Tuesday, December 13, 2005

ABC: Always Be Cobbling

I'm full of hyperbole, bloated with exaggeration. But, friends, the following statement is no overstatement, nothing's added for emphasis. It's no fish story, no caricature, no tall tale. I believe in this declaration like I believe in the power of our Lord.

Minute for minute, there is no greater acting performance in the history of cinema than Alec Baldwin's as the inspirational and uplifting sales meeting speaker in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross.

Baldwin's on screen for less than 10 minutes, but in that short span he brings nothing short of maximum intensity to his portrayal of the big swinging dick I-make-more-money-than-you-and-I'm-better-than-you-too alpha male cocksucker. He nails the uber-competitive asshole perfectly. He barks insults at strangers effortlessly and takes the art of patronizing to a whole new level of cold-hearted bastard. And at one point he gets so up in Ed Harris' grill that the beaten, balding salesman looks as if he doesn't know whether to cry or wind his watch.

Al Pacino earned a nomination for a Best Supporting Actor award at the 1992 Oscars for his role as Ricky Roma in this movie (interestingly the same year he took home the Best Actor trophy for Scent of a Hoo-ah!). But it's Baldwin who deserved the nomination that year. Fuck the nomination, Baldwin deserved to win that thing, no matter how little time he actually spent on screen. As far as I'm concerned, that supernova performance earned him a reward far greater than a gold statue: all my respect as a master thespian.

If you've never seen the movie (inexcusable), or have watched it once but don't remember exactly how the scene unfolds (inappropriate), go ahead and read the monologue right here. I command you, otherwise the rest of this post won't make sense.

That's all well and good, Ace, but this movie's 13 years old...why bring it up now? Some of you may have been lucky enough to see this week's Saturday Night Live, but for those of you who recorded it on your TiVo or DVR and haven't done so yet, make sure you watch the throwaway last sketch of the night. At 12:55 am, when most people have either turned off the show or already pressed delete on the remote, SNL featured one of the most clever skits I've ever witnessed.

Mimicking the sales meeting atmosphere from Glengarry, Alec Baldwin stars as an elf named Winter's Breath who marches into Santa's Workshop to pep up the troops. Whomever wrote the sketch obviously sat down with the Glengarry script and let it flow, only tinkering with the references to include elfish activities and qualities.

What unfolded was pure genius, my absolute favorite type of parody, one in which the finished product looks and sounds as close to the original as possible. Baldwin still brought the intensity, only he rushed through the scene, which almost made it funnier. I can't do it total justice, so you really have to find the video or run home and pray you still have it on your DVR.

I'll just excerpt some of the Baldwin lines that I sat down to transcribe last night (remember to compare this to the original):

"Could I have your attention for a moment. Because you're talkin' about what, you're talkin' about the hammer, bitchin' about the quality of your wood, some pixie you're tryin' to screw. Let's talk about something important."

"Put that cocoa down. (They cut to Dratch with an oversized, steaming mug) Cocoa is for cobblers only. You think I'm screwin' around? I am not screwin' around. Your name is Honeydew? And you call yourself an elf you sonuvabitch?"

"'Cause we're adding a little something to this month's toy contest. As you know, first prize is a shiny new toboggan, anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a box of candy canes. Third prize is you're fired. Everybody get the picture? You laughing now?"

"I've been in this business for 615 years. Elf/Poehler: Hey, what's your name? Screw you, that's my name! And you wanna know why, mister, because you rode a hegehog to work and I got here on a talking moose, that's my name."

Baldwin then fucked up the "A: Always, B: Be, C: Cobbling" board by actually saying "Always Be Closing," causing Seth Meyers to chuckle.

"You see this gumdrop? You see this gumdrop? This gumdrop cost more than the mushroom you call a house. You see pal, that's who I am, and you're nothing. Nice guy? I don't care. Good father? ELF you, go home and play with your kids. You wanna work here, cobble!"

The sheer brilliance, though, manifested itself in the last line of the skit, when an exasperated Winter's Breath said: "Oh, and one more thing, you all get holiday bonuses, it's still Christmas" to the sheer delight of the elves. Classic ending.

I'll say this much..."because you rode a hegehog to work and I got here on a talking moose, that's my name" nearly caused me to let a little urine go into my underpants. That's about as sharp a line you could have come up with for the skit.

Needless to say, if anyone finds a video of this skit, please send it to me or post it in the comments section below. I'm keeping this on TiVo for a while, and thanks to some helpful readers, HERE'S A LINK TO THE VIDEO FROM YOUTUBE...

Nothing like an elfin' mission of mercy.


At 12:18 PM, Blogger dhodge said...

Damn, I wish I would've caught that. I actually watched a couple minutes of SNL last week and, much to my surprise, laughed out loud at the Tony Bennett show sketch. Baldwin's impression of Tony Bennett was spot-on.

At 1:18 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Yeah, Baldwin is easily the best host in the show's history...he makes me laugh every time out, even through bad casts. His Tony Bennett is indeed spot-on -- I love the "I like things that are great" line.

This Glengarry Elf skit is priceless, though, just so brilliant.

At 2:03 PM, Blogger Don Fiedler said...

I love Baldwin's face when he says, "Elf you, go home and play with your kids." It's just dead on.

Agreed on Baldwin as host. He makes everything so much better, including the "I married a hot dog" sketch, which I thought had no chance of being funny. "You start to grow a bun."

anxious to see how Jack Black fares this week.

At 4:00 PM, Blogger hoobs said...

youze guys got me thinking of some other classic alec baldwin snl moments. 2 in particular stick out in my mind.

1. baldwin claims to be a sick little girl in the hospital with a rare disease that makes him look like a 40 year old man, and only silk pajamas are appropriate for his sensitive skin. molly shannon as a clown then falls in love.

2. (one of ace's favs) baldwin claims he can imitate the voice of anyone (i think he is supposed to be a detective), but all of his voices are a screechy, high pitched "HEL-LLO!"
"is that what i sound like?"
"yes, exactly"

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Derek said...

You are 100% correct on Baldwin's movie-stealing performance in Glengarry Glen Ross. One of the best I've ever seen.

I've got last week's SNL idling on my TiVo. Now that you told me about that sketch, I'm going to watch it RIGHT NOW. Just reading your transcript made me cackle out loud.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Nice, Derek...so what did ya think? Baldwin kinda mails it in, but to me that almost makes it funnier.

At 3:23 PM, Blogger Derek said...

Absolutely brilliant. I'm so jaded by the usual SNL suckfest that when they nail something like this, it makes it that much more satisfying.

Yeah, so the big shots on the show always read the lines right off the teleprompter. (DeNiro is the worst offender). But seeing Baldwin in that elf suit glowering at those toy makers was priceless.

Thanks for the link. That video now has a home on my hard drive next to the Walken/Cowbell sketch.

At 9:36 PM, Blogger Bartholomew said...

Hey, what plug in does quicktime require to play that file? It told me I need something but then just bounced me to a page with a bunch of files and no further input. I really want to see this.

At 6:47 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Sorry man, have no computer advice for ya...I'm as clueless as you on this one.

At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for posting the link to the file...I'm not able to play it either (I can only ge the audio)...every time I open the file I get a different error message (need add'l file, can't find right compressor, etc.)

anyone have it in another format?

At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



At 2:45 PM, Blogger Gina Grace said...

Oh Thankyou sweet Jesus to whoever posted a link to this video online- I've been searching for it everyday since it aired! This is probably one of the best sketches to come out of SNL of all time.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger andy filius said...

anyone have a link for this again?? please email to:


At 6:53 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Here is the original parody:


At 5:28 PM, Blogger Lori said...

Hi -- I desperately need a copy of the SNL Glengarry elf skit on DVD or a link to it online! I teach screenwriting classes and use Glengarry Glen Ross in class -- and since the elf skit showed on SNL several years ago, I use it afterwards for some levity. But I have it taped on VHS, and well, you know the story there ... so if anyone can hook me up with a copy or a good link, please email me at: lorilig@gmail.com


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