SNL Sketch Showdown: Samurai Delicatessen vs. Consumer Probe


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Welcome to the “Saturday Night Live” Sketch Showdown. Every weekday, an IFC writer will determine the winner of a matchup between two classic “SNL” sketches. You can check out the full bracket here.

Battle of the Blues Brothers

This round of our “SNL” Sketch Showdown pits two skits from the classic era of the series against each other, and two larger-than-life actors who went on to big things outside the series. One sketch features a eccentric outsider who lets his sword do the talking, and the other features a slimy exec who lets his company’s questionable products speak for themselves (when they’re not endangering children, that is).

The Sketches

Sketch 1: Samurai Delicatessen

John Belushi’s out-of-place samurai was a last-minute addition to a January 1976 episode of “SNL,” but it went on to become a recurring character in over a dozen sketches, and even made cameos in several musical performances and – outside the “SNL” universe – in a pair of comic books (including a 1978 issue of Marvel Team-Up). Whether he was making a sandwich or repairing a television, Belushi’s samurai (a comical take on actor Toshiro Mifune’s characters in Akira Kurosawa’s classic samurai films) offered a great showcase of the “SNL” star’s knack for physical comedy and ability to not only play off of any guest, but capture the audience’s attention no matter who was hosting the episode. Samurai Futaba remains one of the most iconic “SNL” characters portrayed by Belushi, one of the series’ greatest stars.

Sketch 2: Consumer Probe

Dan Aykroyd’s long list of memorable “SNL” contributions includes quite a few characters of questionable morals, but few were as sleazy as Irwin Mainway, the purveyor of insanely dangerous children’s toys such as “Bag O’ Glass” and “General Tranh’s Secret Police Confession Kit.” Each iteration of the sketch seemed to offer even more terrible toys than the last, with Aykroyd defending the products with that much more enthusiasm. Much like Bill Hader’s popular “Stefon” segments on “Weekend Update,” this sketch relies on outrageous lists that become more ludicrous with each element and the dead-panned delivery of the sketch’s star – something Aykroyd was more than capable of providing.

The Matchup

The success of Belushi’s samurai sketches rests entirely on their star’s shoulders, and like so many of the gone-too-soon actor’s performances, the character he plays is just as funny now as he was almost four decades ago. On the other side, Aykroyd’s “Consumer Probe” sketches also manage to generate a lot of laughs years after they aired, thanks to the (unfortunate) existence of just as many questionable products today that are being passed off as safe. Sleazy spokespeople will always be around, making Irwin Mainway’s dismissal of concerns about an astronaut helmet made out of a plastic bag with a neck-band the joke that never gets old.

And the Winner Is…

Samurai Delicatessen

Funny lists are one thing, but a consistently hilarious performance that relies so heavily on both physical acting and subtleties (like the intonation of Belushi’s “Japanese” gibberish) pushes Samurai Futaba to the top of this matchup. From the very first “Samurai Delicatessen” sketch that started it all, this recurring series represented exactly the sort of offbeat, clever comedy that made “SNL” such a showcase for tomorrow’s stars, and offered just a taste of Belushi’s talents as one of the show’s best and brightest.

Did the right sketch win? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Forget Oscar

Find Your Spirit Animal

The Spirit Awards are LIVE this Saturday at 2p PT/5p ET.

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In just a few precious days, the greatest, most epic, most star-studded awards ceremony of the year comes to IFC.

And please, we’re definitely not talking about the Oscars. We’re talking about the Spirit Awards. Hosted by iconic comedy duo Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, it’s a relatively under-the-radar awards show with serious cred. And if the past is any indicator, we’re in for a wild night.

If you feel like doing your homework, you can find a full list of nominees and performance excerpts here. It reads like a who’s who of everyone that matters – those larger-than-life personalities with status that borders on mythological. Our celebrity spirit animals, if you will.

This isn’t hyperbole. Literally everyone who takes the stage at the awards show is spirit animal material. Let’s see if we can help you find yours…

Do you

Live in someone else’s shadow despite shining like the sun? Do you inexplicably vandalize your pretty-boy good looks with a sloppy-joe man bun and a repellent pubic-hair beard? Do you think sounding stoned and sounding thoughtful are kinda the same thing?

Congratulations, your spirit animal is Casey Affleck.

He’s the self-canonized patron saint of anyone who’s got the goods but doesn’t give a damn.

Do you

Have mid-length hair and exude a certain feminine masculinity that is universally appealing? Are you drawn to situations that promise little to nothing in the way of grooming or hygiene as a transparently self-conscious attempt to conceal your radiant inner glow? Does that fail miserably?

Way to go, your spirit animal is Viggo Mortensen.

He’s the yoga teacher of actors, in that what should make him super nasty only increases his curb appeal.

Do you

Get zero recognition for work that everyone knows is unrivaled? Do you inspire greatness in others yet get shortchanged when it comes to your own acclaim? Are you a goddam B-52 bomber in an industry of biplanes?

Bingo, your spirit animal is Annette Bening.

What does it take for this artist to win an Oscar? Honestly now, if her performance in 20th Century Women doesn’t earn her every award on the planet, consider it proof that the Universe truly is a cold dark void absent of reason or compassion.

Do you

Walk into a room full of strangers and walk out with a room full of friends? Have you been hiding under the radar just waiting for the right moment to leap out into the spotlight and stay there FOREVER? Do you possess the almost messianic ability to elevate Shia LaBeouf’s on-screen charisma?

You guessed it (or not), your spirit animal is 100% Sasha Lane.

If you haven’t seen American Honey, then you haven’t heard of her. She came out of the blue with a performance both subtle and powerful, and now she’s going to be in all the movies from this moment on. Or she should be, at any rate.

Don’t see your spirit animal there? Worry not. There are many more nominees to choose from, and you can see them all (yes, including Shia LaBeouf) during the Independent Spirit Awards, this Saturday at 2pm PT/5pm ET only on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia Keeps Road Rage In Park

Get a lesson in parking etiquette on a new Portlandia.

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It’s the most American form of cause and effect: Park like a monster, receive a passive-aggressive note.

car notes note

This unofficial rule of the road is critical to keeping the great big wheel of car-related Karma in balance. And naturally, Portlandia’s Kath and Dave have elevated it to an awkward, awkward art form in Car Notes, the Portlandia web series presented by Subaru.

If you’ve somehow missed the memo about Car Notes until now, you can catch up on every installment online, on the IFC app, and on demand. You can even have a little taste right here:

If your interest is piqued – great news for you! A special Car Notes sketch makes an appearance in the latest episode of Portlandia, and you can catch up on it now right here.

Watch all-new Portlandia Thursdays at 10P on IFC.

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Naked and Hungry

Two New Ways to Threeway

IFC's Comedy Crib gets sensual in time for Valentine's Day.

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This week, two scandalous new digital series debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib.
Ménage à Trois invites people to participate in a real-life couple’s fantasy boudoir. And The Filling is Mutual follows two saucy chefs who invite comedians to make food inspired by their routines. Each show crosses some major boundaries in sexy and/or delicious ways, and each are impossible to describe in detail without arousing some awkward physical cravings. Which is why it’s best to hear it directly from the minds behind the madness…

Ménage à Trois

According to Diana Kolsky and Murf Meyer, the two extremely versatile constants in the ever-shifting à trois, “MàT is a sensually psychedelic late night variety show exploring matters of hearts, parts and every goddamn thing in between…PS, any nudes will be 100% tasteful.”

This sexy brainchild includes sketches, music, and props that would put Pee-wee’s Playhouse to shame. But how could this fantastical new twist on the vanilla-sex variety show format have come to be?

“We met in a UCB improv class taught by Chris Gethard. It was clear that we both humped to the beat of our own drum; our souls and tongues intermingled at the bar after class, so we dove in head first.”

Sign me up, but promise to go slow. This tricycle is going to need training wheels.

The Filling is Mutual

Comedians Jen Saunderson and Jenny Zigrino became best friends after meeting in the restroom at the Gotham Comedy Club, which explains their super-comfortable dynamic when cooking with their favorite comedians. “We talk about comedy, sex, menses, the obnoxiousness of Christina Aguilera all while eating food that most would push off their New Year’s resolution.”

The hook of cooking food based off of comedy routines is so perfect and so personal. It made us wonder about what dishes Jen & Jenny would pair with some big name comedy staples, like…

Bill Murray?
“Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to… Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to avoid doing any kind of silly Groundhog Day reference.” 

Bridget Everett?
“Cream Balls… Sea Salt encrusted Chocolate Ganache Covered Ice Cream Ball that melt cream when you bite into them.” 

Nick Kroll & John Mulaney? 
“I’d make George and Gil black and white cookies from scratch and just as we open the oven to put the cookie in we’d prank ’em with an obnoxious amount of tuna!!!”

Carrie Brownstein & Fred Armisen? 
“Definitely a raw cacao “safe word” brownie. Cacao!”

Just perfect.

See both new series in their entirety on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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