NBC’s Saturday Night Live parodies Joker with an Oscar the Grouch trailer, as host David Harbour stars as a human version of the famous Sesame Street character. Saturday Night Live’s sketch parallels Joker’s character concepts and visual aesthetic.
Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a Gotham City resident who evolves into a killer. The movie tells the DC character's origin story, and was partially inspired by Martin Scorsese’s 1983 social satire The King of Comedy. In Phillips’ version, Arthur is beaten up and publicly humiliated, resulting in the further decline of his mental health. Set in 1981, Joker’s narrative also parallels the 1981 New York City garbage strike; a concept that adds to the gritty nature of the film while serving as a visual metaphor for Arthur’s unhealthy thoughts. Since Joker’s wide U.S. release on October 4, the film has broken numerous box office records.
Saturday Night Live capitalized on the Joker phenomenon with a spot-on parody sketch. The clip begins with Harbour’s garbage man character, Oscar, stating that he doesn’t particularly mind the city’s horrible stench; a moment that sets up the Oscar the Grouch premise. Voiceover narration teases "the next gritty antihero” from “the twisted minds at Sesame Workshop,” which sets the tone for Oscar’s origin story. For a comedic twist, Sesame Street itself is literally part of the plot, along with various characters from the PBS series like Bert and Ernie, the latter of whom is viciously attacked. In the sketch, Harbour hams it up with his dialogue delivery and menacing stares, while faux critic reviews imply that maybe a “dark take” on Oscar the Grouch wasn’t actually necessary. Check out Saturday Night Live’s “Grouch (Joker Parody)” below, featuring twisted versions of Big Bird, The Count, Cookie Monster, and Elmo.
In other memorable Saturday Night Live sketches, Harbour played an Italian-American woman, a folk singer, and a father who uses a podcast microphone set-up to bond with his son. In pop culture, Harbour - an American actor - is best known for portraying Jim Hopper on Netflix’s Stranger Things, though he’s also an accomplished stage actor, which he referenced during Saturday Night Live's opening monologue segment. Harbour starred as the title character in the 2019 film Hellboy, and portrays Alexei Shostakov aka Red Guardian in the upcoming MCU film Black Widow.
Saturday Night Live’s Joker parody is arguably the highlight of the newest season 45 episode, and perhaps one of the comedy series’ best digital shorts from recent years. From the visuals to the performances to the costume design, the sketch captures Joker’s dark energy. In the coming weeks, Saturday Night Live will be hosted by Chance the Rapper, Kristen Stewart, and Eddie Murphy.
Source: Saturday Night Live