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by Nummer and H-Bomb
Episode 5: Liam Neeson / Modest Mouse (11/13/04)
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)
Season 30 is now 25% over and 4 of the 5 episodes have fallen into the “average” range. While the absence of Fallon and a slew of first-time hosts has given the show a fresh feel, the episodes taken as a whole are still a bit run of the mill That said, call me an optimist because despite low coney counts, I feel the show is improving. With only a shallow pool of recurring sketches to choose from, the cast is taking more risks and the one-off sketches are slowly getting better than what we’ve seen over the last two years.
This brings us to Liam Neeson and Modest Mouse. I have to say Neeson did a great job with the material he was given. Tonight we saw him play a pothead, bachelor, angry Irishman and red neck all with very convincing results. Modest Mouse, along with some crazy background singers during “Float On”, also helped the coney order with what was easily the best musical performances so far this season.
The problem was that every time the show started an upward trend, something like Star Jones’ Wedding or Wake Up San Francisco would come along and ruin it. The Star Jones sketch was seriously so bad they had to turn to completely unnecessary Barbara Walters (Dratch) and Liza Minnelli (Rudolph) impressions for support. And what was with Wake Up San Francisco? This is now the third time Maya has done the same dance moves and tried to pass it off as new material (see Cameron Diaz/Jimmy Eat World on 4/6/02 and Jack Black/John Mayer 10/4/03). However, all the Maya dancing in the world couldn’t hide that this was just a desperate rip-off of Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri’s “Morning Latte”.
Thankfully, Armisen came to the rescue. His imitation of a parrot during the Jasper sketch was brilliant. “Strangers in the Night…Glances” has been in my head for days now. Even though animal impressions will never be as good as Will Ferrell’s “floor run” as a cat (Vince Vaughn/Lauryn Hill 12/5/98), Armisen showed us the next best thing tonight. He then kept his streak going later on Weekend Update as the deaf comedian “Ritchie B”. Who else but Armisen would create a deaf character who relies on sign language to tell racist jokes?
With Armisen’s Ritchie B help, Fey and Poehler delivered another epic 10+ minute Weekend Update. Hammond rolled out another great Ashcroft impression in which, among other things, he stated how the Bush administration is keeping a secret list of all bearded people. Fey and Poehler also brought back the seldom seen Barbie doll recreations to demonstrate how Tara Reid’s nipple slipped out recently at an awards show. The only thing dampening this Update was Seth Meyer’s new college student character. For the third time tonight I was reminded of something Will Ferrell used to do– the drunk Randy Graves Weekend Update college character. Oh Seth. Dig deeper next time.
Filling out the show tonight was a political sketch themed against the recent John Kerry concession phone call, another installment of Appalachian Emergency Room, a lets-hope-they-forgot-Top-O’-The-Mornin’ style home makeover show and an odd bit about a drug sniffing dog. Out of these lesser sketches, the best had to be Drug Sniffing Dog. The humor in this one was not over the top, but more dry and reminiscent of “Fenced In Area” (Billy Bob Thornton/Creed 11/17/01). Which, in my opinion, is a welcome comparison.
In closing, while the Neeson/Modest Mouse episode won’t go down in SNL infamy, it was surely worth a viewing and had a few very replayable moments.
I must say, I was pretty happy with the way this week’s episode turned out. Neeson managed to host a reasonably good show with a variety of characters and some fairly decent sketch writing. With the exception of just one sketch (Appalachian Emergency Room) and a commercial spoof (Dr. Porkenheimer’s Boner Juice), all of the skits were more or less originals. Now, that’s not to say they were all the greatest ever, but it’s nice to see the amount of new sketches on the upswing.
Without a doubt, the best sketch of the night was Jasper the Parrot. Armisen couldn’t have been funnier as the giant bird, especially with his extreme close-up at the end of the skit. I would’ve loved to see Armisen preparing for this role! “Happy birthday to you…Strangers in the niiiight..glances.” Best!
Armisen also kept up the pace in Weekend Update with his deaf comedian character, Ritchie B. I just loved his facial expressions after telling his jokes, like it was the funniest shit ever! I mean, really, how could everyone not relate to such racially motivated bits as the “newest flavor of Gaterade for black people?” And Armisen wasn’t the only one to make me laugh in this week’s WU. Hammond’s John “arresting people who walk around at night” Ashcroft was highly amusing, as was the Barbie reenactment of the Tara Reid breast fiasco. Add to that Fey and Poehler’s song, “The Party’s Cancelled,” and this was one of the better installments of Weekend Update.
Rounding out the best moments of this week’s SNL was definitely the performances given by Modest Mouse. While I didn’t find the sound quality to be all that great, the energy exuded by the band was enough for full coneys. That and the crazy bearded backup singer during Float On!!
In addition to the truly hilarious skits, there were many average ones, including Drug Sniffing Dog, Bush/Kerry Phone Call, You Call This a House, Do Ya?, and Appalachian Emergency Room. Out of the bunch, I would have to say that Drug Sniffing Dog was probably the funniest and that was mostly from Neeson’s low, serious voice. “I misplaced my hemp belt.” To me, pot references are usually pretty lame, but somehow Neeson made it amusing.
Out of the entire show, however, there were two sketches that really brought it down: The Night Before Star Jones’ Wedding and Wake Up San Francisco. The Star Jones sketch was especially horrible. Not a single impression or line was funny in the whole thing! And Wake Up San Francisco was the most blatant copy of every Morning Latte and Regis & Kelly sketch ever done! The only reason I gave it any coneys was for how ridiculous Neeson looked dancing.
On the whole, I thought the show was rather good and I was quite pleased with Neeson’s hosting abilities. I was also glad to see Armisen getting a little freer reign with sketches like Jasper and I hope to see more of his ideas in future episodes!
1. Cold Opening: Bush and Kerry phone call
2. Monologue: Neeson
3. Sketch: The Night Before Star Jones’ Wedding
4. Sketch: You Call This a House Do Ya’?
5. Commerical: Dr. Porkenheimer’s Boner Juice
6. Sketch: Jasper the Parrot
7. Sketch: Wake up San Francisco
8. Music: Modest Mouse “Float On”
9. Weekend Update
10. Sketch: Appalachian Emergency Room
11. Sketch: Drug Sniffing Dog
12. Music: Modest Mouse “Ocean Breathes Salty”
25 / 48 Coneys
23 / 48 Coneys