Saturday Night Live (April 14th, 2007) – Shia LaBeouf & Avril Lavigne

Saturday Night Live

April 14th, 2007

Shia LaBeouf and Avril Lavigne

It’s a very youth-skewed Saturday Night Live with two early 20s younglings taking the stage. Does it result in a show which reflects the revived nature of the Digital Short generation, or does the show just drag them down with them? Let’s take a look.

The Monologue

It was clear that LaBeouf was fairly uncomfortable, as he immediately headed out into the backstage area and basically had the rest of the cast carry the monologue for him while he played a rather manic and simplistic straight man. It was cute, sure, but it was certainly not enough to make me have great hopes for LeBouf’s ability to carry the show.

The Host

Shia LaBeouf comes from a background of comedy, having spent years on Even Stevens on the Disney Channel, and yet it didn’t translate well into this scenario for the simple reason that the material just isn’t as polished. That sounds like an odd comment to make, but LaBeouf never really got to sink his teeth into a character, a common problem in the modern days of SNL. He’s just kind of there in pretty well every skit, and it resulted in a lack of an impact. I always feel like a host should be able to establish themselves, and yet LaBeouf was never given the chance even within the Digital Short. The only skit which Shia LeBouf really seemed to be in some way involved in was the one featuring ‘Shia’ LaBeouf with ‘Maya’ Rudolph, which was still him playing the straight man like in the monologue. He wasn’t a bad host, but rather an uneventful one.

The Skits

Yawn. I’m sorry, but the skits just don’t do it anymore, and I really don’t feel that Saturday Night Live is living up to its skits. The Prince Show is a great concept that seems to have been driven in the ground, and it has no depth beyond Armisen’s strong performance. The skit about kids buying beer had some really funny bits but ended so damn quickly I became annoyed at it, and the Sofa king sketch was just derivative. I like the Dakota Fanning Show as a concept, and it was nice to see Avril get involved in a sketch, and I like Keenan’s reactions…actually, I kind of liked that sketch. A lot. Really, the sketches weren’t too bad. The sketch between Shia and Maya (They rhyme!) was quirky, cute and charming…something that can’t be said for the rest of the show. And yet, in the end, it was still inconsequential, and none of the sketches will be remembered. Stuff like the Knives sketch was still all LaBeouf playing straight man, and I wish he would have had room to break out somewhere in there. The ‘Intimate Moment with John Mayer and Jessica Simpson’ was a smart little piece, didn’t run too long, and yet it was so short that it had little to no impact on the show as a whole.

The Digital Short

[Note: The Digital Short has been taken off YouTube, and is unlikely to return considering the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech.]

The basic premise: “Let’s Make fun of the use of overdramatic music in death scenes on TV shows.” The song in question was Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide and Seek,’ and it was quite effective as satire [Edit: Actually, it’s incredibly effective. Head to YouTube to watch the O.C. scene in question (Starts at 2:00) and it’s freakin’ hilarious]. The only problem is that it was really just the same joke being driven into the ground, which works fine as an overall statement but lacks the variety to make a digital short truly memorable. That being said, as someone who watches those shows I found it quite funny, and I think it has satirical value of a different sort than other digital shorts which is good for variety. [Edit: I now think it is bloody hilarious, it’s growing on me]

Weekend Update

Darrell Hammond does a great Imus, they did a decent job of dealing with the Anna Nicole baby situation (Rudolph and Samberg nailed that short interview piece), so on the whole it was a half decent edition of Weekend Update. I think it could have done better with the material, but there was nothing which intensely disagreed with me.

The Musical Guest: Avril Lavigne

Songs Performed: ‘Girlfriend’ [Music Video – YouTube] and ‘I Can Do Better’ [MP3 – YouSendIt] from The Best Damn Thing

I think that ‘Girlfriend’ is a cute little song that has potential from a summer single perspective, and I’m glad to see that there was not a full choreographed dance routine when performed live, but there was still far too much dancing for someone like Lavigne who should simply not be dancing. The problem is that her second song (‘I Can do Better’) also featured odd choreography and a lyric which was just terrible. It even had the same really annoying cheerleader bridge that just isn’t worth anyone’s time, and the melody of the song more or less disappeared when performed live. Avril’s voice is best on ballads and songs with melody, not these worthless attempts at emulating Gwen Stefani and a derivative version of herself. After reaching some level of maturity or at least mature-esque behaviour with the last album, this is kind of insulting. [Random Note? I totally just realized that the guy playing guitar for Avril Lavigne was the guitar player for the House Band on Rock Star: INXS. And that makes me mildly amused.]

The Verdict

In the end, neither of the two stars of the episode really stood out. They got dragged down by the nature of the material, or in Avril’s case her own material. Avril is making the least impactful music of her career, so she was bound to be limited in her ability to stand out, and LaBeouf just got lost in the overall show dynamic without a sketch that really allowed him to take a lead role (Every single time the straight man). I guess that it was just all too samey, but I should be glad that it didn’t result in anything utterly terrible in the process. Average is probably good for SNL at this stage, really.

10 Comments

Filed under NBC, Saturday Night Live, Television

10 responses to “Saturday Night Live (April 14th, 2007) – Shia LaBeouf & Avril Lavigne

  1. If I can make it through an episode of SNL without groaning, I consider it a success. And I don’t blame the cast. They try so hard to make even the lamest premise work. I find that recently (well, the past couple years )the skits are shoddily written and rely far too much on the performance of the actors in the skits to be successful.

    The evolution of the digital shorts has been interesting: while variety is good, I feel the quality has been inconsistent. When it’s good, it’s the best thing SNL has got, but when it isn’t you wonder…..

    Also: House Band- awesome. And according to EW last week, Avril had complete creative control over this album, which she hasn’t had in the past…..I feel that might explain a lot.

  2. Erin, I’ve since listened to the entire album. I might blog about how mind-numbingly terrible some of it is. Whoever gave her complete creative control should be shot.

    And I tend to agree on the digital shorts; I feel as if there’s an internet reaction of “OMG Hilarious” for every one even when only a few have been truly inspired (I’d argue it’s really only been Lazy Sunday and Dick in a Box, personally).

  3. You realize I’m judging you now?!

    The ENTIRE ALBUM?!! Why would you willingly expose yourself to such a thing?

  4. I agree with what Erin said about making it through an entire episode without yawning and groaning. It used to be a treat to stay up and watch an entire episode of SNL, now it is a chore.

    As for the writing, I thought that the cast contributed a large amount to the writing of the skits.

  5. Erin, I see in Avril Lavigne someone who is capable of creating a great album, and I think that in order to properly attack her for an album of pure tripe I need to be able to be as objective as possible. As a result, I’ve listened to the album. And now I can say without doubt that this isn’t just a case of the bad single…the album’s just that bad. And I can say this for a fact, not just speculation. I’m thorough

    And yeah, I know that I used to view SNL as an event and now I only watch when there’s something intriguing host/musical guest wise. I guess that’s just a sign of the times.

  6. I know the cast does contribute a great deal to the skits, but there is a writing team. Also, Lorne and co. have final say over what gets on the air, and really, he should maintain higher standards.

    So when it gets down to it, crap gets put on the air and the cast does with it what they can. Yeah, it’s partially their fault the skits are crap, but someone needs to instigate quality control.

    I agree with you Myles about Avril’s ability to make a great album. She just hasn’t matured as an artist yet. And if the EW article is any indication, she thinks she’s the shit and her current music is the shit and people who don’t get it, she, well, fires ’em. Because of this, I really doubt she’ll ever mature and reach her true potential.

  7. I think the problem that I see, and my brother pointed this out to me, is that there is really a power struggle between the old guard and the newer generation.

    This episode featured a lot of the younger kids, the new blood, and I think it was better for it…but there were still the usual signs of the older generation everywhere. It’s at one of those transition periods, and I think there is the possibility for the Samberg generation to flourish in years to come…they just need to be given the chance.

  8. Ian

    I get more out of watching Conan than I do for SNL, most of the time, these days.

  9. J_Brisby

    I don’t think Avril’s album is completely bad. I don’t have a problem with mindless fluff; what spoils the album for me is that it’s too mean-spirited. But it has two songs I love, ‘Contagious’ and ‘Innocence,’ both of which pretty much fit the description of mindless fluff.

    I’m more surprised that anyone still watches SNL. I was sure they quietly switched to a laughtrack about ten years ago. Try MADTV for real sketch comedy. They even gave Avril a chance to do a real sketch! Which actually let her poke fun at her own image!

    What a concept, eh? Actually MAKING USE of the guests for the purposes of comedy!

  10. Avril will regret having an obscene tatoo when she “grows up”. I can not think why any person would want the f word tatooed on their body.

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