My first thought when I saw the cold open from this weekend’s SNL: “Steve Carell’s the host. So they’re downplaying the high expectations. Everything else will look better by default.”
The opening sketch consists of Carell reciting silly dirty names in a serious Dean’s voice. That’s it. There’s really no twist to it - it leans more to the Mike Myers idea of repeating something times until it becomes unfunny and keep going until it become funny again. (You can sort of hear that ebb and flow in the laughs here.)
I don’t want to be too hard on it, but it was a sketch that made me feel like the writers already had their foot out the door for the summer. It felt like a sketch that you didn’t need comedy writers to create.
But here’s something interesting. A comment from this TV Squad review pointed to this similar Rowan Atkinson sketch compete with a snarky “I liked it better when it was…”
It is a better sketch, simply by including a twist or two, one of which is combining names to make new jokes. Also helpful, at least to me, is that a few of the names are just straight forward dirty word, without any pretentions about making them sound like names.
I think the austerity of the production helps too. If there were a bunch of actual students he was admonishing, it would get a little distracting. I remember looking to see if they used Asian or Black people for some of names recited in the SNL bit - something I probably shouldn’t be focusing on.
(Even weirder, the two sketches are almost exactly the same length. There’s only a second’s difference.)
But what do you think? Which is the better sketch? And why?