Saturday Night Live has been really iffy in the past few years. I’ve grown up watching the show, and have loved it since I was old enough to really have a sense of humor. I always preferred it over shows such as Mad TV, because I thought SNL had better writers and better comedians. However, from 2000-2005, the show hit a bit of a slump, in my opinion. Half of the cast members had been on for years and were performing the same sketches over and over again and the other cast members just weren’t funny. I found myself skipping out on Saturday Night. And then, in 2005, something wonderful happened. Producer, Lorne Michaels introduced new cast members, and one of them was Andy Samberg.
Samberg began as just a featured cast member, but began taping skits and videos to air on the show. One of them was a skit titled Lazy Sunday, in which he and cast member Chris Parnell made up a silly rap song. The skit was an internet phenomenon and skyrocketed Samberg to fame. Fast forward to the present time, and it’s safe to say that Samberg has been a breath of fresh air for SNL, with plenty of hilarious sketches, skits, and oh yeah…that Dick in a Box.
So Samberg did the thing that every successful SNL cast member does (see: Jimmy Fallon): recorded a comedy album. Samberg and his buddies since junior-high school, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, together create a comedy troupe called The Lonely Island, and in 2009 the group released their first album Incredibad. The album is a disc of song parodies, comedy sketches, and songs from SNL shorts, and plenty of celebrity guests.
The disc’s lead single is an 80’s sounding song called J-zz In My Pants. The song first aired in music video form on SNL in December ‘08 (and for those of you that haven’t seen it- please go look up the video on YouTube. Samberg has the best “j-zz faces”!), before any news about Samberg’s album had even been released. The song is probably one of the most ridiculous things ever created (about a guy who…ahem…prematurely ejaculates on various absurd occasions), but also one of the most hilarious. I was laughing hysterically while listening to some of the lyrics (“A song comes on that reminds me of you and I/J-zz in my pants/The next day my alarm goes off and I/J-zz in my pants/Open my window and a breeze rolls in and I/J-zz in my pants/When Bruce Willis was dead at the end of sixth sense I/J-zzed in my pants/I just ate a grape and I/J-zzed in my pants”), and perhaps the best part is that no matter how ridiculous the lyrics are, the song actually sounds like it would be a radio hit.
The same could be said of I’m On A Boat which features current rap-music staple T-Pain. Again, hilarity ensues, as the Lonely Island boys basically make a parody of rap music and even T-Pain himself, with an over-abundance of unnecessary curse words, ridiculous raps (“I’m ridin’ on a dolphin, doin’ flips and sh-t/The dolphin’s splashin’, gettin e’rybody all wet/But this ain’t Seaworld, this is real as it gets/I’m on a boat mother–ker, don’t you ever forget!”), and, of course, T-Pain’s trademark Auto-tuned vocals. This song was EVERYWHERE this summer, and even when I went out for a boat ride with some friends during our annual camping trip we had to scream “I’m on a boat, mother fu-ker!” as we sailed along the lake.
Like A Boss is another new Lonely Island song, in which Samberg raps about his typical day of the boss of his company (“Talk to corporate (like a boss)/Approve memos (like a boss)/Read a workshop (like a boss)/Remember birthdays (like a boss)/Direct work-flow (like a boss)”). However, his day quickly spirals out of control in typical Lonely Island foolishness (“Hit on Deborah (like a boss)/Get rejected (like a boss)/Swallow sadness (like a boss)/Send some faxes (like a boss)/Call a sex line (like a boss)/Cry deeply (like a boss)/Demand a refund (like a boss)/Eat a bagel (like a boss) “), and the song is yet another that makes me laugh out loud every time I listen to it.
As I mentioned earlier, several of the SNL shorts are included on the disc. The most famous of these, possibly, is Samberg’s 2006 duet with singer Justin Timberlake, Dick in a Box. The video and accompanying song became a pop music phenomenon, especially for people in my age group; in fact, one of my friends is going to be a dick in a box this year for Halloween. For people that have somehow escaped this little R&B music parody, the song is all about how Samberg and Timberlake plan to surprise their girlfriend with the best Christmas gift ever…their dick in a box (“And now I’m ready to lay it on the line/You know it’s Christmas and my heart is open wide/Gonna give you something so you know what’s on my mind/A gift real special, so take off the top/Take a look inside — it’s my dick in a box”). The song and video both spoof the R&B sex ballads on the early ‘90s, and Samberg and Timberlake not only sound great together, but have also created a hilarious song that will go down in history as one of SNL’s classic sketches.
The same can be said of Natalie’s Rap. The track is another rap song, this time performed by actress Natalie Portman. Portman hosted SNL in 2006, and recorded the digital short with Samberg. The song portrays the normally sweet Portman as an angry rapper (“When I was in Harvard I smoked weed every day/I cheated every test and snorted all the yay/I gotta def posse, you gotta lot of dudes/I’ll sit right down on your face and take a sh-t!”). Yet again, the hilarity lies in the pure absurdity of hearing Portman rap about how “hardcore” and “gangster” she is, though, just to give credit to Portman, she pulls it off well with stellar comedic timing.
Of course, the aforementioned rap with Chris Parnell, Lazy Sunday, is present on the disc. Parnell and Samberg trade off on lines as they rap about having a lazy Sunday and planning to go see The Chronicles of Narnia. The two guys in the song are hopelessly nerdy (“Yo stop at the deli, the theater’s overpriced/(You got the backpack?) Gonna pack it up nice/(Don’t want security to get suspicious!)/Mr. Pibb and Red Vines equals crazy delicious!/(Yo reach in my pocket, pull out some dough)/Girl acted like she’d never seen a ten befo’/IT’S ALL ABOUT THE HAMILTONS BABY/Throw the snacks in the bag (and I’m a ghost like Swayze)”) and it’s incredibly funny to hear the two guys rap about silly things like playing movie trivia in the theater as they wait to see a children’s film.
And sadly, those songs are about the best part of the album. My main complaint with the disc is that there are far too many songs (19 tracks, including three interludes), and far too many unfunny ones. Even the celebrities guests can’t help in some cases.
Comedian Jack Black makes an appearance on Sax Man, a jazzy little number that’s not the least bit amusing. It’s really sad, because I tend to find Black funny in all circumstances, and his own comedy band, Tenacious D is wildly amusing, but nothing is funny about this song about a man who plays…the sax. A real jazz crooner, Norah Jones, sings the chorus on Dream Girl, an R&B song about an unfortunate girl (“Thick skin, strong nose like a rhinoceros/Dream girl so beautiful, lips all crummy/Skin like asphalt, nose so runny/Thick thighs, no waist, not a care in the world/You not crazy girl, you just my baby girl”). At the most, the song is worth a few chuckles, but that’s about it. Rapper E-40 appears on Santana DVX , a Beastie Boys’ sounding rap about fictional Carlos Santana champagne. Let me just put it simply here- the song is dumb. So is Boombox, a club song featuring singer from The Strokes, Julian Casablancas. Sorry, I just don’t find anything very funny about taking a boombox to a club (“Then everyone started to move/People rejoiced instead of financing/Your preconceived notions were shattered/By the super old white people dancing”). Oh, that’s probably because it’s not funny.
The other songs on the album, including We Like Sports, Who Said We’re Wack, and Incredibad, all have the same thing wrong with them: either they simply aren’t funny at all (the chorus of We Like Sports is “We like sports and we don’t care who knows!” And that’s funny…why?) or they’re too over the top to be funny. The last song on the album and title track, Incredibad is a combination of both, actually. The song is basically about how the three guys of Lonely Island first bonded and became friends after having sex with an alien. The song is ridiculous but not in a good way- it’s just unfunny and slightly disturbing (I can have a wicked sense of humor sometimes, but 13 year old boys being sodomized by an alien just isn’t funny to me).
As a whole, Incredibad is disappointing. Samberg is funny, and so are his two friends, but the album goes on for too long with not enough redeeming songs. It seems like perhaps the album was rushed, which may be why some of the songs weren’t written so well, so I’d like to see The Lonely Island release a follow up with perhaps a tad more time spent on developing funny songs.
1. Who Said We’re Wack?
2. Santana DVX – (featuring E-40)
3. J**z In My Pants
4. I’m On A Boat
5. Sax Man – (featuring Jack Black)
6. Lazy Sunday – (featuring Chris Parnell)
7. Normal Guy [Interlude]
9. Shrooms [Interlude]
10. Like A Boss
11. We Like Sportz
12. Dreamgirl – (featuring Norah Jones)
13. Ras Trent
14. D**k In A Box – (featuring Justin Timberlake)
15. The Old Saloon [Interlude]
16. Punch You In The Jeans
17. Space Olympics
18. Natalie’s Rap – (featuring Natalie Portman/Chris Parnell)