In the diary, Palin has just done a Saturday Night Live monologue with his mother. I went and watched it, feeling a manic urge to connect the words of the Diary to visual matter, and I am glad she had such a good time. Very funny, too.
I also ended up watching two other SNL monologues by him, and, man, monologues are tough. Even one which he said went very well, one where he told jokes about his mother, seemed very sparse with laughter.
And then there is the infamous “socks” Monologue (from approximately 1979), perhaps one of the least successful monologues in the history of SNL. There is only one laugh throughout the whole thing — fortunately at the end, so at least it feels like a crescendo. The diary entries about it are filled with all kinds of strange trepidation and fear, and it seems one of the more memorable and painful moments of his life. It’s probably Palin’s worst “bomb” ever, but it’s worth watching, and I’ll tell you why.
The thing about the “Socks” monologue is that it SHOULD be funny. It has truth and pain, and he is acting it (if too nervously), and it has exaggeration, and it is surreal. Like I said, it SHOULD work. But it really, really doesn’t.
I have a theory that if someone can ever figure out why Michael Palin’s socks AREN’T funny, they will learn the secret of comedy.