No doubt, the ‘birds and squirrels’ and ‘real life MN’ SNL sketches would have been epic

Mike Christopherson
Crookston Times

    Before you poke fun at some of the weird, possibly lame ideas I came up with on short notice and under immeasurable pressure, put yourself in my shoes and see if you’d be able to produce under those circumstances:

    Your phone rings. You do what everyone does these days – with these daily spam and robo calls – and check to see if it’s a local number or at least a number you recognize. But it’s an unfamiliar number, and your phone screen indicates it’s coming from New York.

    You deduce that there’s at least a 90% chance this call is yet another recorded voice threatening to burn your house down if you don’t extend your vehicle’s warranty, so you decide not to answer.

    But then a few seconds go by. You’re sitting in your recliner in the living room. You take a quick look around and gauge the room and your place in the cosmos at that particular moment in time. The golf tournament on TV is putting you to sleep. Stewart Cink is leading the RBC Heritage Open by six strokes? Yawn. Your 45-pound “puppy” is on the rug by the front door, disemboweling one of your favorite shoes. Your wife is powering through yet another one of her “Peleton” bike rides, while you wonder if it’s worth the effort to push your lazy-boy butt out of your La-Z-Boy chair and walk 15 feet into the kitchen to open the fridge and grab a couple of cold, leftover chicken strips.

    After that brief life assessment, you glance back at your vibrating phone and tap the green “Accept” circle. You say hello.

    And Will Ferrell answers.

    You’d like to think someone is messing with you. In fact, you assume that’s the case. You’re a cynic, after all. But, then again, you’re practically the president of the Will Ferrell Fan Club. You dig most of his comedic work, but, in a vein similar to the late Robin Williams, you think Ferrell also has promise as an actor not pushing for belly laughs 1,000% of the time. (Proof: The excellent film, Stranger Than Fiction.)

    Then there’s the fact this really sounds like Will Ferrell’s voice on your phone. You’re tempted to put him to the test by asking him to scream “Ma! Meatloaf!” – from a memorable scene in “Wedding Crashers” – but decide to play it straight, at least for the moment.

    So you go along with whatever in fact is going on, and clumsily try to figure out why Will Ferrell has felt it necessary to ring you up. But he has no time to idle chatter.

    “So what are your pitches?” he says. “Let’s hear ‘em.”

    “My pitches?” you cluelessly reply. “What pitches?”

    “For the show, man. I’m hosting,” Ferrell responds, sounding like you should be well aware of the situation. “We’ve got a show Saturday. Let’s hear your pitches.”

    The fog of ignorance enveloping your brain at that moment starts to dissipate.

    “Saturday Night Live? You’re hosting Saturday Night Live?” you manage to blurt out. “And you need my pitches for skits?”

    “Not skits, sketches,” Ferrell replies matter-of-factly. “We don’t call them skits, ever. They’re sketches.”

    You hope he’s trying to put you at ease with a little humor, and actually start to think to yourself that this very phone call would make a decent skit…uhh, sketch. But Ferrell isn’t kidding around.

    “So whaddya got?” he says. “Gimme some pitches.”

    This didn’t actually happen to me, obviously. But this entire scenario unfolded in a dream I had one night last week. And it was such a strange and vivid dream that I at least partially woke up in the middle of it, reached for my phone on my bedside table, saw that it was a couple minutes before 2 a.m., and managed to send myself an email.

    In the subject line I typed “col topic.” That’s short for “column topic.” This dream had potential, and I didn’t want to wake up in the morning frustrated that I couldn’t recall most of it. Then, in the body of the email, I typed this: “Tempur Pedic light sleepers, birds and squirrels, real life MN.”   

     I can only assume those were a trio of topics I hastily pitched to Ferrell to potentially be included as sketches on the upcoming SNL he was hosting.

    The Tempur Pedic sketch would feature a couple, with Ferrell playing the husband, who’ve bought the latest, most expensive Tempur Pedic mattress that features individual controls for each person and sensors that detect when someone is snoring and automatically raise the side of the mattress under the person who’s snoring to, in theory, put an end to their snoring.

    But in my sketch, Ferrell and his wife – I’m envisioning SNL cast member Cecily Strong – are both light sleepers. So each time their mattress with its cutting-edge tech starts shifting up or down or vibrating or warming or cooling or getting firmer or softer, etc., one of them jolts awake wondering what stirred them, and they eventually start blaming each other and get into a high-decibel, wall-rattling squabble.

    Does that qualify as stellar SNL material...or one of those sketches where, only a couple minutes in, viewers conclude that the gag has run its course and it’s dragging on too long? I don’t know. I don’t recall anything else from my dream. I don’t know if Ferrell dug my pitches or if he hung up on me in a huff and called Lorne Michaels to tell him I’m worthless as a comedy writer. I don’t even know if I got around to extolling my witty takes on “birds and squirrels” and “real life MN.”

    Maybe I should try to call Ferrell myself and see what he thinks of my dream and, of course, my Tempur Pedic sketch pitch. I wonder if he’d pick up.

Mike Christopherson, Crookston Times managing editor