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Not Ready For Primetime: Phelps' "SNL" Debut Largely Uneventful
Published September 15, 2008
|Phelps Hosts The 34th Season Premiere
Of NBC's "Saturday Night Live"
Phelps (r) Plays Home Schooler
In Skit Spoofing "Quiz Bowl"
LET IT RIDE: The show also featured a skit called “The Charles Barkley Show” which was “broadcasted” from the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. Cast member Keenan Thompson portrayed Barkley and said, “You know, I have always wanted to have my own talk show because I love meeting new and interesting peoples. Also, I gamble a lot and I owe the Wynn Casino a half a million dollars so they’re forcing me to do this show.” Phelps appeared on Barkley’s show as himself, telling “Barkley” he won his record eight Gold Medals through hard work, dedication and commitment. Barkley: “See, if I were you I would have said, ‘Really fast swimming.’”
Phelps Stars In Skit Making Fun Of
His Caloric Intake While Training
THE REST: Other skits had Phelps portraying a rather gawky, unattractive and awkward teenager with a large retainer for his braces, and appearing in a spoof of a T-Mobile commercial, in the show’s “An SNL Digital Short” which was a song about the “Space Olympics” in the year 3022 and a husband on a dinner date at a pizza restaurant (“SNL,” NBC, 9/13).
FISH OUT OF WATER: The show earned a 7.4/18 overnight Nielsen rating, the highest for a "SNL" season premier since '01 and the highest for any "SNL" telecast since December 14, 2002, when former U.S. Vice President Al Gore served as host. In DC, Tom Shales writes Phelps "sometimes looked stiff and lost in thought during his sketches, yet just as often, he brightened to the task and came through." Phelps was "perhaps funniest during the 'Michael Phelps Diet' sketch" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/15). In Baltimore, David Zurawik writes Phelps during the show "had a couple of nice moments for a comedy neophyte." He brought an "energy and electricity to the stage, and that went a long way in making the season opener a pop culture event that won big ratings" (Baltimore SUN, 9/15). But USA TODAY's Tom Weir writes Phelps overall "took a beating, and probably would have been panned even more if Tina Fey hadn't stolen so much attention with her dead-on, show-opening take on Sarah Palin" (USATODAY.com, 9/14). SPORTINGNEWS.com's FirstCuts blogger Dave Larzelere wrote it was "mostly memorable for its non-Phelpsian moments" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 9/14). The NATIONAL POST's Shane Dingman wrote Phelps was "pretty unmemorable." But he is the "greatest Olympian of all time, not the greatest SNL host. Which one would you rather be?" (NATIONAL POST, 9/14).