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The SNL Blog: James Franco And Muse

December 20, 2009

Another week, another SNL. I again had the privilege of attending dress rehearsal, but since we were all blizzarded and hilarious partied out, I didn’t get to take notes the same way I usually do. I am a huge fan of Jimmy Franks and I enjoy Muse, despite the fact that they are one of those bands whose songs criminally all sound the same (like Everclear or Incubus). It’s a really good song, and they’re supposedly a fantastic live band, so I’m looking forward to it.

Also, side bar, but James Franco on General Hospital is easily my favorite thing to have happened in the media this year. Let’s watch a moment, shall we?

Pure genius.

Cold Open: The cold open this evening was supposed to be a meeting of Democratic Senate members negotiating with Joe Lieberman, but they couldn’t even agree on what kind of food to order. It was long and painful, and it obviously was cut, so they switched Lawrence Welk to cold open. James Franco starts off by showcasing how much he cannot sing or dance, and he’s either sick or really threw his voice out all week. People seem to love this sketch, but I’ve never really been a fan of Kristen Wiig’s baby armed Judith. It’s kind of hilarious, though, that SNL has had such switch over with the girls in the cast since none of the three normal gals were in this sketch before. There are three things that I enjoy in this sketch, Judith fondling the snow man, James Franco pushing her away by the forehead, and the shot of him running past Lawrence Welk at the end while Judith eats the snow.

Monologue: To be completely honest, clip from General Hospital (and his smiley reaction to it) aside, I’m not the biggest fan of the monologue. There’s something about his line delivery that seems off to me. He’s yelling and scrunching his face too much, and it’s just weird. The picture of him sleeping in class is real, though. There are also a bunch of stories about him sleeping in the NYU library. “Higginsville, Kansas, what’s up?”

Has anybody been watching the reformatted Scrubs? Dave Franco is on it, and he is basically mini-James. I’ve seen Dave in other things before (mainly on Funny or Die), and it hasn’t hit me until Scrubs. See for yourself:

What Up With That?: They did this sketch a few weeks ago, and it was completely miserable. James Franco was on for no reason, which was actually pretty funny.. for no reason. This time around the guests are Jack McBrayer and Mike Tyson. During the dress rehearsal, Mike Tyson got up and danced randomly like three times ON HIS OWN. It wasn’t scripted, he just wanted to dance apparently. This one ended up being funnier than the previous incarnation, and I’m not sure why.

Maybe because Sudeikis really went all out with the dancing. I mean, honestly, there’s no point in watching anything other than Sudeikis in this sketch, maybe with a little of Andy’s John Stockton involved. And Jack McBrayer’s cheerful/confused clapping. And Will Forte’s robot past the screen.. also great. Oh, funny dancing, you don’t get old to me. Poor Lindsay Buckingham never gets to speak, but Bill Hader gets me EVERY. TIME.

Kissing Family: Again with the sketches that have been done before.. There’s nothing new here, so I have nothing to add except that it was nice to see James Franco really go for it. That’s some serious tongue he got in Will Forte’s mouth. Hader went for it, too, but that’s nothing new. Hader and Armisen kissing and arguing in the background even though they’re not even on screen is pretty amazing.

The Tizzle Wizzle Show: I honestly don’t know what it is about this digital short, but it made me laugh for about a minute after it ended. I can’t help it. I’m so amused by everything. The clapping, the Franco thumbs up, etc.

Hail to the King! Apparently Akiva Schaffer is going off to direct a movie, so I don’t know who will be directing the digital shorts in the meantime.

The Manuel Ortiz Show: I take back what I said about funny dancing getting me everytime, because this sketch is not so funny. “He was con mi!” Kristen’s dancing is great, Franco’s is .. well, he dances about as badly as humanly possible. I do enjoy his Latin lover posture, though. They cut Jason Sudeikis out of this sketch as the doctor who would be the next guest to discuss colon cancer.

Muse – “Uprising”: Oh, Muse. I feel like they held back a lot here, like they would blow the studio to smithereens if they played at full force. The lights create a great effect on TV that wasn’t as powerful in the studio. And everything that Matthew Bellamy is wearing was glittery. Except maybe the flag shirt. YEAH MUSE.

Weekend Update: It’s our weekly moment with Seth Meyers. Cut from Update were Kenan as Ebony Santa and Andy Samberg doing his spot-on Nicolas Cage impersonation. Sad, but Bobby’s Snooki and Fred and Kristen deserved to make it on.

My favorite joke of the night? “Sarah Palin was photographed in Hawaii this week wearing a McCain for President visor, but she had blacked out the letters of her former running mate’s name. She was going to black out all of it, but halfway through, she quit.”

Bill Hader coming in and dancing as The Situation just might be my favorite part of this entire episode. I’ve never watched Jersey Shore, so I can’t say whether or not this is accurate, but I saw a clip on The Soup of “The Situation” showing his abs during some video game awards, so I’m assuming it is. IT’S NOT A DEROGATONY WORD. The fact that you can see where Snooki’s orange skin ends and Bobby’s skin shows thorugh (and his chest hair), makes this even funnier to me.

Garth and Kat’s little made-up songs make me laugh. Now, since they’ve obviously rehearsed and there are cue cards, I don’t know how much is improved, but it seems pretty apparent that a lot of it is improvised. Fred and Kristen lost it a lot more in dress, and Seth joined in and sang a bunch, adding that they were singing his favorite song.

Hell Week: Despite Andy’s awful wig, I kind of love this sketch. Andy is a freshman pledging a frat full of people who can’t read, do math, tie shoe laces or understand where babies come from. Everyone in this sketch kind of lost it at dress when they handed him the lite beer and it was diet coke. I lost it, too. Sudeikis looks so worried about the tiny people in the TV. “WHAT’S AN OBAMA?” “YEAH, WHAT IS IT?” “Want to go back to your stork?” “Yeah, from earlier!” High five!

Vincent Price Christmas Special: You are a cat in an empty apartment. This is probably the weakest Vincent Price sketch, but since they’re always so great, that doesn’t mean it was bad. I love Kristen’s Katharine Hepburn, though she is cue card reading all over the place, and snapping the raccoon’s neck was pretty disturbing. Having Franco do James Dean is uninspired, but still pleasant.

“Who does four second asbestos commercials?!”

Christmas Trees: This sketch is just weird. In a bad way. Except Jason Sudeikis is so handsome buying a tree. At least Franco is game for anything.

Muse – “Starlight”: I’m not a big fan of this song. It’s Muse trying to be U2, and I’m (shock!) not that big into U2. I wish that they had rocked out with this song, too. Played “Hysteria” or something.

Dildo Factory: They’ve tried to do this sketch a million times and succeeded very few. This one is KIND of funny, and short enough that it doesn’t bother me too much. CAROL, HOLD MY CALLS. Ted Fields is allergic to himself, because he’s the dildo here.

Mark Wahlberg Talks to Christmas Animals: This sketch is great, but it obviously got condensed with the fact that it went on WITH ONE MINUTE TO GO. Also, I think that someone must have poked Don Pardo awake considering he started it with “This has been Mark Wahlberg Talks to Christmas Animals” instead of “And now, Mark Wahlberg talks to Christmas animals” or something. I can’t even pretend that I don’t find this amazing. Now I’mma talk to a partridge. Where’s your pear tree? OH. There it is. Hey, snowman, I like your stick hands. I have real hands, but we can still hang out.

I’ll stop transcribing this now… I am just so into this. YOU HEAR ME RUDOLPH? AN AMAZON KINDLE.

Credits: Show ran long, so it’s a miracle they got any credits in and Franco obviously was cut-off midsentence. If you watch on Hulu, you can get the full thing! Including shots of Will Forte pulling off his bald cap, which is kind of scary.

In retrospect, the show was funnier than my initial reaction to it. Maybe because I’ve now seen each of the sketches three times (dress, live and replaying it now) and they’ve grown on me. James Franco’s episode last year was HILARIOUS, so I’m sad this didn’t live up to it. We’ll be back in 2010 with Charles Barkley and Alicia Keys. Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Happy holidays, all!

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