Monday, May 22, 2006


Not only was the field set for the 90th Indy 500 this weekend, but it was also the season finale of Saturday Night Live. Unsuprisingly, the SNL finale was terrible, but in keeping with the May madness theme, lets examine the SNL cast members with their IRL counterparts.

Darrell Hammond is Al Unser Jr.
Shouldn’t each just give it up already? Darrell Hammond is arguably the best pure impersonator in the history of the show, and little Al is one of the best to ever get into an Indy Car, but who are they fooling any more? Hammond has been on the show 10 SEASONS! (longer than anyone in SNL history) and much like little Al, the only reason he still hangs out is because he has nowhere else to go. From now on, you can call each of these guys Wooderson, because they both are clearly the creepy old guy still hanging with high schoolers at the moon tower.

Seth Meyers is Dan Wheldon
This season Seth Meyers became one of 3 head writers for SNL (not that you would know, because for some reason it’s cooler to think that Tina Fey does everything herself.) Wheldon and Meyers both seem to have all the tools to excel on the job. Meyers has the build and mannerisms to play any type of sketch character, and Wheldon has the skill set to excel on ovals or roads in any car. And yet, neither gets you really excited about anything they do. Nobody’s ever quoting any brilliant delivery from Seth Meyers, and his John Kerry impression was so boring that it actually made the real John Kerry look animated by comparison (which I think is a bad sign for a “comedy” show.) Likewise, nobody cares that Wheldon won Indy and the IRL title last year – they’re both just boring.

Horatio Sanz is Tomas Scheckter
Both are great for driving any sketch/car full-speed into a wall. If you want professionalism, look elsewhere. They’re both out of control disasters.

Andy Samberg is Marco Andretti
Both are the golden child of the moment. One is starting 9th on Sunday, the other is treated as the 2nd coming of Sandler thanks to “Lazy Sunday”. Lost in all of hype is the fact that both owe a heavy debt of gratitude to the support team. Watch Marco in any interview – the kid is a mess, and his mistakes the first 3 races of the season cost him big time. Still, he’s on the best team in the league and they have been able to save him from his own ineptitude. We’ll see what he does Sunday, but I predict another sub-par finish. Likewise, when Samberg arrived at SNL, he brought 2 of his friends/writing partners with him, and while he has been overhyped as a star, it’s Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone who deserve much of the credit for not only “Lazy Sunday,” but for actually brought a slight bit of freshness to the SNL writing style.

Amy Poehler is Danica Patrick.
Yeah, they’re the two hot chicks, but beyond that, they both have the skills to excel despite subpar equipment. The panoz chassis has made it tough for Danica, and it will most likely keep her out of contention on Sunday. Still, she qualified 10th with a car much worse than she had last year, and a chassis that is inferior to every other major team at Indy. Likewise, Amy Poehler is constantly overused and forced to try and brighten up dialogue that is clearly inferior to what she herself wrote during her Upright Citizens Brigade era. The smart move would be to add Poehler to the writing staff, which is why it won’t happen. Both seem to be slightly over hyped as well, but they have the good to deliver when it counts.

Tina Fey is Sam Hornish Jr.
Have you heard that Tina Fey is the head writer? Probably not – they like to keep that under wraps. Every mention of Fey seems to state that her writing has “made the show fresh again,” and this past Saturday’s Weekend Update was a perfect illustration of her “cutting edge” humor. The segment featured stinging impersonations of not only Taylor Hicks, but also Whitney Houston. Whitney Houston! Way to go for the jugular there! Who’s next on the chopping block, Nick Lachey and Debbie Gibson? Under Fey’s watch the show has become as fresh as Neil Young protest songs (another “scathing satire” that was in Saturday’s show) but she’s still piling up the accolades. I believe Saturday may have been her last show, but that wasn't completely clear. Likewise, Hornish has been “the next Rick Mears” since he came onto the IRL scene 7 seasons ago. But under the watch of Penske racing, it’s been all expectation and no real results of note (he’s only finished Indy 2 times in 6 starts). He’s starting from the pole Sunday, yet wrecked his car in practice yesterday, and I’ll be very surprised if he finishes in contention Sunday. It’s now or never for Hornish to produce.

Chris Parnell is Buddy Rice
Both came onto the scene and bombed initially. Parnell was fired from SNL, and Rice lost his ride after spending his rookie year looking like a complete tool on and off the track. Parnell got his job back and has developed into the most reliable member of the cast, and after Rice went back to basics and decided to shut up and drive, he lucked into a ride with Rahal Letterman, and won Indy in 2004. Both are content to stay in the shadows (Parnell let Samberg get the accolades from the “Lazy Sunday” whirlwind, and Rice has no problem with his teammate Danica’s never ending hype.) These are the guys everyone should root for.

As for Sunday, it’s Helio Castroneves’ race to lose. He’s the best driver on the track with one of the top 3 cars. If he stays out of trouble, I don’t see anybody defeating him. And if SNL wants to become anything other than a stale boring shadow of what it once was, it has to happen through writing. Let Fey go work on her sitcom, and develop sketches around the writing sensibilities of Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen, and Samberg’s cohorts. And knock it off with the impressions of American Idol contestants – that’s just sad.


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