SNL Mocks Wounded War Hero

Saturday Night Live has always pushed the envelope pretty hard but they might’ve really stepped in it this time.

Comedian and SNL cast member Pete Davidson’s dad was killed in the 9/11 attack on The World Trade Center.  Former Navy Seal Dan Crenshaw lost his eye in an IED blast in Afghanistan while fighting the War on Terror.  The Irony is deep, the joke was shallow and the backlash is unforgiving.

As a comedian, I’m usually the first to defend comedy against the PC crusaders of today, but this is different.  Being a war hero doesn’t mean you should be exempt from getting roasted on a show like SNL.  

John McCain was a war hero, but as a politician he did and said some things that made him a worthy target on SNL.  I enjoyed Darrell Hammond’s portrayal of him but there was a huge difference between that and what happened last Saturday.

First of all, the Darryl Hammond sketches were funny.  They were funny because they were well-written and focused on what was funny about John McCain as a politician.  Hammond and the writers exaggerated McCain’s hard-nosed, war-hardened way of calling things exactly as he saw them with little regard for tact or sugar-coating.  This is a recipe for good comedy.  Identify what’s funny about a person and then exaggerate it 1000% for the audience. 

Secondly, its important to note that the thing that’s funny about someone is always relatively harmless.  It’s never tragic or sad because that’s not how funny works.  Hitler’s mustache is funny.  The rest of Hitler is not.  Lesson over.

Hammond’s team understood how funny works.  His sketches were tasteful enough and so well done, that even John McCain himself, could appreciate the humor in them.  In fact, he appreciated them enough that he made an appearance on SNL after Hammond’s sketches aired.

Pete Davidson and whoever helped write The Weekend Update segment on Dan Crenshaw did a poor and, dare I say, lazy job of identifying what’s funny about the GOP candidate.   Davidson said, “You may be surprised to hear he’s a Congressional candidate from Texas and not a hitman in a porno movie.”  I’ve seen a lot of porno movies and there aren’t enough of them that feature hit men for there to be a stereotype.  Therefore, our brain’s can’t produce the mental image of the porno movie hit man quickly enough to cause the “recognition laugh” jokes like this rely on.  That’s bad science.  Bond villain works better.  It’s still lazy writing but at least it’s a recognizable stereotype, so it works.  Just putting “porno movie” after it isn’t enough to make it funny.

Bad or lazy writing isn’t the only problem here though.  Dan Crenshaw was a Navy Seal who wears an eye patch because he lost his eye in combat!  He was serving our country and was seriously injured when an IED exploded!  And Pete Davidson makes light of that by saying, “I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war, or whatever” while he laughs at himself like a 12-year-old boy who just said, “shit” in front of his parents for the first time!  Are you fucking kidding me?!

Our country has far too many combat vets that are disfigured or disabled from IED blasts and reminding people of that fact is going to kill the best of jokes that were written with the best of intentions.  Do it in a bad joke that’s smothered in juvenile cynicism and anti-patriotic overtones…and this is what you get.  Public outrage.

Listen, I recognize that SNL is a shell of what it once was.  It’s impossible for them to pull the talent they used to because Comedians, improvisors and comedy writers of today, have so many other media platforms that pay better than SNL.  I get that.  But not being funny is one thing.  Lots of TV shows aren’t funny.  Not possessing the capacity to recognize this sketch was going to be a problem…that’s a whole other thing.  That’s a Roseanne thing.  Even worse!

Roseanne was the sole author of a single tweet.  Pete Davidson’s segment had to make it out of a writing room full of writers, get approved by a chain of command and then everyone, including Lorne Michaels, watched it in rehearsal all week.  And it still made it on the show!  That means the entire culture of that show is a problem.  Which is sad because I used to be a huge fan.

The outrage and disgust SNL and Pete Davidson are receiving for this is completely warranted.  It was a bad joke written with bad intentions, that wouldn’t have been funny about anyone, let alone a war hero that was wounded in action.   So, let’s not lump this in with the conversation about how the snowflake generation’s political correctness crusade is hurting comedy, because that’s another blog.


Alec Baldwin Roundhouses Dude Over Parking Spot

We’ve all had occasion to wait patiently for a parking spot to open; only to have it stolen by some asshole, void of courtesy because his parents didn’t love him enough to teach him the word no.  Then we watch as he hurriedly exits his car, staring down at the ground as if he doesn’t notice you’re there.  We all want to get out of our car and smack the piss out of that dude.  We all want to teach him the lesson his parents failed to.  To stand over his defenseless body and say, “Quit being a dickhead!  The world ain’t all about you!”

But we don’t do that.  We give them a little horn action, hold up the middle finger and drive off like a civilized member of society.

We can’t afford to go to jail, we can’t afford a lawsuit, we can’t afford to get our ass kicked in the middle of the street, let’s face it…we can’t afford a lot of things that Alec Baldwin can evidently afford.  This dude is a great actor and I love him in nearly every movie he’s been in.  From drama to comedy, he can do it all.  

But off screen he just seems like the worst prick to ever put on pants.  Going off on airline staff for no reason, taking swings at photographers, refusing to show identification to the police when he gets stopped, leaving horrible voicemails to his 12-year-old daughter, now he punches a guy who took his parking spot…when does it end?  

Hey Alec Baldwin, we get that you have an amazing TV and Film career, we get that you’re super rich, we get that you’re friends with Jerry Seinfeld…but, that doesn’t mean you’re more important than the rest of us.   So, stop being a dickhead.  The world ain’t all about you.  


UFC Star Has Worst Day

UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar just had, what could be considered, his worst day ever.  He got blackout drunk and his brain did what blackout brains do.  It kicked right into autopilot and set a course for home.  I’m not proud of it but I’ve been there myself.  Your brain means well but the problem with kicking into autopilot is…there’s no captain.  Autopilot is a computer.  It doesn’t know what to do when a flock of geese gets sucked into the engine.  You need Sully for that shit.

I’m not defending Stephan Bonnar.  He got blacked out drunk, got behind the wheel of a car, drove like a maniac until finally pulling over to pass out and resisted arrest when police tried to wake him.  Thank God, for everyone involved, no one was injured or killed.  I do, however, feel bad for him.  He will deservedly be punished and I’m certain his personal and professional life will suffer.  There’s no doubt in my mind if he were still in control of his actions, none of this would’ve happened.  So, I feel bad for what he’s going through right now and will continue to go through as he deals with the consequences of his actions.

I’m guessing that was Stephan Bonnar’s worst day.  I’m guessing his best day was the historic night he fought that epic battle against Forrest Griffin in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter: Season 1.  That fight did more for the UFC than any other fight in the organization’s history.  Despite losing a close decision to Griffin, Bonnar was also rewarded a UFC contract and went on to have a career worthy of entrance into the UFC Hall of Fame.  

Bonnar has never been one to count out in a fight.  If he got knocked down, he got back up and kept swinging.  So, let’s not count him out now.  He got knocked down but let’s assume he’ll get back up.  When I got my DUI I wasn’t famous like Bonnar, but I was a cop.  I was a role model for some and I was certainly expected to obey the law and behave in a responsible manner deserving of my position.  I was working undercover at the time and going through a divorce.  Pretending to be a scumbag everyday while trying to deal with a miserable situation at home had me in a bad spot and that night it all came to a head and I had my worst day.

Fortunately, no one was hurt and I was able to get back up and start swinging again.  It took a while to earn back the respect I had lost but I didn’t give up and worked at it every day until that day eventually faded from a defining moment to just a footnote.  I don’t know what led Bonnar to this moment but as a fan, and as someone who’s gone through what he’s going through now, I wish him the very best and hope he handles himself appropriately from here.  If I could give him any advice it would be this.  It’s not your worst day that defines you.  It’s what you do after your worst day, that defines you.  So, get up brother.  Keep swinging.