Brian Williams gets goofy on 'SNL' - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Brian Williams gets goofy on 'SNL'

NEW YORK (AP) -- Newsman Brian Williams unleashed his inner comic for all to see. As host of this week's "Saturday Night Live," the NBC News anchor displayed some solid comedy chops and a readiness to laugh at himself.

Brian Williams relaxes on the "Saturday Night Live" set with Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph.

He got right to it in his opening monologue, noting that "each one of us, myself included, is thinking: `Is this really a good idea? Should I be hosting this show?"'

The answer, he concluded, was yes.

"I know I'm often seen as a stiff," he acknowledged -- "a guy who's always in anchorman mode." But tonight would be different, he went on, reciting bullet points that appeared, "Nightly News"-like, over his left shoulder: Relax. Have fun. Be spontaneous. Stay loose.

He did them all.

In a nod to his past as a volunteer fireman, Williams' first sketch found him playing a guest on the raucous "Bronx Beat with Betty & Jodi" talk show: a New York City firefighter offering safety tips.

A bit later, he was an actor about to lose his role as the principal on a TV high school drama. In yet another sketch, he played the winner of a $15 million giveaway who refused to get excited on-camera when told of his prize: "I'll need some time to think about it," he said evenly.

Williams didn't shy from spoofing his real-life job (though, oddly, he wasn't included in "Weekend Update," the show's parody newscast). In a pre-taped feature he took viewers through his daily routine at NBC News.

"So much of what we do in the news business is serious," he said, "sometimes I find it's healthy to take a break and have a little fun" -- tossing pennies from his office window onto Matt Lauer and Al Roker while they anchor "Today."

Also part of Williams' regimen: watching old broadcasts of "my favorite news anchor of all time" -- Brian Williams -- and standing outside the building until someone recognizes him.

The show began with a sketch in which Williams didn't appear, but Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama did. In a surprise appearance, he arrived for a Halloween party in "costume" ... wearing a Barack Obama mask.

The first evening-news anchor to host "SNL"Williams was wrapping up a busy week. Besides his regular "Nightly News" duties, he moderated the Democratic presidential debate aired Tuesday by MSNBC (and the target of another sketch on Saturday's show).

But he may also be the last "SNL" host for a while. Actor-pro wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was announced on the show as being next week's host, but a strike by the Writers Guild of America would mean an "SNL" repeat or pre-emption instead.

The strike, expected to begin Monday, didn't escape mention in "Weekend Update." In a mock-commentary, a pompous studio boss insisted TV and movie writers are paid enough already.

"Working writers on average make over $200,000 a year," he declared. "So you can see why we have problems when you cry poverty and go on strike."

Then he was asked how much the average studio head makes.

"Barely $20 million," he hedged. "More, if you get fired."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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