Did you miss Saturday’s Royal Wedding between Harry, Prince of England and Meghan Markle of USA Network’s “Suits” (perhaps because you live on the West Coast, and make a habit of sleeping through the night)? The best recap you might hope for comes courtesy of HBO, Funny or Die, and the comedic genius of Will Ferrell, Molly Shannon, and their collaborators.
“The Royal Wedding Live with Cord & Tish!” was broadcast live beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET/4:30 a.m. PT Saturday morning, and featured Cord Hosenbeck (Will Ferrell) and Tish Cattigan (Molly Shannon) live in London (the actual London Bridge is visible behind them) talking over the latter half of the wedding festivities, following the actual ceremony.
Other networks might focus on offering insight into royal etiquette or fashion choices, and Cord and Tish don’t skimp on that stuff. But Cord spends some time speculating on what kind of car the Queen drives off in (“a Hyundai?”) and Tish also gets the opportunity to warn future brides that a professional wedding photographer is essential: learn from her example and don’t let your future husband hire his cousin to save on cash.
This is Cord and Tish’s second major appearance commentating on a live event. They made their debut on the national stage in January on Amazon Prime, talking over the Pasadena Rose Parade. And same as then, Ferrell and Shannon fully embody Cord and Tish to an almost eerie degree, falling into the comfortable banter of on-screen partners who’ve been hosting a local morning news program for decades. Except that they’re also very, very funny.
The producers weren’t able to get any footage of the actual ceremony, so instead, Cord and Tish’s commentary began later into the festivities, meaning the special was far, far tighter than what the BBC and other (admittedly more professional) news organizations offered on Saturday. In fact, not being able to show the ceremony itself might ultimately have been one of the best things to happen with this special; by focusing on the latter half of the public festivities, Cord and Tish are able to be their own ridiculous selves, while also not making fun of a young couple’s actual wedding.
At the beginning of the special, Ferrell and Shannon basically just do over half an hour of live semi-scripted improv (intercut every once in a while with a silly pre-taped package of content like what Cord thinks the show “Suits” is about or man-on-the-street segments with Tim Meadows) before the newly married couple finally emerges. But even once the processionals begin, Cord and Tish can’t be stopped from mixing facts and fiction — their favorite James Bond movies are “007” and “To Sir With Love” — for a blend of scripted and unscripted absurdity that also technically does the job and gives audiences a glimpse of the wedding action.
Ferrell and Shannon’s commitment to the bit is really what sells this concept; when “Cord” laughs at one of “Tish’s” sillier asides, like the fact that she thinks she’d be a very good jewel thief, it’s not Ferrell breaking character, it’s Cord expressing the sort of bland co-host laughter so common amongst morning talk show hosts. Even when pushing the limits of what might be believable in this context, such as an extended bit where Tish tries to cure Cord of his fear of horses or Cord inviting Tish to join him in singing the theme song to “Sanford and Sons,” it still has the feel of other commentary provided by other networks.
One of the best aspects of Ferrell and Shannon’s interplay, though, is how it leans into the relative absurdity of making human adults talk on camera for events like these, waiting on any potential glimmer of action to inspire continued discussion. By the end of the special, viewers were treated to one more surprise: Kristen Wiig playing a misinformed elderly male British journalist with a collection of pipes.
Watching hours and hours of live coverage where very little happens has been a popular pastime for years, but maybe it’s more of a plague. And if that’s the case, Cord and Tish are the cure. Come back soon, you guys. We need you.
“The Royal Wedding Live with Cord and Tish!” is streaming now on HBO Go and HBO NOW.