Sweet Sixteen

For the most part, round two held serve with only a few glaring exceptions.  As maiden “not ready for primetime players”, Gilda Radner and Chevy Chase were bounced before the Sweet Sixteen.

Don Pardo

(1)   Eddie Murphy vs. (5) Tracy Morgan

Tracy delivers Eddie his first real test of the tournament.  Tracy, a legit draw during his SNL career, found success with multiple characters that murdered every time.  Eddie, the headliner of his cast, allowed the show to continue, following Lorne Michaels brief reprieve.  It probably would have been easy to cancel the show after five season and losing stars, Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd, John Belushi and Gilda Radner but the nineteen-year-old prodigy made SNL a ‘must watch’.  Tracy’s break out came when Jamie Foxx hosted. The sketch, set back stage, had Jamie and Tracy talking about being the only two black guys on the show, and how they could take it over, when Lorne strolled up to hurry them along, and Tracy replied, “Get me a soda, Bitch.”  Tracy followed that with Brian Fellows, the umm, slow, animal enthusiast and Astronaut Jones, the space traveler with one thing on his mind.  Here’s the thing though, everything Tracy did had traces of Eddie’s DNA.  A live action Gumby, an urban Mr. Rogers and an adult Buckwheat, he played off pop culture, off racial tension and totally destroyed.

ADVANCE: Eddie Murphy

Swan Song:  http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7a66m_astronaut-jones_fun

(3)    Dan Akroyd vs. (7) Darrell Hammond

Hammond, the most prolific impersonator in SNL history, dispatched Chevy Chase last round and now has another mountain standing in his way.  Akroyd never got the adulation of Chevy or Belushi, but could deliver laughs at the same pace.  Akroyd played Jimmy Carter (with a mustache) opposite Chevy, and while Chevy got the fanfare, I enjoyed Akroyd’s portrayal more.  Akroyd also deployed fan favorite characters, as one half of the Blues Brothers and the Festrunk Brothers.  He could carry a sketch too, displayed by Irwin Mainway, his businessman alter ego, trying to hawk unsafe products to consumers.  Hammond’s wheelhouse was political impersonation, especially SNL whipping boy Bill Clinton, but he got this far thanks to his eccentric Sean Connery on the Celebrity Jeopardy sketches.  Hammond was a specialist, but Akroyd was plain special.

ADVANCE: Dan Akroyd 

Swan Song: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/649085/

(1)   Will Ferrell vs. (4) Adam Sandler

Here is a true heavyweight matchup, the primetime game in the Sweet Sixteen.  Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell, two of the biggest comedy stars of the last twenty years, both paid their dues at SNL before moving on to the big screen where they serve up $100 million movies like an IHOP waitress serves pancakes.  Sandler began in stand up, explaining his strength at delivering his best bits directly into the camera at the Update desk (Opera Man and Cajun Man).  Ferrell came from improv, allowing him to hone strong characters (the Lovers and the Cheerleaders) and impressions (Neil Diamond and George W. Bush).  Ferrell and Sandler could both be described as sophomoric; Sandler even got fired from SNL.  The biggest difference between the two, Farrell’s dexterity, Sandler seemed too one note.

ADVANCE: Will Ferrell   

Swan Song: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7msdp_saturday-night-live-canteen-boy-and_fun

(3) Mike Myers vs. (2) Dana Carvey

How serendipitous, Wayne versus Garth.  Two of the most dynamic performers in the show’s history, each had such a unique flexibility and talent to disappear in their subjects.  Let’s throw Wayne’s World out, calling it a draw.  Myers tees up Sprockets, the German talk show host, Linda Richman of Coffee Talk, and was one part of the Super Fans.  So to recap, that’s German, Jewish and Chicago (not much overlap there).  Carvey’s forte, impressions; he assassinated with some niche ones, like George F. Will, some old school ones, like Jimmy Stewart and some political ones, like George Bush.  His George Bush alone made the show a must watch, as he coined phrases like “Not gonna-do-it” and “Viet-NAM”.  This one comes really close to a draw, but Dana received an unprecedented five Emmy noms for his performance on the show, showing his overall importance to the franchise.

ADVCANCE: Dana Carvey   

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/4088/saturday-night-live-waynes-world-with-aerosmith

The Killer Bees

(1)   John Belushi vs. (4) Jimmy Fallon

Belushi, the first “Bad Boy” of SNL versus Jimmy Fallon, the boy next-door.  Belushi got a lot of love; Fallon seemed to establish a legion of haters.  On perception alone the two appear opposites.  Cast members adored how Belushi committed to a sketch, while co-stars grumbled that Fallon broke during sketches.  That said, they both functioned as integral parts of their respective casts.  Here is something no one says, Belushi was the most overrated cast member of all time, whereas Fallon was ridiculously underappreciated.  Belushi had the Blues Brothers, a solid effort, but his Kissinger was ‘eh’, and I just never got the Samurai, too monotonous.  However, he did thrive in ensemble sketches, and his Joe Cocker deserves a spot among the great SNL moments.  Now to make the case for Jimmy, let’s start by pointing out he anchored Weekend Update, which usually cuts into performers screen time, not his.  He killed it with recurring characters like Jarrett, the stoner with the web cam show, Nick Burns, your company’s computer guy and led the Boston teen sketches.  Throw in, his insane talent for impressions, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld and Barry Gibb, just to name a few and you have a tremendously well rounded talent.  Impressions, characters, Update and oh yea, like Belushi, he destroys with musical parodies.  Fallon brings down Belushi, the first one seed to fall.

ADVANCE: Jimmy Fallon   

Swan Song: http://www.myspace.com/video/twohares/joe-cocker-and-john-belushi-snl-quot-feeling-alright-quot-1978/105048269

(11) Jane Curtin vs. (2) Bill Murray

Jane charges into the sweet sixteen fresh off upsetting her female compadres, Kristen Wiig and Gilda Radner.  Murray waltzes into the sweet sixteen without too much friction from his brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Rachel Dratch.  For a time Curtin and Murray co-anchored Weekend Update but Bill just couldn’t hang.  Murray succeeds more in the sketch format, with acts like Nick the Lounge Singer.  As I have already made it known, I think Jane played an extremely important role on the early shows.  Murray always had tons of charisma and personality, and while that translated on the big screen he struggled a bit in the format of the show.  Jane continues her improbable run.

ADVANCE: Jane Curtin

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/4137/saturday-night-live-superhero-party

(1)   Chris Farley vs. (4) Andy Samburg

Andy Samburg versus Chris Farley matches two completely different styles of humor.  Andy depends on music parodies and the anti-joke.   Farley hangs his hat purely on physicality.  I would like to write a strong argument for Andy because his Digital Shorts are so hilarious and inventive but Farley is a force of nature (el nino pun here).  It sounds dumb but watching Farley fall through tables, gyrate shirtless or just shout nonsense is comedy in its simplest form, you think you would grow out of it but you don’t.  Farley never relied on wit, he relied on uncontrolled energy, he never tried to be cutting edge, he just tried to be funny.

ADVANCE: Chris Farley

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/1596/saturday-night-live-snl-digital-short-dk-in-a-box-uncensored

(2)   Billy Crystal vs. (3) Phil Hartman

Billy Crystal had established himself in one short season at SNL as a bona fide star, performing his wacky Fernando Lamas and Sammy Davis Jr. impersonations.  Phil Hartman put in eight seasons at SNL and seemed perfectly compatible with the system.  Crystal left for great success after his one season, but to be honest I don’t think he had much in the tank for a long term SNL run anyway (did you see the Oscars he’s still doing Sammy Davis Jr.).  Lorne Michaels may well have created Hartman in a lab somewhere.  He so easily slid from sketch to sketch like a faultless utility man.  Impressions, he had a Sinatra, a Clinton, and a Reagan, characters, he had the Anal Retentive Chef, the Caveman Lawyer and Frankenstein, just to name a few.  Hartman’s lengthy credits put him ahead of the much celebrated Crystal.

ADVANCE: Billy Crystal

Swan Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygs-4GfqPcM

Round of 32

After an exciting first round that saw its share of early upsets, round two kicks off…

Don Pardo

(1)   Eddie Murphy vs. (9) Maya Rudolph

Eddie rolled through the first round.  Maya survived the first round.  Maya can throw everything she has at Eddie, and she has a lot.  A killer Beyonce, Diana Ross, Donatella Versace, Condoleezza Rice, and Michelle Obama doesn’t do much to deter Eddie.  If Eddie used Buckwheat in the first round, he can take this one with Mr. Robinson and Gumby, still leaving a lot in the bag.  Eddie, not surprisingly, cruises into the sweet sixteen.

ADVANCE: Eddie Murphy

Swan Song: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/bronx-beat/1251408/

(5) Tracy Morgan vs. (13) Kenan Thompson

Kenan pulled of a huge upset over four seed Tina Fey in the first round, squashing a potential dream match-up between 30 Rock co-stars Tina and Tracy.  Tracy handled Horatio with great aplomb.  When Tracy departed the show Kenan got the call, and took over as the go-to black guy.  Both, in my opinion, were and are drastically underused, as they often provide highlights.  My favorite Tracy sketches were Astronaut Jones and Brian Fellows, my favorite Kenan sketches, Googie Rene and Grady Wilson.  Kenan may do more than Tracy did but Tracy so rarely missed when he’s number was called.  In a tighter one than you may expect, Tracy.

ADVANCE: Tracy Morgan

Swan Song:  http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/discount-prom-wear-googie-rene/1325838

(6) David Spade vs. (3) Dan Akroyd

Spade and Akroyd each took care of business in the first round.  Spade had so many memorable moments in the “Bad Boy” years.  Akroyd a seminal cast member and the most malleable of the early years, got so much camera time.  Akroyd depicted Nixon and Carter, had two movies, Blues Brothers and Coneheads, and so densely populated the show.  I really like Spade; I really do, his Tom Petty, awesome, his Hollywood Minute, scathing, but Akroyd captures this one.

ADVANCE: Dan Akroyd

Swan Song:  http://www.hulu.com/watch/269982/saturday-night-live-david-spades-hollywood-minute

(2)   Chevy Chase vs. (7) Darrell Hammond

Chevy’s importance to SNL cannot be overstated, the first star the show created, the first one to utter “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night”, and he anchored the inaugural Weekend Update.  Saturday Night Live was truly in danger of becoming “The Chevy Chase Show”.  Than he left, after one season he was gone.  Hammond on the other hand stayed for a record fourteen seasons.  An impression specialist; like a shooter in the NBA, when you can do one thing really well you can stick around forever.  Chevy all though one of the show’s pioneers has too diminutive a resume to take down Darrell Hammond.  In an outcome no one saw coming Hammond topples Chevy.

ADVANCE:  Darrell Hammond

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/1477/saturday-night-live-word-association

Rockefeller Center

(1)   Will Ferrell vs. (9) Joe Piscopo

Would you rather watch a sketch based on Italian-American icon, Frank Sinatra or Canadian American entertainer, Robert Goulet?  Frank Sinatra seems like the easy answer unless you’ve seen Will Ferrell’s Goulet.  Ferrell crushes Piscopo.

ADVANCE: Will Ferrell

Swan Song: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/14115/

(5) Jon Lovitz vs. (4) Adam Sandler

Lovitz lines up with mega star Adam Sandler; if we based this on post SNL accolades there would be no question.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  Lovitz had some famous characters like, the Pathological Liar, the Master Thespian and his ludicrous depiction of the devil.  Sandler employed, the Zagat’s sketches, Canteen Boy and Opera Man.  Lovitz, Sandler boils down to, Hanukah Harry verse The Hanukah Song, and I got to go with the Hanukah Song.

ADVANCE: Adam Sandler

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/4130/saturday-night-live-tenth-reunion

(6) Molly Shannon vs. (3) Mike Myers

Molly Shannon relied a lot on big falls and physicality.  Myers relied on over the top characters with a million mocking voices.  But, the big difference between the two, Wayne’s World and Superstar.  I won’t even sully Wayne’s World by comparing the two.

ADVANCE: Mike Myers

Swan Song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yttJpstObPo&feature=related

(7) Norm Macdonald vs. (2) Dana Carvey

Let me start by professing my adoration for Norm.  I have already said it once but I believe his Weekend Update topped anyone else’s efforts.  Even the notoriously pompous Chevy Chase, who felt no one did it as well as himself, favored Norm’s version.  Norm also performed a tremendous Letterman, which even the ornery Letterman applauded (he was not fond of Piscopo’s rendition), and I still think about his Bob Dole, especially the sketch that put Bob Dole in the Real World house (“Who ate Bob Dole’s peanut butter”).  All that said this comes down to match-ups.  I think if Norm had been in another division he could have gone further, but he’s not and he has to face off with Dana Carvey.  Carvey, the Church Lady, Hanz, one half of Wayne’s World and his million impressions, are like a freight train, and it will take a lot to stop him.

ADVANCE:  Dana Carvey

Swan Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHOxaxXMKt0

The Killer Bees

(1)   John Belushi vs. (8) Cheri Oteri

Cheri Oteri sort of gets swept under the rug when talking about great female players, and she shouldn’t, the Cheerleaders alone should garner her more respect.  Additionally, she had great chemistry with Will Ferrell on Morning Latte.  The problem with her candidacy, her prescription pill junkie role and her “Simmer Down Lady” got old fast.  The second problem, John Belushi stands in her way.  Belushi had Blues Brothers, the Samurai, Brando and the absolutely unforgettable Joe Cocker performance.  Belushi simply is SNL royalty.

ADVANCE: John Belushi 

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/4162/saturday-night-live-chess-tournament

(12)  Colin Quinn vs. (4) Jimmy Fallon

Quinn and Fallon both served their time at the Weekend Update desk, I personally liked Quinn more as anchor but that will only get him so far.  Fallon did it all, original characters, screwball impressions and even some musical parodies.  Colin just doesn’t have enough at his disposal to run the table and pull another shocker.

ADVANCE: Colin Quinn

Swan Song:  http://www.hulu.com/watch/271408/saturday-night-live-tracy-morgan-vs-colin-quinn

(11) Jane Curtin vs. (3) Gilda Radner

A fun one between two of the inaugural ‘not ready for prime time players’, Gilda, the prohibitive favorite with her almost intolerable adorableness versus Jane, who let’s be honest comes off as a little cold.  Gilda had Baba Wawa, a play on Barbara Walters and her lisp, Roseanne Roseannadanna, a brash, foul mannered woman who answered letters on Weekend Update, and Emily Litella, an elderly lady who delivered a very confused editorial.  Jane essentially played every’ mother’ role in her five years and if she wasn’t playing that, she was being called an “ignorant slut” by Dan Akroyd on Update.  Now, I own some of the early seasons on DVD and while Gilda aggressively went after laughs, I love Jane’s smart underplayed style.  If the slipper fits, Jane continues her Cinderella story.

ADVANCE: Jane Curtin   

Swan Song:  http://www.hulu.com/watch/2364/saturday-night-live-weekend-update-emily-litella-on-violins-on-tv

(7)  Rachel Dratch vs. (2) Bill Murray

Bill Murray may not have been in the primary cast, he stepped in season two when Chevy left for Hollywood, and while he stumbled out of the gates it didn’t take long for him to become one of the breakout stars of the show.  He had great chemistry with Gilda on screen (and apparently off screen too).  Dratch, probably not a premier female cast member, did have a memorable residency.   Alas, Dratch just could not match Murray’s star power and charisma.

ADVANCE: Bill Murray   

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/68225/saturday-night-live-debbie-downer

Studio 8H

(1)  Chris Farley vs. (9) Will Forte 

Lorne Michaels once described Farley as the son Belushi and Akroyd never had, I doubt Lorne ever had those type of words for Forte and although I love Forte’s incongruous brand of humor, he stands no chance.

ADVANCE: Chris Farley

Swan Song: http://www.thelonelyisland.com/video/macgruber-8-barkley

(5) Amy Poehler vs. (4) Andy Samburg

Amy and Andy match up very evenly.  Andy’s digital shorts highlight many of the most recent seasons, but don’t doubt his in studio stuff; he does a pretty mean Nick Cage and a money Mark Walhberg.  Amy throws down hard though; a spot on Hillary Clinton and a killer Sharon Osbourne shows off her skilled impersonator talents.  Mix that to Kaitlin, the overzealous step daughter, and her work with Maya on the Bronx Beat, it is definitely close.  In an extremely close one, Andy by a hair.

ADVANCE: Andy Samburg

Swan Song: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7msev_saturday-night-live-kaitlin-at-the_fun

(6) Martin Short vs. (3) Phil Hartman

As I alluded to in the prior round Martin Short only stuck around for one season but don’t get it confused, it wasn’t for lack of talent.  In the last round I also alluded to Hartman being known as “the glue,” for his immense talent to work with other performers.  Maybe if Short stuck around a little longer he’d have a better chance at this one, but Hartman’s footprint on the show overshadows most, and it easily eclipses Short.

ADVANCE: Phil Hartman     

Swan Song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF1hDwJfGVU

(7) Dennis Miller vs. (2) Billy Crystal

Just to give you an idea of how popular Billy Crystal was in his one year on the show, the producers (Lorne Michaels was gone at the time) offered him the gig of hosting regularly.  That means no guest hosts, which SNL had committed to since its inception.  As good as Dennis Miller anchored Update, he cannot keep up with that.

ADVANCE: Billy Crystal   

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/270615/saturday-night-live-dana-carvey-and-tom-hanks-as-dennis-millers

Round of 64

DON PARDO

(1) Eddie Murphy vs.  (16) Jay Mohr/ Jeanne Garafolo/ Sara Silverman/ Julia Louis Drefyes/ Ben Stiller/ Robert Downey Jr/ Jim Belushi

A sixteen seed has never upset a one seed and this match up will not end that trend.  Eddie Murphy, the number one overall seed, can cruise in this match.  Buckwheat alone trumps anything this hodgepodge of disappointing cast members can muster.  I mean can you even name a single character or memorable sketch any of our sixteen seeds appeared in?

ADVANCE: Eddie Murphy

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/272878/saturday-night-live-mike-meyers-and-ben-stiller

(8) Tim Meadows vs. (9) Maya Rudolph

The eight, nine seed game is always a tossup.  Here we have Tim Meadows a real SNL veteran who lasted ten years on the show versus Maya Rudolph, who may be one of the most versatile cast members ever.  Tim Meadows early in his career played the part of the token black guy; he eventually hit his groove with the Ladies Man and played opposite Christopher Walken in the memorable Census Taker.  Maya on the other hand specialized in impressions; she played everyone from Oprah to Christina Aguilera to Lucy Liu, now that’s range.  She also scored with some recurring sketches “Bronx Beat” and “Wake Up, Wakefield.”  I have to admit, when I first started writing this I wanted to pick Tim Meadows, than I flip flopped a few times, but in the end Maya Rudolph advances.

ADVANCE: Maya Rudolph  

Swan Song:     http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/census-taker/274571

(5) Tracy Morgan vs. (12) Horatio Sanz

Sitting at the five seed, irreverent and unpredictable Tracy Morgan takes on the funny fat guy Horatio Sanz.  While Tracy never quite did impressions (other than Al Sharpton) he was the go-to black guy for a big chunk of his SNL career, but Tracy excelled most with hilarious characters like Brian Fellows, Dominican Lou and Astronaut Jones.  Horatio, like Tracy, also found most of his success with character based sketches, but to be honest Horatio functioned best as Jimmy Fallon’s sidekick more than anything else.  Whether he played Jimmy’s roommate in Jarret’s Room or Frankie, Jimmy’s best friend in the Boston teens sketches, in essence he was Jon Starks to Jimmy’s Ewing.

ADVANCE: Tracy Morgan  

Swan Song: http://www.iviewtube.com/v/156814/cork-soakers-snl-skit-%28saturday-night-live-janet-jackson%29

(4) Tina Fey vs. (13) Kenan Thompson

Tina Fey, the smart and kind of sexy co-anchor of Weekend update goes up against my favorite current cast member and criminally underused Kenan Thompson.  Tina killed as the co anchor of weekend update, whether she sat next to Jimmy Fallon or Amy Poehler, delivered constant wit.  Tina never a character strong performer, she did make huge waves with her many cameo appearances playing a deadly accurate Sarah Palin, giving SNL some of its highest ratings of all time.  Enter Kenan, heavy on celebrity impersonations, Charles Barkley, Herman Cain, and even the hilarious Grady Wilson giving sex tips.  He also throws in some awesome characters like the talk show host Deandre Cole and imprisoned convict Lorenzo McIntosh.  UPSET CITY!!!! Kenan knocks off Tina in a nail bitter.

ADVANCES:  Kenan Thompson

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/10333/saturday-night-live-mom-jeans

(6) David Spade vs. (11) Bill Hader

David Spade, one of the original “Bad Boys of SNL” goes against the chameleon like impersonator Bill Hader.  Spade starred in some of the most memorable sketches of the 90s like the “Buh-Bye” flight attendants, Dick Clark’s receptionist, and the Gap Girls, but scored most witg his Hollywood Minute, where he would cut celebrities to the bone with razor sharp wit.  Hader goes more the impersonation route with an eerie Vincent Price and a spot on Alan Alda, but Hader kills it most as Stefon the gay New York City Correspondent on Weekend update.  Spade takes this one comfortably but not easily.

ADVANCES: David Spade

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/149656/saturday-night-live-update-stefon

(3) Dan Akroyd vs. (14) Bobby Moynihan

We have an original not ready for prime time player versus someone younger than the show.  I like Moynihan a lot, his pieces on Weekend Update are always funny, he does a fun Snooki and Guy Fieri, but my toughest choice will be deciding between secondhand news correspondents Anthony Crispino and Drunk Uncle for his swan song.  Akroyd takes this one in a rout.

ADVANCES: Dan Akroyd

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/317016/saturday-night-live-weekend-update-drunk-uncle

(7) Darrell Hammond vs. (10) Rob Schneider

Darrell Hammond has the longest tenure of any SNL cast member, ever; Rob Schneider was also on SNL.  Hammond impersonated basically everyone and most celebrity impersonators are just ripping him off at this point.  Schneider played a character that gave people nicknames.  Hammond Wins.

ADVANCES: Darrell Hammond

Swan Song: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xgrk97_richard-lamer-jeff-daniels_shortfilms

(2) Chevy Chase vs. (15) Chris Elliot

Chevy Chase, the man who coined “Live from New York its Saturday Night” and creator of Weekend Update, versus Chris Elliot, a guy you probably know better from Letterman than SNL. No Contest.

ADVANCES: Chevy Chase

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/4139/saturday-night-live-steve-martins-penis-beauty-creme

ROCKEFELLER CENTER

(1) Will Ferrell vs. (16) David Koechner

Anchorman co-stars faceoff.  I won’t waste your time, Will Ferrell in a cake walk.

ADVANCES: Will Ferrell

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/69477/saturday-night-live-bill-brasky-airport-bar

(8) Kevin Nealon vs. (9) Joe Piscopo

Another eight, nine game pits Nealon against Piscopo.  Nealon anchored Weekend Update and while not its strongest rendition it did score.  He also mixed in Franz, the pseudo Arnold Schwarzenegger body builder he portrayed next to Dana Carvey and Mr. Subliminal. Piscopo somewhat rode Eddie Murphy’s coattails while also mixing in a passable Letterman and a really good Sinatra.  This really comes down to Sinatra versus Mr. Subliminal, it goes to Sinatra.

ADVANCES:  Joe Piscopo

Swan Song: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xgqmzk_mr-subliminal_shortfilms

(5) Jon Lovitz vs. (12) Seth Meyers

Jon Lovitz has a slew of character and catch phrases. Seth Myers predominantly sits behind a desk telling jokes.  In my opinion Seth Meyer’s Weekend Update is the weakest in years and that makes it impossible for him to move on.  Jon Lovitz has a ticket to the next round.

ADVANCES:  Jon Lovitz

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/331282/saturday-night-live-really-with-seth-and-amy-birth-control

(4) Adam Sandler vs. (13) Victoria Jackson

Adam Sandler detractors always say he’s too juvenile. Victoria Jackson detractors say she only plays the dumb blonde.  Detractors on both sides have their points but I’ll take Cajun Man, Opera Man and Canteen Boy over Toonces the Driving Cat any day.  Sandler takes this one pretty easy.

ADVANCES: Adam Sandler

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/278875/saturday-night-live-toonces-the-cat

(6) Molly Shannon vs. (11) Julie Sweeney

Believe it or not, both Molly Shannon and Julie Sweeney had movies based on their SNL characters.  Both movies were terrible but both movies still got made.  Sweeney had Pat about an androgynous, umm, person named Pat.  Molly had Mary Katherine Gallagher, a teen catholic school girl, who believed she was a superstar while everything else about her proved otherwise.  Molly also had Salley O’Malley and the NPR sketches.  Sweeney didn’t really have any else in her bag of tricks.

ADVANCES: Molly Shannon

Swan Song: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xl8cpg_saturday-night-live-pat-at-the-office_fun

(3) Mike Myers vs. (14) Jane Hooks

Mike Myers, arguably the strongest three seed in the tournament (Phil Hartman may disagree), finds himself up against Jane Hooks.  Myers has such a huge arsenal of characters; Wayne’s World alone laps anything Jane Hooks ever did on the show.  Hooks entire career on SNL can be boiled down to; stock female.

ADVANCES:  Mike Myers

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/3531/saturday-night-live-the-sinatra-group

(7) Norm Macdonald vs. (10) Fred Armisen

This is the marquee matchup of the first round.  Norm Macdonald, who for my money put on the best Weekend Update ever, add to that his fantastically underscored performances as Larry King, Bob Dole, Burt Reynolds and David Letterman, faces the male Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen, unbelievably versatile, playing Barack Obama to Joy Behar to an insanely funny David Patterson, he also mixes in such oddly alternative characters like Nick Fehn and Garth from Garth and Pat.  Both perform refreshingly non mainstream acts, in other words my mother would not get either of these guys.  Such a tough matchup, but a winner must be chosen.  I remember hearing Tina Fey say Norm was the last dangerous cast member, something I think SNL has been missing for a few years now and that gives Norm the edge.

ADVANCES: Norm Macdonald

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/119794/saturday-night-live-update-fred-as-gov-david-paterson

(2) Dana Carvey vs. (15) Abby Elliot

Abby Elliot probably has already passed her father in SNL lore (not that hard) and she is proving to be much more than just a female place holder on this current SNL staff but Dana Carvey wins this one.  Carvey has some Hall of Fame credentials when it comes to SNL success and if he wants to advance he’ll need them in this bracket.

ADVANCES: Dana Carvey

Swan Song: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/12/saturday-night-live-zooey-deschanel-video_n_1271742.html

THE KILLER BEES

(1) John Belushi vs. Jeff Richards

Another one versus sixteen, Richards scored as “drunk girl” on Weekend Update, Belushi scored on everything.

ADVANCES: John Belushi

Swan Song: http://tastyjeff.com/videos

(8) Cheri Oteri vs. (9) Jim Breuer

This match lines up Cheri Oteri, grounded in improv and Jim Breuer, rooted in stand up.  Oteri, never short on character driven sketches like the Cheerleaders, Morning Latte and the “Simmer Down Now” lady, showed she could hang with a one seed like Will Ferrell without being overshadowed.  Breuer on the other hand made his living on impressions and Weekend Update spots.  While he did mix in Goat Boy, a hybrid goat- man MTV VJ, it got beaten to the ground and became more annoying than funny.  Breuer’s shining moment was the Joe Pesci Show, but Oteri has too much up her sleeve to fall in this one.

ADVANCES: Cheri Oteri

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/167907/saturday-night-live-the-joe-pesci-show

(5) Chris Rock vs. (12) Colin Quinn 

Chris Rock and Colin Quinn, both stand ups through and through.  Neither did much character heavy work; Rock had Nat X, while Quinn did a passable Deniro both flourished behind the update desk.  Quinn actually hosted it; whereas Rock would get two minutes here and there to deliver some very stand upish material.  Quinn upsets one of the greatest stand ups of all time.

ADVANCES: Colin Quinn

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/2809/saturday-night-live-weekend-update-old-school-days

(4) Jimmy Fallon vs. (13) Garrett Morris

Old school versus new school, Garrett Morris the original “token black guy” of SNL takes on Jimmy Fallon, the latest star SNL has produced.  For a while it was cool to throw dirt on Fallon, “oh he breaks too much,” but if you watch any season after Will Ferrrell’s departure, it is clear Fallon carried the show appearing in an insane amount of sketches.  Morris on the other hand had a real hard time getting on show, when he did get on he scored with news for the hard of hearing and even got to say douche bag on national TV in the 70s.

ADVANCES:  Jimmy Fallon

Swan Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_b3oPslctA

(6) Kristen Wiig vs. (11) Jane Curtin    

We got a nice little cat fight in this slot.  Wiig probably the most used cast member of the current cast takes on Curtin the only member of the original cast not to get mixed up in drugs, sex and alcohol.  Wiig has a trunk full of characters, but does anyone else feel like they are all derivative of the same thing?  Meanwhile, Curtin played four different first ladies and seemed like a great straight woman, Akoyd and Belushi could play off, in a mild upset Curtin takes it.

ADVANCES: Jane Curtin

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/52188/saturday-night-live-today-show

(3) Gilda Radner vs. (14) Nora Dunn  

The first female star of SNL versus another in a long line of stock female cast members of the 1980s, is this even a question?  Gilda in a landslide.

ADVANCES: Gilda Radner

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/19301/saturday-night-live-tales-of-ribaldry

(7) Rachel Dratch vs. (10) Al Franken

Rachel Dratch, super funny, goes against Al Franken, super smart.  Dratch killed in a bunch of really funny recurring sketches, like the lovers, the Boston teens and Debbie Downer.  Franken was originally a writer on the first season of SNL before having two separate stints as a featured player.  He usually did spots on Weekend Update, although he did hit with Stuart Smalley (he even got a movie out of it).  Maybe if he ever got the Weekend Update gig it would be a different story but he didn’t and Dratch wins this match up.

ADVANCES: Rachel Dratch

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/277157/saturday-night-live-daily-affirmation

(2) Bill Murray vs. (15) Brian Doyle-Murray

Brother versus brother, I don’t think anyone will argue with this decision.

ADVANCES: Bill Murray

Swan Song: Couldn’t find any internet clips…Sorry.

STUDIO 8H

(1) Chris Farley vs. (16) Charles Rocket

For those of you who don’t know, Charles Rocket famously said “fuck” on national TV, that’s all you really have to know about him.

ADVANCES: Chris Farley

Swan Song: http://www.zebrality.com/media/2005/rocket.wmv

(8) Chris Kattan vs. (9) Will Forte

Chris Kattan and Will Forte, both big character guys, often get slept on when talking about past cast members, Kattan had Mango, Mr. Peppers and the Roxbury guys, Forte had Jon Bovi, The Falconer and MacGruber.  Kattan always seemed flamboyant compared to Forte’s absurd, so it’s really a matter of taste.  I got to go with Forte on this one, simply for delivering the movie MacGruber, which edges Night at the Roxbury, barely.

ADVANCES: Will Forte

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/3485/saturday-night-live-update-gay-hitler

(5) Amy Poehler vs. (12) Christopher Guest

Christopher Guest, awesome in one of my favorite movies of all time, This is Spinal Tap, was one and done at SNL.  Amy Poehler got nominated for two Emmy’s as a supporting actress on SNL (that doesn’t usually happen).  This one is pretty simple Amy wins.  You’ll see on Guest’s swan song he was more cut out for film anyway.

ADVANCES: Amy Poehler

Swan Song: http://videosift.com/video/Christopher-GuestHarry-Shearer-Mens-Olympic-Synchronized-Swimming-clip-1

(4) Andy Samburg vs. (13) Jason Sudeikis

While Jason Sudeikis has started to break into movies and dating up (January Jones and Olvia Wilde, really!?!), Andy Samburg takes this one quite comfortably.  I mean Andy Samburg’s digital shorts, really kind of, resurrected SNL after Amy, Tina and Jimmy left.

ADVANCES:  Andy Samburg

Swan Song: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/weekend-update-the-devil/1311375

(5) Martin Short vs. (11) Chris Parnell

This may have had the elements of an early upset.  Martin Short was only there for only one season, while Parnell paid his dues as a long time cast member.  Parnell was one half of Lazy Sunday and did a great job as a bit guy in a lot of excellent sketches.  But there is no upset here; Short proved he could really carry a sketch, like his Ed Grimley stuff, whereas Parnell never really ascended to stardom.

ADVANCES: Martin Short

Swan Song: http://www.funnyhub.com/videos/pages/SNL-lazy-sunday-narnia.html

(3) Phil Hartman vs. (14) Laraine Newman

Phil Hartman known affectionately as “the glue” for his ability to hold the show together and help other cast members shine, lines up against Laraine Newman, and if Garrett Morris was the first “token black guy,” than Newman was the first “stock female.”  Hartman takes this one; he can even rest his starters in the fourth quarter.

ADVANCES: Phil Hartman

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/4136/saturday-night-live-puppy-uppers

(7) Dennis Miller vs. (10) Ana Gasteyer

Another classic match-up between stand up and improv, Dennis Miller the sadistically smart Weekend Update anchor versus Ana Gasteyer the sketch heavy character comedienne.  Dennis Miller had easily the smartest Weekend Update ever and if you could keep up with the brainy, obscure references you were in for much delight.  Gasteyer on the other hand slipped into many masks, the music teacher, the delicious dish, Hilary Clinton, Martha Stewart amongst many others.  I was all set to give Gasteyer the nod, but after watching a few old Miller clips, game goes to Miller.

ADVANCES:  Dennis Miller

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/4156/saturday-night-live-nprs-delicious-dish-schweddy-balls

(2) Billy Crystal vs. Michael O’Donoghue

Billy Crystal another one and done cast member, was the runaway star his only year on the program.  Michael O’Donoghue, the original head writer of the series, was never a true cast member but got screen time with Mr. Mike’s Least Loved Bedtime Tales.  Billy populist appeal shines over O’Donoghue’s dark bedtime tales.

ADVANCE:  Billy Crystal

Swan Song: http://www.hulu.com/watch/4152/saturday-night-live-mr-mikes-blind-chicken

Live From New York its Saturday Night….

So here’s the deal, 64 of the greatest SNL cast members assembled march madness style to determine the Greatest of All-Time.  Each day one round will advance and I will break it down match-up by match-up.

RULES

Seeding: Decided by cast member popularity while on the show.  This does not include popular opinion on any projects a cast member did outside of SNL, for example, Chris Rocks’ stand up, Tina Fey on 30 rock, or Bill Murray’s Movie career, are not included in seeding.

Advancing: Determined by quality of work on camera, during SNL career.  No extra points will be accrued for being a head writer (sorry Seth, Chevy and Tina).  Memorable sketches, recurring characters, impressions and Weekend Update performances are all in play as well as SNL movies.

Divisions: The four divisions are broken down to, The Don Pardo Division, The Killer Bees Division,  The Studio 8H Division and The Rockefeller Center Division.

And let it be known, there will be no complicated formulas or polling done all the shots will be called by me.

So without further ado let me unveil the bracket…

Some observations:

The four number one seeds Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, John Beluschi and Chris Farley, all pretty self explanatory.

The sixteen seed in the Don Pardo division is a compilation of all the big stars of SNL that you probably didn’t even realize started their, including Jay Mohr, Janeane Garofalo, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Beluschi, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr.

Toughest Division: Rockefeller Division: with Will Ferrell, Dana Carvey, Mike Myers and Adam Sandler as the top four seeds, whoever gets out of this division will certainly earn it’s spot in the final four.

Family Affair: In the Killer Bees Division,  2 seed Bill Murray takes on his brother, 15 seed Brian-Doyle Murphy, while Father and Daughter Chris and Abbey Elliot both lock down 15 seeds of their own.

Girl Power: The adorable Gilda Radner holds the highest seed for any women as a 3 seed, while the brainy Tina Fey is the only other woman to grab a top four seed in the perennial  boys club, that is SNL.

TUNE IN TOMORROW TO SEE WHO ADVANCES….

The Walt “Clyde” Frazier Drinking Game

Level 1: Take one Drink

Clyde’s Vocab: Anytime Clyde Says:

Beneficiary, Bedevil, Capricious, Continuity, Diminutive, Discombobulated,     Dexterity, Effervescent, Egregious, Galvanize,  Impetus, Lackadaisical, Methodically, Mesmerizing, Neophyte, Omnipresent, Overzealous, Penchant, Precocious, Prodigious, Serendipity, Serendipitous, Spontaneity Tantalizing, Tenacity, Tenacious, Tumultuous, Vivacious

Nicknames: Anytime Clyde refers to:

Amare Stoudemire as STAT; Jeremy Lin as Linsanity; Carmelo Anthony as Melo, Iman   Shumpert as Shump, Steve Novak as Novocaine 

Level 2: Take two drinks

Clyde Rhymes:  Anytime Clyde says:

Banking and thanking, Bounding and astounding, Dishing and swishing, Fire and Desire, Hanging and banging, Huffin and Stuffin, Huffing and puffing, Movin’ and grovin’,  Out-muscling and out-hustling, Penetrate and create,  Posting and toasting, Razzle Dazzle, Running and Gunning, Shaking and baking, Slicing and dicing, Spinning and   winning, Stopping and popping, Stumbling and bumbling, Swooping and hooping,          Wheeling and dealing

Clyde Phrases: Anytime Clyde says:

Altruistic Bounce Pass, Feline Quickness, Knicks with a Knack, Matador Defense, MSG is Aroused, Quantum Leap, Starting to Percolate, Standing Tall and Talented, Swirling Dervish, Swiss Cheese Defense

Level 3: Finish Drink

Whenever Clyde Wears Any Animal Print or Leather

Whenever Clyde mentions Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe

The Night I Fell In Love with Baseball and the New York Yankees

October eighth, 1995, was the night I fell in love with baseball and the New York Yankees.  I was seven years old at the time and well aware of baseball.  I collected baseball cards, I played little league, I had my black glove with neon green trim, I knew the stars like Ken Griffey Jr., and Cal Ripken Jr. but none of that really separated me from any other American born seven year old boy.  My grandmother and father were both life long Yankee fans so, I guess I was on the Yankee fan track; I was familiar with Mike Stanley, Don Mattingly and Danny Tartabull but looking back I cannot recall a single at bat from any of their careers.  I know I saw them play, I had to have.  Just no particular moment stuck in my head.  October eighth, 1995 was the first baseball moment that stuck in my head so vividly that I think about it more than any other sports moment of my life.

It was game five of the American League Division Series.  The Yankees faced off against the Seattle Mariners.  This series proved to be historic for a multitude of reasons none of which I became aware of until years later.  They played the series in a strike shortened season, just the year before the strike canceled the World Series for the first time ever, something that both World Wars and a Depression failed to do, the Yankees won the first wild card in baseball history (there had never even been an ALDS before), a few promising young rookies made their playoff debuts (Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada) and most importantly this series would go on to save baseball in Seattle.  I have to stress once again I was aware of none of this at seven years old.  Oh and by the way it unveiled itself as truly a great series.

The format of the ALDS was best three out of five; the first two games would be played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, while the series finished up with three games in Seattle’s famous Kingdome.  The Yankees won the first two games at home including a fifteen inning epic that ended on a Jim Leyritz walk off home run.  Than the series moved to Seattle where the Mariners won the next two games and set up a game five, win or go home scenario to be played on Sunday, October eighth 1995.  I described the first four games briefly because much like most of my baseball memories proceeding October eighth, 1995 they are fuzzy at best.  I can only remember Jim Leyritz’s home run in the vaguest sense of the word.  I don’t even know if I watched the game, I can only almost make out the front cover of the newspaper the next morning and even that may just be a proxy I put in my mind.  Game five went eleven innings and I can truly only remember the bottom of the eleventh with just a few obscure flashes of the rest of the game.

I sat downstairs with my father, mother and sister watching the game.  As I recall it, we perched ourselves in front of the television living and dying with every pitch.  I remember the Seattle Mariners reliever Norm Charlton intensely in my head; I remember thinking he looked like a clown, as his curly mullet exited the back of his baseball cap.  I also remember concluding that he and Randy Johnson must have been brothers with their matching hairstyles.  Another vision burned in my mind was the sight of Randy Johnson entering the game as a reliever (he was a starter so this was especially odd), tall, long, rough face and unlike his clownish brother Norm Charlton, Randy Johnson was downright chilling.  I distinctly recall the hostile crowd in the Kingdom that night, loud and frenzied.  What I cannot conjure up in my mind is how the Yankees scored any of their five runs, not even one Yankee at bat etched itself into my memory.   But, the bottom of the eleventh stays there indelibly.

The Yankees scored in the top of the eleventh to break a 4-4 stalemate (according the Baseball Reference they scored on a Randy Velarde single, which I have no recollection of).  The inning started with the heart of the Seattle Mariners lineup due up, Joey Cora, a speedy second basemen, would lead off the inning, followed by Ken Griffey Jr., the biggest star in the game at the time, trailed by Edgar Martinez, Seattle’s designated hitter extraordinaire.  Even at that time I was well aware of these guys, Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. baseball cards were sacred ground for any seven year old.  Joey Cora led off with a bunt single.  Man on first, no outs.  Griffey hit a grounder up the middle, Cora advanced to third.  No outs, men on first and third.  The Yankees outfield backed up to “no doubles defense” to try and ensure the ball would not be hit over their heads and they could keep the speedy Griffey from scoring.  Edgar Martinez strolled to the plate with the crowd now possessed.  Martinez hit a line drive down the left field line that still replays in my head like a fresh memory; the ball rolled to the wall, Griffey came charging around third, slid to the plate, popped up, hands in the air, stampeded by teammates, as a dejected Jim Levitz knelt on both knees in front of home plate.  Just like that, game over, Yankees lose, season over, tears roll down my face.

The next season Derek Jeter won Rookie of the Year, I went to my first game at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees won the World Series.  That season I followed intensely, as I would every following season.  The Yankees did not only break my heart October eighth, 1995, they also took part of it with them.  It is part of a theory I subscribe to, true sports fandom can only be achieved through heartbreak.

“to be Counter” 13