Train Wrecks are Funny, Too

Disgust, pity, and dismay are like three old, dear, familiar friends to me, and this whole fantasy SNL draft thing sure gave them ample opportunity to pay me a visit. Now, I realize that my cast selections have been viewed with the most confusion and anger, so I suppose I’d better take a moment and explain exactly what the hell it was that I was thinking, and, as many of you have speculated, smoking.

First off, I don’t recall smoking anything, unless you count a clove cigarette packed with hash and soaked in PCP, which I don’t.

And, for my thinking, I suspect that I viewed this whole fantasy Saturday Night Live cast thing in a very different way than everyone else. See, I was putting a lot of stock into the ‘fantasy’ part, meaning my goal was to pick the cast that I’d most like to see. All this crap about statistics and formulae and generally playing this thing to “win” strikes me as pretty sad, but what the hell.

Also, it should be made clear that I haven’t donated any rat parts whatsoever about SNL since I was in high school. Like most dorks, I loved SNL when I was between 13-18, and it sure as hell was an influence in my dream to one day fail to make it as a bigshot comic. But, as I grew older, the shows seemed more and more tedious, and after a few years it became hard to imagine anything more unpleasant than trying to sit through the lumbering last half hour of the show. I’m wildly unfamiliar with any of the recent casts, too. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for those who’ve made it to SNL, whether I like what they do or not; it’s just that recently, it hasn’t grabbed me in that improper way I wish it would.

But I know what I like, and I know what and who I think is funny. And I tried to pick those people. I didn’t really factor what these people did on SNL as much as their larger body of work and the perceived potential they have: I mean, after all, this is a FANTASY cast, right? So why limit a talented cast member just to what some short-sighted and unadventurous producer could see at some time in the past? I mean, my first pick was a fucking DEAD man; why can’t I extrapolate some of the great stuff I know Sarah Silverman is capable of?

And, I have another, hidden agenda: I love trouble. I like my television a bit chaotic and nothing’s more exciting to see on TV than a total disaster, LIVE! I’d like my cast to have the potential for that. I think my cast may be the most likely one to get bleeped until it sounds like an EBS warning signal. I think my cast may be the most likely to have the show abruptly end midway into a wildly ill-advised but hopefully funny sketch. I hope for picketing, boycotts, fires, pixellated nudity, bedlam.

Hopefully this helps understand my cast: I have pretty much an even split between very funny, adaptable and capable players and unpredictable, funny, troublemakers.

On the stable side I have Phil Hartman, a colossally talented man who can pull off most anything; clearly, he’s the foundation of whatever’s going to actually work on the show. I have Christopher Guest, also a gifted character performer and improviser, and Martin Short, energetic, adaptable and solid. Julia Sweeney is a skilled character-generator and had one of the few SNL characters to make the transition to a movie (which flopped, like most of these SNL-characters- to-movies do, so I won’t hold that against her). Along with them we have relative newcomer Amy Poehler, who also seems to have what it takes to hold some funny shit together, and everyone says is being used an assload in the current season. This group is Order.

Then we have Chaos. Chris Elliott, picked way too early (technically) solely because I’ve always found Chris Elliot hilarious and I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks. He’s great and a he’s a loon, and I know this could be used far better than he was actually employed on the show. Remember him on Letterman? Guy Under the Stairs? Fugitive Guy? Marlon Brando? I know that wasn’t on SNL, but it’s fantasy, remember? Sarah Silverman, while, yes, minimal on the actual show, has proved herself since then to be funny, offensive, and fearless: all qualities that could be put to very effective use. Chris Rock is a funny man in his own right, and has some untapped character skills once you get past that voice. He can be really great in the right contexts.

And, okay, Brian Doyle Murray was mostly picked for his mild obesity and his former work with Chris Elliott, where he always had a very funny gruff-but-revolting kind of charm.

Kevin Nealon was a good newscaster; his porn reviews consisting entirely of describing his level of interest are now even more relevant, and I remember always liking his “what I’m really trying to say” editorials.

This is a lot of rambling, but I suppose you nice internet folks deserve some justification for my admittedly unconventional casting. I think if you keep in mind that my goals are divided between great sketch comedy and spectacular disaster, it makes sense. I expect much my cast to be banned from performing about halfway through the season, but it should prove a hell of a ride.

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