You’ll believe in magical footwear after seeing ‘The Wishin’ Boot’ on ‘SNL’

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Blake Shelton on ‘SNL': 3 Sketches You Have to See.

Country superstar and The Voice coach extraordinaire Blake Shelton knows what he’s good at – that would be singing – which is probably why the five-time Grammy nominee spent his first episode hosting Saturday Night Live belting out so many jams. This weekend, Blake Shelton will do the most mainstream American of mainstream American things: Be the host and musical guest on “Saturday Night Live.” Shelton is the first country singer to host the famed late-night sketch show since Taylor Swift, who took the stage in November 2009, way back when she was decidedly still a country star.

The country music star was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Thursday night when he was asked by the host to play The Whisper Challenge. Instead of relying on Shelton’s acting skills or comedic chops to win laughs, the sketch show frequently cast him as a singer or shoved a guitar into his hands for some mild comedy. It started with his monologue, which didn’t give him much to do save sit on some hay and strum a guitar, and was got worse in the second sketch of the night, with Shelton playing a version of The Bachelor as an excuse to let the show’s female stars do their craziest wannabe wife impressions.

It’s a fitting, pass-the-baton situation: Now that Swift has officially defected to the pop world, Nashville needs a new face of mainstream country music. The game involves one person wearing headphones with loud music playing while another reads out a phrase on a card which the first person has to try and guess through lip reading. Shelton played so many different troubadours during the episode, including a country singer who sort of looks like Blake Shelton (but with blond hair and a mustache), a strummer on a local morning television show, and actually Blake Shelton, that by the time Shelton took to SNL’s music stage to croon his own songs, it seemed as if the show had already been through enough musical numbers to last for six episodes. When he did get something to do—like in the Topeka Today sketch—Shelton was occasionally charming and always game, but for the most part fell flat. The 38-year-old seemed bemused by the situation but agreed to give it a go, however he was soon stumped when faced with saying the British actors name.

A relatively slim outing in terms of quantity – there were only nine sketches this week, and SNL usually tops out around eleven or twelve per episode, and even “Weekend Update” ran uncharacteristically long, featuring a rare three guests – last night’s show stretched out its material to confusing effect. Here are some of the “characters” he played last night: A wholesome farmer, a country music singer, a singer on a talk show, a Texan on a parole board, a southern guy at a party and, oh yeah, don’t forget about the sketch where he played Blake Shelton.

His easygoing, down-home charm and likable banter with his fellow coaches—especially Adam Levine, who was tapped to pull double duty on SNL himself two years ago—both made Shelton the hit show’s breakout star and indicate that he’d be more than comfortable in a variety show setting. Heavy on the pop cultural nods, from a somewhat amusing spin on The Bachelor to a weird twist on Shawshank Redemption, the episode proved to be a weak one in a mostly strong season. It happened to Swift unwittingly: She became so famous with her early albums that it seemed only natural that she became country’s ambassador to the general public.

And despite the fact the Benedict has made his name on hit TV show Sherlock as well as appearing in major films including The Imitation Game and Star Trek Into Darkness, it seems Blake has never crossed paths with him before. With all that talk of wet, soggy balls in Thursday’s press conference featuring New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his star quarterback Tom Brady, “Deflate-gate” was the only choice to lead in the show.

He’s a frequent late-night guest, particularly on his home network’s franchises—and through those visits, Shelton has proven that he knows how to fully commit to a bit, no matter how silly it may be. However he revealed earlier this week that he isn’t worried about the show. “I’m not really nervous,” he insisted in a promotional clip. “I’m a natural at making an a*s out of myself. Instead of hanging the show’s opening sketch on a bunch of people talking about “underinflated balls” until the word “balls” loses all meaning, SNL turned its attention to great celebrity impressions. While Shelton wanted to emulate the corny jokes of the one-time variety show, the cast members (all dressed in overalls and big-skirted dresses) couldn’t quite grasp the concept and instead used it as a chance to tell generic, dirty jokes. It’s been in the works for awhile, ever since Shelton was cast as a coach and mentor of NBC’s hit “The Voice,” the only singing competition to endure as “American Idol” marches quietly toward reality TV afterlife.

Shelton brought out his guitar once again for a stint on talk show Topeka Today, where he guested as a local singer performing a song that an older man (played by Taran Killam decked out in some pretty impressive makeup) wrote about his late wife. It also had a re-enactment of the court scene from A Few Good Men (“You can’t handle the truth!”) between a reporter and an equipment coach (Bobby Moynihan) – but the whole sketch caused frown lines as deep as the ones on Belichick’s face. His TV-ready quips, his musical chops, his sweet, genuine bond with contestants and his lightning-speed banter with fellow coach Adam Levine all endeared him to viewers. Shelton welcomed a banjo player and sat on a bale of hay to play a “Hee-Haw” inspired game of “Pickin’ and Grinnin’” – which is a little bit of music followed by some good-old fashioned clean country jokes.

Oh, and for the purposes of this hypothetical argument, Timberlake doesn’t count.) Either way, we can expect to see Shelton’s episode feature numerous jokes about rednecks, the NFL’s ridiculous Deflate-Gate scandal (which has “cold open” written all over it), the State of the Union address (and President Obama’s cheeky wink), American Sniper (and the controversy surrounding it), and Adam Levine. He lands long magazine profiles that play up his “country boy in the big city” shtick. (Whenever he spots a deer in Los Angeles, he sure wishes he had his hunting rifle!) The tabloids obsess about his marriage to fellow superstar Miranda Lambert (every week there’s a new story how they’re supposedly madly in love, ready to break up, or expecting a baby). Leslie Jones – wearing blonde pigtails – summed it up best: “This is wrong.” In this Bachelor spoof, Shelton played a farm boy from Iowa sifting through a selection of bachelorettes who all seem to be teachers from Hollywood who occasionally starred in porn films. Blake Shelton might not have a background in comedy, but the country boy was eager to let his audience know that he really does have a strong appreciation for the art of televised sketch comedy.

You could see how much fun he was having during the first performance, which gave the show a burst of energy that even non-country listeners could appreciate. “Wishin’ Boot” might be joke, but it still sounds like something straight off country radio–and that’s the point. Part of the reason Shelton managed to accomplish this rare type of fame, aside from the TV show that broadcasts him into millions of home every week, is the same way Swift attracted attention far beyond country music’s borders: She stayed true to her image, and it was one that people (beyond just country fans) liked a whole lot.

The digital short, like many of the night’s sketches, seemed to go on forever, but it was weirdly catchy, and did have some high points: Between Shelton’s dog turning into a boot and Kate McKinnon’s boot holding a never-ending supply of food, the music video was just absurd enough to justify the “Hey, here’s a country song that has some silly lyrics!” premise. Most of the cast appeared on stage to support Shelton and his feel-good memories about the Hee-Haw of his youth, only to crush them into the ground with crass jokes and off-color humor. With the exception of Kate McKinnon as a stringy Keith Urban and Taran Killam as a falsetto-voiced Adam Levine, the impressions were surprisingly weak. But this works for Shelton, who plays the role of a guy amused to find himself so famous: After all, we really want our celebrities to be just like us. Throw in some bonus Leslie Jones sporting a pair of wicked pigtails, and this is a fairly strong opening monologue for anyone, especially a newbie like Shelton.

Shelton’s musical performances included songs with words like “honky tonk,” “four-wheel drive”, “dirt roads,” “chew tobacco” and “spit.” He was in his element and clearly belongs on the stage – just not as an actor. He often emphasizes that he spends as much time as possible in his home state of Oklahoma. “I literally leave the show, go to the house, and shut the gate,” he told Men’s Journal. “The only people’s houses that I’ve been to in L.A. are [‘Voice’ stars] Adam Levine’s, Christina Aguilera’s, [executive producer] Mark Burnett’s, and Michael Bublé’s.” Yet those are still some pretty famous names. Along with Adam Levine, he’s remained on “The Voice” for all seven seasons (and the upcoming eighth) and is a frequent guest on late-night talk shows.

-Killam was the runner-up MVP tonight: Between his turn as an angry old man in Topeka Today and as the ever-evasive Tom Brady in the cold open (“I’m not a science computer!”), he brought humor to sketches that needed it. While any song Shelton releases goes straight to the top of the country radio charts (he’s had a dozen No. 1 songs in a row, and his current single “Lonely Tonight” looks to be on its way), his sales aren’t what they used to be, and he hasn’t had the same success in mainstream charts. As Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong danced with scary enthusiasm in their Sunday best, Jones very hesitantly danced along behind them while flashing looks of suspicion. -After Bobby Moynihan’s turn as the obnoxious Riblet on Weekend Update, it was a relief to see Pete Davidson roll up to the desk—but even the SNL newcomer’s charm couldn’t save his gay porn bit, one that was too drawn out and ultimately uninteresting.

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