Monday, October 17, 2011

I Should Know, I'm Bocephus

During all the recent controversy involving country music star (although it has been a pretty dry two decades career wise) and amateur political pundit Hank Williams Jr.'s Hitler accusations against the President leading to his subsequent firing from his longstanding tenure as Monday Night Football's official football readiness ambassador; I found it surprising that in all the internet coverage, I have yet to find a single reference to the above 1997 SNL sketch with the late Chris Farley playing Bocephus.

For SNL and Chris Farley fans the October 1997 episode with Farley as the host will always be a little bittersweet since it would turn out to be his last major television appearance before his unfortunate death from an overdose a mere two months later. I remember finding the whole episode to be pretty damn awesome at the time. Watching it again recently, in an abridged form on Netflix Instant, some parts still hold up well, I will always find Farley's turn as "El Niño" to be stupidly hilarious (note: the full sketch, which was unavailable on youtube has Jim Brewer, doing the worst Ric Flair impersonation in history, coming in at the end to fight El Niño), but it has definitely lost its luster in other parts. Through the prism of hindsight it becomes pretty obvious that Farley was sort of a wreck at that point: he's gigantic, perpetually sweaty, and his voice is unusually horse (even the opening sketch is Tim Meadows trying to "convince" Loren Micheals into letting Farley host, despite his reservations about his ability to keep it together which leads to an opening monologue involving him initially flaking out before being talked into going on stage at the last minute).

As for the above sketch featuring Hank Williams Jr., it stayed about the same in my eyes in terms of humorousness. Although that isn't really saying much since I only found it mildly funny the first time. The sketch really doesn't go anywhere and is almost totally held together by Farley's ridiculous portrayal of Williams Jr. as a fat talentless drunken clown. The interesting thing about the sketch compared to recent events is that Farley's Bocephus turns out to be a sympathetic victim, having been unfairly mocked and generalized by the seemingly cultured, urban, studio engineers. Bocephus gives a softhearted monologue about empathy, not making snap judgment about others, and his ultimate goal of bringing people in his own awkward way together through his music. This comes off as a bit of a contrast to the the real Bocephus who responded to his critics and firing by releasing a hastily put together, county fried, reactionary diss track about guns and freedoms and decrying the "United Socialist States of America" that makes Ray Stevens sound as liberal as Bruce Springsteen by comparison.

In these polarizing times, I think we can all learn a little something from Farley's Bocephus.

No comments:

Post a Comment