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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Friday, May 30, 2008

My Abusive Relationship with Hollywood, Episode 2: The Misbegotten Offspring of SNL

Before the venom flows today, I'd like to take a moment to mourn another tragic passing of a talented star. Harvey Korman, 81, has passed away. I was awoken last night by my father, who had just read the news on the Internet. To us, he was nothing short of sidesplitting in History of the World Part I and his guest spot as Heinrich Von Zeppel on F Troop. This comedic legend will forever live on thanks to several Mel Brooks movies, as well as The Flintstones and The Carol Burnett Show. I'm too young to have seen most of his work from during his heyday, but I'm greatful for work of his I have seen. Count DeMonet, Hedley LaMarr, the Great Gazoo...all iconic characters in the Comedy Lexicon, all will be fondly remembered. No one knows what Heaven looks like or if it surely exists, but if it does then it's sure as Hell going to have a great comedy club.

Which leads into a topic that's connected to this rant about my continuingly abusive relationship with Hollywood: comedy. By no means is it an easy art, and by no means is it a safe art. Careers have thrived and died by its tenets, and in the end you either sink or swim. Now, there are very basic rules to comedy: Keep it short, keep it simple, setup and timing are your Gods, and leave them wanting more. These are rules that are simple and easy in learning, but difficult as anything to execute. You've gotta have talent in order to make it work, and talent is something Saturday Night Live, the once mighty juggernaut of late night sketch comedy, is running short of.

What was once a place where jesters from all walks and cultures could gather to ply their trade and produce a "Not Ready for Prime Time" laugh fest, is now to quote Wes Mendel from the tragically deceased "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", a "...prissy, feckless, off-the-charts, greed-filled whore-house...". Skits are written not for jokes, but to capitalize on possible "franchise characters". That's right: remember when Wayne's World was a funny sketch, which turned into a funny movie and still funny sequel? (Suck it, doubters.) That lead to A Night At The Roxbury which was a funny sketch, but turned into a shitty movie. Which in turn lead to Superstar, which was a lukewarm sketch, and turned into a disaterous movie. Do I need to mention The Ladies Man? Good, because I didn't even bother to see it, and chances are neither did you.

Now tell me something, would Mister Robinson's Neighborhood made a good movie? Probably not. Would The Wild and Crazy Guys made a good movie? Not if you like your precious "memories", those silly things. Would Coneheads...wait, I actually kinda liked that one. (Again, silence from the doubters, please.) The point is, it's a rather hit and miss approach, that of adaptation of a work from one media to another. But what's even riskier is when you write a movie solely for the "talents" of one person, or one comedy team.
It's worked in the past: Tommy Boy, Brain Candy, Happy Gilmore; all tailor made for their respective stars involved, all funny. But where there's a Tommy Boy, there's a Black Sheep. Where there's a Brain Candy, there's nothing for several years before a kick assed reunion tour. And where there's a Happy Gilmore, there's a Billy Madison and You Don't Mess With The Zohan to ruin your life. SNL movies were the hallmark of horrible things to come from the brainchild of Lorne Michaels. We only needed to tune them out, and we'd be able to enjoy the show for all it's worth. Then Will Ferrell left, and the Dark Ages began yet again for SNL.

As if the infamous 1980-1981 cast wasn't bad enough, Will Ferrell's departure opened the gates of Hell, which in turn gave us some of the stupidest cast members. Particularly, The Dukes of Hazard (and when I say Hazard, I mean Asinine Comedy) Andy Samburg and Jimmy Fallon. The charges against these two are great and unforgivable injustices to comedy, and they should be punished with obscurity and their memories stricken from the record of Pop Culture. Instead, these two meteoric mediocrities have made a killing off of killing comedy.

I can hear some people saying, "But Andy's young, he's yet to prove himself. Give him time." Well, alright. We can give him time...but does that mean we had to give him this?
What ever happened to starting with a cameo or supporting role in a small film, followed by some more supporting work in big films, which were THEN followed by a small film with you as the star? Someone had it in their mind that a mindless comedy with the "right talent" would be able to light the box office on fire, no matter how much experiene they had under their belt. With the wild success of the SNL Digital Shorts (which are, for the most part, teh lame), Mr. Samburg's star was rising, and they thought that Hot Rod would have been the perfect way to send it shooting towards Pluto. Well, they got it wrong. Hot Rod flopped, and yet Andy Samburg prevailed. Hot Rod looked like the type of film that would bomb, but retain cult following; much like Black Sheep did after Tommy Boy's release. (The cop car scene from Black Sheep was still pretty funny though.) And as if this offense wasn't painful enough, let's not forget how a similar film with similar intentions happened to garner similar, if not undesired results...

Oh, it burns, does it not?! I'd be mighty surprised if ANYONE remembered this disaster. I wonder, does he turn and laugh at the audience throughout the film when he thinks a joke is funny? Because that's what he did MOST OF THE DAMN TIME on SNL. And as for Mr. Samburg...well, his digital shorts smell of nothing but shit.
However, even the funniest of SNL are not immune to bad film choices...



One bright side to all of this, at least they aren't the only ones killing comedy out there. And until he's dealt with, SNL will be safe...for now.

Don't laugh...he can't see us if we don't laugh.

I'm Mr. Controversy, and I'll see you all on Monday, if I survive the Sex and the City crowds that'll flood New Jersey along with all the Benny's. Pray for daylight...

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