Lebron James, the closest I've had to a basketball hero (I've been a fan of The Cleve' teams since birth, long story), will be hosting the premiere of the 32nd season of Saturday Night Live....uh, tomorrow. Fellow Roc-A-Fella family member Kanye West is the musical guest.
I suspect that Peyton Manning's successful hosting spot during last season will open the floodgates of athletes that think they can be funny on the small screen. The recent Jon Runyan commercials are a perfect example. Runyan must have been thinking as he watched Manning during the Super Bowl, "hey, I'm 6' 7" 330 pound right tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles, I block for guys like Manning, why can't I be in a few commercials?" And why not, I suppose.
For Lebron its all part of his plan to become the first billionaire athlete. He has to be able to do everything, even comedy. But is he really funny? Let's review a few clips:
A wig is not always funny and this whole performance isn't either. But this illustrates how athletes always get the benefit of the doubt. If the guy makes a living hitting a small ball with a stick over 400 feet, almost ANYTHING besides that will be seen as funny. Also, we already like most athletes because if they are popular they are usually performing at the highest level in their sport. When they hit the stage you already have a history with them and anything beyond the dunking he usually does is gravy. Even if it's just wearing Hammer pants and singing out of key.
I've got to give him credit for his one, dunking a baby on national television is sort of gutsy (which isn't saying much for the rest of television, sure). Especially only a month after his girlfriend gave birth to his second child. He drew a lot of heat for this and he probably knew it would, but he did it anyways.
Ok, this whole thing sucks. And it's definitely not his fault. Did someone actually get paid to write and animate this? Bill Simmons wasn't a part of this, was he? I hope not. Horrible. But again, it plays off the "athletes not playing sports? OMG that's craaaazy! LOL!!!" aspect.
I've got to admit, Lebron is hilarious in his "The Lebrons" Nike commercials. A+ in my book. Can't wait for more, and there will be more. Greg Oden's injury guarantees this (agh, low blow, sorry).
So how's Lebron going to do on SNL? Loren Michaels, creator and executive producer of the show thinks he's going to be fine. In this phone interview, Michael talks about how athletes work well on the show because "they're used to being in front of a large group of people and not knowing how it's going to turn out" and because they are generally fearless. He'll be ok. The writers are good enough to make him funny and the others on stage wil always be there if he screws up. The cast has been solid the last few years, actually, and there haven't been enough stories about how the show is back.
Perhaps I'll live-blog the show if I don't have anything going on on a Saturday night. So yes, I will most likely be live-blogging the show.
SIDENOTE: Long gone are the late 80s when an athlete like Joe Montana or Wayne Gretzky would make a cameo and basically just grin the whole time. Sometimes they would only come out for one sketch and it was unexpected so the crowd would go nuts: "OMG, I'm in the same room as a Super Bowl champion quarterback! I watch him every Sunday!" All they had was smile, smile, smile until the applause died down, deliver their one line very awkwardly and smile some more. I kind of miss those days, really.