Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Anatomy Of An SNL Backstage Video

Vanessa Bayer…
* COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED TO BE A PART OF THIS!  I'm not sure I've seen anyone with a brighter, more face-busting smile than Vanessa Bayer.  Her face has no default mode between normal and overjoyed.  And, by normal, I mean looking intently at the cue cards to make sure she says every line correctly, i.e. the expression on her face during most of her sketches.

Bobby Moynihan….
* Just Passin' By!  I want to believe that Moynihan was literally just walking by when they pulled him into the doorway and handed him a light.  Unless he's one of the cracker-uppers in the background, Moynihan just keeps a straight face through the whole thing and wears the hell out of that newsboy cap.  God, I wish I could pull off a newsboy cap, but they don't properly on my giant egg-shaped head. 

Fred Armisen/Picture Of Fred Armisen…
* Fred's just dropping by, peeking in, flashing a flashlight to join in on the fun.  Like Moynihan, he may not know what's going on; if you heard any Saturday Night Live cast member just randomly walked around backstage flickering a flashlight at people, there is a 100 percent chance everyone would guess it's Armisen.  The man is a human performance art piece.

* Okay, it's not actually Armisen, but rather just a picture of him on the wall.  I'll be honest, I didn't get quite a good enough look to be sure, but I'm 90 percent sure it's a picture.  Notice that Taran didn't mention Fred during his intro, so yeah, I'm guessing he wasn't there.  Then again, not being mentioned in an intro is a very hipster, Armisen-ian thing to accomplish.

Abby Elliott….
* Trying to keep a straight face and failing miserably.  It's notable since I'm not sure I've seen Elliott break in her three-plus years on SNL, so since technically this wasn't actually on the show, her Hartman Streak* is still intact.  Still, her break in this video was probably why she and Armisen split up**; surely a deep, deep, deep character comedian like Armisen can't abide breaking character in even a candid video. 

* The legendary Phil Hartman was renowned for being such a pro that he stayed in character at all times, no matter what was happening around him.  The most famous example of this was Hartman's performance in the first Matt Foley sketch; Farley is going nuts with one of his greatest routines, David Spade and Christina Applegate are openly busting up, Julia Sweeney was reportedly cracking off-camera and yet Hartman stayed completely straight-faced.  In eight years on SNL, Hartman only broke character once, laughing during a "Tonto, Tarzan and Frankenstein Sing" skit, and when his astonished castmates asked him why he finally broke after all these years, Hartman admitted it just dawned on him how stupid the premise of the sketch was.  Phil Hartman Is Better Than You.

** = Elliott and Armisen were reportedly dating soon after Armisen's divorce from Elisabeth Moss.  I think I may need to produce some sort of documentary and/or oral history of the Armisen-Moss marriage.  They meet in October 2008 when Moss cameos on SNL, they're married within a year, and they're divorced within another year.  Neither of them talk about it except when Moss recently said, "One of the greatest things I heard someone say about him is, ‘He’s so great at doing impersonations. But the greatest impersonation he does is that of a normal person.' To me, that sums it up.”  Zing!  Ice cold burn!***

*** = I also just realized that having asterisks doesn't really work since I'm using bullet points as the format for this post.  D'oh.

* Like the Armisen picture, Robyn exists in absentia.  Since I'm consistently about two years behind the times in popular music, I'd never heard "Call Your Girlfriend" before Robyn performed it on SNL last fall.  Hell, I hadn't even wrapped my head around the fact that this Robyn was the same Robyn from "Show Me Love" fame back during my high school days.  What next, is Deborah Cox going to release another hit single?  Anyway, Robyn has been quietly cranking out hits in Europe for the last 15 years and now she's back, in pog form, taking America by storm.  I may or may not have had 'Call Your Girlfriend' stuck in my head for the last six months.

Zack and Sarah….
* who cares, they're just WRITERS.  Ha, take that, people who create the show!  Am I just bitter since you've got my dream job of writing for SNL?  NO.  FUCK YOU FOR ASKING.  Also, the fact that two of the writers and half the cast were making this video instead of writing sketches perhaps explains why the Katy Perry/Robyn episode wasn't very good.  This is not related whatsoever to this video clip, but Ben Folds' song "Zak and Sara" (from the best album of 2001) is really excellent. 

Taran Killan….
* This isn't just some guy fucking about at 4:30 AM, he is doing his best to replicate those dance moves.  That's work ethic.   

* Apparently is SNL's next big breakout star according to….well, everyone.  As that Vulture article notes, Killan seems like the heir apparent to Jason Sudeikis' poor man's Hartman-esque ability to play straight men as well as crazy guys in sketches.  This is all well and good, and I like Killan and everything, but let's wait for Killan to find at least one really funny signature character before we anoint him the new king of the show.  And, also, let's acknowledge the fact that SNL usually isn't very good overall when there is a "king of the show" --- the Eddie Murphy era was pretty dry outside of Eddie Murphy, the Kristen Wiig era hasn't even enjoyed the benefit of Wiig being funny more than half the time and the Will Ferrell era didn't even become the Will Ferrell era until he left, SNL sucked for much of the next three years and everyone realized how much he carried the show.  Saturday Night Live is at its finest when the ensemble as a whole is strong and you can make the argument that a few different cast members are the MVPs.

* If nothing else, Killan has at least usurped Sudeikis' role as the guy who's dating above his pay grade.  Sudeikis dated January Jones and is now seeing Olivia Wilde; Killan is engaged to Cobie Smulders.  Not to be outdone, a woman sent me a message on Plenty Of Fish asking "u got cancer?"  Sigh.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

This post, not unlike the video in question, is awesome.

I think you're pretty bang on in your analysis. Especially Moynihan.

RE: Armisen I'm pretty sure that's a reflection and he's filming it.

And Killan does do a great job, comparatively:

I too can't get the song out of my head, that's the price of watching SNL I guess.