This week’s episode of Saturday Night Live was primarily a nostalgia trip fueled by the incongruous sight of Adam Sandler back in Studio 8H. But one sketch would have killed even without being placed in the context of the Adam Sandler Televisual/Cinematic Universe or the even more popular Aging Gen Xers Who Are Looking Mortality in the Eye, Perhaps for the First Time Universe. Meet Joe Romano, a travel agent who is extremely worried you might be expecting more from your trip to Italy than he can deliver:
There’s a bit of a fake-out here: Initially, the premise seems to be something along the lines of Dan Aykroyd’s “E. Buzz Miller’s Art Classics,” as Sandler explains his family’s generational commitment to showing the wonders of Italy to “people from all over the world, but mostly Long Island and Jersey.” But the sketch takes an unexpected and delightful turn about a minute in, when Sandler turns toward the camera and begins lecturing the audience about not pinning their hopes for a better life on tourism:
People love us. But every so often a customer leaves a review that they were disappointed or didn’t have as much fun as they thought. So here at Romano Tours, we always remind our customers, “If you’re sad now, you might still feel sad there, OK? You understand? That makes sense?”
There’s nothing funnier than a sketch in which a familiar television form is distorted and ruined by one character’s monomaniacal weirdness, but the last great example was Louis C.K.’s “Sectionals” ad, a sketch that has since been distorted and ruined, along with the rest of C.K.’s body of work, by one character’s monomaniacal weirdness. So it’s good to see the form is still alive and well. But what’s interesting about this variation is that Joe Romano may be weird, but he is also essentially correct. Where’s the lie here?
A day is a long time to feel happy, for all of it. Most of us get 45 minutes if we’re lucky.
The reason it is incongruous and funny for Sandler to admit this in a travel ad is that denying that basic fact about the human experience is the foundation of modern advertising. By the way, “Romano Tours” is four minutes and 11 seconds long. If you liked it, you’re just 40 minutes and 49 seconds away from one of the happiest days of your entire life.