America: Now What?

Maybe you’re reading this just as confused, angered and frightened as I am of America’s 2016 election results. Maybe you’re just the opposite. Either way, here we are. If you’re a frightened African-American, you might identify w/exactly what I’ve been fearing for months now. Or perhaps you’re a frightened of your LBGT rights being taken away, or the potential Muslim ban, or what will happen with immigration and healthcare, or a host of other legitimate concerns.

Maybe you’ve been part of the social media wave of “we need to love each other and unite now more than ever” from 3am into the morning. Or maybe you said online “we need to respect whoever the winner is” having not respected President Obama’s accomplishments for the past 8 years. Maybe you’re baffled that we went from our first black President to one being elected after a KKK endorsement. Maybe you’re a minority who never felt that America really valued you as a person due to countless evidences of discrimination, murders, racism, and the like (the reason why many older black adults aren’t as surprised about what’s happened). Or maybe you’ve felt that although you’re in the majority in this country, you’ve been pushed aside and ignored until now. Either way, all – a major change is coming.

To the point: what now? As a young, black male, I’m not looking forward to facing the fears now grappling our country. Half of our country has proven what they want, and that they don’t value those different from them, and that is beyond shameful. As much as I could rant about the fear that many of us are facing, I have to do the best I can to be the difference by just doing what God put me here to do. Nothing will change that. I am a choral director, a musician, and a friend. I need to continue making art and share this with my singers, standing as tall as possible. I need to encourage them to use our artwork to both unity us and provide solace for our audiences. I’ve always taught my choirs about the importance our music can have in dark times. I am a firm believer in this, and this will be the best time to uphold that belief. Music has always been a powerful tool, and it will always be my greatest method for unification – no matter how different, we are all people standing together to make one song in our own way.

I encourage all of you, wherever you stand in what’s happening in America – find YOUR solace. Find YOUR song. Find YOUR choir – whatever that is to you. My method of unity might look different than yours, but the love that will come from it may be all we have soon.

(Finally, please do not act on emotion today. If you regularly suffer from depression or anxiety, and you are genuinely concerned after the election results, talk to a loved one or a professional immediately. Seriously.)

Your friend,
-BB2

I need you.jpg

A Trump Presidency Would Deepen the Racial Divide

If Donald Trump inherits the Oval Office from President Obama next month, I am in great fear for the racial divide in America. My fear is that it will become much worse than it already is – fatally worse.

Let me start here. I will admit, I was never one to care all that much about politics growing up. Presidential elections always seemed to cause those “I know better than you” arguments, especially online (where everyone likes to use their “opinion” to be the “expert”). I was in college when President Obama was elected, and being black, I remember every single person of color I knew being extremely happy. Actually, more than that – hopeful. Overjoyed. There was a sense of “if he can do this, there’s hope for us all.” And I admit, I didn’t fully understand the significance of this at the time, because I’ve seen black people get excited about a lot of things (shoes, black-casted shows, new church fans). But I’ve also seen our people burdened by a lot as well.

Fast forward to the shooting of Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Freddie Gray. Tamir Rice. Oscar Grant III. Sandra Bland. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Terence Crutcher. In the very least, I’m sure you’ve seen these names: black people who were senselessly murdered by police. Obviously, there are too many to mention, and these are not a new “phenomenon” in the last 5 years – these are just some of the ones publicly documented. Rather than reflect on these deaths of innocent men and women, I will simply say that these were all victims of defiant racism, and that I’m sure they are heavily missed by the families they were ripped away from. (This is the saddest part of each of these stories, no matter the details.)

Now, why do I bring these up? Each time I woke up to a video surfacing online of an unarmed black man being murdered by an officer, I watched several of my black peers fear that they could be next. Soon, this realization became mine. Forget that I have my share of accomplishments, a strong education, and have always maintained good will with others. If I were to be pulled over on my commute to work by an officer who happens to be hateful and racist, no matter how respectful or cooperative I was, no matter how well I used the words my parents taught me to say if pulled over – all the officer would see is the skin I’m in. And it could be all they want to see – and the last thing I see.

So fast forward to this election season. We’ve all been overexposed to stories about Trump and many of his controversies. I don’t need to dig any deeper into that (see: Google, Fox, CNN, several great Late Night TV show takedowns). Here’s the thing: Trump doesn’t scare me. No. The worst part of this EXHAUSTING, never-ending election season is how telling it has been of the American people. If you haven’t figured it out yet, his campaign has become extremely divisive – more than I’ve ever seen.

You know the comments section under literally anything on the internet? Trolls, rude commenters, the creepy guy from the subway who your mom said “don’t make eye contact”? So, if you go on Twitter and scroll through literally any thread by or about Donald Trump, there they are. And they are dedicated…and they are serious. They want the border wall to keep the “rapist Mexicans” out. They refer to blacks with that word you’re afraid for your black friends to hear you use. Some of them changed their Twitter profile and banners pictures to nazi symbols, or are calling for white supremacy. (I hope this isn’t news to you.)

Many of these people have proven, purely by their responses, that they do not understand people different from them. (I can only speak about the black experience on my end, but I know other minorities, women, etc. feel this way as well.) Trump has said that he thinks all black people live in terrible neighborhoods with awful homes and schools, and that he is our only hope. We are not collectively destitute – this sounds like a racist generalization. He’s referred to someone as “my African-American.” Sounds like something you’d hear said in a slave movie, no? I could go on, but here’s plenty more examples, and feel free to ask Google for others. His followers all seem to be in agreement. Even if they are trying to remain loyal to the GOP but they disagree with his statements, they aren’t taking a stand against these remarks either. (Neither is the GOP.)

Honestly, I could go on all day about things Trump has said, or dig into the #BlackLivesMatter movement, but here’s my bigger issue. A leader demonstrates and represents what they want to see from their followers. A leader encourages and guides their followers in a certain direction. I learned this right away from various leadership positions, and it is true no matter how big or small your following – all eyes are on you for what direction you will take your people in. During the first presidential debate this year, when asked about how to heal the racial divide in America, Trump repeatedly pointed back to “law and order.” He completely negated any idea that people of color have been truly hurting by systematic racism, and instead has continually stated that we need to respect the police more, and stop putting so much pressure on them. Now, words mean things. In other words, he’s telling every innocent, murdered black person and their families “that cop was in the right, you should’ve obeyed them better just like you were told, you probably had it coming.”

To tie all of this together: Trump has proven relentlessly that he does not understand the experiences of anyone different than him – that is, anyone who is not a rich, straight, white male. Everything I’ve said so far, I say because I feel deep in my spirit that his supporters are ready for this “change” he has been talking about. A Trump presidency will mean that these racist words and intentions will be much more condoned than they already are. And don’t get me wrong – THINGS ARE ALREADY BAD. While race relations have come a long, long way, this election season and these killings have both somehow worked together to expose that there is definitely still strong hatred, bigotry, and racism in this country among some people. So if Trump is elected, and something happens, I cannot believe for a second that he will be on the side of someone like me – because he doesn’t get it. He simply can’t.

Much of my life, I’ve always been the only black person in a group of friends, school, workplace, etc. (or one of a few). I know many excellent black people, and I have many wonderful white colleagues and close friends to whom I owe a lot. I love them all because they are good people first. I know I can trust any of them, and that they are understanding people. While I don’t think the average 65-year-old blowhard racist will change their ways when they see me enjoying jazz while driving my nice car, I do believe that those of us who get it need to take a stand against hate. Sometimes, people who hate don’t even know that they’re hateful – there are feelings they have about other people which they haven’t dealt with at all. Maybe it makes them uncomfortable, or maybe they like being ignorant. But no deep wound ever heals when you let it fester – it just gets worse.

No matter what your race is, check yourself on how you view other people. The Golden Rule still stands. And check each other – who are you surrounding yourself with?

No one should have to live in fear, especially because of other people.

Please, go vote on November 8th.
-BB2


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God, Church and Christians: Misconceptions and Bad Conceptions

“Christians are very judgmental.”
“Organized religion is a cult.”
“Only church people make it to heaven.”
“Christianity requires you to ‘give up’ fun things, or restrict yourself.”
“You can’t dress or act like that in here.”
“Something must be wrong with you…that’s why God let this happen.”
“Once I was able to reason, I learned I was a sinner and God was upset. I [also] discovered non-Christians are also nice people. So whom do you believe?”

I have been raised Christian my entire life. I have never been the guy to hang out on the streets and try to hand you a Bible, or the guy to protest others for their “ugly sins.” My expression avenues have always been through music and trying to manage my own life the best I can. In 2015, there are so many varying views, opinions, lifestyles and experiences as people try to live their very best across the world. But what’s interesting is that God seems to be the entity receiving the largest amount of mixed conceptions. Some thank God when good things happen, some blame him when the bad takes place (or both). Some may choose another route completely, finding something else to put their trust in. Why is that?

Here’s my theory: any time we don’t like something, that means we had a previous influence steer us away from it. It could be our own perception, another person’s opinion, or even a bad experience. My brother doesn’t like peanut butter because he didn’t like the taste of it – but he has to taste it first to arrive at that conclusion. Some may have negative conceptions of God because of a former experience (or experiences) that they had, which may often have been with other people. Even people who are church-goers and/or Christians have confused and discouraged each other with their words, sometimes right in the church! Next thing you know, you have people in the church leaving, and people outside the church wanting nothing to do with “that religion stuff” or “the crazies” or “the high-and-mighties.” All of this and MUCH more, as I’m finding, is a leading cause is misrepresenting what God is actually about, and misleading people away from Him.

Today, I don’t want to try to force you to think you need to drop what you’re doing and run to the altar with your hands up. I don’t want to tell you how wrong you are, or how right you are. That’s not my place, and I am not an expert myself – just a young, 20something black male. I want to, instead, address the things that are untrue about God, church and faith that are false stereotypes; but also the bad things that are being done, which NEED to stop.

Misconceptions:

  1. “You’re not good enough” or “God doesn’t love you”: Some church folks have shown this with the hesitant way they act towards newcomers. Some just up and say it to your face. Some who may not be church-goers say it to keep you away from trying church. LOOK: Anyone, no matter who you are, should never tell this to any human being no matter what the context. I’ve written plenty of blog posts and research papers, and although I’m far from being published, no one can tell me I’m not good enough at it to try. I’d just work harder at it and seek outside assistance when proofreading! So don’t tell anyone they aren’t good enough for God. He loves everyone the same no matter what, and saying otherwise will only discourage them, tick them off, and misrepresent what God’s about. It DOES show, however, excellence in ignorance.
  2. “Church makes you christian”: Here’s the thing: sitting in a Starbucks doesn’t make you a frappuccino. As great as church has been for me personally, no church is perfect. And the good ones are aware – that’s why they exist, to foster people needing God to help them! Being Christian means you accept Jesus and you have (or are developing) a relationship with Him. Going to church surrounds you with his messages to give you a weekly spiritual boost, and it surrounds you with others trying to keep themselves on his straight-and-narrow as well. Otherwise, it’s like marathon training by yourself: not like you can’t do it, but when you go through the rough stages or want to quit, you need someone there to help push you along and tell you not to give up!
  3. “Christians are perfect” – I’m not perfect because of Jesus. I’m not perfect, so I need Jesus! If people were perfect, there would be no reason to do or be anything, because we’d all be robots. Don’t let anyone fool you – everyone has their shortcomings.
  4. “You have to act a certain way”: The only thing you HAVE to do as a Christian is believe in Jesus and try to live your life as a good example through Him. But listen: believing in God doesn’t always mean you were the worst human being on earth before, and some Christians write others off when they make it sound like this. God takes you as you are, and makes you better. Plain and simple!! So if you go to church for the first time looking for answers in a very difficult time, don’t let Sister Patty LaWeave and her attitude tell you “sorry but we don’t let hoochies in here” or “you might want to change your clothes before you come to God” or even “God wouldn’t have made you that way if he loved you.” You just stay in there and get whatever it is that you needed that day. At the end of the day, you’re still his son or daughter, and he just wants the chance to be there for you. Sister Patty LaWeave has nothing to do with that, because she can’t help you.

Bad Conceptions:

  1. JUDGEMENTAL CHRISTIANS: The #1 complaint of Christians from day one. I can’t call this a misconception because it is true of many – not all by any means, but it definitely exists. The Bible tells God’s followers not to do this unless they want to be judged too. But this is a problem far spanning religion. Christians are judged for being Bible-toting do-gooders who stay in their little judgmental box. Minorities are judged based on the color of their skin. Women are judged by men who don’t want to be surpassed. The LBGT community is judged by those who ask why they “choose being this way”. I could go on, but look: WE ARE ALL PEOPLE. PERIOD! If you don’t accept me or respect me, my default will be to want nothing you stand for. But if you, the imperfect person, show me, another imperfect person, respect and kindness, I may be more open to you and what you stand for.
  2. Christians saying negative things to each other: Some of the things that are said are misconceptions. The fact that negative things are being said is not a misconception. I’ve touched on some of these examples already, as well as the fact that we need to treat each other with respect. Yes? Yes. This is at its’ worse here because the church is a place where people should be lifting each other up, not tearing each other down. The rest of the world has enough negativity and esteem-knocking as it is! The worst example I heard recently was a Christian telling a woman with a miscarriage that God took their child because “something must have been wrong with it, but better that He took it instead of letting it be born with something wrong.” Are you kidding me?!? The fact that this statement alone didn’t completely steer this person away from God in such a vulnerable time is a miracle of God in itself.
  3. Churches are close-minded/won’t adapt: This is another thing that many are guilty of, but it’s also associated with the Christian stereotype. It also boils down to: some people like things a certain way and in strict order, while others are cooler about going with the flow. I’m no expert in how churches operate, but when my church had to move to new buildings twice within two years and across town, being closed-minded was not an option. We had to adapt to some logistical change nearly every week, and without people willing to adapt, there would be no church right now. If a marketing consultant never adapts with social media sites, he or she is chopping out a huge part of potential outlets and the company doesn’t grow as well. I could go on with more examples, but you get the point. When things change, good or bad, we have to go with it if we want to grow. Otherwise, we’d all be perfect, right?

Now, I don’t want the things I’ve just mentioned to scare people away from God. But these are very real things that anyone may have experienced when it comes to him, church and other Christians. It is true that some Christians don’t always use the best approach. It’s also true that some Christians really do their best to represent God to anyone they encounter. I’m not always the best example, but I try to remain open-minded, I love all sorts of people, and I tend to get along with most people I meet. My personal experience is that God has gotten me where I am today, and I just don’t want to see more people write the guy off because of Christians saying or doing blatantly negative things. You hear about Westboro Baptist Church type of situations, and well, of course people are going to feel some kind of way!

To reiterate my bottom line: WE ARE ALL PEOPLE. NO ONE IS BETTER THAN THE OTHER. Me talking to Jesus does not, in any way, make me a better human being that you. We all have eyes, ears, hands and toes. We all like to eat, look forward to payday, and enjoy the electric slide a wedding once in a while. Not only are we all human: none of us are perfect. In fact, I am quite aware of how flawed I am. I’ll probably make a good few mistakes tomorrow! Now, my comfort in making my mistakes is that, no matter what, God will forgive me and let me pick up & learn from it (sometimes, after checking me). This doesn’t give me a license to be a screw-up; it just insures me that no matter what, He will still love me. Maybe not all my actions, but me. He has this thing called unconditional love – and nothing we do is ever bad enough for it to run out. No living thing on earth is capable of this. I can say with certainty that when I found myself as low as I could possibly be, God’s unconditional love was the only thing to let me know it’d be all right, and to pick things back up. (It wasn’t stories I’d heard, not other people so much, not any of my stuff – it’s something no one else can provide quite as well).

Depending on the eyes reading those last few statements, the word “preachy” may come to mind. That is far from my goal, or my calling in life. But I want to close with these two things that I hope we can all at least try to agree on:

  1. Love each other. Everyone on this earth deserves that, no matter what. When I see people, I don’t immediately think of them as gay, white, Japanese, Jewish, fat, sick, mentally challenged or whatever. I say “hey Sam, how’s it going?” Even if some people make me hope I never see them again for some reason, I still do my best to treat them right. Not only do I want that back from them, but it’s how we were made. Everybody doesn’t stick to that all the time, but I can only work on me.
  1. Meet people where they’re at. We are all very different from each other! I can’t necessarily talk to a young person about faith the same way I would to an old person (for example). Christians, every approach can’t be the same for everybody – once we’ve acknowledged that we weren’t sprung from the ground perfect, we need to respect and love people before trying to approach them about God. And if you’re someone being approached about God, I’d say at least be open to listening. Hopefully it’s done in a way that peaks an interest in the very least. I promise you, it was His sheer grace alone that got me where I am today and kept my family alive countless times. True story.

We all have free will to chose whatever we wish to believe. Just remember: a student has to be willing to be taught, but it won’t work if the teacher only says “nope, wrong answer, it was 6.” But if the teacher says “here’s how I got there; now you try for yourself. If you want it, you can totally do it”, the results might just be a little different.

-BB2

Music Monday: What Goes In Must Come Out!

Hello, and happy Monday friends! It’s been months since I’ve written one of these. Typically I pick a song, artist or album to discuss, heralding whatever musical artistry there is to be enjoyed and appreciated. This time, however, I want to show how music taught me a little lesson this week – and just how powerful it can be.

Have you ever heard the phrase “what goes in must come out?” I always associated this with food, or even work ethic with the sister statement “you get out of it what you put into it!” Well this past Saturday morning, I prepared a very short Spotify “hype” playlist just to give myself some extra upbeat songs to get me ready for the long workday ahead. I’ve become more open-minded to some hip-hop and even trap music artists in recent years (many of them really are artistic & have legitimate things to say in their music!). So what did I put on as I worked out and got ready for work?

This is ONLY one example, and I know what you might be thinking. And you’re right. And no, there is NO point to this song, no substance, no artistic quality, plenty of language, the list goes on. This song exists JUST to be a trap song – something to get you hype in the club. That’s it! And if that’s what you’re looking for, this might have you ready to yell “you GUESSED it!!!!…..WOO! You was RIGHT!!!” So yes, this song exists solely to get you straight turnt. (OG Maco didn’t make much money on anything else, so I guess we’ll let him have this.)

Now the thing is: this and the other songs I blasted that morning sent me to work PUMPED. And I mean PUMPED, as in I had way too much energy. I did the best I could to contain it for the sake of being professional at work, but I had such a rush from the music! It was as if I had an edge of danger in me. Not because it was this dark, evil scary music or anything – I was just way too hyped and could have yelled YOU GUESSED IT!! GRRRAH!! GRRRAH!! at a person at any given moment.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. I had another long work day ahead, and wasn’t feeling my best physically. This time, I put my gospel playlist on, including:

Gospel of course has always been my first musical love, as I’ve talked about on my site before. No matter what contrast in style the Gospel artist is using, there is always a comfort in the messages. I wasn’t even trying to get anything out of it, but as I was driving between church services, I realized that I was in a much different state of mind. I was calm, I was in a good mood, and not feeling my physical best didn’t matter all of a sudden. James Hall and his choir singing about joy, love and hope replaced the AAAAAAAAAAH sensation that I had day before. That translated into an overall controlled, calm and near-peaceful day.

My point? Music is powerful, and what you listen to can directly affect you. I can handle a trap song or whatever once in a while just for fun (or a pointless song to make fun of, like anyone else) – but I overloaded myself on getting hype. The gospel music was calming, artistic and existing to make a point (praising God). I’m not saying you should drop what you’re doing to listen to what worked for me Sunday, or that all trap music is bad. Country, rock or soul might be it for you! What I am saying: just watch what you put into yourself. How we think and act is going to be representative of the various things we put in ourselves or surround ourselves with. And with music being such a powerful entity, we’re prone to be affected before we realized it. I could do a whole ‘nother piece about music and its’ affect on us, but for now: just be aware of what’s going in, so you only get the best coming out.

Happy Music Monday! Now go listen to some good music!!!

-BB2

P.S.: OG Maco’s music video is worth a good laugh.

Louis C.K. Closes a Great SNL Finale


SNL in Season 40 has had a fantastic run. And on their finale, unlike others, they didn’t rely heavily on meta-surprises and cameo appearances; they just prepared good sketch comedy and showcased what has been an absolutely stellar cast. Louis C.K., now third-time host, was featured as a great player also, but he didn’t overshadow the proceedings; he instead worked with them to facilitate the showcase of their talents. In short: SNL40 ended just as great as it started.

COLD OPEN: SUMMERTIME
 (McKinnon, Hammond, Cast)
Hey, what a fun way to open the show! It’s always great to see the entire cast involved in something which shows just what a strong ensemble the show has. And hey, the Clintons are definitely going to remain a part of our lives!
Blackometer: 7.8/10


LOUIS C.K. MONOLOGUE
(Louis CK)
The monologues are typically at their best when the host is a standup comic who can just go out there and do their thing, engaging with the audience by just telling jokes (the very first SNL with George Carlin featured this in 1975). Louis C.K. is great at what he does! But of course, like Chris Rock’s monologue last fall, this is some…sensitive subject matter. Look, I’m a black male, and the “mild racism” bit didn’t upset me because it came from the perspective of comparing his 70s upbringing to now. That’s fine. The second half, although it didn’t have to be worded that way, was up there with riskiest things in 2015 TV comedy.
Blackometer: 8/10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzh7RtIJKZk

THE SHOEMAKER & THE ELVES (Louis CK, Thompson, Bayer, Bryant)
Oof. My biggest problem with this sketch is it’s placement. By itself, a sketch about dominance and fetishes could be buried later in the show. Mostly, it was just hard watching this sketch after some of the monologue subject matter. And the ending (which felt like “how do we end this?”) made me frightened that we’d get a “Darrell’s House
-esque reprise which makes everything make sense. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
Blackometer: 5/10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao9HFGiK_Pg

THIS IS HOW I TALK (Louis CK, Pharoah, Bayer, Jones, Bryant, McKinnon)
This one was saved instantly from being dead on arrival, simply by Louis C.K.’s first monologue as a Sprint employee who has to continue impersonating his boss’ voice. Watching him here reminds me of Micheal Keaton during the Ad Agency sketch last month – a host who’s just in control and in charge of the sketch.
Blackometer: 7.5/10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8PXvqYpGCM

WOOD PSAs (Moynihan, Bayer, Bennett, Louis CK, Strong, Zamata)
Yes, this was silly…but it was funny! More Beck Bennett singing backup in ad parodies.
Blackometer: 7.2/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/wf-channel=snl/wood-psas-062234183.html

WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, Killam, Davidson, Moynihan)
The best part of Taran Killam’s Tom Brady was Jost’s boyish “oh-aren’t-you-perfect” charm towards him. Pete Davidson ended the season just as charming at the desk as he was at the season premiere, and I can’t wait to see him get even more involved in Season 41. And I’m sucker for puns, and a goofy Colin Jost joke, so yes, “Jalapeno business” was definitely for me. Finally, we got the amazing Riblet, which, even if we’re not completely surprised with the character, will always be fantastic.
Blackometer: 7.8/10

https://screen.yahoo.com/wf-channel=snl/weekend-part-1-062311476.html
https://screen.yahoo.com/wf-channel=snl/weekend-part-2-062713832.html

CABANA (Thompson, Bayer, Louis CK, Strong, Zamata)
This is exactly the same sketch we saw in the Dwayne Johnson episode, and that one only worked because of his undeniable energy to sell the sketch. However, we don’t get that here, and Louis C.K. didn’t seem as into this one as his previous sketches, so it just didn’t work. It was a pretty basic copy-paste from last time.
Blackometer: 3/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/wf-channel=snl/cabana-061711334.html

POLICE LINE-UP (Thompson, Davidson, Killam, Mooney, Bennett, Louis C.K.)
I will always laugh at a well-done “we’re over-the-top theatre people” sketch. Beck Bennett is definitely the star here, and Kyle Mooney (as we’ve seen before) nails several of the mannerisms you’ll see in a thespian troupe. The two of them, for sure, have claimed their place in the continued future of this strong ensemble cast.
Blackometer: 7.5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/wf-channel=snl/police-line-062235322.html

WHOOPS! I MARRIED A LESBIAN (Thompson, Louis CK, McKinnon, Bryant, Moynihan)
I started to type “if this were a sitcom, I’d watch it” just because of how good everyone is in it. However, I’d rather watch half an hour of either Reese De’What reacting to/defending failed sitcoms like this, or a sitcom featuring Bobby Moynihan playing the 50’s dopey best friend character. He’s got that down like no other.
Blackometer: 7.5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/wf-channel=snl/forgotten-tv-gems-062713540.html

Best Sketch of the Night: Louis C.K. Monologue
Worst Sketch of the Night: Cabana
Joke of the Night: “Jalapeno Business” – Jost
Observations: Another good episode that strongly represents how solid Season 40 has truly been. This cast (and writing staff) could return as it is in the fall with no changes and sustain the show just fine, provided that they have nowhere to go but up with the talent they possess. My personal hope is for no cast changes whatsoever. Unlike previous seasons, there are no rumors of a repertory player moving on to pursue a movie career or another show; and none of the featured players seem to be in danger of being grossly under-utilized like last season. (You could make a case for Sasheer Zamata not finding a true voice on the show yet, but she has at least shown the potential all year.) Also, the cast is at 15 – which is bigger than it needs to be for letting each of them shine, but still manageable. Plus, the cohesion among them seems very strong, and we’ve also had great glimpses of connecting to each cast member on occasion. It’ll be exciting to see what Season 41 of this truly miraculous show brings to Studio 8H!

BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 6.81

By the way, here’s another cut sketch by Kyle Mooney as NYC standup, Bruce Chandling

Thanks for reading these SNL recaps this season! Happy summer, and here’s to many more SNL seasons!
-BB2

Michael Keaton: 7.15
Martin Freeman
: 6.98
Bill Hader: 6.91
Kevin Hart: 6.86
Dwayne Johnson: 6.81
Louis C.K.: 6.81
Chris Hemsworth: 6.81
James Franco: 6.81
Woody Harrelson: 6.80
Jim Carrey: 6.80
Cameron Diaz: 6.78
Sarah Silverman: 6.78
Reese Witherspoon: 6.76
J.K. Simmons: 6.70
Chris Pratt: 6.54
Taraji P. Henson: 6.42
Amy Adams: 6.18
Scarlett Johansson 6
Chris Rock: 5.75
Dakota Johnson: 5.62
Blake Shelton: 5

Reese Witherspoon Celebrates Moms on SNL


Reese Witherspoon last hosted the season premiere in 2001, the first show to air following the 9/11 attacks, with the now-infamous monologue with Lorne Michaels, Rudy Giulani and firefighters of New York. This time around, she helped the case honor mothers everywhere in a very sweet monologue, and was game for just about anything else! We got some great sketches, some sketches that didn’t go anywhere…a more consistent but interesting episode of SNL.

COLD OPEN: 2016 REPUBLICAN (Strong, Bennett, Thompson, Moynihan, McKinnon, Mooney, Killam)
The DJ brings out the Republican Candidates out, introducing them as these ‘hip’ characters. This doesn’t make them any more interesting though. It’s just a less-messy version of the GOP at Coachella sketch they did last spring. Moynihan’s shirt was fun, though.
Blackometer: 5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/2016-republicans-cold-open-061817401.html

REESE WITHERSPOON MONOLOGUE (Witherspoon, Strong, Pharoah, McKinnon, Zamata, Bennett, Bayer, Thompson, Davidson, Bryant, Mooney, Moynihan)
How nice was this? This may be the nicest Mother’s Day offering on SNL they’ve pulled off in recent years. Most of the cast brings their real mothers out to apologize for the weirdos they were as children, followed by a clip reel of home videos. Not only was this incredibly sweet, but it serves as another great way in which we get to know the cast as just themselves. And man, you can tell from watching these people as kids that they were going to be on TV someday.
Blackometer: 9.5/10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqVbmDOGq70

THE L.A. SCENE (Witherspoon, Strong, Thompson, Pharoah, Davidson, Mooney)
That sketch existed for a fart joke and “voices.” Not too much else…but the best part was really how Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah didn’t know how to operate sound for the show.
Blackometer: 5.8/10

PICTURE PERFECT (Killam, Bennett, Bayer, Strong, Moynihan, Witherspoon, Thompson)
First, Moynihan’s reaction to the clue he had to draw was worth the price of admission. Then, Thompson as Reginald VelJohnson (which is as great as it sounds) throwing  his pen in disgust took it to another level. Between these things and Taran Killam’s slimy game show host, we ended up with just a great sketch.
Blackometer: 9/10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_kuC35F06E

MR. WESTERBERG (Witherspoon, Thompson, Moynihan, Bayer, Bennett, Davidson)
I didn’t think I was going to like this sketch once I realized where it was going. But something about Beck Bennett’s insistence in his delivery just sold me on it. Everyone else is mocking their boss’ voice and general comments, while Bennett reveals some pretty disturbing things Westerberg has said to him. It’s not quite like anything else SNL puts on regularly, and until the formula for the sketch is realized, you can hear the audience trying to figure out just how to respond. In the end, I felt just as bad for Beck Bennett as his coworkers.
Blackometer: 7/10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gx-dJnKIa9U

WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, Jones, Strong, Witherspoon, Thompson)
“To whom it may concern” is the best way to start a love letter. Leslie Jones continues to be such a force on Update, and I personally think it’s going to be a better idea for them to use her as the closing segment instead of opening – she’s got to be a tough act to follow. Also, the best chemistry on Update was, hands down, between Jost and Jones, which is truly one of the strongest things the show has right now. The Two Girls at a Party were fine, if not on and off rather quickly, and Willie is always fun. Jost and Che sharing their mother’s jokes was just as nice as the rest of the cast’s apologies in the monologue.
Blackometer: 8/10

https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/weekend-part-1-062421367.html
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/weekend-part-2-062008165.html

HIGH SCHOOL THEATER SHOW (Bryant, Witherspoon, Killam, Mooney, McKinnon, Moynihan, Jones, Bennett, Strong)
This was one of the best sketches of last fall with Cameron Diaz, and as soon as I saw the set being built during commercials, I knew this new rendition, this would not disappoint. With lines such as “next time, don’t like…love” and “guess what? We were black!”, I was right.
Blackometer: 9/10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnWh8tKfMbk

SOUTHERN LADIES (Strong, Bryant, McKinnon, Jones, Witherspoon)
This was just a lot of talking in southern accents and trying to be weird. Everyone was good in it, but it just didn’t amount to that much. Poor Cecily.
Blackometer: 4/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/southern-ladies-062143889.html

WATER SLIDE (Bennett, Mooney, Zamata, Moynihan, Witherspoon, Thompson)
This one also went nowhere for some reason. I’m not sure if more plot material was cut to make room for the second Florence and the Machine song, or if it would’ve been just four more minutes of those two ride attendants talking. But hey, you have a great water slide set and some kids ready to go, so I guess you can’t bail on the sketch.
Blackometer: 2.5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/waterslide-061716384.html

WHISKERS R’ US (McKinnon, Witherspoon)
A cat who’s a registered sex offender, while another one lies about having gone to Princeton. Third time we’ve seen this sketch, and it’s still just a joy.
Blackometer: 7.8/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/whiskers-r-061907342.html

Best Sketch of the Night: Reese Witherspoon Monologue
Worst Sketch of the Night: Water Slide
Joke of the Night: “Next time, don’t like…love.”
Observations: This episode was a pretty good offering of what the season has been – the highs are pretty high, the lows are at least (usually) interesting, and we’ve gotten a better connection to the people we watch on screen each week. SNL now has good momentum heading into the finale of what has been a pretty stellar season, and it will be great to see what this closing offering will bring.

BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 6.76

In other news, make sure you check out this fantastic cut sketch from Leslie Jones, Inner White Girl, which was probably made more for the internet than it was a live audience.

Next time: Season 40 Finale with Louis C.K.!!!
-BB2
Image result for snl reese witherspoon

Michael Keaton: 7.15
Martin Freeman
: 6.98
Bill Hader: 6.91
Kevin Hart: 6.86
Dwayne Johnson: 6.81
Chris Hemsworth: 6.81
James Franco: 6.81
Woody Harrelson: 6.80
Jim Carrey: 6.80
Cameron Diaz: 6.78
Sarah Silverman: 6.78
Reese Witherspoon: 6.76
J.K. Simmons: 6.70
Chris Pratt: 6.54
Taraji P. Henson: 6.42
Amy Adams: 6.18
Scarlett Johansson 6
Chris Rock: 5.75
Dakota Johnson: 5.62
Blake Shelton: 5

Scarlett Johansson’s SNL: What’s There to Say?

Saucy: In a sixties-inspired thigh-skimming shift dress, Scarlett Johansson gave viewers of SNL something to set their pulses racing - a very sexy dance
Scarlett Johansson’s previous hosting performances in the 21st century have been, shall we say…serviceable? She’s not particularly known for being funny, or even as energetically entertaining as a Dwayne Johnson- or Kevin Hart-type host. In fact, the last show she hosted was among the worst of the 2010-2011 season. Plus, viewership of this show was already, as the cold open pointed out, stilted by the televised Mayweather fight. My point: this episode had nothing to lose. I watched to see how the show might comically deal with this week’s top stories, mainly the Baltimore riots and the Gay rights act  – and it was pretty obvious that this is where all the best energies went.

COLD OPEN: MAYWEATHER-PACQUIAO (Killam, Thompson, Pharoah, Bryant, McKinnon)
Aidy Bryant as Pacquiao is pretty great. Though, Pharoah and Thompson abandoning the sketch just seemed too obvious somehow.
Blackometer: 6/10

SCARLETT JOHANSSON MONOLOGUE (Johansson, Thompson, Killam)
I guess Scarlett Johansson wants to use the word “baby” to confuse a child’s lullaby for a sexual song, complete with backup ladies. Taran & Kenan’s reactions were pretty great, but I don’t know…it just didn’t seem to really go as far as it could have. Which is an overused criticism of the average lacking SNL sketch, but…here we are.
Blackometer: 5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/scarlett-johansson-monologue-062424875.html

RIGHT SIDE OF THE BED (Strong, Killam, Johansson, McKinnon)
I liked this rendition of Right Side of the Bed better than the first time it aired (the Martin Freeman episode in which it was the worst sketch of the night). It didn’t stick to exactly the same formula as last time, allowing the two ideas of the host vs. guest to be better balanced – in this case, more towards the over-the-top hosts. Johansson, as with her other hosting gigs, relied on her thick Brooklyn accent pretty quickly, and it didn’t add too much (but hey, it didn’t take away either). Also: Kate McKinnon’s Hozier.
Blackometer: 6.5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/side-bed-062707032.html

ORIOLES (Bayer, Thompson, Killam, Moynihan, Johansson, Bennett, Pharoah, Davidson)
The James Franco-hosted show last fall cut a brilliant morning talk show sketch in which the hosts suddenly had to discuss the Ferguson events – doing all they could to divert from it while on air. This Orioles sketch was a re-attempt at this format, and I’m glad they found it fitting to air this time. It wasn’t quite as biting as the cut Ferguson sketch, but the “knee grows” line was pretty excellent.
Blackometer: 7.5/10

BLACK WIDOW (Johansson, Pharoah, Bennett, McKinnon, Killam, Strong, Moynihan)
Well, why not?
Blackometer: 7/10

GIRLFRIEND’S TALK SHOW (Strong, Bryant, Johansson)
I’ve never really enjoyed these, and I’m actually afraid that they’re getting less and less interesting. There might be one or two funny lines from Aidy Bryant in them (who, until tonight, seems to be generally on air less than last season, or even last fall), but there doesn’t even seem to be much of a point in doing them anymore. It’s literally the same thing every time, but with no real new jokes. Plus, this seemed like the longest installment, dragging on without much to say. I think it’s beyond time to put these out to pasture.
Blackometer: 3/10

WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, McKinnon, Moynihan, Bayer, Thompson, Pharoah)
Colin Jost, this spring semester especially, has been proving his case a bit more each week as to why he deserves the Update desk. Seriously – although it’s been taking more time than most of us would have liked, the reasons for him being selected as an anchor are shown more consistently throughout each episode. I won’t say the hosts’ interactions are getting better (they’re not), but Jost as a host is the most. (Sorry.) Each of the talking segments were fine (McKinnon practically owns Update talking heads now), but it was truly Jay Pharoah’s Shaq making Kenan Thompson break that gave me my hardest laugh of the night.
Blackometer: 8/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/weekend-part-1-062423712.html
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/weekend-part-2-062707890.html

DINO BONES (Killam, Strong, Thompson, Bayer, Davidson, Johansson)
What was this sketch?!?!?!?! I have nothing to say.
Blackometer: 1/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/dino-bones-062536489.html

BLAZER (Killam, Wiz Kalifa, Thompson, Pharoah, Che, Bennett, Moynihan)
This…was pretty great. Somehow, we went directly from the worst sketch of the night to the best sketch of the night in no time flat. Here we have Taran Killam as a cop who makes light of race-centric police brutality, going so far as to have his own filmed theme song while pouncing on only black guys. The payoff for his efforts turns out to be a clever comedic way to address these cases.
Blackometer: 9.5/10

VIRGIN FLIGHT (Killam, Davidson, Bayer, Johansson, Moynihan, Pharoah, Bryant, Jones)
I was waiting (and hoping) to like this one, because it was just so weird. It may have not been weird enough…or perhaps just too one-note. Either way, it just kind of stayed floating around in first gear and never got towards anything memorable (like much of Johansson’s sketches tonight).
Blackometer: 5.5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/virgin-flight-062306011.html

JINGLE WRITERS (Killam, Mooney, McKinnon, Bryant, Johansson)
This is Exhibit A in why I need more Aidy Bryant sketches on the show. I hope we get a couple more of these before the close of the season. It reminded me a little of Tim Robinson’s Roundball Rock sketch in Season 38. Anyway, it gets points for being weird.
Blackometer: 7/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/jingle-writers-062535888.html

Best Sketch of the Night: Blazer
Worst Sketch of the Night: Museum
Joke of the Night: “That knee grows stronger every day”
Observations: At 11 sketches (including Update), the only interesting sketches were the ones which in some way addressed the biggest news stories of the week – all in different ways. The Internet will probably like Johansson’s Black Widow romantic comedy the most (in which she seemed the most comfortable, other than the final sketch). The odds were a bit against this episode, but I have more faith in Reese Witherspoon’s and Louis CK’s final two shows as the 40th season comes to a close.

BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 6.0

Next time: Reese Witherspoon!
-BB2

Michael Keaton: 7.15
Martin Freeman
: 6.98
Bill Hader: 6.91
Kevin Hart: 6.86
Dwayne Johnson: 6.81
Chris Hemsworth: 6.81
James Franco: 6.81
Woody Harrelson: 6.80
Jim Carrey: 6.80
Cameron Diaz: 6.78
Sarah Silverman: 6.78
J.K. Simmons: 6.70
Chris Pratt: 6.54
Taraji P. Henson: 6.42
Amy Adams: 6.18
Chris Rock: 5.75
Dakota Johnson: 5.62
Blake Shelton: 5
Welcome to Virgin airlines: Scarlett also portrayed an air stewardess in one of the skits