affair with. “Wait until I call Jem. She will think this is truly outrageous.” Best! And although the appearance of Trump is getting to be a bit trying, the Trump Family skit wasn’t all that bad. It was kind of interesting to see Armisen, Meyers and Maya do their own Trump impressions.
I’d also like to note that Weekend Update appeared to improve this week, which was very nice to see after weeks of second-rate material. There were several standout jokes from both Fey and Poehler, most specifically Poehler shaving her mustache, the NY professor with human remains found in his suitcase (“Those are teaching tools. Teach that bitch to cheat on me), and the Gay Marriage Bill being passed in Canada and now wanting to be called “William.” I think the highlight of the segment, though, was “Hometown Fans Point/Counterpoint,” where Fey and Poehler supported the Philidelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, respectively. It was hard to say who really won, however, with such great remarks and rebuttals. Poehler: “You can go cry in a pile of Philly cheese steaks and watch that gay movie they named after your city.” Fey: “First of all, your whole city smells like baked bean farts.” Tough call.
I only wish that Keane could’ve added to the coney count, but I just don’t think they are all that good. Truthfully, I was more confused than anything on how they even landed an SNL spot. They aren’t horrible, but definitely not a band I would find noteworthy enough to put on the show. But then again, there doesn’t seem to be much thought at all put into the musical guests these days, so I guess I won’t sweat it.
By and large, Hilton contributed far less than I would’ve hoped to this week’s show, but I’m not entirely surprised at the mediocre sketch content. While not exclusively geared towards Hilton’s persona itself, the writing was none-the-less centered on flaky, young and attractive girls, who are more interested in shopping for purses and guys than anything else. This might be a long shot, but I would love to see, just once, the writers come up with sketch ideas that are funny and clever in their own right, instead of lousy, yet safe, bullshit material that’s based solely on what they think the host can pull off. Ironically, they’ve decided to air the "Live from New York: The First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live" Primetime Special this month. It’ll be interesting to see the extreme differences between the truly clever sketch writing that stood on its own feet, no matter who the host was, to the lazy, Hollywood gossip crap that we’re subjected to today.
1. Cold Opening: American Idol
2. Monologue: Paris Hilton
3. Commercial Parody: cheapkids.net (#1)
4. Versace Skiing
5. Sketch: Purse Shopping
6. Commercial Parody: cheapkids.net (#2)
7. Sketch: Exclusive Connection Phone Line
8. Sketch: The Trump Family
9. Music: Keane “Somewhere Only We Know”
10. Weekend Update
11. Sketch: Merv the Perv
12. Commercial Parody: cheapkids.net (#3)
13. Sketch: I.T.F. Technical Computer Institute
14. Sketch: Inside Barbie’s Dreamhouse
15. Keane “Everybody’s Changing”
16. Middle Aged Man at the Bar
17. Film: Bear City
31 / 68 Coneys
22 / 68 Coneys