Saturday Night Live
Play It Again Fred
Perhaps Semisonic said it best: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
This weekend marked the 38th season finale of Saturday Night Live, arguably one of the best runs the NBC variety show has seen in recent years. This is thanks in large part to fresh featured members like Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon as well as the new repertory cast of Taran Killam, Vanessa Bayer, Bobby Moynihan, and Nasim Pedrad. These relatively young comedians were able to fill the hole made last season by the departures of heavy-hitters Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg and Abby Elliott, and gave the show, in the words of Bill Hader, “a new sensibility.”
“There’s a joy in seeing a new move from somebody and going, ‘Oh, she can do that,’” Mr. Hader told The New York Times last week.
One of the reasons I don’t see live music much anymore (in addition to all the reasons that come with being a grumpy old tossup, such as “it’s too damn loud”) is that the era of smartphones has undone the very reason live performance exists. The notion of a small, sweaty room devoting its full Read More
The lights were bright, the music poppy and the toys plentiful at the opening of the Wired pop-up store party in Soho last week. Incoming editor in chief Scott Dadich greeted the crowd with a big smile and a lot of handshaking. He was splitting town for San Francisco soon—he starts at his new post in early January. Mr. Dadich looked Bay Area-appropriate in a jaunty tie designed by his wife and black-and-white Burberry sneakers to go with his suit.
“He looks like Ron Burgundy,” a friend noted.
The crowd gravitated toward the dance floor, where ?uestlove pumped out songs that made the Transom nostalgic for bar mitzvah music. Among the guests we spotted This American Life host Ira Glass and actress Amber Tamblyn, the latter trying out a new Chromebook. Kinect stations at the Buick Verano Turbo activation lined the sides of the room, and nobody seemed too old to wave his or her arms wildly.
Big Apple Idolatry
The third season of everyone’s favorite IFC comedy-sketch show is fast upon us, with Portlandia slated to begin on January 4. In advance of the inevitable onslaught of new hipsterisms, hereto-unknown eccentricities and brand new organic fetishes, The Observer cornered co-creator Fred Armisen about what new “dreams of the Nineties” he would bring to life. Read More
Saturday Night Live
- Fresh off his Broadway run in Chicago, Usher will be kicking his feet up in one of those swivel pods on the third season of The Voice. He and Shakira will be taking over for Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo Green, who are vacating their judges’ chairs on NBC’s hit music contest. Of coorse, Usher has an ace card up his sleeve to win over any waffling young talent. It’s two words, and rhymes with Bustin Tweezer.
After the somewhat lackluster return of Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live this weekend, we had to ask “What’s up with that?” Obviously, Will Ferrell is hilarious, but the sketches were hit and miss. It’s especially mind-boggling since Hulu has put up several of the un-aired segments from Mr. Ferrell’s episode that were ten times funnier than what we actually saw on television.
This is an inexplicable trend of the live comedy show in recent years: One of the funniest sketches this season was “The Californians,” a soap opera about navigating the drive up to Malibu. Bill Hader’s struggle to keep it together during the bit made it an instant classic and spawned a thousand GIFs. (Unlike his predecessor Jimmy Fallon, Mr. Hader’s struggle not to crack up on stage makes any sketch 1,000 times funnier.) But even better than the version that actually made it to air was the dress version of ‘The Californians,’ which Hulu offers with several other scenes from past seasons that either never aired or just weren’t as funny when they did.
We understand the idea of having “web extras” as supplemental material, but not at the expensive of the actual show. Why bother tuning in when the funny stuff is only going to be online? Below, we compare and contrast these un-aired clips with the version that made it on TV…as well as some bits that never got off the Internet.
New York Comic Con
First, a little bit of back story: The night before The Observer was to go to the screening party for the sequel season of Portlandia, the IFC comedy show starring Saturday Night Live fixture Fred Armisen and Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein, an Irishman stepped on our lighter in a bar. In exchange for the gaffe, the gentleman offered us a fist-sized piece of homemade organic chocolate truffle, wrapped in decorative foil. How sweet!
As we dashed our way to the Museum of Natural History last night in order to see what could possibly top the catchphrase “Put a Bird On It,” we split the giant confection with a fellow famished coworker. Which would have all been fine, if we hadn’t made the completely understandable mistake of confusing “chocolate truffles” for “chocolate-covered mushrooms.” No, not truffle mushrooms. The other kind. (In hindsight, putting actual truffle mushrooms into chocolate doesn’t make any sense either.)
We guess that’s why your parents warned you never to take organic candy from strangers. Ooh look, there’s Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig! Are those two glowing, or is just the hallucinogens kicking in?
Today is the official start date of New York’s annual Comic Con, the sad stepbrother of San Diego’s way more famous nerd convention. Still, New York has its fair share of amazing graphic novel writers and artists (which was what Comic Con is all about, right?), and DC and Marvel have spent a good chunk of cash flying out some big name celebrities for panels as well.
How much Portland is in “Portlandia?”
The new show, which premiered Friday on IFC, depicts a eco-friendly wonderland where the denizens of this magical Portlandia enjoy a rigorous pursuit of the liberal ideal. There are militant feminist bookstores, restaurants with overly extensive information about your dish’s living experience on a sustainable farm, and the openness Read More
There was flannel everywhere.
It was the premiere of “Portlandia,” the sure-fire TV hit from Fred Armisen (of Saturday Night Live fame) and Carrie Brownstein (of now-defunct rock heroes Sleater-Kinney), and everywhere we looked we were greeted with a wash of that plaid-heavy cozy super-nineties fabric, flannel.
The bartenders serving up Portland’s own Rogue Ale? Read More