My God, Did You See That?
I've missed the last few weeks of Saturday Night Live, but I tuned in last night simply because I happened to finish a book right around 11:30. I'm glad I saw this episode because host Joseph Gordon-Levitt kinda brought the house down. (In case the name's not familiar, or that picture's too small, he was the kid on 3rd Rock from the Sun; now he's 28 and making indie films. The Lookout was good; I hear Brick is great but it's been in my queue for about three years.)
It's a pretty regular occurrence for hosts to sing and dance in their monologue; Gordon-Levitt chose to emulate the "Make 'Em Laugh" number from Singin' in the Rain. If you have seen that movie, you know the insane physicality involved. If you watched the show, you know that he 95% pulled it off, and that's an incredible achievement.
This link to an Entertainment Weekly recap helpfully provides clips of both Gordon-Levitt's number as well as the original from Donald O'Connor. The writer of the recap, Ken Tucker, is very crotchety about the whole thing, huffing that he was not impressed because Gordon-Levitt didn't make it look as "effortless" as O'Connor did. Not to deride what O'Connor did back in 1952, but he had a cushion that Gordon-Levitt did not have: edits.
Gordon-Levitt did the whole damn thing live! He landed BOTH runs up the wall! So he was huffing and puffing a little by the end. Tucker complains that the thing "wasn't funny," but I think he's missing the point. It wasn't meant to be funny, and it wasn't meant to be better than the original; it was meant to be an incredibly bold gesture by a guy who's just been hovering on the edge of superstardom for the past fifteen or so years, and who I expect will be much-talked about for the rest of the week. It was a calculated move saying, "hey, don't underestimate me," and my prediction is that it will work.
(If you want funny, see the last skit of the night, also playable on the EW page. Gordon-Levitt played Lloyd Dobler doing the boombox serenade and Jason Sudeikis played the neighbor who just couldn't stop ruining it with questions. "Hey, whatcha doing? Is that Peter Gabriel?")
Anyway, it impressed me. Watch those clips--O'Connor's first, so you know what the standard was, and then Gordon-Levitt's--and tell me you didn't have at least a little bit of admiration for the kid. (Who is, incidentally, exactly my age but still seems like he's twenty, only because he's been on TV since he was like four.)