Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Zach on SNL

With great anticipation, I watched my DVR recording of the most recent SNL with Zach Galifianakis as host. Choosing him as host could be inspired -- if he were allowed to do his thing, not simply plugged in to weak sketches.

I'm happy to report SNL did exactly that, giving Zach more time with the opening monologue to perform as he does as a stand-up, with even a little bit of his trademark surreal one-liners delivered while playing piano.

The episode wasn't completely a slam dunk -- time was wasted on the pointless and unfunny recurring Kenan Thompson sketch, "What's Up With That?" -- but there were at least two other pieces where Zach's sensibility reigned.

What could have been a terrible sketch -- one where he played half of a couple (with Kristen Wiig) obsessed with the bidet in their hotel room, worked mostly because of Zach's reading of lines and phrases like "bidet-wise." And the other piece, one that Zach might not have put together on his own, featured him strolling through the backgrounds of various other shows. The greatest of these being where he was obnoxiously talking on his phone right behind Law & Order's two detectives as they surveyed a murder scene -- saying, "Yeah, I'm right here on the set of Law & Order right now," and disrupting the actors into asking for another take.

Just coming up with two memorable and potentially classic skits with a host like Zach, who has his own distinct comedic sensibility, ought to show what SNL could have if it went more in this direction picking hosts -- less Jennifer Lopez or Taylor Lautner and perhaps, even more, Betty White -- as some online speculators have proposed. She's certainly got comedy chops. Failing that, how about one of Zach's fellow "Comedians of Comedy," like Patton Oswalt or Maria Bamford?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vegas Memories

While in Las Vegas, it’s hard to resist one of the new modernized burlesque shows. But if you go to “Fantasy” at the Luxor, you’re in for an unexpected surprise. Comedic impressionist and performer Sean E. Cooper pop ups between costume and set changes, entering suddenly at first with a James Brown impression emphasizing the Godfather of Soul’s sometimes unintelligible speech.

Cooper is self-effacing, remarking “I bet you’re wondering what’s going on here and where have all the girls gone,” but gets the audience on his side very quickly with other impressions throughout the show, especially of Tina Turner and of Michael Jackson. And in both of these he teases the lucky guy who was picked from the audience to romp onstage with the girls, flirting while in drag as Turner and crotch-grabbing as Jackson while remarking about him.

It takes a great performer for you not to mind that the girls in a show like this are offstage, but Cooper pulls it off.