That Guy From SNL Asks: Is It Cake?
[REUPLOAD] originally posted April 29, 2022
Every once in a while a show comes along that truly convinces me we’re living in the Daniel Kaluuya episode of Black Mirror. The Masked Singer is one such show. Deal or No Deal, a show I’d almost forgotten until I played the arcade version of it at Dave and Buster’s (an extremely dystopian place), is a show that made me feel that way even before Black Mirror existed. But no show takes the cake like Is It Cake?, Netflix’s most insipid chum-churn of “content” to date.
Inspired by a series of viral Facebook videos from 2017, or whenever Facebook was starting to seem actually evil but most people were still in denial, Is It Cake? invites a bunch of cake artists to design hyper-realistic cakes that look like ordinary objects. They get eight hours to bake a cake that looks like the episode’s designated object – a hamburger, say, or a rubber duck. Then, they get to present their cake to a panel of celebrity judges, who have to identify among five platters of hamburgers which one is, in fact, cake. The judges scream when they get it right, and also when they get it wrong. They throw their hands in the air and waggle them all around. They simply refuse to believe that cake can look so much like not-cake, and the sheer intensity of their astonishment has brought them together, on this silly little show, to confront their existential uncertainty about the world. Can reality really be so subjective? Is this all a simulation? Is the earth neither flat nor round, just cake? Wait, am I cake?
A word here about the celebrity judges: I do not know them. Aside from Rebecca Black (honestly, good for her) and King Princess (yikes, how is this what happened to her?), I have literally never heard of any of them. It’s so depressing to have the abstract concept of celebrity – not even the glamor/allure/[insert name of other style & culture magazine here] of a specific person – anchor the gimmickry of the show. It advertises celebrity judges, but no one in particular. It’s selling adjacency to fame, not the unique voice (brand/PR strategy) of a famous person(a), which, sure, we already know is an empty commodity. But at least give us the illusion that we’re watching this because we want to, not just because it’s been engineered to hold our attention for just longer than the 5.6 seconds it might take us to rustle up the willpower to do anything else.
But there is one celebrity whose presence on the show is an actual source of intrigue: SNL guy whose name I never remember, which Google/my partner George tells me is Mikey Day. For some reason, Mikey Day has chosen to host this show. On billboards and in trailers, he looms over a cake shaped like a handbag, poised to slice into it, readying himself to reveal the answer to our question: is it cake? He looks mildly threatening but mostly dead behind the eyes.
In this genuinely delightful thumbnail for the episode “Cake Crashers,” Mikey Day looks like he’s deploying his full depth of theatrical abilities to pretend to care about a cake made of red Solo cups. Or maybe he’s about to sneeze. Or maybe he’s about to quit the entertainment life forever and go live on a sheep farm in Scotland. Who knows! Being the Main Famous Person on a Great British Bake-Off ripoff is an utterly bizarre choice I cannot comprehend.
Mikey Day, I ask you in all the solemnity of this inaugural, COVID-isolation-induced blog post, why did you do this? Various suspect and probably data-stealing websites devoted to telling me your net worth have appraised your sum assets at $3 million or more, your weekly income from SNL at $15,000 to $25,000, which would make your annual income from just 21 weeks of work somewhere between $315,000 and $525,000. You have a stable gig doing what you love, a close-knit professional-cum-personal community, the respect and admiration of your peers and fans. So why cake? Why now? Can you give me any reason longer or more meaningful than the two-word phrase “more money”? I would really, really, really love to know.