SNL lampoons the depressingly dead art of the stick shift


“Uh, yeah, boss, I think we got a problem,” crooned the smooth-operating car thief from the seat of a soon-to-be-stolen Lamborghini Diablo. “This car got an advanced driving system I’ve never seen before … I’m looking at three pedals here, a shifter that goes up, down, and sideways … this must be some new tech—military maybe?”

Face, meet palm.

In the latest episode of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, one of the skits, “The Heist”, features a cadre of criminals—a thief, played by SNL‘s Chris Redd; a hacker, played by Mikey Day; and the mastermind, played by Kieran Culkin, one of the stars of HBO’s hit series Succession—endeavoring to boost a vintage Lamborghini for a Russian-accented client, played by Heidi Gardner.

After handling the security guard (played by Kenan Thompson), the thief, “Ghost”, confirms eyes on the prize—a gorgeous black Lamborghini Diablo. Ghost slips down into the driver’s seat with all the confidence in the world. The hacker has bought him two minutes of time with a wide-open security door, and everything is going according to plan—money in the bank, right?

Revs up, corny one-liner uttered—let’s rock. Then, CLUNK! Nothing but a stalled bull and some odd sound effects.

Kinda hard to boost a Diablo when you’re entirely unfamiliar with the concept of rowing your own gears, ol’ ghosty pal. Perhaps he would have more luck scooping one of the other cars in the collection, such as the BMW i8 or the early-year Tesla Model S. Judging by his complete lack of comprehension over manual basics, we’d bet he’d be equally as stuck in what appears to be an Aston Martin V-12 Vantage. Let’s not even start with the matte black Ducati Diavel 1260 in the opening scenes.

Despite over-the-phone instructional efforts from both Culkin’s and Gardner’s characters, Ghost is dead in the water, much to the delight of Thompson’s bound-up security guard. Eventually, he does manage to get the car to move, but not quick enough to avoid getting sandwiched by the security doors on his way out—D’oh!

There’s a bit of collar-adjusting needed here, as this “joke” feels all too real to those of us who enjoy the prospect of three pedal driving. There are plenty of reports out there about manual transmission-equipped cars being stolen less frequently than autos, because thieves lack the ability to work a clutch. That’s certainly a good thing for this innocent Diablo—stolen cars are very much not fun to deal with, no matter how you’re connected to them—and maybe SNL’s lampoon should encourage every one of you reading this to try and teach someone you love how to drive stick, if only to preserve that joyous sliver of driving for generations to come.

Or, if you’re going to steal a Lamborghini as part of a slick heist crew, maybe consider being as qualified as a valet driver.

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