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Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence and “Saturday Night Live” cast members Taran Killam and Bobby Moynihan pretended to broadcast from Shakopee in a sketch broadcast earlier this month.

, NBC

SEE THE SKETCH

The latest "B-108" sketch is online at www.startribune.com/a2025 .

SPEAKING OF 'SNL'

Tracy Morgan, a onetime cast member of "Saturday Night Live," and lately of "30 Rock," is coming to Burnsville's Performing Arts Center. His performance is set for March 20 at 7 p.m.

Tickets: http://tiny url.com/TMorganPAC.

Info: ww.burns villepac.com

Live, from New York it's ... Shakopee?

  • Article by: DAVID PETERSON
  • Star Tribune
  • January 29, 2013 - 3:43 PM

Brad Tabke was deep in slumber that Saturday night. His wife had to awaken him with the news that both his phone and hers were going nuts.

The mayor of Shakopee had been mentioned by name on "Saturday Night Live," in a bit whose set and script were both jammed with knowing references to Minnesota culture, from the cows on the coffee mug to the Kevin Love jerseys.

It wasn't exactly a tribute to Shakopee: The opening exterior was that of a nondescript office park, and the joke was the disconnect between white-bread Midwesterners and the hip-hop music being retailed by fictional radio station B-108.

But Tabke isn't offended.

"The way I look at what they're doing, it has zero to do with Shakopee itself but rather the perception of the Upper Midwest and Minnesota and Flyover Country in general," he said. "We here in the metro and state are the only ones who care that it's Shakopee."

Still, the show's choice of Shakopee smacks of a certain local knowledge. The Shakopee of Hwy. 169, with its office parks, big-box stores and beige townhouses is pretty remote from a form of music that is traced to the mean streets of the Bronx.

"Being a resident here, it's very funny," said Jeff Maday, media relations manager at Shakopee's Canterbury Park. "There must be a writer on their staff who's from here or something."

Tabke says he knows the truth about how Shakopee landed on SNL but is not permitted to say.

"I've been sworn to secrecy by Saturday Night Live," he said. "I cannot speak about it."

Weird!

"Very. They're very close to their vest about what they do, apparently, and why. There's nothing exciting about it at all, they just don't want to talk about it, I guess. I don't know if they're just messing with people or what the deal is."

An e-mail to Sharon Pannozzo, vice president for East Coast publicity for NBC Entertainment, at the fabled 30 Rock, produced a referral to the show's publicist, Lauren Roseman, who, 24 hours later, replied with:

"Thank you so much for reaching out, but unfortunately we do not have anyone available to comment. Apologies!"

A request for a screen shot, conversely, took but five minutes to get approved.

The SNL writing staff does have, or has had until recently, at least one person with Minnesota connections: Shelly Gossman, a graduate of St. Olaf College whose career track is well documented on the Web for any Googler who's curious.

One of the ironies of the whole situation -- conceivably even a clue to the city's landing on TV in this guise -- is that Shakopee actually, legitimately, is home to a major hip-hop festival.

Soundset has been staged for half a decade at Canterbury, whose special-events manager reports that it drew 17,000 fans in 2010, 18,000 in 2011, and 21,000 last year, when a tornado warning sent fest-goers fleeing. Last year's festival featured old pros Lupe Fiasco, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, up-and-comers Kendrick Lamar and Danny Brown, and local standouts P.O.S. and Atmosphere.

A veteran Star Tribune music critic last year paid tribute to its promoters, saying they have "figured out how to convert a parking lot ... into a hip-hop paradise for a day."

Tabke is impressed with the authenticity of the B-108 bit.

"They've done their homework: They talked about St. Francis [hospital] in this one and made active efforts to make it accurate as to who we are, which they didn't have to do, other than for us."

This month's version of the sketch was the second go-around for the B-108 bit, creating the possibility of its creating a place in pop culture.

"I'm told the first one was one of the highest-watched online skits they had had," Tabke said. "It got really big numbers."

The first bit featured troubled actress Lindsay Lohan, that week's guest host, while the latest included Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence.

It's all 100 percent in line with the youthful mayor's own media campaign, via Twitter and any other digital outlet he can think of, to amp up his city's presence and features.

"We have to have a sense of humor about ourselves," he said. "I have zero problems with it whatsoever. It's great, and funny -- and life is good."

David Peterson • 952-746-3285

© 2014 Star Tribune