SNL: Melissa McCarthy Rules as Sean Spicer (Review)

 Saturday Night Live - Season 42

You have to love SNL for trying so hard to be “un-pc” on everything. They do have a reputation to protect and this last episode, with Kristen Stewart hosting, did its best to keep the show on its rebellious path. Although it does seem that smoking on stage, something that Kate McKinnon did during Stewart’s monologue, is their standard go to move to indicate cocking the snook at convention.

This week, however, on top of Alec Baldwin’s Trump cold open (which was brilliant and topical) there was the presentation of Melissa McCarthy with her scarily accurate mickey-take of Sean Spicer – the malignant and mentally challenged press secretary of POTUS Bannon Trump.

This was beyond perfect. Had the episode begun and ended with Baldwin and McCarthy, it would have been a 42 season highlight. These two segments were not only hysterically funny but so spot on that it hurt. This was comedy with a purpose.

SNL do have a reputation to making fun of whoever is in the white house and this cabinet of Trump’s (Kellyanne Conway, Spicer, Bannon et, al) are such easy targets it is like shooting fish in a barrel. (If the violent allusion is too much feel free to replace it with “taking candy from a baby…”)

With an open that had Trump “prank” calling world leaders, at the instigation of Bannon’s grim reaper SNL could have stopped there and still won in terms of comedic genius. (That final shot of Trump sitting at his little presidential desk was perfection.)

However, opting to follow this up with the Sean Spicer sketch was a bold and brilliant move. The easy target would have been Conway with her “Bowling Green” fictional massacre. The Internet got there first and it would have been difficult to pull off a comic coup after all those memes.

Taking a shot at Spicer, who comes across as some sort of vicious and addle brained Jack in the Box who pops up at press conferences to take pot shots at the press, was SNL magic.

The episode was, overall, a hit. Stewart’s monologue dredging up old @realDonaldTrump tweets from 2012, back when she and Robert Pattinson were an item, was a good move.  Her finish, where she declares that Trump obviously had a thing for her then boyfriend and that she was now, “so gay,” was on the nose.

Stewart should have hosted SNL years ago. The actress has always come across as a grumpy, taciturn and moody performer. This spot on SNL proved that Kristen has a sense of humour and is not afraid to use it.

The rest of the show fared pretty well. “Meet Cute” was pretty cute and funny. So too was the Willy Wonka riff where Charlie gets the hump when he realizes that his grandparents have always been able to walk was funny.

The pre-recorded Totinos advert with Kristen Stewart and Vanessa Bayer (reprising her housewife huckster role) was funny, well-timed (the Super Bowl is today) and allowed Stewart to “label” herself a little.

Coming in as another one of the husband’s friend’s date, Stewart zeroes in on Bayer and the two have a sort of Bergman-esque interlude in the kitchen while the men shout at the match and query about those missing Totinos.

This gag worked on so many levels and it was pure, unadulterated SNL.

The MVP award of the episode went to Leslie Jones for her portrayal of Samuel L. Jackson on Celebrity Family Feud. The moment where she has to fight corpsing, and almost loses the battle was brilliant. We love Leslie and she never ceases to make any sketch that bit more fun. She is even more lovable when she gets caught up in the hilarity of the moment.

Weekend Update, while funny, was not the winner of this episode. Although Michael Che came a close second to Jones when he had issues with his segment. “Shut up Colin.”

Musical guest Alessia Cara was entertaining but apparently a bit of an acquired taste.

The clear winners in this episode were Baldwin and McCarthy with their “dueling sketches.” Both were very funny but Melissa won in this competition with her podium attack on the press. Just brilliant.

Chelsea: LGBTQ Tell Me What It Means to You & Melissa McCarthy (Review)

Chelsea Handler on Netflix

What a difference a decade or two makes.  Chelsea Handler dedicated an entire episode to  explaining the new acronym LGBTQ, nee’ LGBT. Amusingly, Chelsea starts the show with a list of acronyms. She did, however, forget one, DUA (Don’t Use Acronyms) but let us discuss the newest letter added to the community organization that looks out for those who do not identify with being “straight.”  It stands for “Queer” which until recently was considered a rather inflammatory word.

Being called “queer” was the less PC version of gay and apt to really annoy the person given this label. It was, in the day, considered derogatory slang for being the opposite of heterosexual and was often accompanied by the even more inflammatory word – faggot. Now, however, the LGBT community have embraced this term  and added it to their banner. The mind boggles…

Chelsea had guests on her LGBTQ show apparently set up by which letter they represented. Glee’s Jane Lynch,  talked about being lesbian and  E.J. Johnson; television host and son of Magic Johnson fulfill the gay category. She also interviewed Carmen Carrera (the “T” in the acronym, aka trans) who married Adrien Torres.

Apparently the host of “Chelsea”  identifies with either the “B” or the “Q” of the gay community’s supportive group.  As there were guests on the show who represented each letter and no one was given the bisexual slot it makes sense that Handler opted to fill this one herself…

(On a sidenote, comedienne and actress Fortune Feimster counts as the second lesbian on the show – she identified herself as such at the episode’s opening sequence – giving the “L” word an unfair advantage…)

The other guest on this episode was trans doctor Marci Bowers who performs a huge amount of genital surgery to help those who need to change their genitalia to match their correct gender.  This was, perhaps the most informative part of the show.

Bowers revealed that all fetuses are female and that children know, or identify with, their gender by the age of two or three. Of course no show focusing on LGBT, and now Q, would be complete without a reference to Caitlyn Jenner and Bowers fulfilled this function perfectly with her connection to Jenner.

Chelsea’s next episode featured Melissa McCarthy, as a nod to the Ghostbusters reboot and McCarthy’s clothing line, and Zachary Quinto. The show also poked at the open wound that is FOX News by dissecting the sexual harassment  lawsuit facing Roger Ailes, the now former CEO of the network’s news section,  launched  by Gretchen Carlson.

One interesting observation revealed that female news anchors, or presenters, on FOX are all blonde, apparently.   The whole story is still evolving so presumably Chelsea will return to Roger Ailes and his red balls…or not.

McCarthy spoke about the new Ghostbusters and the ridiculous reactions to the all female reboot. She revealed that the incredibly good looking and talented Chis Hemsworth is also  sidesplittingly funny.  Chelsea was wearing one of McCarthy’s clothing creations.

Keeping on the sexual harassment theme, Chelsea and her two assistants speak to her lawyer about what constitutes harassment. It was amusingly informative.   Also keeping with the theme of guests with films opening, or just opening,  saw Quinto showing up to tout his latest project, Star Trek Beyond.

The interview also follows the previous episode’s LGBT (Q) theme as the “Zulu being gay” is brought up.  There is also a “Star Trek Four”  in the works according to Quinto and they talk about his taking ayahuasca. (Chelsea experimented with this in another episode.)  Quinto is, apparently, a huge fan of the hallucinogen and has gone back repeatedly  to take the drug.

The final guest on the second episode was NFL Patriots player Nate Exner who will be playing Rugby on the American team at the Rio Olympics this year.

Chelsea finished the show by  making fun of Melanie Trump’s plagiarized speech and her status as professional gold digger.

These two episodes were entertaining and funny, pretty much what we expect from Ms. Handler.  On a sidenote, it will be interesting to see if Roger Ailes and Gretchen Carlson do get a revisit a’la Sumner Redstone.

Chelsea is on Netflix and new episodes stream weekly.

SNL Review: Melissa McCarthy & Kanye West – Leslie Jones Rocks

SNL: Melissa McCarthy and Kanye West (musical guest and participant in one skit with Kyle Mooney) were the honorees on the February 13, and 13th episode of the 41st season of the long running comedy show.

Saturday Night Live - Season 41

SNL: Melissa McCarthy and Kanye West (musical guest and participant in one skit with Kyle Mooney) were the honorees on February 13, and, coincidentally,  the 13th episode of the 41st season of the long running comedy show. The opening sequence where an invisible Hilary Clinton (Kate McKinnon) tries her best to woo some voters away from Bernie Sanders, set the tone of the evening.

This open was oddly eclectic but spot-on as Clinton was in the news for earning as much as Bernie in the polls after he won New Hampshire by a landslide.

McCarthy was the host, obviously, because the new gender-changed Ghostbusters is out this year; premiering in July and just as obviously, Leslie Jones was given a bit more to do since she is a co-star in the upcoming re-imagining of the 80s classic.

Jones was on fire in this episode. Ruling Weekend Update with her diatribe about her perfect man for Valentine’s Day.  Possibly the best bit had to be wanting a man who can:

“cook a steak but not have to cut into it and see if it’s cooked like a little b*tch.”

This said while looking pointedly at Colin Jost…

Keeping on the Jones “fan train” a bit longer, the entire sketch about Pick Up Lines, was funny with McCarthy playing a psychotic single. As great as Melissa was with her “my uncle is a serial killer” she was not nearly as funny as Jones who kept losing it throughout the skit.

Leslie Jones specializes in playing over the top and in your face type characters that are hysterically funny. The performer’s demeanor always seems to be focussed on the performance at hand, yet McCarthy had her Ghostbusters co-star almost continuously corpsing.

Saturday Night Live - Season 41
Leslie Jones corpsing added a lot to the sketch…

Before any of the show’s skits started, Melissa came out and did a “glove under the seat” gag and then began celebrating her “fifth” time hosting until Keenan Thompson, dressed as a number 5, tells her that she has only hosted 4 and 1/16th time.

The highlight of Lorne Michaels and his writers continuing the show’s black awareness crusade, that began with the Oscars tempest in an award’s program (started by the Smiths…), was the fake film trailer for “The Day Beyonce Turned Black.”

This was hysterically funny and Keenan Thompson gets the best verbal joke out of the entire skit,  with Aidy Bryant  getting the best visual (a take-off on The Others),  when telling Kate McKinnon’s character that in the Pink Panther movie:

“Okay, yeah, she (Beyonce)  was white in that…”

Although McKinnon goes on to get the best “homage” moment when she replicates the “pillow” moment in The Babadook.

Up next was an excellent parody of those audience reaction promos for horror films, in this case “The Cul-De-Sac” (a horror film, obviously) and the audience have a chance to view their reactions to the movie before signing their release forms. McCarthy is beyond funny with her character’s OTT reactions that get more extreme with each event.

For the record: McCarthy vomits, pees herself, attacks other audience members and rushes out the emergency exit.

Peter Davidson was funny in the “watching a sex scene with your parents” gag.  McCarthy played the “hand’s on” mom and Bobby Moynihan the father and all three gave great “voice-over” as their character’s inner thoughts got increasingly desperate.

Next up was Kanye West’s first performance, obviously West was on to promote his new album The Life of Pablo that dropped on Saturday.

Weekend Update featured not just a winning performance from Jones but allowed Vanessa Bayer to rock it with her Rachel from Friends impression.  The next sketch was the Pick Up Lines one with McCarthy just killing Jones through the entire routine.

Not content with just singing twice on SNL. Kanye appears in a pre-taped segment where Kyle Mooney does a “mockumentary” about his true ambition; to be a hip-hop artist and rapper who will beat out Kanye West in a battle.

Interestingly shot and crafted well, the moment that Mooney meets with Kanye backstage and begins to awkwardly “bring it,” the whole thing comes together with the snap of a bear trap springing shut. West leaps into the “we miss the old Kanye” and slaughter’s Mooney and the wannabe rapper ends the sequence convinced that he won.

In honor of Jones and McCarthy’s teaming in the upcoming Ghostbusters film, they get to work together in a bus sketch where Melissa’s character rambles on about Roots and increasingly annoys Jones’ character.  As the type of person one wishes to avoid on public transport, McCarthy does her bit to help race relations…not.

The skit ends on a “Speed” note. Afterward the second, overly-long, Kanye number is performed; backed by Young Thugs. The final skit had McKinnon as the cat-lady with McCarthy as her partner.  Line of the night, which is the second reference to O.J. Simpson since the Weekend Update segment, goes to McKinnon:

“We call this cat O.J. because he’s orange like the juice and a murderer like the athlete.”

Saturday Night Live - Season 41
O.J. in the Valentine’s Cat Giveaway.

All in all a good show but not one where McCarthy actually killed it her fourth (and one sixteenth) time hosting.  The performer still seems to be channelling her inner Tammyalbeit a more svelte version.

SNL with its 13th episode of season 41 had a few outstanding moments and allowed Leslie Jones to rock it.  There was at least one mystery in the show and that was the T-Shirt that Kanye was sporting at the end of the show.

St. Vincent Bill Murray Gives Oscar Worthy Performance (Review/Trailer)

St. Vincent Bill Murray Gives Oscar Worthy Performance (Review/Trailer)

Bill Murray in St. Vincent gives an Oscar worthy performance in a comedy that makes one think and in at least two places in the film cry buckets of those hot schmaltzy tears which are guaranteed to embarrass the men in the audience. The tears are a real surprise as the film plays its comedic moments so well that when the plot takes a shift in direction the audience is caught flat footed and these sentimental moments hit all the harder because of it.

Ghostbusters 3 to be Bridesmaids With Ghosts

Ghostbusters 3 to be Bridesmaids With Ghosts

According to filmmaker Paul Feig Ghostbusters 3 is going to be Bridesmaids with ghosts. Of course the Bridesmaids director did not say that exactly, but he did tweet on Twitter that if he needed to call someone who is not afraid of “no ghosts,” it would be a bunch of funny women. Presumably like his cast on the 2011 female comedy, although he could have meant his 2013 film with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock The Heat except that there are not enough players in that to fill Ghostbusters shoes.