Why Saturday Night Live ‘s Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer was the perfect Phil Hartman showcase

Satire dates back to the dawn of mankind. 426 BC, the second play by the comedian Aristophanes, Babylonian, was denounced as defamatory by the Athenian general Creon.Today, political satire — from Borat To daily show — cottage industry. But when it comes to pure entertainment elements, saturday night liveThe Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer is perfectly preserved.

The sketch series, pardon the pun, is an absolutely barbaric tale about a simple caveman who “went out looking for frozen waste, slipped and fell into a crevasse”, and was later rediscovered by scientists centuries later. Once unfrozen, he proceeds to law school and, in a dark twist, weaponizes his humble origins to become a sleazy attorney and yuppy. It’s the perfect showcase for its star, the legendary Phil Hartman.

The premise is a combination of several ideas that writer Jack Handy came up with in 1991. “I kicked off a few ideas about it. One was a caveman melting into a big puddle of mushy water, with scientists fighting over who’s to blame.” In fact, “Too Many Frozen Cavemen” focused on a group of frozen Neanderthals driving scientists crazy, while “Swamp Bastard” was about a womanizing monster who was adept at stealing other characters’ girlfriends. I think my brain put these things in a blender and came out with an unfrozen caveman lawyer,” he later said. new york times.

The first sketch appeared on November 23, 1991, midway through the seventh episode of Season 17, hosted by Macaulay Culkin and musical guest Tin Machine. It was soon followed by a “Weekend Update” with Kevin Nealon — other sketches from the night included Bob Swarsky’s Superfan, Richmeister, Handy’s classic deep thoughts, Mike Myers’ Simon and Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley rounded out the show.

The narration immediately tells the audience the following premise.Sketch surreal concept — clever redneck TV lawyer riff as a fox Matlock —justifies the prior clarification, given with a spoon.

It also invites some of Handey’s trademarks. He was rarely talked about—no “Family Guy”-style puns. State – It’s a legal, fun, happy fun ball. ” Classical music fans, of course, SNL It reminds me of the iconic commercial parody of the Happy Fun Ball show written by Handy.

Following the popularity of “Mr. Short-Term Memory”, theme song began to accompany some SNLrecurring characters. Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer’s jingle is beautiful in its simplicity.

Siroc is prehistoric, but that’s not what makes him a monster. Instead, it’s an ironic use of his own folklore origins and appearance. That’s where the brilliance of the sketch is. “A lot of comedies go the extra mile. Unfrozen Caveman was funny, but it just isn’t enough,” Handy said. Times in 2013.

Siroc was the first of many iconic characters for whom Hartman would later become his signature persona.Thinking about Lionel Hutz simpsons, news radioBill McNeill, or any other role he played in television and film before his tragic death in 1998. Soullessness has never looked so appealing in Cirroc.

Siobhan Fallon Hogan — later, hurried When loneliness shelter —playing a judge in the first sketch and reappearing as the mayor in the second installment. success. “

Cirroc’s closing arguments have always centered around being a mere caveman frightened and confused by modern life. But they’re also nonchalantly interwoven with nods to his material success – Martha’s Vineyard villa, courtside Knicks’ tickets – revealing the true nature of the unfaithful lawyer. won.

Saturday Night Live — Episode 15 — Photo: Phil Hartman as Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer Ciroc in the “Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer” skit, March 14, 1992

Al Levine/NBCU Photobank Phil Hartman played the unfrozen caveman lawyer Siroc in the March 14, 1992 episode of “Saturday Night Live.”

It’s a wonderfully bitter comic statement. But the real masterstroke comes in previews of future episodes’ first sketches. Fans are rooting for him as he dives into the ‘Just a Caveman’ steed again. But this time, the stakes are even higher. He concludes his acceptance speech, turning to the true reasons for his candidacy. conduct We must do everything in our power to bring down the capital gains tax.”

In today’s world of politicians dressed in fake populism, it’s eerily resonant.

Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer returned in an episode of John Goodman for Season 17 and was hosted by Harvey Keitel the following season. This iteration, Hartman’s final iteration as a cast member, was spoken almost entirely in Spanish. More than three years later, when Hartman returns to host SNL During season 21, the corrupted Troglodytes are back for the last time.This sketch featuring Will Ferrell plays almost like a remake of the 1991 original. It seemed – 100,000 years later — the concept has finally run its course.

SNL Not the first fan of Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, creator Lorne Michaels reportedly told Handey at the afterparty that he was surprised at how connected he was with viewers. But since then, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer has endured. Bill Hader calls sketching his all-time favorite because he used to do sketches when he was growing up in school. Kenan Thompson also lists it as one of his top picks. Years later, when his campaign for GEICO’s Caveman commercial became popular and spawned his comedy spin-off Home, it was hard to ignore Ciroc’s influence. As they say, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

Today, Sketch has an extra layer of heartache given Hartman’s death, which stands as a lasting tribute to his talent and one of his singular contributions to the show. As he joked in his monologue, “It’s easy to hide behind wigs, fake noses and fake breasts! The hard part was finding one character I didn’t have to play: myself.” is to play!” For better or worse, Siroc is representative of the many camouflaged characters Hartman has played over the years.The sketch itself is also a master class SNL At its best: A brutal yet utterly bizarre concept, perfectly executed.

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