Thursday, June 13, 2013

News & Views

Norm MacDonald's Larry King impression during his stint on SNL wasn't all that good in terms of technical proficiency (since Norm a handful of other SNL players have done more detailed impressions most notably Fred Armisen in recent years), but then again none of his celebrity impressions were all that good, that's what made them awesome. While straight impressionists like Phil Hartman or Darrell Hammond took pride and won acclaim for the accuracy of their impersonations; Norm's characters were great because they were just variations on his idiosyncratic style. For me Norm's versions of Bob Dole or Burt Reynolds (aka Turd Ferguson) with all their inherent Norm-ness come off as far more interesting and funny than had they been done with an emphasis on accuracy.

Norm's sketches as Larry King aren't that well known or numerous. In fact, as far as I can tell, he only performed as Larry King on the May 17, 1997 Jeff Goldblum hosted episode and again on the October 23, 1999 show which he had returned to host (one of the greatest opening monologues I've ever seen where he triumphantly trashes the show for bringing him to host despite firing him a year and a half prior for not being funny). As for the sketches themselves they were just these short ads promoting Larry King's "News & Views" column in USA Today. Norm as Larry would just shoot off a series of short viewpoints ranging from the absurdly obvious to the ridiculously non sequitur, previews of the kind of viewpoints one would apparently get from his column, from his desk towards random cameras  (here's a just an audio version).

Based on their inherent weirdness and delivery of the jokes, I would bet that these sketches were conceived and written by Norm himself. What I really find fascinating about these sketches are how eerily the random viewpoints he spits out sound like twitter posts. The whole thing comes off as if he's reading outloud his daily roll of twitter updates one after the other ("Red wine is a terrific wine, but so is white wine!", "Is it just me or is anyone else sick and tired - of the Special Olympics?"). Had this sketch been done a decade later, it'd likely be an ad prompting people to follow his twitter account and have him typing away on a Macbook; perhaps some sort of joke about hashtags. The more I think about it, these series of sketches could may well be the primordial ancestors of modern twitter humor.

And of course since this is the internet and whatever esoteric thought or unique notion you have has been previously thought of as well by someone who has way more free time than you; while researching for this post I came across an actual fake twitter account "King's News & Views" which provide a constant stream of parody Larry King viewpoints.

1 comment:

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