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