This past Saturday was Steve Martin's birthday and, if you're old enough, you may remember back to a time when the snow-capped comedian/actor/musician was more than just a comedy archaeologist, exhuming the corpses of classic comic franchises and defiling the shit out of them. No, he actually used to be pretty creative, innovative, and weird. For example, take his classic Saturday Night Live song, "King Tut."
Why write a funk-disco song about the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen which features such piquant observations as "Buried with a donkey" and "He's an Egyptian!?" Well, why the hell not? SNL has made a tradition out of music-related skits and songs, but it's not the best or the worst that appeal to us the most here at Rocks Off. It's the weirdest.
1. James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub Party: Eddie Murphy is another comedian who has chosen the middle of the road over his formerly cutting-edge material, which is a shame, because the man was capable of some of the most dead-on impressions you've ever heard. His take on the Godfather of Soul, for instance, is a true classic, despite the fact that you can barely understand him and he's pretty much just singing about a Jacuzzi.
2. Various Bobbi and Marty Culp sketches: Two of the most bizarre characters ever dreamed up for SNL, Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer's Bobbi and Marty Culp are a couple of suburban parents who only want to be hip enough to relate to the kids, and who regularly perform whacked-out themed medleys at various functions, school assemblies, airport closings and an Al Gore concession rally among them.
Their choice of songs to cram together are never anything short of brilliant, mixing stuff you'd expect them to like (Huey Lewis & the News, Elton John) with stuff you absolutely would not (DMX, Soundgarden, Beck). They were supposed to come across as lame, and yet by the end of each sketch, we genuinely love these guys.
3. "I Wish It Was Christmas Today" None of what you see here makes any damn sense. What the hell is Tracy Morgan doing there? Whose parents are protesting that Christmas isn't near when it so clearly is? Why the synthesized elephant calls? There are no answers, nor should there be. Just before the Lonely Island boys were part of SNL, this song actually became their Christmas tradition for a couple of years, probably the weirdest Christmas tradition they ever had. And who knew Horatio Sanz could shred on the tiple like that?
4. Derek Stevens: Dana Carvey's portrayal of a fresh-out-of-rehab musician who shows up to a pitch meeting without so much as a demo is fantastic mainly for the directions his mind goes in when he's making up lyrics on the spot. Yes, this is the "Choppin' Broccoli" song.
5. Candy Slice: Gilda Radner's Candy Slice parodies Patti Smith when she's performing, but when she's staggering around in a drug-induced stupor backstage, she could be any rock star, really. Her stage persona is truly frightening, in a good way, and the fact that she's rocking against yeast is just icing on the cake. Watch for cameos from Paul Schaeffer (with hair!) and Harold Ramis.
6. The Barry Gibb Talk Show: We're not sure whose idea it was to recast the Bee Gees' Barry Gibb as a streetwise, rageaholic political pundit, but it turned out to be pure genius. This is the main reason we hope for Justin Timberlake's continued success: We generally don't care for his music, but the guy is hilarious.
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7 & 8. The Lonely Island: We couldn't decide which was weirder: the SNL Digital Short salute to early 90's Euro dance-pop (featuring... Tom Hanks?) or this little musical number about a guy (above) who's having a great day.
Both have Andy Samberg's Lonely Island stamp all over them. We'll let you decide.