by Julian Spivey
The 42nd season of “Saturday Night Live” saw a major boost in the show’s ratings and recognition thanks to the wild political climate of the real world and the big-time actors called in by the show to portray these politicians, like Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump and Melissa McCarthy as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. The show also featured numerous favorite guests of the show, including Baldwin, Tom Hanks, McCarthy, Scarlett Johansson and Dwayne Johnson – all of whom are a part of the 5-Timers Club.
Here are the 10 best sketches of the 2016-17 ‘SNL’ season:
10. Amazon Echo
Ever since “Saturday Night Live” debuted in 1975 it’s commercial parodies have been among the highlights of the show. The best commercial parody this year was the Amazon Echo Silver for elderly people. The Amazon Echo Silver will respond to any name even remotely sounding like ‘Alexa’ and has an ”uh-huh” feature for long-rambling stories. Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones portraying elderly people is hilarious.
9. Jingle Barack
The best President Barack Obama farewell that ‘SNL’ had this year was during the Christmas episode hosted by Casey Affleck when Kenan Thompson and musical guest that week Chance the Rapper did a Run-D.M.C. “Christmas in Hollis” parody about Obama’s last Christmas as President that featuredd actual Run-D.M.C. member Darryl McDaniels and a verse from Leslie Jones. Among the funniest lines were: “kids enjoy the presents while you can/’cause next year you might get a bomb from Iran” and “drinking egg nog like I don’t care/I’m gonna hurt myself before we lose Obamacare.”
8. Aziz Ansari Monologue/7. Dave Chappelle Monologue
‘SNL’ monologues oftentimes seem like a waste of time because the hosts are actors or musicians who aren’t necessarily used to doing comedy, but I always look forward to ‘SNL’ monologues when stand-up comedians host because you know you’re basically going to get a shortened stand-up routine. This happened a few times this season when comedians Aziz Ansari, Dave Chappelle and Louis CK hosted with Ansari and Chappelle’s particularly standing out. Ansari did his monologue the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration and Chappelle’s came the Saturday after Trump was elected and gave each comedian ample material. Chappelle recently apologized for saying he “messed up” by telling America to give Trump “a chance” during his monologue, something many of us were surprised by when it aired.
6. Hillary Actually
One of the most creative political sketches that ‘SNL’ did this season came in December, the month after Donald Trump had won the election when they gave Kate McKinnon’s terrific Hillary Clinton impression the chance to mimic a key scene from the film “Love Actually.” In the scene, an elector played by Cecily Strong opens the door to find Clinton with a set of cue cards asking her to change her vote for the Electoral College.
5. Cathy Anne
Every season it seems that ‘SNL’ debuts a new recurring Weekend Update character for the ages and this year it was without a doubt Cecily Strong’s Cathy Anne, a white trash woman likely from the South who gives her hilarious two cents on political topics ranging from being an undecided voter to President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. The most fascinating part of Strong’s character is how she rattles off the almost indecipherable lines without tripping over herself. I look forward to seeing the character often in the future.
4. Haunted Elevator feat. David S. Pumpkins
There’s little doubt in my mind that David S. Pumpkins was the most talked about ‘SNL’ sketch of the season, even more so than any one Donald Trump or Sean Spicer sketch. This wild-and-wacky character played by Tom Hanks – with a wonderful glee that reminds us that one of the world’s greatest dramatic actors is terrific at sketch comedy, as well – came out of nowhere (actually the mind of new cast member Mikey Day) and took the nation by surprise with its absurdity. Much like the Larry David as Kevin Roberts sketch last season (that wound up at No. 5 on my season end list) the sketch relies on sheer absurdity for its laughs. Any questions?
3. Black Jeopardy!
Black Jeopardy! proved to be one of the show’s best recurring sketches last season, but this season’s lone appearance of the sketch may have been the greatest yet. The premise of the sketch has always been two black contestants competing against a confused white contestant who is completely out of the loop with black culture. But, during the Tom Hanks episode Hanks played a Trump supporter – someone you wouldn’t think would have too much in common with black culture. Well, it turns out we may all have similarities. This sketch was brilliantly written.
2. Sean Spicer
It seems ‘SNL’ has created a trend of famous celebrities not among the cast portraying political figures. It began in season 41 with comedian Larry David portraying Bernie Sanders and continued this season with Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump. However, I don’t believe anybody saw Melissa McCarthy as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer coming – and it was a brilliant choice. First, it’s amazing how much McCarthy looks like Spicer with all the makeup on. Second, she just absolutely owned the craziness that is a White House Press Briefing during the Trump era. It’ll be amazing if she doesn’t take home an Emmy for this performance.
1. Presidential Debates
The biggest boost “Saturday Night Live” has seen in years was owed to Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of Donald Trump and the zany antics of Trump that are too often hard to believe. You would think that would make the task of portraying Trump hard, but somehow Baldwin made it work. ‘SNL’ probably went to this well a few too many times during the season, but early on when the show mocked the Presidential debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton (brilliantly played by Kate McKinnon) it provided numerous laughs and proved why ‘SNL’ is always a little bit better in an election year.
by Julian Spivey
Late night television has been in the news a lot this week based on the emotional monologues of both Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert on their respective shows on Monday. Both moments were arguably highlights of each comedian’s late night stints, but as nothing in this country can seemingly be agreed upon both moments also brought out – well I’ll call it like I see it – a flurry of assholes.
Last week Jimmy Kimmel abruptly cancelled tapings of his ABC nightly talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and on his return Monday he tearfully announced that the cancellations were brought upon by the birth of his son Billy and health complications of his son, who required life-saving heart surgery. Billy will thankfully be OK, though he will require two more future surgeries, but the traumatic moment for Kimmel led to his most emotional moment on television where he talked of the importance of healthcare and challenged President Donald Trump’s views on it.
Kimmel said: “We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all. Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition. You were born with a pre-existing condition. And if your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition.
If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something that, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?”
Kimmel’s monologue brought tears to the eyes of many, including myself, because not only was it emotional to hear his traumatic story, but because he was right about healthcare and the fact that the implementation of Trumpcare could cause many deaths – including those of innocent babies (who many conservatives only seem to care about when in the womb).
On Monday night, Kimmel’s monologue was well-received by many, but then conservative pundits took to the airwaves and social media on Tuesday to blast the late-night comedian for bringing politics into his monologue. They took a moment of absolute empathy and showed that they have absolutely no feelings for anyone other than themselves.
Former Illinois Sen. Joe Walsh (not to be confused with awesome rocker Joe Walsh) took to Twitter to spout this hatred: “Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn’t obligate me or anybody else to pay for somebody else’s heath care.”
And, if that wasn’t asshole-ish enough there was Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt who accused Kimmel of turning his personal story into a political one (which, by the way, he has every right to do as it’s his show).
Hurt wrote: “After his slobbering wet kiss to federal bureaucracy, Mr. Kimmel then went squealing on about Obamacare and how insurance companies, the government and your neighbors should all be forced to pay for everybody else's health care. Easy thing to say for a gazillionaire from Hollywood."
I can’t imagine how big of a prick one must be to run-down somebody who not only underwent such a horrific life moment, but also had the bravery to talk and cry about it to a national television audience.
But, while Kimmel was getting emotional over a family health crisis on Monday night Stephen Colbert was emotional in an angry sense with President Trump on his ‘Late Show’ over on CBS.
Over the weekend, President Trump appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” in an interview with CBS News political director John Dickerson, in which the President demeaned Dickerson’s show, profession and walked out of the interview when asked a reasonable question.
Colbert, who is friends with Dickerson, stood up for his friend and journalism in general with an angry set of jokes that culminated in: “The only thing your mouth [Trump’s] is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cockholster.” The last word was partially censored by CBS.
Almost immediately Trump supporters took to social media with the Twitter hashtag #FireColbert, which trended all day on Tuesday, decrying the late-night host for his joke and accusing him of homophobia. It’s laughable that Trump supporters would want someone fired for homophobia given who the Vice President is and the fact that Trump will supposedly sign an anti-gay religious freedom executive order in the upcoming days.
The reality of the #FireColbert campaign was that Trump supporters were butthurt over Colbert blasting President Trump and used political correctness, something they hate until they can use it for their own good, to cause trouble. Some even compared Colbert’s joke to former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s firing for sexual harassment, as if sexual harassment and a crude joke are equals.
Colbert gave a statement about his joke during his Wednesday monologue, even though he really didn’t need to do so.
Colbert said: “I had a few choice insults for the president … I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight. So, while I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be. I’m not going to repeat the phrase, but I just want to say for the record, life is short, and anyone who expresses their love for another person, in their own way, is to me, an American hero.”
It’s that last part that seemed completely unnecessary, as only a real loon would have taken Colbert’s “cockholster” remark to be homophobic. Joking about oral sex, even when it’s an act of the same sex, isn’t homophobic. The joke would only be homophobic if the one telling it were to joke about how immoral or disgusting or wrong the act is – something Colbert did not do. Basically, the joke is about how under Putin’s thumb Trump is – nothing more.
The joke was one that took me by surprise a bit, just because I’m surprised it was something CBS would allow on air, but as someone who studied journalism in school and respects the medium I was mostly thrilled that Colbert took the time to stand up for journalism at a time when the President demeans it almost daily.
Frankly, I find it incredible that late night hosts are getting more personal and emotional on their shows. It makes them more down to earth, more affable. And, it’s important to note that these shows have their names on them and thus they can do and say as they please, if the network allows it. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.