“Feeding America Comedy Festival” gets a standing ovation for bringing together some of our greatest comics for a great cause. But good intentions don’t guarantee laughs.
To be fair, Sunday’s benefit for hunger relief on NBC faced a uphill battle. Doing skits from home, without partners to play against or audience feedback, is something even veteran performers are struggling to master.
“Saturday Night Live” finally figured it out this weekend in its third attempt, a season finale that peaked with a hilarious anthem encouraging parents to ply their children with booze.
“Feeding America” didn’t offer anything nearly as clever as “Let Kids Drink,” but there were some moments in the two-hour broadcast that went beyond just trotting out superstars. The five highlights:
Eddie Murphy scores again. The former box-office king continued his recent hot streak with a brand new character, Murray Murray, a soul sensation with six lifetime achievement awards.
The fictional musician, who could pass for Dennis Rodman’s first cousin, boasted about influencing everyone from Ray Charles to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, while also admitting that he arranged the murder of Berry Gordy’s cat.
Murphy’s long-promised return to his stand-up roots can’t come fast enough.
Life with Louie. Minnesota was well represented by favorite son Louie Anderson, awkwardly learning how to use Cameo, the service in which stars offer video shoutouts to die-hard fans. Coaching Anderson in his Las Vegas home was nephew Josh Florhaug, who moved out of the Twin Cities just last year to pursue his own promising stand-up career out West. The family affair was cute enough to make up for Anderson’s awful impression of Donald Trump.
Let’s talk about sex. Again. Relationship expert Leon Phelps was a successful enough “SNL” character to merit his own movie — one that flopped on arrival. Still, it was a treat to see Tim Meadows revive his smooth-talking Casanova and even more of a kick to have him answering questions from Tina Fey, Colin Quinn, Seth Meyers and Michael Che, all of whom have spent time behind the “Weekend Update” desk.
Casting a spell. It’s safe to assume that demand for a “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” reunion wasn’t particularly high, but maybe that’s what made the tribute to the 1996-2003 sitcom so charming. Some viewers may have puzzled when an unidentified person joined the Zoom call going on between Melissa Joan Hart, Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick. But true TV fans recognized the intruder as Lucy Davis, currently playing Aunt Hilda in the Netflix reboot “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”
Shooting the bull. If only all of us could live next to Sarah Silverman. Her sketch captured footage of her from a balcony, cracking jokes through a bullhorn to pedestrians down below. David Letterman used to do a similar bit during his late-night days, but never with so much charm.