Monday, October 31, 2005

Lance Armstrong On SNL

Lance Armstrong hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend with musical guest (surprise, surprise) Sheryl Crow. I was impressed to see Lance take on a number of acting parts--some non-actors who host just play themselves. He was in a lot of sketches, too. Some of the SNL critics online are ripping on Lance, but I'd say he wasn't bad for an athlete. That's a big qualifier, though.

The monologue was okay--it could have been better but could have been much worse. The Q & A format isn't my favorite for a monologue, but it beats heck out of having the host sing something stupid (we'll get to that later). The disgruntled teammates asking why they can't co-host since cycling is a team sport were funny, but it's too bad the real George Hincapie didn't show up for a cameo, especially since he was born in Queens. Heck, they should have invited the whole Discovery Channel team; it's not like they have anything better to do at this time of the year. Patrick O'Grady at VeloNews.com had a better idea for an opening. In light of the Tour de France organization's dissing of Armstrong at the 2006 route unveiling last week, he suggested

In New York, meanwhile, a vengeful Armstrong reportedly was planning to deliver his SNL monologue in German, astride a scale model of the Maginot Line, while musical guest/fiancée Sheryl Crow covers the Randy Newman classic, "Political Science:"

No one likes us - I don't know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let's drop the big one and see what happens

Don't you think that would have been better than having a Frenchman ask Lance for his urine?

The celebrity triathlon sketch was really stupid, especially for anyone who knows anything about Lance (he was a star triathlete before he turned to cycling, and he still runs and races duathlons (with good results) in the off-season just for fun). Okay, it was a little funny to see him running like an idiot, just not realistic--he's not a one-dimensional athlete like some cyclists. But I liked his line, "They say you never forget how to ride a bike. Well, they don't say that about swimming."

The 80s music smoke alarm commercial was hilarious. The Indigo Girls with Sheryl sketch was screwy and annoying, not a good combination. Lance stumbled over his lines to make it worse. Of course I enjoyed the Bill O'Reilly parody. I just can't stand that guy, and this sketch highlighted most of the reasons (except I don't think he cut anyone's microphone in the sketch). Weekend Update was long. I liked the Chicago bit, especially Celozzi-Ettleson, but 95% of viewers were probably clueless. The parts with Harriet Miers drunk-dialing Bush and Mrs. Butterworth Bin Laden terrorizing New York were amusing, too.

The sketch with Lance singing for Sheryl was rather predictable, as in "I-expected-it-as-soon-as-I-heard-they-were-going-to-be-on-SNL-together" predictable. And painful. Or was it so awful that it was good? I don't know... Carol was another weak skit. Lance was alternately wooden and on the verge of cracking up. I don't know if he was laughing because he thought the skit was funny or just laughing at the absurdity of being a host trapped in a really lame sketch.

I was surprised to see Sheryl do a song ("Strong Enough") from her first album; usually performers push their new stuff on SNL. I thought Lance acted well in the last skit, but it wasn't all that good or funny. Plus it seemed to get cut off--what becomes of Lance's character? I guess they ran out of time because the farewell was very short, too.

Judging from the four SNL episodes I've seen from this season and last (the bar is much lower nowadays than it once was), it was a decent show. I must admit, however, that the most exciting thing I saw was a promo for a special about 1980s SNL on November 13. And next Saturday's episode of commercial parodies could be good, though it might be overkill after the first half hour.

I wish I had Sirius radio. I would like to have heard Lance talking with Bill Clinton on Armstrong Radio on Sunday. It was probably better than SNL.

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