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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Holiday Extra Special

Make The Holidays ’80s Again

Enjoy the holiday cheer Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Whatever happened to the kind of crazy-yet-cozy holiday specials that blanketed the early winter airwaves of the 1980s? Unceremoniously killed by infectious ’90s jadedness? Slow fade out at the hands of early-onset millennial ennui? Whatever the reason, nixing the tradition was a huge mistake.

A huge mistake that we’re about to fix.

Announcing IFC’s Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special, starring Tony Hale. It’s a celeb-studded extravaganza in the glorious tradition of yesteryear featuring Bridget Everett, Jo Firestone, Nick Thune, Jen Kirkman, house band The Dap-Kings, and many more. And it’s at Joe’s Pub, everyone’s favorite home away from home in the Big Apple.

The yuletide cheer explodes Wednesday December 21 at 10P. But if you were born after 1989 and have no idea what void this spectacular special is going to fill, sample from this vintage selection of holiday hits:

Andy Williams and The NBC Kids Search For Santa

The quintessential holiday special. Get snuggly and turn off your brain. You won’t need it.

A Muppet Family Christmas

The Fraggles. The Muppets. The Sesame Street gang. Fate. The Jim Henson multiverse merges in this warm and fuzzy Holiday gathering.

Julie Andrews: The Sound Of Christmas

To this day a foolproof antidote to holiday cynicism. It’s cheesy, but a good cheese. In this case an Alpine Gruyère.

Star Wars Holiday Special

Okay, busted. This one was released in 1978. Still totally ’80s though. And yes that’s Bea Arthur.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special

Pass the eggnog, and make sure it’s loaded. This special is everything you’d expect it to be and much, much more.

Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special premieres Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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It Ain't Over Yet

A Guide to Coping with the End of Comedy Bang! Bang!

Watch the final episodes tonight at 11 and 11:30P on IFC.

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After five seasons and 110 halved-hour episodes, Scott Aukerman’s hipster comedy opus, Comedy Bang! Bang!, has come to an end. Fridays at 11 and 11:30P will never be the same. We know it can be hard for fans to adjust after the series finale of their favorite TV show. That’s why we’ve prepared this step-by-step guide to managing your grief.

Step One: Cry it out

It’s just natural. We’re sad too.
Scott crying GIF

Step Two: Read the CB!B! IMDB Trivia Page

The show is over and it feels like you’ve lost a friend. But how well did you really know this friend? Head over to Comedy Bang! Bang!’s IMDB page to find out some things you may not have known…like that it’s “based on a Civil War battle of the same name” or that “Reggie Watts was actually born with the name Theodore Leopold The Third.”

Step Three: Listen to the podcast

One fascinating piece of CB!B! trivia that you might not learn from IMDB is that there’s a podcast that shares the same name as the TV show. It’s even hosted by Scott Aukerman! It’s not exactly like watching the TV show on a Friday night, but that’s only because each episode is released Monday morning. If you close your eyes, the podcast is just like watching the show with your eyes closed!

Step Four: Watch brand new CB!B! clips?!

The best way to cope with the end of Comedy Bang! Bang! is to completely ignore that it’s over — because it’s not. In an unprecedented move, IFC is opening up the bonus CB!B! content vault. There are four brand new, never-before-seen sketches featuring Scott Aukerman, Kid Cudi, and “Weird Al” Yankovic ready for you to view on the IFC App. There’s also one right here, below this paragraph! Watch all four b-b-bonus clips and feel better.

Binge the entire final season, plus exclusive sketches, right now on the IFC app.

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Everybody Sweats Now

The Four-Day Sweatsgiving Weekend On IFC

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This long holiday weekend is your time to gobble gobble gobble and give heartfelt thanks—thanks for the comfort and forgiveness of sweatpants. Because when it comes right down to it, there’s nothing more wholesome and American than stuffing yourself stupid and spending endless hours in front of the TV in your softest of softests.

So get the sweats, grab the remote and join IFC for four perfect days of entertainment.

It all starts with a 24-hour T-day marathon of Rocky Horror Picture Show, then continues Friday with an all-day binge of Stan Against Evil.

By Saturday, the couch will have molded to your shape. Which is good, because you’ll be nestled in for back-to-back Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.

Finally, come Sunday it’s time to put the sweat back in your sweatpants with The Shining, The Exorcist, The Chronicles of Riddick, Terminator 2, and Blade: Trinity. They totally count as cardio.

As if you need more convincing, here’s Martha Wash and the IFC&C Music Factory to hammer the point home.

The Sweatsgiving Weekend starts Thursday on IFC

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