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The not as instant James Franco SNL Review!

September 21, 2008

12/20/09: If you’re looking for the review of yesterday’s James Franco/Muse episode, click here.

As previous entries have indicated, I’m a big fan of the live comedy. More improv & sketch than stand-up, but live comedy in general. I went to NYU, so I got the opportunity a few times to do standby for SNL. Standby is only for the crazy. You pretty much need to camp out in Rockefeller Center. For around twelve hours. They give out standby tickets at 7am, but good luck even getting a standby ticket if you get there at 7am. People start lining up Friday afternoon. Deciding that the weather was going to be good, that nobody would care about James Franco or Kings of Leon, and being giant James Franco lovers ourselves, this seemed like the perfect weekend to be crazy.

We showed up around 6:30pm and ended up being standby numbers 29-31 for dress rehearsal. I’ve been to both dress rehearsal and the live show, and I’m a fan of dress. It’s longer, you see things that are cut out, and you can still be home in time to watch it on tv.

I spent a decent amount of the 11.5 hours in line speaking with a friend about the Jonas Brothers. She writes for M Magazine.

Things I learned about the JoBros:

  • Since Kevin is Paul Kevin Jonas II, his signature is something like K2.
  • Nick got his first purity ring at Disney World (but they don’t like talking about that stuff, Russell Brand).
  • They all have iPhones and a Blackberry and make a bajillion more dollars than me, which is why Nick can rent out Dodger Stadium for his birthday party.
  • Kevin likes orange Sunkist soda.
  • Joe likes cream pies.
  • Frankie Jonas is the most adorable child ever.
  • Anyways. SNL/NBC run such a well-oiled machine. A well-oiled chaotic machine. So even though we went through the metal detector, I still had some pretty serious doubts about whether we would get in. And they only let 20 people up, which was depressing… until they asked for 12 more. We were in!

    As we walked to our seats (which were very far in the back and up in the corner), Sudeikis was in the process of warming up the crowd. He mentioned that everybody was going to enjoy themselves, except for us, because we were heading to the worst seats in the house and wouldn’t see anything. But hey! At least we’d get to hear it! When you walk in and Jason Sudeikis makes a joke about you, you know you’ve made it. Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen came out and played “Hanging on the Telephone” by Blondie, which is a song I was randomly obsessed with in college for no reason.

    It’s pretty impressive to watch them move around the sets and scenery, to watch the host and cast members have to start running after every sketch for the next costume change because THERE’S NO TIME AHHH.

    It’s great.

    The other thing that I should note is that SNL is much, much funnier in person. There are scenes that I thought were funnier in person that I thought were a little flatter on TV. And there were scenes that I didn’t think were that funny in person that ended up being even less funny on TV, so.. keep that in mind as you read this. I’m biased from the live experience.

    Cold Open — SNL had A LOT of buzz after the Clinton/Palin sketch next week, and unfortunately I think this somewhat missed the mark. They did actually manage to tackle several campaign issues (the dirtiness of the campaign, Palin’s experience level, McCain’s lack of knowledge about technology), and it was packaged well. I’m sure they’re all truly upset that next week’s debates are on Friday. That will be a long night for the crew — you know they’re going to have to be there until around 3am writing sketches and Update jokes based on that. Oh, the life and times of political comedians.

    Monologue — James Franco looks like the happiest person ever to be hosting SNL, so I think that this will be a good show. I don’t know why, but his giant smile is telling me so. If he is smiling so huge right before he plunged into a not funny show, I will be disappointed.. I love Kevin Wo.

    Cougar Den — They are really good at hiding Amy Poehler’s belly. It’s impressive, actually. I have no idea why Cameron Diaz is there. It’s so random and unexpected. Like, hey, we only have three chicks on the show, so we need another! Emo James Franco is still beautiful. And that is all I will say about his looks, scouts honor. The more sketches I see her in, the more I’m really starting to like Casey Wilson. Which is good, because there will be only two girls on SNL soon. I’m suprised they didn’t start the season with another featured girl.

    Agent 420 — Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis are pretty much my two favorite castmembers. I enjoy seeing the two of them together, especially when they’re interrupted by Saul–er Agent 420. Kristen Wiig is the show’s new singer now that Maya is gone. In dress rehearsal, this sketch was about an hour later than it was used here. And it ended with them all collapsed on the floor.

    OJ Simpson Jury — I was about 90% certain this sketch would be cut, and not only is it still here, they moved it up. The only part I really like is James Franco’s flip out. “SERIOUSLY! AM I HIM?!” Bobby Moynihan should stick to anthropology sketches like this character. I love Andy Samberg’s alien makeup, it distracts me from Kenan’s bad OJ Simpson make-up. Before this sketch, Bill Hader (who just seems all around jolly and likes to wave at people in the crowd) caught us looking at him and made faces and waved to us. Hooray! Thank you for acknowledging us in the back in our one random three person section (there are no rows in front of us, and our view was pretty blocked by cameras, as Jason Sudeikis apparently knows all to well).

    Digital Short — This really is every CW show ever. The short was edited, which is sad, because we miss the great teen show exchange of “What’s your name?” “What does it matter?” The older people trying to act like they’re 15. The Blake Lively. Sometimes I wonder where Andy Samberg thinks of these things. Late night dreams?

    TNT Shows – The Looker — I don’t know what it is about this, but I find it hysterical. Maybe it’s James Franco’s greasy ponytail. Maybe it’s Fred Armisen’s ability to stare creepily and expressionlessly for so long. Maybe it’s Sudeikis’ delivery of “Sonuvabitch!” Too bad the camera guy turned away as Franco delivered the, “WHY ARE YOUR GLASSES SO SMALL?” yell. Why are her glasses so small? And so creepy?

    Kings of Leon “Sex on Fire” — Let’s be honest. I came into this not liking Kings of Leon. Though in a close-minded, I heard a few songs of theirs a couple of years ago and saw them live and just could care less. I thought they were gross and untalented. They’ve cleaned up a bit and started writing better songs, and I really like this, actually. Thank you, SNL for converting my opinion. And now I need to buy this album. I am kind of in love with Caleb Followill’s voice. Even if he looks pretty nervous. People on TV should avoid chewing gum. I’m talking to you, Nathan Followill.

    Weekend Update — Seth Meyers doesn’t really do much as a cast member on SNL anymore, so I live for seeing him and Amy on Weekend Update. They have always worked well together, and it’s sad to think that those days are numbered. I find Seth Meyers to be a completely underrated straight man (in comedy, yo), but I suppose he’s busy doing the writing thing. Jason Sudeikis’ chest hair! Yes! Below that barrel he is wearing black dress socks and black shoes. It’s pretty hilarious to watch someone walk across a set in a barrel with long dress socks. It’s even weirder to see someone walking around in their green underwear. Thank you, Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen. After both were done, Seth remaked that “It’s interesting when the best dressed guest was a guy in a barrel.” Weekend Update is probably my favorite part of dress rehearsal, because Amy and Seth clearly have so much fun with it and are not afraid to screw around at dress. Before the George Takei joke, Seth actually stopped and started cracking up. He asked Amy for some Rosie Perez inspiration, which is great, because she does the best Rosie Perez impression ever, seriously. It can be so bad and so good at once. Amy also had a joke that she messed up on, which sadly ended up being cut. “Brad Pitt donated money to support gay marriage. He wants to be ready when Clooney finally proposes.” She said “Cloonily” the first time, which turned into a little segment.

    AMY: That’s what I’ll say when I meet him. “Cloonily I’ve met you!”
    SETH: And he will say, “SECURITY!”
    AMY: How’d you get into my trailer?

    The Paw & Order joke was originally what closed out Weekend Update, but they moved it up earlier on because it didn’t get too many laughs. Until they started playing the sound over and over. Seth wants you all to know that him and Amy watch a lot of L&O because they are “hip and cool.”

    NY Times — I am not the hugest fan of this sketch. Though Will Forte being obsessed with polar bears is fantastic. This sketch was originally much earlier in the show, I’m glad it was rearranged. And sad it wasn’t cut all together, actually. So many polar bear deaths just lead me to believe that Sarah Palin is right in being a polar bear hater. Only not, because I love polar bears.

    Of Mice & Men alternate ending — So, seriously, of the three sketches I thought would get cut, all three have been in the live show. This is weird. Though I do find this hilarious. I’m also confused by the amount to which Bobby Moynihan has been used. It’s only been two episodes, of course, but they usually don’t use the new guys too much straight away. James Franco should always dress like he is in this sketch, though, because it’s fantastic. This one really appeals to the lit geek in me.

    Yankee Stadium Stories — I love this. Amy Poehler Is Rosie Perez. “Throw me the meatball!” Man, Yankee Stadium. I’m going to miss you. It’s nice to be at SNL this weekend and sit in the Yankee Stadium seats. The seats in the balcony of the SNL studio are on-loan from George Steinbrenner. He told Lorne that he wanted the chairs back when the show was cancelled. Oh, useless information that you learn on the NBC Experience tour (very fun tour by the way. I’d recommend taking it before Conan leaves for California). There actually were three shown at dress, one with Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, and another with Russell Simmons and .. I’m not really sure who Amy Poehler was supposed to be. Courtney Love? I missed the caption.

    Kings of Leon “Use Somebody” — I am in love with this song. Unfortunately for Lil Wayne last week, the SNL set isn’t a great place for hip-hop performances, but the hollow space is fairly perfect for a haunting rock song. And Nathan is still chewing gum. He was chewing gum at dress, too, so we’re running on like five hours of gum chewing. Nice.

    Willem Dafoe — This was my favorite sketch hands down. I love that they make fun of James Franco’s squintiness. Bill Hader looks nothing like Willem Dafoe, but this is still hilarious. Andy Samberg’s impression of Willem Dafoe is amazing, and spot on, clearly. And making fun of the mirror scenes from Spider-Man are great. It’s the Michael Phelps Diet way of ending a show. End it with a great sketch so you can forget that they put some duds in there.

    Closing — Good times. I like that James Franco pointed Blake Lively out, because she’s not on stage, but I’ve been informed that the whole Gossip Girl cast was at the show tonight. Chace Crawford actually showed up for dress, as well, because he knows as well as we do that the SNL experience is totally worth it. Also, he’s beautiful, and wanted to make sure that I could see his beauty and stare at him with my head cocked to the side. Sigh. I am still curious as to why Cameron Diaz was there. It makes little sense to me. Have James Franco and Cameron Diaz even ever been in a movie together? According to IMDB, they were in The Holiday together. ..Ok.

    The photos before/after commercials were stunningly good this episode, both for James Franco and Kings of Leon. Of course, James Franco is stunningly photographic, so that probably helps.

    What WAS Cut is sad, because there were some really good ones in there:
    A sketch in which James Dean and Liberace are in a movie together was a little too long, and only had a few funny moments, but it was worth it to see James Franco do his James Dean some more (if you haven’t seen the James Dean movie that aired on TNT a few years ago, it’s worth a rental) and Fred Armisen as Liberace was fun. I can understand why they cut it, but I’m disappointed. And since they did cut it, and we all sometimes need our James Franco as James Dean fix, I present to you, acting lessons with James Franco. James and his brother Dave(y) recreate a scene from Rebel Without a Cause. Brilliance.

    The Suze Orman Show, which is always great, though, yes, too long. Kristen needed to review all of the cue cards before feeling ready to sit at Suze’s desk. Then she nailed everything. Kristen Wiig, you are amazing. A website which is already fully functional, so I have no doubt that they will be airing this commercial at some point in the future.

    And perhaps one of my favorite sketches of the night involved James Franco as the manipulative boyfriend that Kristen Wiig wants to break up with. Only she can’t, because he manipulates people by crying hysterically and telling them what he wants them to do. By the end of the scene, he tries to get Amy Poehler and Casey Wilson to take off their shirts and kiss each other while Kristen is in the kitchen making the pasta (and garlic bread, etc, etc) that he bought to make for her. This was sold on James Franco’s amazing ability to cry hysterically and speak at the same time. But I guess not to Lorne. Boo.

    There was also an awful sketch involving old men trying to schedule a meeting but having to many other weird appointments, including one involving a glory hole.

    Thank you, Urban Dictionary, for all of your help through the years.

    9 Comments leave one →
    1. sandy permalink
      September 21, 2008 8:52 pm

      did you personally see any of the GG cast?
      and sounds like hella fun you had!

    2. September 21, 2008 9:04 pm

      Sandy — Kim told me something crazy like how she was IN AN ELEVATOR WITH CHACE CRAWFORD, which was wholly jealousy-inducing.

      I live in Miami. There is nothing fun like that going on here. WOE.

    3. September 21, 2008 9:14 pm

      whoa, whoa. i wasn’t in an elevator with him. i saw him getting into the “important people only” stairway while i was waiting for the elevator. he told some girl that it was really nice to see her again and was genuinely nice (and my sources say that he is, in fact, genuinely nice in general) and then walked off, while i just stared because he was only about five feet away from me.

      not as cool as being in an elevator with him, but close.

      i heard that the rest of the cast was supposed to show up for the live show (not sure if it was EVERYONE, but it was probably at least Blake, Penn & Chace) and that Chace ended up coming down for dress as well. woo!

    4. September 21, 2008 9:29 pm

      Apparently in my spare time I make up exaggerated interactions in my head for Kim to have with beautiful celebrities. SORRY.

    5. sandy permalink
      September 22, 2008 1:20 am

      lol thanks girls!

    6. amanda permalink
      September 22, 2008 5:18 pm

      apparently cameron diaz played that role in previous episode of snl…. also, in the third yankee stadium sketch, amy was supposed to be the bassist of sonic youth.

    7. September 29, 2008 3:55 am

      I didn’t see all of the show, somehow I missed the Willem Dafoe one, which now seems like the best one. I’ll have to wait til I find a clip of it I guess, I’m so extremely late! 😦

    8. Steph permalink
      November 5, 2008 8:55 pm

      I’m glad you had fun. Check out Franco’s latest…

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