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