I'm in awe of people who can make me laugh. (It's one reason I adore my husband.) It's so easy for an comedy idea to flop, even if it seems funny on paper. You need to have just the right delivery, just the right nuances of facial expression to keep a clever idea from becoming a dud. That happens a lot on Saturday Night Live — duds — especially now that Will Farrell is gone. So last night, when I watched the first of 18 one-minute comedy films made by the contestants of On the Lot, and I almost fell on the floor laughing at the sight of the Guy-Who-Only-Communicates-Through-Dance "talking" his way out of a car accident, then deftly leaping backward to slam his car door shut with a swift jéte, I was in awe. And hooked. Hooked on yet another TV show. Hooked, when I thought I had finally come to the end of a season that had me home on Tuesday and Wednesday nights for American Idol and Thursday nights for The Office and Grey's Anatomy. Hooked, just when I've been starting to imagine all the ways we can spend our summer evenings outdoors, getting exercise, or at least catching up on our Netflix queue.
I watched the Idol finale in spite of myself. After Melinda got kicked off, I thought I didn't care enough to tune in and see whether Jordin would beat Blake. But I watched anyway, and I was surprised at how teary-eyed and nostalgic I felt seeing all the finalists up on stage again. I sobbed through the Sgt. Pepper medley, when all the past Idol winners sang different songs from the album, and then the 12 finalists got up and sang "I get by with a little help from my friends." I was completely undone ... maybe also because I was watching Ingrid deteriorate, so I had a lot of emotion to release. And then there was the sweet ending to The Office, where Jim realized mid-job interview that where he really pictured himself was with Pam, and he trekked back from NYC to Scranton and asked her out to dinner, and the smile she had on her face after that ... it was perfect. A perfect way to end a season that wasn't my favorite, but that scene made it all worthwhile. And then there's Grey's Anatomy. I am still trying to come down from the devastation of that ending. Meredith: "It's over. So over." And Christina: "He's gone. ... I'm free. ... Damn it." And as she tried to rip the torturous necklace from her body, and her exquisite, China-doll face broke into pieces of anguish, I felt everything she was feeling: her pain, her clausterphobia, her relief, her panic. I think she should win an award for that scene. She was so good.
And now there's On the Lot. I spent an hour last night rewatching the short films on video and calling in votes for my favorites ... the airport security sex fantasy, the fart on the plane, the science lab, the space aliens who barf on the police officer. Such laughter! Which means I'll be tuning in again tonight to see who gets kicked off. And then again next week to see how my favorites do. Is there hope for me? Can I free myself from the TV for just one summer?