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Ben Affleck manages to make it through a hilarious and sentimental SNL

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Before last night, I was trying to remember the last time Ben Affleck hosted SNL. And while specifics wouldn’t come to mind, the only thing that did stick out was his inability read cue cards smoothly. I vaguely remembered that he was just plain awful at reading them. Flash forward to his 5th time hosting (I know, I can’t believe it either), and the story is no different. While he gives it everything he’s got, he’s still just a stammering, flubbing host throughout many of his sketches. 

That’s not to say that he didn’t go a good job despite that flaw. Last night’s SNL was actually pretty darn good. It was riotously funny at times, and hilariously poignant at others. We said goodbye to some dear friends, and I can’t help but be curious about the future of SNL now that they’ve left. 

The show started off on a great foot with the cold open, something I can’t say is always the case. Kenan Thompson killed it as a defiantly stupid Al Sharpton, and the result was a hilarious, short but sweet opening to a great show. 

Ben’s monologue was mediocre, but it was boosted by a lovely visit from his darling wife Jennifer Garner. I had already forgotten about the “love is work” comment or whatever he said during his Oscar acceptance speech, but the joke still played all right. I do think it would have been amazing if they had gotten a few more specials guests for him, though. 

The predictable Argo-spoof sketch was first out of the gate, and it was not bad! The gag that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had to say “park the car in Harvard yard” before every line to find the Boston accent was hysterical. And I won’t ruin the best punchline of the entire evening for you, so watch the sketch and see for yourself. 1000+ points to Ben Affleck for that one. 

The only fauxmerical of the night was BRILLIANT. It was for Xanax for Gay Summer Weddings. And aside from being crazy accurate, it was just plain funny. The stress that you feel from attending a perfect wedding, knowing that you can’t compete? There’s Xanax for Gay Summer Weddings for that. 

The only sketch that seemed very ill-placed and subpar was a Depression-era sketch that was about…..bad people? Prostitutes? I’m still note really sure, because it was so strange. It seemed like the type of one-off weirdo sketch that would show up at the end of the night. You can skip this one unless you want to see Ben Affleck’s Jimmy Stewart impression. (Like I said, you can probably skip it.) 

One of the funnier sketches of the night was about a New Beginners camp gay teens—you know, the ‘let’s make you straight’ camps. Ben Affleck was great as the camp’s head counselor who was obviously still gay. Also, Bobby Moynihan’s killer flamboyance was to die for. But the MVP was once again my favorite person on the show, Taran Killam. I thought they were going to take it a little bit farther than they did (I would have really liked to have seen those two kiss), but it still worked for me for the most part. (This one isn’t online yet.) 

Weekend Update was the obvious highlight of the night. The amazing, incomparable, brilliantly talented Amy Poehler made her way back to the Update desk for a quick REALLY?!?! segment with Seth. And then to the delight of literally every good human being on the planet, she stuck around for the rest of Update and reprised her role as Seth’s co-anchor. It was beyond enjoyable. 

But the biggest moment from Update was of course, the final visit and farewell sendoff for our dear Stefon. This farewell was, in a word, amazing. The whole bit was perfect for Stefon, perfect for Bill Hader, and perfect for the show. I don’t really want to spoil it for you, but know that while it’s hysterically funny, it’s also pointedly sentimental, but in the best possible way. Please, do yourself a favor and watch it now. 

Ben Affleck then treated us to the Spanish accent he’s been waiting to try out in a mildly funny sketch about faking his own death. The funniest part was really just hearing Affleck talk with that accent, because the actual plot of the sketch was pretty forgettable. 

So it got to be the end of the night, and things go really good. In a strange but side-splitting sketch about cops trying to wish their daughter/niece/sister/friend a happy engagement, the standout MVP was once again Taran Killam. The joke that all these men can’t vocalize their emotions was nothing new, but the way in which they all committed to it was great. But seriously, if you don’t laugh at Killam, there’s something really wrong with you. (This sketch isn’t available online yet.)

But the real money shot was another installment of Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong selling luxury items (in the past it was Swarovski crystals and champagne). This time around it was Hermes handbags and MAN was it funny. I don’t think they will ever be able to top the original Swarovski crystals, but this one was pretty good. And Ben Affleck was actually pretty solid in this one too. 

The night ended with another poignant farewell. Fred Armisen, Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, and Taran Killam all joined in song as a Brit punk group to sing “It’s Gonna Be A Lovely Day Today.” It was at first strange, and then sad, and then lovely, and then surprise! guest stars!, and then sad again. Armisen has been on the show for 11 years! That’s kind of crazy when you think that there are only like, 3 other people who have stayed on SNL longer. His farewell song was nice, but not as emotional as it could have been. 

I don’t like Kanye West so I barely watched his performances. So there. 

That’s it for this season! SNL is now in a state of transition; Hader and Armisen are out after a decade of amazing recurring characters and memorable impressions. Sudeikis, I fear, is soon to follow, and Seth Meyers will be out of there in 2014 when he succeeds Jimmy Fallon on Late Night. I think this gives Taran Killam the room he needs to really soar (as if he hasn’t already), and for the ladies to really get more opportunities. We’ll see what happens next season. 

May 19, 2013 VIEW POST

Familiar faces abound for Kristen Wiig’s triumphant return to SNL

The anticipation has been high—nay, practically fever pitch—for the return of SNL darling and character MVP Kristen Wiig to the famous SNL stage. 

Very reminiscent of Tina Fey’s memorable return to host, Wiig’s return was high energy, high hijinks, and a whole lotta fun. It’s always a guessing game when old SNL players return to host—will they reprise their most famous roles? Will they only do one? Or will they ignore them all together, deciding instead to leave those memorable sketches back where they belong? If you watched it last night, you’ll know it was practically an SNL loyalist’s dream grab bag of the best Wiig characters, and I couldn’t have been more delighted! The episode was funny overall, and pretty good, even if only for the sheer novelty of seeing all of our favorite Wiig characters again. 

The cold open was forgettable and sloppy, so we’ll just quickly skip over that and get to the good stuff. 

Wiig’s monologue, like so many these days, was an elaborately choreographed and hilarious musical number. It reeks of the same notes that SNL has pulled out before (Will Ferrell, specifically), but I still liked it. Coming home for SNL is always a treat. 

Aside from the returning characters Wiig pulled out of her arsenal (which we’ll get to), last night was rife with delightful fauxmercials. The first one was a spot-on ad for 1-800-Flowers, just in time for Mother’s Day, of course. Kate McKinnon is brilliantly tacky as the mom everyone knows and loves. 

The second one was a hilarious take on the increasingly wacky premises for kid shows on channels like Disney and Nickelodeon. It hit every beat perfectly, and the premise—“Aw Nuts! Mom’s a Ghost!”— was hysterical. 

Triumphant return numbero uno came from another installment of our favorite SNL soap, The Californians. Wiig uncharacteristically broke character more than a few times, but it was the best! This was an especially ridiculous Californians, and with the addition of Maya Rudolph, it was practically perfect. 

And did you really think they’d bring Wiig back and NOT have her on The Lawrence Welk Show? OF COURSE NOT. So here’s that tasty little nugget of weird for you. 

Oh, and wait for it….wait for it….Target Lady! Yes, everyone’s favorite cashier graced us last night in what I think was probably the strangest one yet. It was like she had been gone for vacation only to come back to work at Target more wound up than ever. Fitting, I guess. 

Towards the end of the night (as usual), things got weird. Wiig and Cecily Strong were comically asinine cougars in a mildly funny sketch about taking two 12 year olds on a date. Money shot: Taran Killam’s 30 second laugh riot. 

Then Wiig, Strong, and one of my favorite new additions Aidy Bryant auto-tuned their asses off in a hilariously accurate sketch about real hosuewive-type broads who make songs about nothing. YOU’RE ON BLAST!

Acupuncture gone wrong was the premise of one of my favorite sketches of the night. Was it completely ridiculous? Yes. Was it cheap sight gag comedy? Of course. But I loved it because it was so reminiscent of old school SNL. Remember the polar bear sketch with Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Tim Meadows, Jay Mohr, and Norm? It reminded me so much of that sketch that it warmed my heart based on that familiar feeling alone. (I mean just LOOK at that thumbnail!) 

Weekend Update was a little off for the most part, that was at least until Kat and Garth made an appearance! The Fred Armisen-Kristen Wiig duo that specializes in unrehearsed, created on the fly songs about holidays is always welcome, and last night was no exception. Toward the end of Wiig’s SNL tenure, the sketch seemed tired and overdone, but it was a good choice for her return. It wasn’t the funniest edition of the sketch, but it was funny nonetheless. Love. 

Vampire Weekend sounded so lovely! They are one of my favorite bands, and they always sound just so damn delightful and cheery and happy every time they perform. Solid performances all around. 

Overall, good return Wiig! Let’s hope this is only the beginning of her returns. 

Next week is the season finale, with host Ben Affleck (!!), and Kanye West (blech). 

And because I was busy last week I did not get the chance to recap the Zach Galifianakis episode. However, I wanted to share with you my favorite sketches from that night as a token of my apologies: 

May 12, 2013 VIEW POST

Melissa McCarthy’s second time hosting SNL wasn’t nearly as good as her first

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Dear dear dear. This is exactly why I try not to get my expectations up. 

I love Melissa McCarthy. I really do. She’s a great actress with impeccable comedic timing, and she’s never afraid to fall face first into some zany physical comedy either. So needless to say, I was stoked for her second appearance. But as I have lamented so many times in my SNL reviews, a wonderfully talented host rendered the writers clueless. 

The show was a pretty big dud in my opinion save for two—three if I’m being generous!—sketches. Everything else was just plain unfunny. Not to mention it just seemed like something was just off about the whole episode, right from Melissa McCarthy’s first steps onto the stage. 

The cold open was TERRIBLE. SNL had been on a pretty solid cold open streak as of late, but this edition was just atrocious. You’d think they’d be able to take the natural absurdity that is Kim Jung Un and do something actually funny with it, but instead it read like they heard he said some weird stuff and they needed a timely sketch, so here it is. The end. (Also, Dennis Rodman showed up and delivered “LIVE in (not from like it’s supposed to be) New York, it’s Saturday Night!” As a total perfectionist and SNL purist, it drives me nuts that he had ONE LINE to say, and he can’t even say it right. 

The monologue. Oh my. I’m still not really sure what exactly happened. At first I wasn’t sure if McCarthy’s wobbly walk was part of the sketch or not, but once I figured out that (unfortunately) it was, I was less than thrilled. I understand wanting to use McCarthy’s knack for physical comedy to their advantage, but this was a complete miss. It seemed forced and thrown together, and it wasn’t in the least bit funny. Which is crazy because this is MELISSA MCCARTHY we’re talking about! 

Fist sketch wasn’t great either. A play on the recent outrage over the Rutgers basketball coach’s violence against players, McCarthy was a like-minded asshole of a coach. It wasn’t original, it wasn’t funny. It literally was her screaming and throwing things, not at all unlike the actual source video. And then, when it transitioned from pretaped segment to live in studio, it seemed as if Bill Hader and her were missing cue cards, as there were several long pauses and flubbed lines.  (Not to even mention that the live part of the sketch was even less funny than the pretaped portion.) Fail. 

Some spoof of Wheel of Fortune….snooze. 

We did get a nice little parody of NBC’s own The Voice. McCarthy was great as the contestant, and Kate McKinnon was a spot-on Shakira. Spot on! Overall this one was one of the very few highlights of the night.

One of the absolute best sketches of the night revolved around McCarthy as a ham aficionado at a Honey Baked Ham cook-off. It involved remixed 90s tunes and righteous dance moves and two grown men dressed up in pig costumes. It was hilarious! This is the type of stuff we need to be seeing when we’ve McCarthy as host. (This one isn’t online due to music copyright.) 

The other absolutely delightful sketch of the night came much later, and it’s a shame because it was really funny. Reminiscent of her Hidden Valley Ranch character from her first go around, this sketch had her as Barb Kellner, “The PIzza Eater,” a woman on a mission for some cash. McCarthy fucking COMMITS, and it results in a really hysterical sketch. This was something I noted the first time she hosted; unlike many other hosts that come through SNL (save for the old legends and Justin Timberlake), McCarthy puts 150% of herself into her sketches. This was no exception. 

The fauxmercial for the Bathroom Bussinessman was actually pretty funny given it’s rather elementary subject matter. 

The last sketch of the night was what I think the writers feel like the ‘last sketch of the night’ is supposed to look like. Tips and tricks for picking up the opposite sex in the 90s is a perfect premise to really run with, and yet this sketch fell flatter than almost any other one of the night. 

Weekend Update was mostly a highlight last night. Visits from Vanessa Bayer’s funny Jacob the Bar Mitzvah boy and one of my favorite recurring characters, Bobby Moynihan’s Drunk Uncle, livened things up a bit. This installment of Drunk Uncle wasn’t his best, but it gets bonus points for throwing in Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage, so it all evens out. Kenan's Charles Barkley also stopped by, so there's that. 

Phoenix sounded positively delightful! I am so excited for their new album, and they really sold me on their quasi-new sound tonight. 

Needless to say, this SNL wasn’t nearly as wonderful as her first time hosting, but I do expect to see much more of her, as even in the worst of scenarios, she’s still incredibly delightful. Next time: Vince Vaughn and Miguel! 

April 7, 2013 VIEW POST

Kevin Hart’s SNL debut was about as bad as it can get

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I’m sorry, I just won’t. An in fact, I’m not even sorry. Why would I waste my time writing a recap of a show that so clearly sent home every writer and instead had the episode written by hungry raccoons? This installment of SNL was a disaster right from the get go—and I’m talking about as far back as when they announced Kevin Hart as host. 

Now, I don’t dislike Kevin Hart. Do I think he’s raelly all that funny? No, not really. But whatever. I am always open to being pleasantly surprised. The second he opened his mouth and started what I can only assume was a coke-infused monologue, I knew I was in for a bumpy ride. It’s like everyone at SNL just gave up because they knew they’d have to really bring out the big guns for next week’s visit from Justin Timberlake. I can tell you right now, if they’re going to try to avoid a straight up riot, they better get their shit in order STAT. 

So, no. I  am not going to recap the whole thing, because that would be an injustice to us all. If you are really that interested in seeing what they had to give us Saturday night, head over to the SNL web site. 

March 4, 2013 VIEW POST

It’s a bumpy night for SNL noob Justin Bieber

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I don’t think anyone really had the highest of hopes for JB’s first shot at hosting SNL. That being said, I think a lot of folks probably thought he could come out swinging and pull a Bruno Mars-style surprise and actually be mostly decent. 

In a night of overly-long sketches and copious amounts of winking, Justin Bieber did the best he could. I’ll give him that. I’d venture to say that about 30% of the night’s sketches were mostly funny, if not truly wacky and brilliantly bizarre. But the other 70% was a little rough. Looking back, it just felt like Bieber was hardly even used. And when he was, he was fumbling over his words or staring straight into the camera (whether the sketch called for it or not). I was surprised that there were hardly any Justin Bieber-as-Justin-Bieber sketches (as SNL is so wont to do when a musician is also hosting), and very few musical moments as well. Maybe they realized that he just couldn’t really cut it? I mean, sometimes watching his read off the cue cards was just plain painful. 

The cold open played to the hilarious and obviously ridiculous NFL commentators’ awful attempts at keeping the show going during the Super Bowl blackout. I thought this was pretty funny, but mostly because that’s exactly how I feel EVERY NFL game goes with those commentators. It did drag on a bit, but overall it was a good start to the night. 

Bieber’s monologue was surprisingly (mostly) non-musical. Running gag was Valentine’s Day + Black History Month + Justin’s own stupidity. It was a little dull, and several of the jokes just flat out didn’t land, but it wasn’t absolutely terrible either. 

We were treated to another installment of The Californians, one of my favorite recurring sketches of the past several years. This installment wasn’t nearly as funny overall as some of the previous ones, but the end with Bill Hader is flat out PRICELESS. So so good. 

There was a Grease-like sketch that I really thought had the potential to be a hit, but it instead ended up being one of those really weird sketches without the added bonus of also being insanely hilarious. The joke was he was really, really dumb, and really, really young. But that’s about it. 

One of the best sketches of the night was one that actually did use Bieber as himself. It featured pretty much the whole cast dressed up to act as body doubles for Justin. This sketch was flat out hilarious and featured the best throwaway joke of the night from Jason Sudeikis. BEST. (This sketch also saw the return of Kate McKinnon as Ellen, which both made me super happy and also bummed as I realized that she is being severely underused on SNL right now.) Unfortunately, this sketch is currently unavailable via NBC online. (Which is ridiculous because it’s hysterical.) BUT, here are some GIFs to give you a little taste. 

The Miley Cyrus Show made an appearance last night after a long absence, but instead of being a hysterical interaction between Vanessa Bayer’s Miley and Justin Bieber as himself, SNL gave JB the opportunity to not-so-vaguely comment on his real-life headlines (re: getting caught smoking pot). Sadly, I feel like this was a pretty big missed opportunity for some real laughs. 

One of my favorites from the night was a sketch that featured MVP Taran Killam as an overly-protective and idiotic brother. He was BEYOND in it to win it; Killam took what could have easily been a flat, one-joke sketch and turned it into a funny, one-joke sketch that had me flat out laughing out loud. Like many others last night, this sketch ran a little long, but with Killam I really didn’t mind. 

Jay Pharaoh’s Principal Frye sketch returned last night as well. I have never been a fan of this sketch, so the fact that it has been deemed good enough to be in the recurring sketch arsenal still baffles me. This installment was just as lame as pretty much every other one. 

Really taking advantage of the proximity to Valentine’s Day, we got a weird fauxmercial featuring Bieber as himself, cooing to the camera about what a sexy Valentine’s Day was in store for him and you. Insert Bobby Moynihan as a crazy infantile roommate and you’ve got a real WTF sketch. 

Lame fauxmercial about dumb Bravo shows featuring people who don’t even matter. That joke is old hat and I really expect better from SNL

Weekend Update was back in good form last night. Seth was particularly feisty and the guests were actually good ones. The ‘best friends of a dictator’ gag has gotten a little long in the tooth, and they’ve definitely had better visits from them, but it was mostly funny nonetheless. But the best part of WU was Kenan as ‘the one black guy from every commercial.’ This bit was original, hilarious, and fucking spot on. It’s accurate because he’s “cool but non-threatening.” BEST. 

I didn’t watch Bieber’s musical performances. So there’s that. 

Whew. Feels good to have gotten this Bieber shit over with. Upwards and onwards! 

I am REALLY looking forward to next week’s visit from Christoph Waltz and Alabama Shakes! 

February 10, 2013 VIEW POST

Adam Levine’s SNL debut was about as lackluster as he is

I am not on the Adam Levine bandwagon. I was once, but I’m not a 17 year old girl anymore. And as he’s become increasingly present in everyday pop culture—The Voice, digital shorts, American Horror Story—I have discovered that he is, in fact, just not very likable. So you’ll understand if this review is a little biased; I didn’t expect much from him tonight, and I got exactly what I predicted. 

The opening sketch had potential: the ghost of MLK Jr. visits President Obama on the night of his inauguration. But instead of discussing important issues regarding the future of our country, MLK just wanted to discuss Beyonce. Not a terrible idea, but it basically had 3 silly punchlines amid Jay Pharaoh doing his best to try to keep me (and probably himself) from falling asleep). 

The monologue was a play on Levine’s role on The Voice, with spinning chairs revealing various (and random) celebrities dishing advice for how to be a good SNL host. First up: Andy Samberg, which was obviously a very welcome treat for myself. Then Cameron Diaz showed up in the next chair, and blech. And in the third chair was Jerry Seinfeld, and double blech. The whole monologue was relatively amusing (mostly Samberg’s lines), but it definitely set the tone for the whole show: Levine is dry, flat, and has zero stage presence. Even when he tries to make a joke—one that actually works—it comes off as kind of mean-spirited and condescending. That may just be his voice, but his delivery does nothing to help matters. He seems as if he’s over all of it, that he’s too cool for jokes. If you’re going to be on SNL, you’re going to have to have more energy. This demeanor lasted through the entire show, so you can see why I was more than disappointed. 

We got two funny fauxmercials last night. The first of which was a commercial for Rosetta Stone which paints the picture of uber-creeps using the software to learn Thai so they can go to Thailand for unmentionable things. Ew. But funny execution. 

The second was an advertisement for The Soprano Diaries, a play on the CW’s new show The Carrie Diaries. It was well done and funny, really nailing the personalties of the original characters while thrusting them into 80s situations. I particularly liked the argument between Tony and Carmela. 

The first real sketch of the night was called Circle Work. A gay talk show where the two hosts talk to straight people and give them gay solutions for their problems. Their solutions? Everyone is gay. This was the most personality Levine had in the entire night. There were a few mildly comical lines in this one, but overall it seemed kind of tired. 

My favorite sketch of the night was also one of the most bizarre: It’s a firehouse recruiting event and Bill Hader is a hysterical ex-boyfriend of a girl in attendance. The whole gag was his shrill screaming and over-the-top attitude, but in Hader’s hands it was pure magic. 

To no one’s surprise, the boys from The Lonely Island were back tonight with a new digital short! Called “Yolo,” the premise is similar to a sketch SNL has already done: yes, you only live once, so don’t do anything fun. ANYTHING. This was in no way as good as TLI/Levine’s first short “I Ran” which was just so fucking good. The lyrics weren’t quite up to par, the idea was a retread of something they had already touched on, and honestly, the idea of jumping on the YOLO bandwagon now just seems lazy. 

Weekend Update was hardcore weak last night. Both special guests, Nasim Pedrad’s Ariana Huffington and Kenan Thompson’s Ray Lewis were fine, not great. (Pedrad has definitely had funnier material for her Huffington before.) But Seth’s jokes just weren’t cutting it. They all seemed half-formed, lazy attempts at jokes. I think I only thought like 1 joke was genuinely hilarious. 

Jumping on the faux-beau bandwagon, one of the last sketches of the night was a parody of the new MTV show Catfish. I would say that besides the Circle Work sketch, this was the only other time that I thought Levine actually tried. He did a decent job as the narcissistic host of the show and Aidy Bryant as usual killed it. The first half of the sketch was really pretty solid, but it’s like the really didn’t know how to wrap it up and it ended pretty lamely. 

And two of the weirdest (dumbest?) sketches came at the very end of the show. The first was some weird sketch that had Adam Levine as himself (I’m honestly surprised they only employed that once), having been taken home by a woman after his show. Bobby Moynihan as a vulgar woman has potential, but the sketch was SO clearly kept in just to kill time, it barely even seemed like an idea.

And the Biden Bash sketch featured a party to be thrown by the VP, one in which there would be all matters of ridiculous things. Jason Sudeikis is always great with his Biden, but this wasn’t really up to snuff either.

Kendrick Lamar was Kendrick Lamar, I guess? I don’t even really remember his performances, but I feel like I remember them being boring.

Now we have a few weeks to brace ourselves for the Feb. 9th episode that will be Bieberpocalypse. God help us. 

January 27, 2013 VIEW POST

A rocky night for Jeremy Renner’s SNL debut

Yeesh. What a weird night. There a lot of ups and downs (mostly downs) last night, so let’s just get right to it and get this over with. 

The night started off with an unsurprising sketch about the whole Petraeus scandal. It wasn’t their best idea, but it worked for a cold open I guess. I will say that it was a tad too long, but thus is always the risk of current event cold opens. 

So full disclosure here: I don’t really get the appeal of Jeremy Renner. Sure, he is passably attractive and can play the lead in an action movie (I guess? I never saw the Bourne reboot), but other than that he’s just a guy in a suit. He just doesn’t really do it for me. I don’t actively hate him (like the next new host, Jamie Foxx), I’m just very apathetic towards him. Anyway——his monologue started, and I think everyone realized, “Wait, who is this guy again?” America’s lack of recognition aside, the old SNL go-to of a musical monologue started (and with technical difficulty, I might add), and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. But after the audio issue was fixed, it turned out to be a rather funny take on popular theme songs. And for a moment, I realized that A) Renner seems like he’s got decent comedic delivery, and B) he has a surprisingly great voice. Unfortunately, his angelic crooning wouldn’t be enough to get us through what was to come. 

The unquestionable highlight of the evening came from the very first sketch, The Californians. This has quickly become one of the funnier and more absurd original sketches SNL has created in the past few years, and each installment gets wackier and wackier. Last night’s was no exception. The best part, however, was definitely Fred Armisen losing his shit right off the bat. He hardly EVER breaks, so seeing him get so tickled that it nearly rendered him unable to deliver his lines was HILARIOUS. (Any longtime SNL viewer knows that any sketch that has 1+ cast members totally losing it is automatically hysterical.) 

Unfortunately, that was the night’s high point, as pretty much everything after that was awful. 

We got a boring Situation Room sketch (again) about the Petraeus scandal. Snooze. 

As bad as the night was overall, there were two shorts that were mostly not bad. The first was a fauxmercial about tourism urging you to visit your hometown. They absolutely nailed this one, right down to the bleached-stained towels and awkward run-ins with old high school buddies. 

The second was a little more obscure. “The Stand Off” played like a digital short, and had Bobby Moynihan, Jeremy Renner (proving that he, in fact, looks decent holding a gun), and Taran Killam literally in a constant stand off. It was weird, but it kind of totally worked in the end. 

Perhaps the night’s lowest point came from an unfortunately stale Avengers sketch. Poking fun at the complete lack of purpose of Hawkeye, the sketch was just a parody of a fight scene in the Avengers in which he does nothing. There were multiple technical mistakes (bad timing, premature camera cuts) and the writing was ATROCIOUS. I mean, my brother could write a better SNL sketch than that and he doesn’t even watch SNL. I think I just sat in a state of WTF for about 5 minute after that sketch. I literally don’t even know what to make of it, even the morning after as I write this. I just want to block it out. 

OH wait. Did I say that was the low point of the episode? Because it was, until one of the last sketches of the night featured a cartoon about drones. Do I really need to say anything else about that one? I wouldn’t even watch it if I were you. That’s 3 minutes you’ll never get back and I don’t want to be responsible for that. 

Weekend Update was mediocre this week, with a lengthy amount of time devoted to the Petraeus scandal and visit from Jay Pharaoh’s Katt Williams impression. Now, do you like Katt Williams? Do you know who that is? If you answered yes to either of those questions, maybe you found this funny. I for one have never found him funny, (not to mention he’s kind of a terrible person) so a whole bit devoted to him was lost on me—I don’t care how dead on Pharaoh’s impression may be. 

It was a fun surprise to have the real Chris Christie show up though. It would have been funny to see him side by side with Bobby Moynihan’s impression of him, but I guess we can’t have it all. 

OH WAIT. Did I say that the lowest points were the drone cartoon and the Avengers parody? Let me go ahead and add the flat out dumbest sketch of the night to that pile. It was about some bonehead on a movie set or something, I don’t know I think I’ve actually blocked that one out. 

The night’s very last sketch was actually pretty funny, as is usually the way for an uneven SNL. This was probably due to the fact that it was Bill, Taran, Jason, and Jeremy, and it required so little from all of them, yet they each totally killed it. 

BLECH MAROON 5. Blech. 

The next new episode airs Dec. 8 with host Jamie Foxx and musical guest Ne-Yo. Yeah, I don’t know either. 

November 18, 2012 VIEW POST

Anne Hathaway almost didn’t drive me crazy on last night’s SNL

If you’re a frequent flyer of this blog, you know by now just how much I despise Anne Hathaway, so I won’t spend any time rehashing that. 

Anne Hathaway hosted SNL last night, her 3rd time appearing on the show. Overall, it really wasn’t horrible, and I think she bothered me as little as she ever has, so that’s good? (But really, it was a mostly solid episode, my hatred for her notwithstanding.)

The cold open featured what I wonder might be one of Jason Sudeikis’ last Mitt Romney appearances. We saw Mitt at the Romney compound, post-election results. It was actually quite funny. The running gag of him getting drunk off milk and not being able to recognize his own kids was perfect. I’m sad we won’t get to see too much more of Kate McKennon’s Anne Romney, because she fucking owns that. 

The monologue was-SURPRISE!!-a musical monologue, riffing off Hathaway’s upcoming role in Les Miserables. Instead of featuring some weird song about holiday shopping, they really pulled out all the stops and had the entire cast really belt it out, old school Les Mis chorus style. It was actually super fun! 

After the night getting off to a great start, our first fun treat is a sketch about a talk show called “Girlfriends.” Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant were two BFFs hosting their own talk show, but trouble arises when a new BFF threatens their friendship. Unless you’ve actually been on this side of girl-on-girl aggression, you might not have enjoyed this sketch. But because I have, I thought it was perfectly accurate and hilarious.

Since the departure of my beloved Andy Samberg and the Digital Shorts he and Co. always produced, SNL has been filling the void with their version of Digital Shorts. The most successful of which has no doubt been the Lincoln Louie from last week. This week’s short was SUPER weird, but I totally loved it. (I’m not sure if it’s because it was actually funny or if I think practically everything Taran Killam does is pure gold.) I can’t really even explain the premise, but please know that it’s worth watching. So strange, so good. (I mean, just look at that thumbnail!) 

In a bit of a surprising move, there was a sketch about Homeland last night. Not that I haven’t heard just how amazing Homeland is, but mainly I found this surprising because A) the Claire Danes cry face meme is already played out, and B) not everyone watches Homeland so unless you are a real fan, this was only mildly funny to you (and that’s only a given if you know Claire Danes’ acting/mannerisms pretty well). I thought it was funny, but not hilarious. Hathaway really committed to Danes’ particular brand of crazy acting on that show, but beyond that, I feel like I missed out on a lot of the jokes because I don’t regularly watch Homeland.

One of the better sketches of the night featured an employee staff meeting at a McDonald’s. Cecily Strong once again proved that she is the go-to for over-the-top hilarious stereotyped females and totally killed it. Her and Moynihan both were excellent as two disgruntled and ghetto-ass employees telling off all of their co-workers in the WORST way. 

Fauxmerical time! This time around the product in question is “Flaritin,” the fake Claritin for any made up allergy you may have. Allergic to gluten? Small penises? “Rap?” Then Flaritin is for you. 

Toward the end of the show we got a sketch about the backstory of how the famous American Gothic painting came to. Not bad, not bad. 

One of the best sketches of the night was a spoof of the Ellen show. Let me first start by saying that Kate McKinnon totally NAILS Ellen. I can’t believe this is the first we’re really seeing of her doing that impression. I mean, holy cow. She is without a doubt on her way to becoming the next big thing on this show. This sketch was 100% accurate and funny. For some reason though, this clip is not online. 

Weekend Update was mostly mediocre tonight, except for the stellar visit from Bobby Moynihan as his best original character, Drunk Uncle. He always totally kills this part, and last night was no exception. So, so funny. Also, Jay Pharaoh’s Obama stopped by, as did a gay couple from Maine (the latter could barely illicit a laugh from me at all). 

I fast-forwarded through both of Rihanna’s performances because, well, Rihanna sucks. 

Next week: Jeremy Renner (NO), and Maroon 5 (NO). Yipes. 

November 11, 2012 VIEW POST

Daniel Craig’s dull SNL

What a snooze fest. If I seem a bit more reticent this week it’s only because I truly, honestly don’t have that much to say for this episode (or I forgot it because it was not memorable in the slightest). 

And let me just preface this review by telling you that I don’t really like Daniel Craig. I don’t actively hate him like, say, Anne Hathaway or Kristen Stewart, but he just does NOTHING for me. I’m very meh about him. But anyway…

Debate cold open, obviously. It was mildy funny, but overall pretty stale. 

Craig’s monologue was, among being not very funny, pretty weird. The In Memoriam of all the guys he’s “done killed” is kind of a funny premise, but the execution was pretty lame. His monologue began what was the overall trend of the episode, which was Jokes From Daniel Craig That Totally Didn’t Land. He made a few little jokes here and there in the monologue, but they didn’t take whatsoever. (This clip isn’t online.)

There was a REALLY weird space shuttle sketch that involved Bobby Moynihan (looking creepily similar to Chris Farley) as a fellow, childlike crew member who had brought his kitten on board. It wasn’t in the slightest bit funny. That’s pretty much it.

The sketch with the construction workers who made terrible, terrible puns when catcalling women that walked by was very mildly humorous. But like much of the night’s sketches, the weakest link was Daniel Craig who could barely take his eyes off the cue cards to deliver a solid joke. 

The two best parts of the night came from the two fauxmercials. The first was a 50 year Bond girl celebration which highlighted all of the Bond girls that you ‘may not remember.’ The likes of which included Penny Marshall (I’m convinced this is Fred Armisen’s favorite character of his; it seems like he’ll do anything to put on that get-up), Diane Keaton, and Ellen (a fabulous Kate McKennon). This was fabulous—funny, good impressions, simple premise. 

The second fauxmercial was for the TV show Long Island Medium. Again, with Kate McKennon at the helm of this funny little treat, this totally worked. She nailed it. It poked fun just enough at the premise and delivery of the show to be really relatable and hilarious. I think McKennon is on her way to moving up the ranks quite fast, a la Kristen Wiig in her early days. 

The worst sketch of the night was one that featured several guys on a BBC show called ‘A Sorry Lot We Are.’ Oh it was AWFUL. None of the jokes landed—if there even were jokes, really—and the only person who was even remotely funny was Bill Hader (because he’s just the fucking best) and newcomer Aidy Bryant, who really killed it with her teeny tiny part. The rest was just absolutely atrocious. 

Weekend Update got into full-blown election mode, covering the recent debate ad nauseum. They really got all up on Obama’s terrible performance, naturally. But once they had gotten that out of their system, they had a few visitors. One was the Italian woman who was responsible for the terrible “restoration” of the ancient painting from the church, and the other was Mitt Romney’s favorite giant creature, Big Bird. Kate McKennon killed it was Cecilia Gimenez. Really. Big Bird’s appearance on the other hand? What a WASTE. If you’re going to have fucking Big Bird himself on Weekend Update, at least have him be funny! Some tongue-in-cheek jokes about Romney, some jabs at government, SOMETHING. He’s BIG BIRD AFTER ALL AND EVERYBODY LOVES HIM. Plus we all know those folks over at PBS can be quite hilarious when they want to be. But as Seth waved him off I was only left with one question: What was the point of THAT exactly? WASTE. 

Oh and I almost forgot that there was an MSNBC sketch about the debate too. Snooooooze. 

There was one really, truly bizarre sketch toward the end of the night that once again featured Fred Armisen in drag, this time as Daniel Craig’s rude girlfriend. They commence forcing their friends to watch them kiss and touch each other, making sure they see the heinous expressions on each other’s faces as they do so. It was kind of funny. But only kind of. 

Muse was one of the only high points of the entire night. Because A) Muse fucking rocks; B) Very few bands/singers sound as good live as Matt Bellamy and Muse; C) Very few people can also shred the shit out of guitar and melt my face off like Matt Bellamy. Their new album is fantastic, and they were fantastic last night. Just stellar. But would you expect anything else? 

Next week: Christina Applegate and Passion Pit! 

October 7, 2012 VIEW POST