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by Jason Nummer
Episode 6: Ludacris (11/18/06)
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)
After the coney-licious Baldwin episode last week, Christopher Brian Bridges (aka Ludacris) has an extremely tough act to follow. This will mark the third time Ludacris has paid SNL a visit. The first was a quick cameo during Lindsay Lohan's first show back in 2004, and the second was as musical guest during that wonderful Paul Giamatti episode in January 2005. His two musical segments in the later episode, one of which featured Sum 41, were better than most hip hop/rap guests we'd seen up to that point, so I left the episode pleasantly surprised. Now he's back with a new album to peddle and a few movies on the horizon. I can see the episode going either way, so let's hope for the best.
Quick note: other rappers that have pulled double duty in the past, most recently Queen Latifah on 10/9/04, have had a tough time balancing out so much screen time. I'm almost wondering if this will be one of those episodes where the host doesn't feature prominently in most sketches. Anyone remember when Kate Winslet hosted a few years back and only showed up in three sketches? I wouldn't be surprised to see this happen again so Ludarcis can expend more energy during the musical segments. Grew Up a Screw Up indeed.
|THE GOOD||THE BAD|
Have the cries been heard? Are we finally getting a new take on George W. Bush? Was the awful Presidential cold opening from John C. Reilly’s episode the final nail in the Forte-as-Bush coffin? Whatever the motivation, the Ludacris episode will go down in history for marking the debut of Jason Sudeikis in the role of our Commander-In-Chief.
When Sudeikis was promoted from writer to featured cast member in May of 2005, I mentioned that The Las Vegas Review-Journal did a write up of Sudeikis’ Second City troupe and pointed out his “top-notch” George W. Bush impression. It was clear tonight that Sudeikis has the Bush voice down, but I’m not sure yet if he is better than Forte, Parnell or even Hammond – all of whom have tackled George W. Bush in the post-Ferrell era. Still, I’m putting this move in the good category since it proves SNL knew it was time for change. Forte had some solid moments playing the President (namely the 2004 Debate sketches), but he seemed totally un-interested most of the other times. Anyone want to make a wager on if the Sudeikis Bush will stick?
There were no perfect-rating sketches tonight, but a few notables are worth mentioning: Young Douglas, Pool Watch and Superhits Studios. Young Douglas was your average duet sketch (Hartman’s old Sinatra bit and even Ellen Cleghorne’s 1992 Natalie Cole impression from the “Unforgivable” commercial parody come to mind), but Ludacris spiced it up to ensure there were laughs. Superhits Studios, despite reminding me a few times of Forte’s “Jon Bovi” sketch from earlier this season, again had Samberg reminding us he can do more than just Digital Shorts. And what can I say about Pool Watch? Those limited edition shoes were best.
Closing out the show was Hammond and Ludacris in an odd sketch reminiscent of Dana Carvey’s classic “Grumpy Old Man”. It was nice seeing Hammond in something non-political and watching Ludacris ad-lib about Darrell’s mustache goof was pretty funny, but I’m curious about the ending. It seemed like Hammond just signaled for it to end after a certain point. Not sure if this was planned or if Hammond has the power to cease something on his own. Intriguing.
The O’Reilly Factor and Olivia Cruise Lines segments should have been cut. Period. Neither one offered any real laughs, save a few jabs at the Mississippi River towards the end of The Factor. But c’mon. If a joke about the Mississippi River is getting your biggest laugh, something is wrong. After the well-publicized feud between Ludacris and the real-life O’Reilly a few years back, I’m not surpised to see another O’Reilly parody, but judging by the lack of audience response, this did little more than kill time. As for Olivia Cruise Line, once you figured out the premise, the sketch was crazy predictable.
I was also very surprised Forte’s “Hair Transplant” segment didn’t work better. On paper, a sketch about Ludacris stealing Forte’s “hair top” so he can look more like Elton John was probably killer. However, something just didn’t click in the live execution. Honestly, it was probably a bad idea to use Ludacris in 12 of the episode’s 14 segments. For a guy doing double duty as host and musical guest, I fully expected him to have a few sketches off. Sure he was visibly having fun through most of them, but give the man a breather! By the time he made it to later moments in the show like Hair Transplant, he was probably just eyeing the finish line.
|THE BOTTOM LINE!|
After beating us over the head with funny in Alec Baldwin’s episode, Ludacris and crew weighed in with an average episode. Granted the low amount of recurring sketches and a new Bush impression made it one of the more entertaining average episodes to sit through, but it was boring at times nonetheless.
The Grizz was out in NYC visiting Uncle Grambo when this episode aired and they both attended ASSSSCAT 3000 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater the following Sunday. Many an SNL cast member have been known to make appearances at this NYC Sunday night staple, and this past weekend was no exception as the Grizz reported sightings of both Amy Poehler and Jason Sudeikis. Best.
1. Cold Opening: A Message George W. Bush Special Address
2. Monologue: Ludacris
3. Sketch: Young Douglas
4. Sketch: Wedding Counseling
5. Sketch: The O’Reilly Factor
6. Commercial Parody: Booty Bidness
7. Sketch: Superhits Studios
8. Music: Ludacris “Money Maker”
9. Sketch: Weekend Update
10. Sketch: Poolwatch
11. Sketch: Hair Transplant
12. Sketch: Olivia Cruise Line
13. Music: Ludacris “Runaway Love”
14. Sketch: Old Friends
28 / 56 Coneys