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Tom Hanks

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by Nummer and H-Bomb

Episode 17: Tom Hanks / Red Hot Chili Peppers (5/6/06)

FOUR CONEYS! = John Belushi
THREE CONEYS! = Amy Poehler
TWO CONEYS! = Tim Meadows
ONE CONEY! = Melanie Hutzel
HALF A CONEY! = Charles Rocket
No CONEYS! = Self-Explanatory

Tom Hanks

0-10 Coneys – Garbage
11-20 Coneys – Needs Improvement
21-30 Coneys – Average
31-40 Coneys – Above Average
41-50 Coneys - Instant Classic
51+ Coneys - Unparalleled Comic Genius

OAD = Original Air Date*

(*To be fair, coneys will be awarded the same as they were the first time they aired)


As predicted, Hanks did a great job as host of tonight’s SNL. However, just like Antonio Banderas learned back in April, it takes more than an enthusiastic host to make a great overall show. Average material aside (more on that later), Hanks’ best work was “Eli” in the Rick and Caitlin sketch, an annoying son in Universal Studios and “Teddy” in Claremont Yoga Center. Due to Hanks’ wide range of accents and comedic timing, he single handedly lifted what would have been “0 Coney” sketches into the 2 coney range. Its just a shame Lorne and Hanks didn’t dip into his deep catalogue of recurring characters like Mr. Short Term Memory, Girl Watchers or the Sabra Salesman for old time’s sake. Heck, even Walken does The Continental every time he hosts.

The strongest sketch of the night, earning all of 3 coneys, was Claremont Yoga Center. Sure, the sketch relied on an abundance of physical comedy, but when sweat started dripping out of Hanks’ hair onto Dratch, I’m not sure how you couldn’t laugh.

Red Hot Chili Peppers! I really enjoyed their performances overall, but just like Franz Ferdinand, Sheryl Crow and Korn, what’s up with using the second segment for older hits? 2006 RHCP especially. You’re on the show promoting a yet to be released DOUBLE ALBUM. Surely you have enough new material to fill 10 minutes. Especially considering that Flea thinks so highly of the album: On 5/4/06, Billboard quoted him as saying “We worked for a year and a half to make the epic record of our livesI” and “We can not put in words how much this record, 'Stadium Arcadium,' means to us." How does all that equal “Give it Away” for your second song? The song still rocked, but c’mon.

Finally, after over a two year break, Will Forte and Fred Armisen dusted off their Dr. Patrick and Gunther Kelly characters for another informative song on Weekend Update. This time around, the topic wasn’t SARS or Tax Codes but a debate surrounding the recent Immigration issues. Considering the additional help the backing band gave them, this installment may have been their best yet. Yahhhh. Yahhhh.

In his own right, Tom Hanks was a remarkable host for this week’s episode of SNL. He definitely proved to have his hosting duties down pat, even after a 10 year break. Hanks was probably one of the most well-rehearsed guests I’ve seen on the show and was able to demonstrate a wide variety of characters, from Bill Frist to an early 90’s German band member to a gay and snooty tennis partner, with absolute ease. Unfortunately for Hanks and the cast, the writers failed to live up to their end of the bargain with another round of mostly sub par sketches.

That being said, there were a few decent skits from this week’s show. Despite being the old run-of-the-mill Question and Answer session, Hanks’ monologue was still one of the best I’ve seen this season, especially due to Armisen’s priest (“What’s the deal with your hair?”), Sudiekis’ Jesus Christ (“I forgive you….for making the Terminal”) and Hader’s creepy albino monk (“We actually are pretty creepy.”). Armisen and Forte certainly hit a high note with their latest Gunther and Patrick Kelly song dedicated to debating the recent Immigration policies. While both were amusing, it was really Forte’s opening high pitched staccato notes that made this song their best to date. Finally, Hanks’ extremely sweaty character, Teddy, allowed the Claremont Yoga Center bit to be pretty entertaining. The various yoga positions (“anus to anus?”) as well as the sweat dripping off of Hanks and onto Dratch’s face were all disgustingly funny.

Last but not least, the Red Hot Chili Peppers doled out a great first performance of Dani Califonia, as was expected. It’s very easy to see why they are so proud of their latest album, Stadium Arcadium. I guess that’s why I was so perplexed by the band’s decision to play “Give it Away,” during their second set as opposed to a new song. I just really don’t understand the reasoning behind this notion and why it has been such a trend with some of this season’s bigger musical acts. Had it been a different band, I would’ve certainly followed my “zero coney policy” for this song as I did with Korn and various other acts, but at least the song was good and they played it well. Regrettably, it did cause the show to suffer more than it would have with a newer release. (Please note: This rant could’ve technically gone in The Bad category, but I like these guys too much!).


The worst thing about tonight was the wasted opportunity that is Tom Hanks. Starting off with a by-the-numbers audience Q&A monologue, you got the sense early on that the show was in cruise control. This was a chance to create a classic episode with one of the show’s best hosts and what do they come up with? How about a Wheel of Fortune and Sanford & Son spoof? Just three weeks ago, the same crew churned out 90 solid minutes with Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay Lohan! Doing the same with Tom Hanks should have been a no-brainer. Talk about frustrating. Especially since wasting the talent of a solid host has already been my complaint a number of times this season (see Steve Carell and Jack Black).

The usually reliable Digital Shorts had a near misfire tonight as well. I’m starting to wonder if the majority of these really have to be music videos. This marks the fourth one after “Lazy Sunday”, “Young Chuck Norris” and the Natalie Portman rap. Let’s see, you’ve spoofed rap twice, then rock ballads and now 1990s dance. What’s next? Let me guess, country? They’ve proved the non-musical ones can be effective – especially “Look-a-likes” from Matt Dillon’s episode. Seeing a new music video every few episodes will eventually spell certain death for not only the Digital Shorts, but maybe even Samberg. Not wise to label yourself a one-trick pony before your first season is over.

It should also be noted that Poehler’s “Kaitlin” character returned tonight, with surprisingly little fanfare. If you listened closely, you were able to make out about two people applauding. Strange considering this seemed to be a crowd favorite during its first 2-3 appearances. This installment was slightly better than the last one in the Jon Heder episode, but even after a roughly six month gap, it still feels like Poehler is running this into the ground.

The biggest faux pas for this episode was, indeed, the mediocre sketch content. I’m sorry, but you can’t get away with having someone like Tom Hanks as host and only give him a mere nine skits to work with, most of which were dry and outdated (Seriously, Wheel of Fortune? When was the last time either Pat Sajak or Vanna White were considered funny?). All I can say is that the writing team really blew their chance at an exceptional show with Hanks and hopefully they’ll keep that in mind for the next two weeks with hosts Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Kevin Spacey, respectively.

Another disappointing factor this week was the SNL Digital Short. Now a staple of Season 31, we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing these short films aired in nearly every episode. I haven’t had too much of a problem with the routine since the bits have been more or less hilarious each time. However, it seems like we are slowly starting to see the ideas behind the shorts fall into a safe (a.k.a dead-end) mode. Samberg and Parnell started it all with the notorious video, ‘Lazy Sunday,” so why not keep that tendency going simply because it garnered some laughs the first time around? I’ll admit that the Testicles song wasn’t too shabby, especially with Hanks at the wheel, but it doesn’t take a genius to see the “safe” approach that SNL is taking with the Digital Shorts. They’ve done it before with many other recurring themes throughout the last few seasons and overplayed the same ideas until they were basically dead in the water. Given how much potential they really have, I would really hate to see that happen to the Digital Shorts after only one season.


Too many “2” coney sketches kept Tom Hanks’ first hosting appearance in 10 years from being the triumphant comeback it should have been. This is a show that should have brought back not only Hanks, but veterans like Dana Carvey or Jon Lovitz to remind us how great SNL can be. Oh well, it was still fun seeing Flea running around with “John Belushi” written across his chest. Better luck to Julia Louis-Dreyfus next week.

I really expected a lot more from this episode, especially with Tom Hanks heading the cast. I find it surprising that he was ok with such lame material as I thought that he liked to be part of the creative process of sketch writing that takes place during the week leading up to the show. Perhaps with his 50th birthday coming up, he can no longer pull the all-nighters. Regardless, the writers blew it, plain and simple. Let’s hope they can turn it around again for the last two shows of the season.



1. Cold Opening: White House Meeting
Premise: Bush, Cheney and Frist discuss the gasoline issue


2. Monologue: Hanks


3. Sketch: Wheel of Fortune
Premise: Parody of the long running game show


4. Sketch: Kaitlin and Rick
Premise: Kaitlin prepares to babysit an iguana


5. SNL Digital Short: Testicles
Premise: Spoof of 1990s music videos


6. Sketch: Taking Ma’ to Universal Theme Parks
Premise: Two boys yell directions to their mother while waiting in line


7. Music: Red Hot Chili Peppers “Dani California”


8. Weekend Update
Guests: Sanz, Forte and Armisen


9. Sketch: Claremont Yoga Center
Premise: A woman gets an awkward yoga partner


10. Sketch: Colin’s Place
Premise: Political spoof of Sanford and Son


11. Music: Red Hot Chili Peppers “Give it Away”


12. Sketch: Tennis Partners
Cameos: Players chose tennis partners based on arm quantity



30 / 48 Coneys

24.5 / 48 Coneys

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