There is a condition that strikes countless young performers, turning them from creative comedians into catchphrase-belching husks of their former selves. It' recurring Saturday Night Live character syndrome. Here are some of the most tragic cases:
Tim Meadows remained trapped on SNL for 10 years, we think because Lorne Michaels possessed the last copy of an underground porno Meadows starred in during the '80s. Meadows was never offensive and mainly stuck to parts like "utility black guy" when a sketch called for someone to wear a hilarious afro. But somewhere along the line, a writer or producer on the show saw Tim-possibly on the phone with Chris Rock, asking him how he escaped-and thought, "Hey, you haven't been annoying yet!" And, so Leon Phelps, aka The Ladies Man, was created, bringing pimp jokes and, yes, hilarious afros to a TV-watching public that was already sick of 1970s nostalgia.
In a move straight out of the Make-A-Wish Foundation rulebook, The Ladies Man was also made into a feature-length film. But, this cloud has two distinct silver linings: The movie performed so poorly that no SNL-based films have been made since, and Tim Meadows did not die from terminal brain cancer.
What Saturday Night Live does best is prey on popular culture. What it does worst is take a single familiar, mildly funny line or premise and stretch it like spandex in a desperate attempt to fill air time. Thus, we have Jim Breuer and "The Joe Pesci Show."
If you don't remember Jim Breuer, he was the guy who made a living pretending to look high all the time. Jim also had a very, very small handful of impressions, the lifeblood of SNL. And since Joe Pesci happened to be one of these impressions, Breuer was given the chance to rehash jokes from Goodfellas dozens or possibly hundreds of times during his reign of terror as a cast member. Sure, he sounded the part, but on the Celebrity Impersonation Difficulty Index, the Joe Pesci is ranked pretty close to the bottom (right above Marlon Brando in The Godfather and just below Jack Nicholson).
The creation of the Mr. Peepers character must have been a no-brainer. Lorne Michaels walks up to Kattan, puts his hand on his chin, and says, "Chris, you look like a monkey. Go with that."
Of course, comics live and die by the words of Lorne Michaels, so Kattan had no choice but to go shirtless with a pair of fancy red suspenders in front of millions of people.
What can be said about Mr. Peepers? He spits apple chunks. He shouts "BAH!" He often attempts to rape both male and female hosts. These sketches had a bit of novelty value before they became dreaded, and we'll give you the fact that Kattan' hamming it up as "The Missing Link" deserved a chuckle the first and possibly second time. Ah, but this is the curse of the SNL recurring character. They're like pancakes, after you've had about a half dozen of them, you can't even remember why you wanted one. With each sketch we progress through the four stages of recurring character reaction: Novelty, Boredom, Annoyance, then finally Homicidal Rage.
It could be worse; there have to be at least a dozen scripts for a Mr. Peepers feature film floating around out there and so far we have dodged that bullet.
This one would have been much higher, if not for the fact that only two "Total Bastard Airlines" sketches were made. But this concept was so annoying, so manipulatively designed and so Spade-y, that it made the list.
The year was 1994, and America was growing tired of adding "NOT!" to the end of sarcastic utterances. "Total Bastard Airlines" sought to change this with Spade' spiteful stewardess character dismissing passengers with acidic remarks capped off with a "BUH-bye." These sketches were difficult to watch, not only for its repetitiveness, but also because it was awfully hard to hear Spade over the noise of factories churning out "BUH-bye!" T-shirts and bumper stickers, which we can only assume were burned when these sketches didn't take off.
There was no "BUH-bye" movie, and no "BUH-bye" amusement park. And, while the terminally uncool are still uttering lines from Wayne' World, it' nearly impossible to catch anyone still dismissing a hated friend or stranger with "BUH-bye." That' right, Spade actually came up with something so annoying, even the annoying people of the world had to step back and say, "No, that' taking it too far. Don't go there! SCHWING!"
Adam Sandler' Cajun Man act consisted of forcing Kevin Nealon to ask him a series of set-up questions that would allow Sandler to reply with one-word answers in a cartoonish accent that no one would have recognized as Cajun, had the character not been called "Cajun Man."
We're thinking the Cajun Man character was probably invented during a commercial break. Like maybe somebody broke a crucial prop for the planned sketch and, in a panic, gave Sandler a funny hat and said, "We've got two minutes to kill! Now go out there and work your magic!" Plenty of classic Sandler characters have started this exact way: "Take this guitar and say something about Hanukkah;" "Here' a spoon and a plant. Say something about Halloween;" "Here' a wig and a cape. Sing something in Italian."
Unfortunately, not all of Sandler' spontaneous creations can be as brilliant and nuanced as the Hanukkah song, Opera Man or the Crazy-Spoon-Head Guy who wanted candy, and Cajun Man was one of Sandler' attempts that fell short.
Sorry, Adam. Put a spoon on that Cajun guy' hat and you've got yourself a three-picture deal.