Sunday, December 7, 2014

SNL is so original sometimes I could just puke

Is a good joke worth repeating? SNL sure seems to think so.

Here is a scene from Family Guy's Star Wars parody, "Blue Harvest," which aired on Fox over seven years ago.
Princess Leia (as portrayed by Lois Griffin) stands in a corridor facing R2D2 (as portrayed by Cleveland Brown). 
LEIA: (plaintively) Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope. (crouching down) Okay, now what do I click? 
R2D2: Click 'Preferences.' 
She presses a button on R2D2's control panel. 
LEIA: Okay, I clicked 'Preferences.' 
R2D2: Now go to 'Default Media Browser.'
LEIA: Okay. There's a little hourglass and it's, it's not letting me do anything. It, it says, "Buffering." What is that? 
R2D2: Just give it a minute. 
LEIA: (testily) Well, all I'm trying to do is make an MPEG! 
R2D2: All I'm trying to do is tell you to wait a minute! 
LEIA: (backing off) Okay, relax. 
R2D2: Now click 'Import Video File.' 
LEIA: All right. (She presses another button on R2D2.) It's, it's telling me I have to download Real Player 7. 
R2D2: You know what? I'll just bring it to him myself.

And here's a scene from a Star Wars parody which aired on NBC's Saturday Night Live just last night:

Princess Leia (Bobby Moynihan in drag) stands in a corridor, opposite R2D2. She crouches down and tentatively pushes a button on the droid's control panel. It beeps. She puts on a pair of reading glasses, which had been dangling from her neck, and presses further buttons. She looks frustrated. 
LEIA: (softly, to herself) This is the menu. I don't want the menu. I want to record. 
She stands upright again and yells to someone off camera. 
LEIA: Hey, Han! How do you work this friggin' thing? 
The droid beeps again. She slaps it. A blinking red "12:00" display appears on the machine's control panel. Leia gives up.

Same basic gag, no? As she did in the classic 1977 film, Princess Leia wants to use R2D2 to record a video message. But in both these parodies, she runs into the kinds of technical snags and snafus associated with modern-day computers. The Family Guy version is more specific, with its references to buffering and Real Player, while SNL goes the generic route. Saturday Night Live gets away with this kind of bullshit on a regular basis. Normally, though, they filch their jokes from the Internet or cable. It's relatively rare for them to so blatantly copy another network comedy show like this. I guess they figured Family Guy was small enough potatoes to get away with it. But as far as the rest of the world is concerned, a comedy idea isn't "real" until SNL does it. There might be two dozen or more fake Wes Anderson trailers floating around on YouTube, Vimeo, and Funny or Die for months, but when Saturday Night Live does one, it's a big deal for some reason. It's good to be the king. (I stole that line from Mel Brooks, by the way.)