What’s the joke in ‘Sidney Applebaum’ on SNL?
What is SNL?
Saturday Night Live (also known simply as SNL) is an American late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show created by Lorne Michaels and developed by Dick Ebersol.
The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title NBC’s Saturday Night. The show’s comedy sketches, which often parody contemporary culture and politics, are performed by a large and varying cast of repertory and newer cast members.
Each episode is hosted by a celebrity guest, who usually delivers the opening monologue and performs in sketches with the cast as with featured performances by a musical guest.
An episode normally begins with a cold open sketch that ends with someone breaking character and proclaiming, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”, properly beginning the show.
What is the purpose of SNL?
NBC developed Saturday Night Live as an edgy comedy series designed to appeal to viewers ages 18 to 34, and, notwithstanding a few slumps, the show has consistently attracted new viewers who have entered that demographic group while remaining a favorite with many who have moved out of it.
What’s the joke in ‘Sidney Applebaum’ on SNL?
Sidney Applebaum is a character from the Woody Allen movie, ‘Love and Death’. In the movie, the character says:
They call me mad, but one day when the history of France is written, they will mark my name well… Sidney Applebaum!
The humor in this comes from the incongruity between a personal history will remember and the lameness of the name.
As explained in this Daily Beast interview:
Bill Hader Is Sad to Leave ‘Saturday Night Live’ (and Stefon) Behind
The Jewish Dracula named Sidney Applebaum made me laugh really hard, not because that’s such a funny joke of that name, but that name is from one of our favorite jokes in the Woody Allen movie Love and Death, where a guy is talking about how history will mark his name, Sidney Applebaum, and it’s just the lamest name. It just made us laugh. So it was all very personal.
The reason the joke works is two-fold.
- Irony: the audience is set up by the Blackula comment, so they are ready for the Jewish Dracula to have, possibly, a cool sounding name, but it turns out to be a totally lame, unmistakable and ordinary sounding Jewish name. Also, people tend to stereotype Jewish people as being very conservative and sensible. This also makes the joke funny, at least in my mind.
- Also, the crowd absolutely loves it when Bill Hader breaks character and starts laughing uncontrollably. Hader has a reputation on the show for being fairly easy to break.
Regardless Hader and Mulaney are comedic geniuses and had a great run with this character Stefon. Hopefully, they don’t ruin it by trying to make a Stefon movie.
Here are our top 10 revelations from the interview:
- He submitted the season premiere for this year’s Emmys (Hader’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy) because Lorne Michaels told him, “I think you had a perfect episode.” Later, he realized Stefon wasn’t even in the episode.
- But Hader admits he probably got the nomination because of Stefon’s popularity. “I think everyone knows someone like that in real life,” he says.
- He never watches the show, so when fans quote sketches to him, he usually has no idea what they’re talking about. In fact, he has never seen his Stefon sketches except in short clips before talk shows. “I don’t watch them,” he says. “My wife does, and I’ll hear them in the other room. And I’m just like, can we just fast-forward, please?”
- Hader is terrified of clubs. (Insert Stefon gasping in shock here.) When he was 21, he went to one in a basement in Mexico while shooting Collateral Damage and was “terrified.” “I thought I was going to die,” he says. “I stood in the corner like the kid at the end of The Blair With Project, just terrified.”
- He also hid in the corner during a visit to the Playboy Mansion, “drinking coffee and talking to Akiva Schaffer [of The Lonely Island] about what aspect ratio he was going to shoot Hot Rod in.”
- He always cracked up during Stefon sketches, not because of the jokes, but because of he and writer John Mulaney’s “super-inside jokes.” For example, the Jewish Dracula named Sidney Applebaum line broke Hader easily on air because “that name is from one of our favorite jokes in the Woody Allen movie Love and Death, where a guy is talking about how history will mark his name, Sidney Applebaum, and it’s just the latest name. It just made us laugh.”
- He’s going to miss rehearsing for SNL the most, and particularly during what he and Kristen Wiig liked to call the “Friday Night Crazy,” when the cast and writers would work well past midnight and “just go crazy and get really punchy.”
- On the other hand, he won’t be missing pitch meetings, because he says he “was not very good at it.” “Some people have really funny, inventive pitches and mine are just like, ‘Uhh…so we go to Starbucks together…” he says. “My pitches always brought the room down.”
- Steve Carell was the host and Kanye West was the musical guest on his first show. West congratulated him after the show, which threw Hader off guard because “he was so normal. I was like, oh, this is Kanye West here congratulating me. It was great.”
- His favorite memory isn’t Stefon or his celebrity impressions–or any of his sketches, for that matter. Instead, he chooses ice skating with the cast for the Christmas show as his most cherished moment. “It was very special, to be there with those people you genuinely cared about and who always made you laugh,” he says. “That’s one of those moments when it really hit home: ‘I really luck I’m here.’”
Do SNL cast members get starstruck with the hosts?
Unequivocally yes. On one show I saw Tina Fey and Amy Poehler reduced to twelve year old girls when U2 performed. Bono sang no more than three feet away from them and they swooned. Even superstars are starstruck by other superstars – and they readily admit that – it’s only human.
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How much are SNL cast members paid?
“There are 21 episodes in a season. First-year cast members make $7,000 per episode, or $147,000 per season. Second-year cast members make $8,000 per episode, or $168,000 per season. If a cast member makes it to their fifth season, they make $15,000 per episode, or $315,000 per season.
The highest salary that can be reached atSNL is for people who’ve been there the longest or are the most important to the show. They make $25,000 per episode, or $525,000 per year. Now, some of you may argue that Pete Davidson is that important to the show.
Even if he is, he’s not making the $558,000 that would make that $93,000 engagement ring affordable. They’ve been together for about a month, people. This isn’t a years-long courtship.
Here’s two last fun facts about SNL salaries. At his peak in 2001, Will Ferrell earned a then record-breaking $17,500 per episode, for $367,500 per year. Every time Alec Baldwin appears to spoof President Trump, he gets paid $1,400.”
Now, this does not include all the endorsements and side gigs that come from being a cast member of SNL. Many cast members have made movies and other TV shows produced by Loren Michaels. It is definitely worth staying in Michaels ‘ good graces.
SNL: At the end of the show, what do the cast members talk to each other about on stage? Are they still acting or is it real?
One thing that I’ve always observed as a constant on SNL is that the host and musical guests seem sincere and gracious about hugging everybody with a big smile – as everyone wants to hug them, and many of the cast seems to awkwardly look for someone to hug.
It just seems to be all about the host having the spotlight and the rest of the cast going through the motions. As for what they say to each other? ‘Great job tonight.’ ‘Well, that week’s over.’ ‘Where’s the party?’ Just small talk – it’s obvious that none of that is scripted.
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Its based off a line from the old Woody Allen comedy “Love and Death” where a french general is talking about how his victory will cause the whole world to remember his name “Sidney Applebaum.” Its just one of those wonderful non sequitors that make Allen’s movies great.
As for Stefan, Bill Hader only knows a chunk of the script going into it, and the rest is a surprise (as seen by his frequent chuckle breaks.)
As a comedian, undoubtedly this would have struck him as hilarious, and as for the audience, they are just laughing either because some of them know the movie line and they get it or because they know they are supposed to.
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