“The sun’s out, the flowers are in bloom, and the girls’ skirts are getting shorter. Which means this guy’s got work to do,” said the greatest unknown comic in New York City, Bruce Chandling.
“What work?” asked a confused Michael Che, poking at the desperation oozing from every ounce of Kyle Mooney as he brought his greatest creation back to “Weekend Update” last night. “Exactly,” Chandling answered, emptily, which likely killed audiences for him in 1993.
“But you gotta love Easter, right?” And here is where Bruce Chandling comes alive, asking “right?” again like a puppy dropping a stick at someone’s feet, just looking for some kind of connection. “You got that big bunny showing up leaving sweets all over the backyard. Now in the real world…”
Here, Mooney trails off for a second: “Ya know… I’m sayin’… yo…” reaching for Che’s shoulder, pleading with his eyes, “Please, Michael, come with me.”
“Most animals don’t leave piles of candy in the grass, they leave something else.” Where Mooney’s taking this is so obvious it could have a neon sign, but that’s the fulcrum on which this whole bit rests. “And I don’t recommend eating THAT chocolate!”
If this was Kenan Thompson doing his most under-appreciated “Update” character, French Def Jam comic Jean K. Jean, this is where he’d hit the music, say “Zut alors!” and shake his hips like Biggie Smalls doing his best Rick Rude. But not Mooney. Back to that in a second.
Chandling goes into a bit about his favorite part of the season with the finesse of a wrecking ball, “Spring Breaaaaaaaaaak?” and looking to the audience for approval like Hulk Hogan (maybe Kyle Mooney recently got a WWE Network subscription?), where he would find only silence. But still, with all of the good-looking co-eds and their wet t-shirt contests and rock hard abs, “It really makes you think.”
He hangs there for a minute, a shoe about to drop. Che asks if that’s the punchline. “No,” Chandling replies. “It just really makes you think,” comes out like a confessional, stuttered and searching for meaning. “About how you might not ever to… you might not ever be able to look like that again.” The audience is on board with the premise, one woman giving an audible “aww” to the wounded deer with the slicked-back hair and bad jacket on stage. “The weight gets harder to lose,” is a nick in the glass, but “and you don’t remember what it feels like to be kissed” is the sound of a soul shattering.
How many Bruce Chandlings are out there, toiling away in empty comedy clubs along the highways of America, holding on to their Andrew Dice Clay albums like a lifeboat on the Titanic of their careers? Their last bit of self-worth drained by a “loser in a labcoat telling [them they] have to wear glasses?”
“Go ahead and laugh all you want. I guess the real joke here… is me.”
This moment of self-awareness is Bruce Chandling’s rock bottom. And it’s beautiful.
Michael Che, visibly saddened, gives the positive reinforcement that everyone needs sometimes. Bruce may be a joke, but he’s a joke with a decent premise — a good person on the inside.
“I guess you’re right,” he says in agreement, the color coming back to his face. The moment when Kyle Mooney emotionally floors it from 0 to 60 is the same moment where the audience can tell that Bruce Chandling believes he just came up with the greatest response of all time. He draws out the words, his face filling the empty space like an orchestra coming to a crescendo.
“I mean… at least… I didn’t eat the wrong chocolate!”
This manic cycle — joy to despair to pure, self-confirmed triumph — is the essential piece of every Bruce Chandling bit Mooney does. It’s Dylan-goes-electric levels of transcendent. The live audience never gives Chandling his due, and that’s exactly why it’s so perfect. It’s a secret club everyone can be a part of with a password in a language that few understand.
And with that, Bruce Chandling goes away again, back into the comedy dungeons of Long Island to hone his craft. Bruce Chandling is the hero that comedy deserves, but not the one we need right now.