Edward Norton as Owen Wilson
Comedy relies on precision, parody even more so. To get laughs from a parody of something that is already comedic and precise strikes me as far more difficult, if less dangerous, than a Navy Seal operation.
Which brings me to a particularly delightful and impressive video short which recently aired on Saturday Night Live. Since the beginning of the venerable live show, its film shorts have typically been of very high quality, beginning in the 70’s with the bits of genius crafted by Albert Brooks , Gary Weis, and Tom Schiller, in that order.
Robert Smigel had a long run of shorts, then there was the Lonely Island phenomenon. With the departure of Andy Samberg, I worried briefly that the era of the digital short might have come to an end, but it looks like it’s here to stay. A particularly stunning example aired on the recent episode with guest host Edward Norton.
The short was in the format of a commercial for an imaginary horror film by the writer/director Wes Anderson, entitled “The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders”, and it was pitch perfect, down to the smallest detail. In a scant 3 minutes it employed almost the entire catalogue of Anderson’s highly idiosyncratic stylistic fetishes so accurately and lovingly that I could not stop laughing with recognition and delight. When it was over, I was sad that the counterfeit movie did not actually exist.
Comedy relies on precision, parody even more so.
It was obvious that an enormous amount of thought and effort had gone into the piece, I would have assumed that it took at least two weeks to put together. What makes the achievement exponentially more impressive is that from conception to on-air broadcast was less than 4 days.
I was very excited to stumble across an incredibly detailed account of the entire production process for the short by the DOP Alex Buono on his blog. If you’ve ever made a short, you’ll find his description is equal parts inspiring and hair-raising. I nearly had a full blown anxiety attack reading about the last minute changes they had to make to the short minutes before broadcasting it during the live show.
The SNL film unit are a posse of production ninjas, and they have my deepest respect.
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