It’s weird. And sad.
Today was the day I’d planned to pitch my favorite kid-friendly SNL skits – sort of as a safe, early introduction into the non-Nick Jr. comedy realms.
Then I heard Jan Hooks had died, who’s like my favorite crazy aunt.
So today, I will be showing my kids the Sweeney Sisters “Bells” medley skit. I just watched it again, and as many times as I’ve seen it, I was still this close to wetting my pants. (That’s good, by the way.)
Jan Hooks squeezes laughs out of every single solitary moment her face is on screen. Full on. ALL THE TIME. So this is mandatory viewing today. You will be graded.
(Oh, and disregard the fact that this crappy version of the Sweeney Sisters is from someone’s crusty VHS tape; just have a bonus laugh at the 80s-era cereal commercial.)
May I also recommend a lesser-known gem from Jan Hooks’ immense body of work — one that I still quote to this day.
Your children will totally NOT get the joke. They will have no idea who any of these people are or why they’re all singing badly together. But consider this send-up of We are the World a helpful crash course in ’80s pop culture – a vital teaching tool about Axl Rose and Bob Dylan and Wilson Phillips (sorry about the bra).
Your kids may not get WHY this is funny, but they’ll look over at you snorting and pounding the desk, and they’ll laugh because you’re laughing.
This is, by the way, how we begin to impart to future generations what’s funny. They see us NOT laughing at, say, something terrible on the Disney Channel and they understand: NOT FUNNY. They see us laughing at Jan Hooks swaying dramatically in a voluminous wig, and they understand: Ah, FUNNY.
And you can’t not laugh at this.
Let me add: if it’s possible for Jan Hooks to steal the show right out from underneath the entire cast in one fell swoop, her Diana Ross character does that with these eloquent words:
“Tell the children…to tell the world…to tell the chickens we’re ON OUR WAY!”
That’s one of my favorite lines ever anywhere. EVER.
(I say it to our Purdue boneless breasts quite often while standing over them at the stovetop.)
Those skits are just the kid-proofed ones. There are, of course, scads of others that don’t quite pass that test, but deserve a fond look back.
Check out the immortal “pie” sketch with Alec Baldwin, the Church Chat episodes – once as Tammy Faye Bakker, another time as Jessica Hahn, the Sinatra Group as Sinead/Sinbad/Uncle Fester O’Connor.
Maybe we can talk about other fun-for-family SNL skits on another day in this 31 Day blogging challenge (I’ve still got 20 days left in my 31 Days of Fun/Funny/Funtastic Stuff for Families series). But today is Jan’s day.
Jan Hooks was just a complete and total riot. Fall down on the floor funny. The crazy aunt who shakes up Thanksgiving.
So I will show my kids these skits today and belt out “Clang clang clang went the trolley” and talk about doing what you love with joy and abandon.
That’s what Jan Hooks did so well.
She makes me wanna be a better goofball.