Day: September 25, 2009

A word or two or more about SNL’s Weekend Update Thursday #2.2

Everyone is gearing up for the official 35th season of Saturday Night Live, so let's use last night's Weekend Update Thursday as a chance to warm-up with a mini-recap. Instead of a full-bore critique, just some initial thoughts. It's still beyond weird to hear anyone say "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!" when it's clearly Thursday. This must be so they can use the cold opens in repeats? Or merely stuck on tradition? Regardless, Fred Armisen's Barack Obama is starting to slip into original SNL territory, you know, back when Chevy Chase played Gerald Ford as someone who looked remarkably like Chevy Chase, or Dan Aykroyd's mustachioed Jimmy Carter. Their take on Obama's Sunday press run was funny enough, heightening the scene by expanding out to a full press junket for cable channels — Kenan Thompson as ESPN's Stuart Scott (got the inane product-placement and patter down pat), newcomer Nasim Pedrad checked in as Kathy Griffin (kudos on nailing her debut, although odd that the hair people didn't go for a bolder red?), Jason Sudeikis as Glenn Beck was devastatingly hilarious, Kristin Cavallari is probably thrilled to be portrayed by Abby Elliott, as is Guy Fieri by Bobby Moynihan. Andy Samberg still plays young enough to be a teen-aged vampire. And Bill Hader's Keith Morrison makes me laugh every time. As for the Update desk, Seth Meyers tripped...

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Aziz Ansari on Kanye West and a post-Raaaaaaaandy world

Aziz Ansari returned to New York City this week to promote the second season of NBC's Parks and Recreation, and also dropped back into the comedy scene for a few shows. One of his stops was "Whiplash," the Monday late-night stand-up showcase that replaced Ansari's "Crash Test" at the UCB Theatre when he moved out to Los Angeles. This is a funny moment that photographer Mindy Tucker captured when Ansari invited four guys from the front row onstage to try to recreate their synchronized fist/clap reaction to one of his punchlines. See more of Tucker's work at With Reservation. Ansari was working on new material, but he also asked the UCB audience (and did this elsewhere) for requests. Turns out they wanted to hear a bit from his Funny People alter-ego, Randy. He skipped over that, but did indulge fans at multiple shows with stories about Kanye West. Ansari already has told one story in his headlining act about going to West's home for an afterparty, catching West rock out to his own music and perform an impromptu stand-up set for West and his friends. More timely, however, was Ansari's revelation that he tried to reach out to West twice after his talked-about MTV Video Music Awards incident. Ansari said he emailed West and "didn't hear anything back." Then, when Ansari watched the mash-up video of West with Congressman Joe...

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Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man” kicks off inaugural Friars Club Film Festival

The inaugural Friars Club Film Festival kicked off Thursday night with the U.S. premiere of the latest film by Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man. Friars Club Dean Freddie Roman introduced the Coens at the red-carpet screening inside the Ziegfield, calling them "two Jewish boys who grew up in a hotbed of Judaism" in Minnesota. "In their synagogue, the cantor was Norwegian." Zing. And, well, A Serious Man is a seriously Jewish dark comedy. Seriously. Michael Stuhlbarg plays Larry Gopnik, a college professor who finds his life unravel around him and turns to his rabbis for answers. His son attends a Hebrew school and has to prepare for his Bar Mitzvah. One of his neighbors may be a rabid anti-Semite; another is very hot and tempting. I neither grew up Jewish nor in the 1960s nor in Minnesota (wherein this film is set), but I still laughed out loud several times. Richard Kind plays Gopnik's brother, who has a problematic cyst, as well as other more pressing problems that are played for comic relief. Oh, and there's an opening sequence involving ancient Polish Jews and a guy who may be a ghost? It may not all make sense, but I suspect that's part of the point. Aaron Wolf, the boy who plays young Danny Gopnik, told me he wasn't exactly sure what to make of it, either. Roll...

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