Splitsider: ‘SNL’ Recap: Bruno Mars Is Quite The Charmer
October 22, 2012 Leave a comment
For this week’s SNL recap for Splitsider, I evaluate host/musical guest Bruno Mars’ performance in the five dimensions of host credibility, and I explain why being a funny host isn’t as important as being a charming one.
We expect a lot from an SNL host.
Considering most of the people who have hosted the show over the years have had little experience with live TV sketch comedy prior to hosting, and the fact that SNL depends largely on the gimmick of forcing the hosts to play against type — James Bond as a construction worker who’s clueless about women, for example — we nonetheless hold the hosts to a high standard, expecting them to out-funny the regular cast members and confining our excitement to our assessment of his or her comedic background. However, comedic background is often irrelevant to an episode’s outcome. Some of the best hosts have been actors known better for their dramatic roles — Jon Hamm, Christopher Walken — whereas reliably funny comedians — Dane Cook, Jerry Seinfeld — had a bit of trouble adjusting their style to the speed of the show.
A more reliable indicator for a host’s success is his or her credibility: Is he/she up to the task? Does he/she seem comfortable despite the circumstances? Do I want this host to succeed? My rhetorical criticism professor in college used to talk about “the five dimensions of credibility” for political figures: knowledge/sagacity, high moral standard, good will, dynamism, and similarity. I like to apply these values to SNL hosts. Seth MacFarlane demonstrated knowledge of the ins and outs of comedy with his performance during the season premiere. Tom Hanks banks on his persona as an all-around good, moral person whenever he hosts. Lindsay Lohan failed to show good will last season when it became evident she was using the gig to reinvigorate her career. Melissa McCarthy, who prat-fell down stairs and took a blast of ranch dressing in the face, was one of the most dynamic performers SNL has seen since Chris Farley. And whenever a host shares his nervousness during the monologue — as Bruno Mars did last Saturday — it’s a classic example of similarity: “This is all new to me. I’m a regular guy… just like you.”
Read the full post on Splitsider.com.