This MTV awards show sketch hasn’t aged as well as it had in my memory. In fact, most of it is pretty weak. It’s no secret that we love Ben Stiller’s impression of Springsteen – after all, we named the blog after sketches from The Ben Stiller Show. Even so, this is not Stiller’s finest rendition. He nails the recording studio surprise and the anticipation in the limo but his voice is inconsistent and his interaction with Puff Daddy doesn’t deliver on the set-up.
I blame a lot of this on Puff Daddy. It was 1998 and at the height of his popularity, he was very much of the “too cool for this” mindset. Aside from selling the surprise introduction moment, he seems almost unwilling to participate in the sketch. I know this was part of the image but it makes the sketch fall flat. And for a Springsteen fan it becomes particularly painful as it quickly declines from sending up the absurdity of the situation into “look at this old-timer buffoon.” Contrast the way this sketch plays out with Ben Stiller’s Mission: Impossible spoof where Tom Cruise is game to play along.
That being said, the video has two moments that I love:
1) Jack Black perfectly emulating the 90s era MTV host
2) “Why are you so awesome?”