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Monday, February 6, 2023

Saturday Night Live's "HBO Mario Kart Trailer" is an Improvement over "Wario"

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Some jokes are recycled, but the presentation is significantly better.

The last time KoopaTV thought Saturday Night Live was relevant enough to discuss, we reviewed the “Wario” skit featuring Elon Musk. It was dreadful in pretty much every way. A couple of years later, we've tried watching their skit again on a similar topic. This time, it's an “HBO Mario Kart Trailer” skit, which seems to parody The Last of Us (based on the videogame series) on HBO... but with Mario Kart (another videogame series) in that gritty environment. Apparently, The Last of Us is a pretty popular show—I have zero plans to subscribe to HBO and find out how good it is for myself, however. So while I can't exactly appreciate the digs on The Last of Us (at least, its TV adaption), I do know quite a bit about Mario Kart.

The trailer fills in the audience right away that the gist is that The Last of Us is a “prestige dystopian drama” and what you'll watch for the next three minutes is that concept but applied to Mario Kart, as an “iconic game”—Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch has sold at least 48.41 million copies, and that number will officially go up when Nintendo does their financial disclosure tomorrow. (KoopaTV will cover that, too.) There's a pretty good chance that's a big enough number that members of the audience will appreciate it. But did I?

An unidentified woman in a dismal-looking camp approaches an unknown man drinking an alcoholic beverage with a gold coin. The man identifies himself as “It's-a-me, Mario.” to the joyous applause of the easily satisfied audience. The woman wishes for Mario to take a cargo shipment of a former Princess to Rainbow Road, who was dethroned by King Bowser (who is quite...dark-scaled) ten years ago. Rainbow Road is 2,354 miles away, but they have a kart with Mario's logo on it. Mario and the Princess are supposed to ride this kart all those miles to Rainbow Road.

SNL Saturday Night Live HBO Mario Kart Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer comparisons side-by-side Mushroom Kingdom
Quite frankly, the quality of the graphics are on-par with or arguably surpass The Super Mario Bros. Movie... just way more grittier.
(Or as some “hardcore gamers” would call it, “more realistic.”)

After an obligatory “Let's-a-go” joke to start the engine of the car, Saturday Night Live demonstrated that they did at least a little more research than 2021. Mario says they need all the help they can get, so he heads over to Luigi's Mansion to ask Luigi for help, who greets him with a gun, which cuts to Luigi and the Princess hiding from a Goomba. (The Princess, who is never stated to be Princess Peach, likely deserves to be dethroned for not knowing what a Goomba is.) I guess I'm impressed they know Luigi's Mansion exists?

Saturday Night Live then demonstrates that the target of the parody are dramatic HBO shows more than Mario Kart, with the line, “all your favorite whacky racers re-imagined as complex dramatic HBO characters.” And the next thing said is “Yoshi” stating, “I'm Yoshi. I'm bisexual.” And then Toad showed up to declare, “Name's Toad. Also, I'm bisexual.” That's a critique on these “Hollywood” characters (and some actual[?] people that reside on websites like tumblr or Twitter or in certain Discord servers) where their sexual preferences (or being transgender) are their only distinguishable personality trait. These are often sick, demented people that you don't want to be around, so it's good that SNL is pissing on them and the idea that these are good characters.

Then we hit a lower point where Mario makes the same joke that was in the Wario skit about eating too many mushrooms, which can be bad for health as before. The Red Shell joke was repeated too. Unlike the concept of the Wario skit where spinning out from a banana supposedly caused Mario's death, Mario in this skit said to the idea of crashing, “A little guy in a cloud comes and uses a fishing pole to put you back on the road.” (They also... literally spun out to a big banana and were just fine.) The Saturday Night Live crew continue to use sound effects as punchlines, which is weak material.

Something about the skit really bothered me, and that's when they said, “From the producers of The Last of Us and the master storytellers behind Mario Karts 1 through 8...” And they show this and there are only seven Mario Kart game logos, because they skipped Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (which is my favourite and the fourth title):

Saturday Night Live HBO SNL Mario Kart trailer master storytellers 1 through 8 Double Dash missing .gif

I can't identify what the joke is behind saying Mario Karts one through eight and then not showing eight logos on the screen, so I think they just screwed that up. Which is upsetting, because there are several good visual gags in the skit, including it opening up with a Bullet Bill (my impression is that the audience didn't recognise this was a Mario Kart-themed skit until they saw the back of Mario), having Fire Flower imagery in the camp, the gold coin being a gold coin, the messed up ? blocks, the warp pipes, the road featuring King Bowser's airship, Yoshi eating an apple-looking fruit like in Super Mario World, and other treats.

I'd unironically rather watch that Mario Kart made-for TV series than The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which I still have nothing but negative feelings for. Did I think using Mario Kart as the skit theme was an effective critique of dramatic HBO series such as The Last of Us? Well, probably not. Was the skit really funny? Not really, and it's probably bad the only joke that landed for me was the double bisexual bit. (...That might say more about my own sense of humour.) But it wasn't awful and it mostly had attention to detail (besides the .gif above) and nice graphics that I wonder how long it took them to put together, so it's a big improvement over the Wario skit. However, I wouldn't recommend that SNL keeps trying to do Mario-related skits. They're pretty much creatively bankrupt with these.

Before Ludwig actually watched the skit, he anticipated it would be horrendously terrible, but he was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't bad. He continues to have no intention to give Saturday Night Live any attention otherwise, since it continues to not be a funny production. Do you think differently than Ludwig does? Let him know in the comments section.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was revealed to have sold 52.00 million copies by the time period the trailer occurred.


  1. Depending on the reception the Mario Movie gets, there is great potential to see a whole lot more sketches like this. Not sure what direction they’d go, but SNL loooooooooves to chase what’s popular.

    Get ready to see your likeness portrayed by the finest of modern comedic royalty.

    1. Pft, I don't even have my own amiibo, they're not gonna touch me!


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