***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Senator Harry Reid Rally
• I had to find it both funny and incredibly awkward at the same time seeing Jay Pharoah standing behind Fred’s Obama, knowing that Jay can do an Obama impression that’s a bazillion times better than Fred’s awful take.
• Interesting seeing the underused Paul Brittain given such a big role in the cold opening and even saying LFNY! He didn’t exactly add much to this role, but then again, how exciting can you make a Harry Reid impression? Reid’s not exactly Mr. Charisma himself. Fred Armisen and Will Forte’s past impressions of Reid weren’t anything to write home about either.
• Also, a lot of people are giving Paul crap for his constant cue-card staring, but you have to keep in mind that the man is just starting out on the show. Does nobody remember two years ago when Bobby Moynihan first joined, he had a VERY noticeable habit of staring at the cue cards (particularly in the Of Mice and Men sketch with James Franco) and people on the SNL forums gave poor Bobby hell for it? It wasn’t too long until Bobby got over his cue card habit, and the same thing will hopefully happen with Paul Brittain. Hell, I even remember when Fred Armisen started out in 2002, people called HIM out on constantly staring at the cue cards in his earliest sketches.
• Up until now, the political cold openings haven’t been too bad this season, but tonight’s was a complete snoozefest. Nothing memorable or clever at all. The writers didn’t even try with this. My only minor chuckles came from the “He’s very devious” line and Jay Pharoah awkwardly clapping by himself.
Monologue - Emma Stone
• The “questions from nerds in the audience” format reminded me way too much of Natalie Portman’s monologue.
• My other problem with this monologue is that it was way too predictable, especially the bits with Kenan’s character which got old immediately.
• The only real humor came from Taran Killam and Bobby as Michael Cera and Jonah Hill, which stole this monologue. Taran’s Michael Cera impression was dead-on and hilarious, and it’s about time SNL parodied him. Taran’s supposed to be a great impressionist in general from what I heard about him, so I hope to see more stuff like this from him.
Commercial - Baby Spanx
• Meh, didn’t care for this. SNL’s fake ads in recent years go to the “babies wearing something unusual” well for laughs too often (seriously, I kept getting flashbacks to the Baby Toupees commercial during this), and the visual of babies wearing spanx wasn’t THAT funny to build an entire commercial parody around.
• I did like Jason as the spokesperson, though, and he had one or two lines that I chuckled at.
Sketch - Dream Home Extreme
• Ugh, you have no idea how loudly I groaned as soon as this sketch started when I instantly recognized this sweepstakes giveaway set-up from the Brian Williams episode. At least back then in 2007, I didn’t mind this sketch since that was before I got sick of Kristen Wiig and, most importantly, was before SNL’s shameless pimping of her.
• Was it REALLY necessary to bring this back? Especially since they basically reincarnated this character of Kristen’s in the form of Surprise Sue anyway (seriously, there’s absolutely NO difference between Sweepstakes Giveaway Lady and Surprise Sue besides the fact that Sweepstakes Giveaway Lady has a southern accent and Sue doesn’t).
• They just reused the EXACT same script from the Brian Williams installment, even down to Kristen hyperventilating while speaking at one point, showing clips of past winners freaking out, and the character played by the host getting excited at the end over receiving some mundane meal. This stuff just does not work a second time, especially in these days of Wiig Burnout. And Emma Stone playing “indifferent” is nowhere near as funny as seeing Brian Williams do the same thing. Tonight’s sketch was completely unwatchable.
Sketch - WXPD Channel 9 News
• This was pretty funny, mostly thanks to Bill’s fantastic performance. Loved him as the camera-whore reporter and I especially got a good laugh from his “Mmm-mmm dead” line.
• The “photograph” of the trampolining incident just being a cheap stick figure drawing was great.
• Did anyone else think Emma looked a lot like Aubrey Plaza in that wig?
Digital Short - I Broke My Arm
• I have very mixed feelings about this short. The slipping on grape jelly was funny at first, but then it got old after the constant repetition. Then this got funny again with Emma being in a wheelchair speaking through a Stephen Hawking-esque computerized voice, which was hilarious and had me laughing a lot. But then this just entered serious “WTF” territory with Andy as the singing grape jelly stain. I wanted to laugh at that, but it was more dumb than funny and not exactly the direction I wanted this short to go.
• Board member John George Peppers mentioned in the Live Discussion thread that the beat used in this short sounded like one used in an earlier Digital Short. I was thinking the same thing at first, then after about a minute into this short, I realized it was the exact same beat from the Please Don’t Hurt My Testicles short with Tom Hanks. Lonely Island does this from time to time; I remember the beat used for the Space Olympics short was the same beat used in that short with Andy playing a singing superhero saving Amy Adams from a purse-snatcher.
Sketch - The View
• Ugh, these View parodies get more and more boring every time. I swear, the writer of the View sketches is just churning out these scripts in his/her sleep at this point. If you’re not gonna try anymore, why even bother continuing to use this?
• Of course, you knew they couldn’t resist having Emma play Lindsay Lohan tonight. Too bad absolutely nothing funny happened during her interview. The “humor” in the Lindsay Lohan scene just consisted of her showing off her brand of perfume and saying she doesn’t remember filming Herbie Fully Loaded. THAT was their best way of parodying Lohan? Why were they holding back?
• Only amusing part of the whole sketch was Nasim’s whole 'Judd Hirsch/sidesaddle' story.
Commercial - Brett Favre Open Fly Jeans
• A fine parody of the Brett Favre controversy, and Jason did an excellent job of selling this. Loved his sleazy performance, especially the part at the end with his “thumbs up”.
• Did anyone realize that Jason’s only appearances in tonight’s episode were in two pre-taped ads and he made NO live appearances at all? *sigh* Looks like his big airtime in the preceding Jane Lynch episode was just a fluke, and they’re sadly going back to phasing Jason out this year.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Jimmy McMillan, John Mulaney, Stefon
• Best jokes: none. Seriously nothing.
• Seth just gets worse and worse. He had a truly HORRIBLE string of dud jokes all night, especially the NPR one. And his Clarence Thomas rant was just embarrassing. He had no funny or clever quips at all in that rant and he was just going through the motions, sleepwalking with that smug grin of his through what was basically a thinly-veiled “Really” segment. Dude’s not even trying anymore. Notice that even the audience was dead during his rant? They usually friggin’ laugh at everything Seth says.
• Also, am I crazy or did they use that exact same “fried chicken as bread” joke before? I swear I remember it from a Weekend Update about a year ago. Why does Seth keep recycling the same Update jokes these days? The “state flag” jokes, the Benny Hill chase sequence music, and now this.
• Not surprised at all to see Kenan as the infamous “The Rent is Too Damn High” guy, although I figured before the show that that guy would be parodied in the cold opening, not Update. Kenan actually wasn’t bad in his impression of him and I got a few laughs, but the problem is this was basically just repeating what the actual Jimmy McMillan said at the governors debate. Not exactly an original take. The writers could’ve actually gone somewhere with this.
• It was pretty refreshing seeing John Mulaney with another Update segment, even if his last Girl Scout Cookies commentary wasn’t anything memorable. As funny of a comedian Mulaney is, I think the problem is that he tends to pick dull topics for his Update commentaries, as tonight’s “I love it” segment wasn’t exactly memorable either. But his delivery helps sell it and I did really like the part at the end comparing the preview scenes from the next Mad Men to a cassette tape that teaches someone English. That was dead-on.
• The inevitable return of Stefon... I’m actually surprised it took this long for him to make his first appearance of the season; this character is obviously a big crowd pleaser. Anyway, Bill’s character breaks as Stefon are just expected at this point and yes, the novelty of it is completely gone, but tonight’s commentary gave me some good laughs. The Cosby Face and the Furkles/“did I do that?” bits were pretty damn funny.
Sketch - Les Jeunes de Paris
• Uh... what the hell IS this? Those are the words I kept repeating to myself the entire time I watched this sketch. There’s a good kind of “WTF humor” and there’s a bad kind of “WTF humor”; both this sketch and Andy as a singing jelly stain at the end of the Digital Short are examples of the latter. This sketch just seemed completely pointless.
• This reminded me too much of that weird Dancing Club sketch from the Anne Hathaway episode (from what I remember, it was the only thing I didn’t like in that otherwise awesome episode). This also had some shades of the classic Silent Flirting sketch with Heather Locklear and Kevin Nealon; the recurring joke with Taran Killam & a bra totally reminded me of Nealon imitating all of Locklear’s moves. Of course, comparing this French sketch to that great Silent Flirting piece just makes this one look even worse.
• I laughed about one or two times, mostly during the quick part in the middle of the sketch when everybody suddenly started doing the same spastic dance at the same time.
Sketch - My Brother Knows Everything
• Okay, Nasim looked almost EXACTLY like my little sister in this sketch. I’m talking dead-on, folks; the similarity in appearance, facial features, hairstyle, and clothing style was almost eerie. Though my little sister is just 9, not 11 like Nasim’s character, and my sis thankfully doesn’t pester me anywhere near as much as Nasim’s character pestered HER older brother.
• Anyway, we all know that Nasim has cornered the market in accurately portraying precocious kids, but this particular character’s obsession with her older brother reminded me too much of her character Bedilia’s obsession with her parents.
• This sketch was very dull and dragged too much. There was too much of a “been there, done that” feel, as this sketch seemed too similar to about 50 other talk show/video cam sketches SNL has done in the past. There’s also the fear that this sketch will most likely be made recurring in the future, despite the fact that there’s absolutely NOWHERE else for them to go with this sketch’s format. But you know the current writers...
• I kept expecting Andy to save this, but he was essentially just sleepwalking through a typical angsty teen role he always gets stuck with.
• The only time this sketch felt like it took off was during the part with them rating the hotness of the posters from Andy’s room. That was pretty funny.
• This is the third sketch tonight that Nasim - who’s just a featured player - has played the lead or co-lead character in. Meanwhile, Abby Elliott - who’s a repertory player - has had ZERO lead roles this entire season so far, and she had no lines in tonight’s episode at all; just three non-verbal roles. Will someone PLEASE remind me why the hell Abby is still on this show?
Commercial - “Sex” Ed Vincent’s Sex Symposium
• Well, this was certainly interesting. This piece had a nice “Tim and Eric”-esque feel, and it was cool seeing Paul Brittain starring in it. This had a great, creative concept and I think Paul did a funny job in what I’m assuming is a character he’s been performing since his improv days.
• Some people are saying Paul came off too dull here, but I think the intention was for his character to be a monotone, low-energy creep teaching sex techniques.
• And there’s, of course, the Will Forte comparison that a lot of people are making. I, too, was reminded of Forte during this sketch, and yes, Forte would’ve done more with this character and would’ve made this sketch a classic, but Paul still did just fine. I’m certainly not ready to write the guy off just yet like so many people on the SNL boards are unfairly doing. Give Paul a chance, people.
• When Emma first showed up, I thought she was Abby at first until they showed a close-up of her.
• The shot of all the weirdos in the audience taking notes during the sex lessons was a funny touch.
Sketch/Commercial - Googie Rene’s Partially Damaged Halloween Discount Basement
• Bah, this shit again. I hated this the first time in the Anna Faris episode, and I still hated it tonight. Absolutely no laughs at all here.
• Hey, great 2-second silent cameo, Abby Elliott! Again, will someone remind me WHY she’s in the cast? I’m almost getting the feeling that Lorne’s gonna pull a “Jeff Richards” and fire Abby mid-season out of nowhere. I bet nobody would even notice if that happens, because the girl adds absolutely nothing to SNL.
• Brett Favre Open Fly Jeans
• Taran Killam’s Michael Cera impression
• “Sex” Ed Vincent’s Sex Symposium
• WXPD Channel 9 News
• Dream Home Extreme
• Googie Rene
• The View
• Senator Harry Reid Rally
• the Seth portions of Weekend Update
• Les Jeunes de Paris
Best Performer of the Night:
• Bill Hader
Overall, a very forgettable episode. I don’t think it was the worst of the season (the Bryan Cranston episode is still my least favorite so far), but tonight’s episode had a very “throwaway” feel with barely anything to remember. The funny thing is, in a strong season this would stand out as an unusually weak episode, but in this current season, this episode just feels like “business as usual”. When is this season ever going to have a standout great episode? Even in the 09-10 season, by this exact same time a year ago in late October, we had Ryan Reynolds and Gerard Butler as standout solid episodes. Well, Hamm is coming back next week so there’s certainly promise for a great show there.
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 2 sketches (Harry Reid Rally, The View)
ELLIOTT: 3 sketches (Digital Short, Les Jeunes de Paris, Googie Rene)
HADER: 5 sketches (Monologue, Baby Spanx, Dream Home Extreme, WXPD News, Update)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 4 sketches (Monologue, Digital Short, Open Fly Jeans, Les Jeunes de Paris)
SAMBERG: 3 sketches (Monologue, Digital Short, My Brother Knows Everything)
SUDEIKIS: 2 sketches (Baby Spanx, Open Fly Jeans)
THOMPSON: 5 sketches (Monologue, Baby Spanx, The View, Update, Googie Rene)
WIIG: 5 sketches (Baby Spanx, Dream Home Extreme, WXPD News, The View, Googie Rene)
BAYER: 5 sketches (Harry Reid Rally, Baby Spanx, Digital Short, Les Jeunes de Paris, Googie Rene)
BRITTAIN: 6 sketches (Harry Reid Rally, Dream Home Extreme, Digital Short, Les Jeunes de Paris, “Sex” Ed Vincent, Googie Rene)
KILLAM: 4 sketches (Monologue, Digital Short, Open Fly Jeans, Les Jeunes de Paris)
PEDRAD: 6 sketches (Baby Spanx, Dream Home Extreme, WXPD News, The View, Les Jeunes de Paris, My Brother Knows Everything)
PHAROAH: 4 sketches (Harry Reid Rally, Dream Home Extreme, Digital Short, Open Fly Jeans)
EMMA STONE: 9 sketches (Monologue, Dream Home Extreme, WXPD News, Digital Short, The View, Les Jeunes de Paris, My Brother Knows Everything, “Sex” Ed Vincent, Googie Rene)