SNL: Drake – Was That Chris Rock? (Review)

Saturday Night Live - Season 41

Another ‘Saturday Night Live’ (SNL) another musical host doing double duty and to give Canadian rapper Drake credit he manages to get four tunes crammed into the show. In the first proper number, Chris Rock popped up to announce the rapper. Nice split second cameo by Rock who must be a fan.

Drake had the world’s shortest spoken monologue as it morphed into a rap about the performer being turned into memes on the Internet and it was funny. Mad props to the man Amanda Bynes had a love/hate Twitter crush on. The singer/songwriter has a self-depreciating sense of humor and he used it well.

The rapper/singer/songwriter did a pretty good job on the show, but unfortunately the material was a little lacking. The Jeopardy riff, sans Alex Trebek (or Will Farrell), was funny, it poked fun at Drake’s Canadian background and there were some pretty funny bits; like Drake using “fam” and giving Canadian answers to “American questions.”

It is interesting to note that Canadian rapper slang appears to have much in common with British gangster slang: Fam (family, gang), Beef (argument, problem) Blood (Bruh), et al. Another one of the skits, where the performer sneaks in another rap, is Drake’s Beef:

One of the funniest sketches of the evening has Drake as a secondary character to Beck Bennett as the “man-baby” (a recurring character for the SNL regular) and Bennett was truly hysterical. The gun and the signing paperwork on the floor had me in stitches. Admittedly it took some time for this comic’s baby act to amuse but the presidential replacement candidate gag was just perfection. Sadly it is not available to share from the SNL YouTube channel.

Bobby Moynihan as Captain Tornado was excellent. Poking fun at American Ninja was a great followup skit to Drake as the “drama queen” car rental clerk with no cars. In that particular skit, Drake was quite good but it was Jay Pharoah who killed it as the eclectic manager who offers up his own car for the price of a 2015 convertible.

Moynihan did provide a more consistent SNL moment, or two, with his “doing it for my peeps” contestant who loses his dignity in the competition:

Pharoah comes back and kills it later in the Weekend Update with more of his impressions, including his “Drake.” Although Jay had competition from McKinnon’s Russian peasant woman. Kate actually tied with Jay with her aggressive “blank-stare” which she directed to Colin Jost after his “God bless you,” and her response of “He never has and he never will.”

While Pharoah and McKinnon killed it with their respective guest spots on Update, it was Jost’s “Bathroom Bill” gag that not only won him a personal best on the news segment but the show as well and quite possibly for the entire season:

Drake’s dual function as host and musical guest was better than Russell Crowe‘s single function (You had one job Russell…) and while Drake was not hysterically funny, he was good enough. Sneaking those extra musical numbers into the show no doubt helped.

Black Jeopardy was funny although not as crushingly funny as the old Celebrity Jeopardy skits. The sketch did, however, prove that in term of American culture, if it is does not happen within these borders it does not exist. Slyly funny and, as mentioned above, a chance to see how well the old Canadian commonwealth resembles the UK in terms of language.

The PBS skit, that featured Drake in a “Tony Orlando” type get up with two female backup singers was a bit of a miss as was the chaperone sketch. The latter skit was the show’s closing comedic offering and it was not the best gag in the show.

Drake’s turn at hosting and singing for an episode was better than some of the other season 41 offering and had the added bonus of SNL alumnus Chris Rock popping up to introduce Drake’s first proper musical number.This was the penultimate episode of the season and the finale will air next week where the projected host is another SNL alumnus Fred Armisen and the musical guest will be Courtney Barnett.

Fresh Off the Boat: Miracle on Dead Street (Review)

IAN CHEN, FORREST WHEELER, RANDALL PARK

Fresh Off the Boat, the Huang family comedy that Eddie Huang refuses to support, reached a level place on Miracle on Dead Street. While based upon the memoirs of Huang, the network’s decision to make it into Everybody Hates Chris but with a family from Taiwan clearly does not set well with the restauranteur. Regardless of Eddie’s dislike of the show, it is moving into solidly funny territory, although many of the youthful cast members let the side down.

Randall Park gives a solid performance as the guy trying to live the American suburban dream.  Constance Wu is warming up a bit in this Halloween themed episode and it has to be said that the excitement felt by the father Louis, is real thing for those who have never experienced “first-hand” the juvenile world of trick or treat.

American’s either forget, or take for granted, the age-old custom of going from house to house as, Randall Park’s character puts it, “someone else.” The comedy from his character’s level in the episode works brilliantly. The “flashback” where Louis is dressed up like a KISS band-member  and throws candy at passer’s by below his brownstone window is funny.

The young actors who play the Huang children all acquit themselves very well. The gag of Hannibal Lector and Silence of the Lambs, treated and delivered as a throw-a-way joke,  was beyond priceless. These child actors, which is, perhaps, an outdated term, do well with their parts and the lines as written.

Hudson YangForrest Wheeler and Ian Chen kill it. They are infinitely believable when they act, there are no “dead” lines or awkward deliveries. Mad props to the boy who wants to go as the Traveling  Wilburys, he sells it, not once, but twice. Sadly not all the young actors on the show are as skilled at their craft.

Fresh Off the Boat airs sans the benefit of a studio audience. Looking at the show’s rankings on IMDb, this seems to be working. The theme of “fish out of water” or the outsider relishing all things American is solid and allows Park to shine.

The only other draw back of the show is how Constance Wu as Mrs. Huang is portrayed, but, as with the episodes themselves, her character is growing to become that bit more “likable.” As with Lucille Soong, who plays Grandma Huang, it is taking a little time to get used to the actor’s performance which may be down to the writer’s having trouble finding the two female characters’ voice.

The series is popular enough that ABC have ordered a full 22 episode second season. Another ABC sitcom to be given a boost is Dr. Ken, the network’s second Asian comedy program. The series, co-created by Ken Jeong,  has been given an order for a further “back nine.”  Each sitcom has its own comedic merits and both are funny despite have two very different production values and delivery systems.

Fresh Off the Boat is a series that doubles as a sort of time machine. Taking place back in the 1990’s and telling the tale of a Taiwanese family learning to “fit in” to their new country’s customs and traditions as well as learning how the suburbs differ from their urban background.  These types of scenarios are good for comedy and tragedy so it is no surprise that the comic angle has been chosen.

Eddie Huang is still not enamored with the version of his life that  ABC  has chosen to air.  The author and restauranteur has stated that he understands that comedy is generated by pain but that he hates what the network have done. Perhaps Huang could accept it if he was more into comedy as a trade rather than law, food and restaurants.  Chris Rock’s Everybody Hates Chris, is based upon his childhood,  which the comic says was not overly great either, but Rock turned his kid hood pathos into comedy, but then that is Chris’s specialty…Comedy.

Fresh Off the Boat is funny and the Halloween episode Miracle on Dead Street is the best installment of the show thus far. Randall Park is the undisputed star of the show and,  just as he almost stole the entire film The Interview, from co-stars Franco and Rogen, when he is in front of the camera he just kills it. The series airs Tuesdays on ABC.  Tune in and prepare to laugh, as well as cringe a little. Well worth watching this show, despite what Eddie Huang thinks…Sorry Eddie. 

Top Five: A Chris Rock Take on Celebrity (Review and Trailer)

Top Five: A Chris Rock Take on Celebrity (Review and Trailer)

Written, directed by and starring Chris Rock, Top Five is his take on Celebrity with its pitfalls, problems, fears and since this is Chris Rock, the comedy behind the fame. This is the second time that the 49 year old stand up comedian, actor, writer, director, and producer has donned three hats for a film. In 2007, Rock was also a “three man band” on I Think I Love My Wife and that film, which was a romantic dramedy, was pretty much panned by critics upon its release. This is Rock’s third time directing a feature length film and his fourth time directing, when including one episode of his television comedy series Everybody Hates Chris.

Carrie Underwood Brad Paisley Using Saturday Night Live Script at CMA?

Carrie Underwood Brad Paisley Using Saturday Night Live Script at CMA?

It has been a long standing tradition that the only people who think that Country Music Award presenters are funny are the presenters themselves, on ABCs CMA awards, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley tried to stack the humor deck in their favor by using the most recent Saturday Night Live script for their open. The two performers opened the award show last year and either were popular enough that the show’s organizers wanted them back or the they drew the short straw. There have been some complaints that they took things a bit too far with the not-so-good natured ribbing of Taylor Swift.

Saturday Night Live: Chris Rock Bringing it Back in His Monologue (Video)

Saturday Night Live: Chris Rock Bringing it Back in His Monologue (Video)

On the November 1 Saturday Night Live Chris Rock was bringing the show back to its roots in his opening monologue with edgy humor that used to be the mainstay of any Saturday Night Live broadcast. Relying on comedy that approached the boundaries of poor taste and, according to some, breached them. It has to be admitted that Chris Rock’s humor is not for everyone. Not quite an acquired taste but close, the comedian’s approach to topics of comedy has always been irreverent and “close to the bone.” Having the former cast member back on the show was obviously another move intended as a celebratory move for the SNL 40th anniversary series.