"Talk Show: Unsafe Toys" (Consumer Probe - Halloween Version)
Chris Parnell, cast member, 1998-2006: My favorite sketches are the ones I remember from being a kid. One is the "Consumer Probe" show, where Dan Aykroyd plays Irwin Mainway, the guy who sells children toys that are really dangerous and inappropriate. So this one was for Halloween costumes, and he had a Johnny Space Commander mask that was basically just a plastic bag and a rubber band that kids were supposed to put around their heads and pretend they were spaceship commanders. There was another costume called Invisible Pedestrian, which was basically a solid-black outfit with a black head covering. And then there was Johnny Human Torch, which was just some oily rags, safety pins and a lighter.
Jane Curtin was so great in those sketches too. Aykroyd was such an awful man selling such awful products so confidently. It's just wrong on so many levels, and I don't know that they could do a sketch like that now. Aykroyd really disappears into the characters. In the hands of a lesser actor it would just not have had that life.
Aykroyd and Bill Murray were definitely influences in my youth. A cool thing happened to me after I left the show. I was at a bank, using an ATM, and out of the bank walks this guy in sunglasses and a ball cap going, "Chris Parnell." It took me a second to realize it was Dan Aykroyd. He was coming out to visit and chat. He'd hosted while I was there and we'd encountered each other quite a few times, but it was then that felt like, "Oh, wow, I guess I'm really part of this world, this big family of cast members present and former." Another time I got to have a great conversation with Bill Murray at a bar in New York, just a low-key, nice, sincere conversation. It's pretty awesome to get to have these kinds of moments with people you grew up idolizing. I feel so lucky I got to do such a good stretch and got to be there with Will Ferrell and Molly and Cheri and Tracy and Darrell. I still watch the show. I don't watch it live because I've got a kid. But when it's good, it's good.