I feel like sometimes I’m a trend-setter because I discovered Melissa McCarthy before everybody else. Before Bridesmaids or Mike and Molly, McCarthy had a scene-stealing supporting role on the underrated sitcom gem, Samantha Who? She played Dena, the upbeat and cheerful friend of the amnesiatic Samantha (Christina Applegate). While McCarthy’s costars were all uniformly excellent – especially Emmy-winning Jean Smart, who now officially is the most brilliant television comedic actress working today – McCarthy herself, was able to shine as the sometimes awkward, but always-lovable Dena.
Because of her hilarious turns on Kristin Wiig’s feature film, Bridesmaids and her Emmy-winning role on Mike and Molly more people are able to witness this funny lady’s considerable chops. This past Saturday, she added yet another feather to an already crowded and bird-like hat: her hosting stint on Saturday Night Live. Like millions of other TV viewers I get nostalgiac about SNL, and lionize the show’s first few seasons when Dan Akroyd, Jim Belushi, Gilda Radner and Jane Curtin, among others were in the cast.
I didn’t watch the show all the way through, but I did catch McCarthy’s sketches – the best being the ridiculous Hidden Valley Ranch taste-testing. Done up in loser-drag of a terrible perm and a Doctor Spock t-shirt, McCarthy’s character, desperate for a $50 for coming up with a winning slogan does her best to ingratiate herself with the test auditor, including pathetic attempts at sabotoging her fellow tast-testers. Full of nervous energy and being able to expertly portray this sad sack, McCarthy showed to be a show-stopper.
Another funny skit involved SNL‘s running AMC-parody skit, where she channeled a fictional movie star – a sort-of Mae West. The delivery of her lines were great, but was even more impressive was her (sometimes) punishing physical takes as she would continuously tumble down the stairs over and over again – some compared her performance in this skit to that of late SNL vets Belushi or Chris Farley, but I find that a more apt analogy would be Lucille Ball.
I think that come next year when McCarthy’s up for another leading actress Emmy, she should also stop by the Creative Arts ceremony (the one they don’t televise because it’s for the tech people) and pick up a guest actress Emmy. They gave one to Betty White in what I feel is a wildly over-praised performance and McCarthy bested the Golden Girl last Saturday in terms of bringing the funny. She shouldn’t be too surprised if she hears her name read again.