It’s staggering when you look back over the years and realize just how many stars have slid off of the conveyor belt known as Saturday Night Live.
Since 1975, the brainchild of Lorne Michaels has maintained its own corner, occupying a sizable chunk of space in the vacuum of pop culture, and it’s done so while churning out movie stars, comedians, and talk show hosts from its untiring womb.
Among these success stories is a man who didn’t exactly flourish on the show.
When Chris Rock worked for SNL from 1990 to 1993, he (along with Tim Meadows) became the first African-American cast member since 1986. Rock struggled to have his voice heard from the depths of one of the larger casts in SNL’s history. Although his militantly bitter Nat X character was memorable, Rock’s only real contribution to the show was his occasional two or three minute stand-up on Weekend Update.
[adinserter block=”1″]This mini-routine, however, would foreshadow the shape of his career. Rock would go on to become one of the most outspoken stand-up comedians of the modern era. Chris Rock’s specials like “Bring the Pain” and “Bigger and Blacker” have cemented him as one of the greatest black comics of all time, forging his visage on the Mount Rushmore of Black Comedy, along with Redd Foxx, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, and Eddie Murphy.
Years after his SNL tenure ended, and in the midst of his career apex, Rock provided many a quote for a comprehensive SNL history book, entitled “Live From New York”. Among his testimonials was his story behind his employment at ‘30 Rock’. Chris Rock stated that Lorne Michaels didn’t keep him around so much for his sketch comedy talents or his ability to do impersonations, but rather two simple words.
Lorne would explain to Rock that “anyone can do impressions”. It’s true. You should hear my Al Pacino, the one that I practiced for years in the bathroom mirror as I’d shave. But moving on, Chris Rock’s ability to draw astute observations on race, politics, relationships, and our general mortal coil made him an asset for any comedy troupe.
Original thought. I see exactly what Lorne’s talking about.
Of course, that’s not to say that TNA Wrestling does.
Or Hulk Hogan for that matter.
Those among us who were tired of Hulk Hogan dropping the big leg as far back as 1992, it’s clear that we don’t share the same adulation for The Hulkster as, say, Dixie Carter. Dixie’s proven to be a misguided child in the wrestling world, unable to wipe the twinkling stars from her eyes in the presence of Hulk or Eric Bischoff or whoever. It should come as no surprise that she has no earthly idea how to run TNA Wrestling with any sense of innovation, or rather ‘original thought’.
But Hulk Hogan? His lacking of said ability describes TNA’s peril in a nutshell.
I’m going to ignore his TNA run for this article, since everybody else does, and instead discuss the realization I had this past Sunday while watching the Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff.
Ahh, who doesn’t love a good roast? Good taste gives way to vile barbs that would make Satan himself blush a deeper shade of red.
[adinserter block=”2″]Hulk Hogan was one of the roasters on hand. His connection to Hasselhoff was that in 1996, The Hulkster had a guest spot on Baywatch, which was apparently enough to secure him a spot on the ten-person dais.
Hogan himself took some harsh jibes from the likes of Jeffrey Ross, Lisa Lampanelli, and others, mostly pertaining to his costly divorce and his campy, bordering-on-gay image.
Then Hogan got his turn to speak.
To be fair, Hogan didn’t completely bomb behind the podium. I will say, however, that he was the worst roaster on that dais. That was mostly because he broke stride while joking about Pamela Anderson, laughing before he delivered a punchline about her private parts, asking some invisible figure off camera “Do I HAVE to say this?”
Well now, that would imply that Hogan didn’t write his own copy, wouldn’t it? I know, I know, he’s not a professional comedian, and I’m sure many other non-comics at these roasts have had outside help in shaping their generally witty material (Hogan’s line about “tangling with Jewish lawyers” made me laugh, for instance).
But at the end of Hogan’s turn at the mic, he did something that I think defines Hogan’s personality to a tee.
Hulk did his trademark shirt-tearing routine to reveal a second shirt underneath, one that read in bold letters: “SUCK IT HOFF”, while an arrow pointed to his genitals.
On a night where even fossils like George Hamilton, Gilbert Gottfried, and Jerry Springer (yes, THAT Jerry Springer) came off as genuine, interesting, and relevantly funny, Hogan’s coup de gras was a wrestling catchphrase that is not only not his, but hasn’t been edgy or cool since 1999.
For the nine people that actually watched Hogan’s “Celebrity Championship Wrestling” reality show, you may recall that when he would dismiss a contestant each week, he would call them a “jabroni”.
Jabroni, of course, is the phrase that The Rock made relevant from 1998 to 2002, which Hogan was using with non-ironic emphasis in 2008.
Hogan’s lack of understanding what’s hip in the world kinda sums up his TNA run, as well as perhaps the last ten years of his life. Outside of a compelling heel turn in 1996, Hogan’s clung to the red and yellow like some real life Randy “The Ram” Robinson, and hasn’t spent a single day in reality, excepting divorce court.
Dixie Carter is trying to make TNA relevant to a wider audience, and her first big move toward making that happen in Monday Night War, Part Deux was to bring in Hulk Hogan, who hasn’t moved ratings upward since 2002.
I know I’m just joining the mob when I say it’s time to jettison Hogan and let him eat grass out to pasture, along with Bischoff, Ric Flair, Kevin Nash, and others who haven’t changed their routines since the peaks of their careers, but I’m going to say it anyway.
Maybe Dixie Carter would then say it.
If she did, it would be an original thought.
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