Everyone Needs a Third Arm

Everyone needs a third arm! Today I thought I’d chat about the sketch, Mother’s Little Helper, or, as the sketch is known around here, “Third Arm.” (That’s the original name of the sketch. I changed the name because I didn’t want to give the joke away. Now that I think of it, I should do a blog on sketch titles.)

As with many of my sketches, Mother’s Little Helper stems from something I read about. In this case, medical tourism. I can’t tell you where I read about it (or maybe I saw it on tv), but it’s true that people go out of the country, usually to Mexico, Central or South America, and have medical procedures performed, both necessary and elective. For most people, the reason is cost (additional proof that our healthcare system needs further reform, but that’s a discussion for a different blog). You can apparently go to Costa Rica, have surgery, and recover at some nice hotel for less than having it done here in the States. And you get a tan, too.

So I thought it would be funny for a mom to go to one of these places and get a third arm. We are always wishing we had a third arm, so why not get a 75-foot fully retractable one? From there, I decided that our mom, Christine, was going to hide the arm from her friends, Megan and Naomi, and then, in shockingly kitschy form, be forced to reveal it, endure her friends’ horror, only to then quickly have the friends realize how great it is and want one too.

One of the difficulties of this sketch was to find the sound effects, especially the “swish” sound when Christine is supposedly whipping her arm out and doing stuff while distracting the other ladies. I wanted the sketch to sound like an old radio mystery, so I knew I wanted that hokey “swish” sound and the dramatic organ, but it took a long time to find both sounds. I also knew that I wanted the third arm reveal to be at the same time for both the audience and the friends, so the sound effect had to be intriguing enough to keep the audience going. In retrospect, the sketch should be shorter and move faster, but that’s true with just about every sketch – whether it’s my show, SNL, or any other show. It’s really hard to know when a sketch has gone too long for its own good until you do it. But by then, of course, it’s done. Just makes you wanna try to make the next one better!

Originally, Wendy was supposed to be one of the friends, but she literally got sick on her way to the recording session, which is why I ended up in the sketch (which I try to avoid whenever possible). When Michele started pronouncing all the countries with a Latino accent, we all totally cracked up and went with it. Poor Leslie, who played Christine, got stuck with having to say “Dr. Ubergeltesliebershtuber” like she’d been saying it all her life. She was terrific and a total sport about the whole thing!

I think my favorite line in the sketch is the one about Brangelina, where Christine, referring to Angelina Jolie and how she’s able to get everything done, says, “Just imagine what she’s got tucked away under those tattoos.”

Thanks for listening and enjoy the show!


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