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Water cooler: Broadcasting from homes, Saturday Night Live cast serves up levity

Tom Hanks did the opening monologue of "SNL At Home” for the show’s first episode since the coronavirus shutdown. (NBC / Press photo)
Tom Hanks did the opening monologue of "SNL At Home” for the show’s first episode since the coronavirus shutdown. (NBC / Press photo)
From staff reports

“Saturday Night Live” returned this weekend with its first “SNL At Home” episode of the show. Similar to the rest of the late-night, live television world, the show has adapted to the coronavirus pandemic by broadcasting from the homes of its cast.

In the spirit of all things coronavirus, the show was of course hosted by Tom Hanks who recently made headlines when he and his wife, Rita Wilson, tested positive for COVID-19 while in Australia in March.

Starting with a close up of Hanks’ pristine typewriter collection, the camera panned to Hanks as he walked on stage – and by that I mean into his kitchen - suited, lit and prepared with cue cards and all. The crowd cheers and Hanks remarks, “That is some sound effect.” With some updates on his health, some “audience” questions featuring what appears to be a mustache fashioned from printer paper and marker, and heartfelt thanks to all the essential workers out there, the first “SNL At Home” show was off and running.

The show featured a unique blend of its classic sketch humor and some ideas more specific to the internet as a medium, if you can call it that.

Following the more classic sketch approach, Kate McKinnon did a hilarious take on a Ruth Bader Ginsburg workout routine that focused on all the basic muscle groups, “Abs, gams, tuchus, chicken wings and critical thinking.”

Pete Davidson created two homespun music videos, “Drake Song” and “Andre 2000” with a low-budget pastiche reminiscent of heyday YouTube. Larry David made an appearance as Senator Bernie Sanders and Alec Baldwin joined over the phone as President Trump giving a coronavirus update.

Some of the most interesting and entertaining parts of the show were the bits that did things a studio setting simply could not – or at least couldn’t do so authentically. Taking advantage of the zeitgeist comedy quarantine has presented us, SNL cast members took to their front-facing cameras for some timely laughs.

Quarantine humor would not be complete without mention of Zoom, so of course the SNL writers and cast could not resist a reenactment of an infamously disastrous Zoom work meeting (spoilers, it involves a toilet and every cringe-worthy quarantine joke you’ve already heard from your coworkers).

Other highlights include Chloe Fineman’s excellent impersonation of Timothée Chalamet teaching fashion in a special MasterClass “Quarantine Edition,” Heidi Gardner as a hilariously annoying millennial YouTuber, Mikey Day as inept Twitch gamer bro “Cam Playz Dat,” and Aidy Bryant as a meditation guide whose visualizations quickly go astray.

The show even featured musical guest Chris Martin, frontman of Coldplay, with an acoustic cover of Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From the Storm” performed from his home.

SNL cast members new and old alike wrapped the show with warm remembrances of Hal Willner, the show’s music producer who died earlier this month with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, although he had not been officially diagnosed.

It was a Saturday night of innovation that brought tried-and-true sketch comedy into this new, weird world that is the internet during quarantine. Find the full episode at NBC.com/saturday-night-live or on YouTube on the Saturday Night Live channel.

Brain train

Test your knowledge with today’s trivia question

What is the highest-grossing animated movie sequel?

“Toy Story 4”

“Frozen II”

“Incredibles 2”

“Monsters University”

Monday’s answer: Five

Reel talk

It is universally known that laughter is the best medicine. Even faking a smile will trick your brain into releasing dopamine and serotonin. And that’s purely physiological.

It doesn’t even require mental effort. A study published in the “Journal of Psychiatric Research” in 2012 concluded that botox injections can shortly alleviate depression symptoms simply due to the muscle paralysis that leaves patients unable to frown.

That’s more than you needed to know. The point is, take a moment to laugh or at least crack a smile – it’s good for you. If you’re having trouble getting started, movies are a great place to start. Here is a list of eight great comedies streaming now on Netflix.

“Monty Python’s Life of Brian”: Having the misfortune of being born in the stable next door to Jesus Christ, Brian of Nazareth lives his days constantly being mistaken for a messiah. Directed by Terry Jones. Starring Jones, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin. 1979. R.

“Groundhog Day”: A weatherman finds himself inexplicably living the same day over and over again. Directed by Harold Ramis. Starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. 1993. PG.

“The Hangover”: Three groomsmen lose the groom during his blacked-out bachelor party in Las Vegas. Directed by Todd Phillips. Starring Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Justin Bartha. 2009. R.

“The Naked Gun”: Based on the television show, “Police Squad!” follow incompetent police detective Frank Drebin as he attempts to foil an assassination plot against the Queen. Directed by David Zucker. Starring Leslie Nielsen. 1988. PG-13.

“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”: Brimming with colorful and playful video game aesthetics and sensibilities, follow Scott Pilgrim as he battles his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes. Directed by Edgar Wright. Starring Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. 2010. PG-13.

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”: Featuring everyone’s favorite ‘80s high school wise guy. Follow Bueller during his mischief-filled day of playing hooky. Directed by John Hughes. Starring Matthew Broderick. 1986. PG-13.

“Hitch”: Professional “date doctor” Hitch finds himself off his game once he becomes the one trying to woo someone instead of being the one handing out advice. Directed by Andy Tennant. Starring Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James and Amber Valletta. 2005. PG-13.

“Tootsie”: An unsuccessful actor disguises himself as a woman for a gig on a hospital soap opera. Directed by Sydney Pollack. Starring Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange. 1982. PG.

Tune in

Find tunes to cheer you up, get you in the groove, chill you out, or whatever you need – for free

  • The Coeur d’Alene Library has announced that its music streaming service Freegal will now allow 24 hour-per-day streaming to any device. All it takes is a Coeur d’Alene Public Library card. Visit cdalibrary.org to learn more.
  • Members of the Spokane Public library also have access to Freegal. It and many other digital services can be accessed at spokanelibrary.org/download.
  • Spokane County Library District members have access to hoopla, a digital media service that has music available for streaming as well as audiobooks, ebooks, shows and movies.

If you aren’t a member of a local library, you can also find free music through trial or free versions of popular apps and sites like Pandora, Spotify or iHeart Radio. SoundCloud is an online hotspot for listening to work from independent artists for free. Bandcamp.com is also an excellent site to not only listen to music from independent artists for free, but also has an option for purchasing songs and albums both in hard copy and digital formats if you’re looking for a way to support working artists during quarantine.

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