***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - A Message from President Obama
• DAMMIT! They were generous enough last week to pull a “psych” on us by cutting off the Obama cold opening for the WikiLeaks TMZ parody. This week instead, it’s like they’re “making up for that” by showing us the complete Obama sketch.
• The usual dull, boring, unfunny Obama cold opening. This took way too long to get to the main joke, and there were barely any laughs overall. And a Bristol Palin “Dancing with the Stars” reference NOW? Seriously? Was this sketch written two months ago?
• Maybe we should be happy they’re not using Jay Pharoah as Obama yet, because regardless of Fred’s impression, the writing for these “Obama addresses the nation” cold openings has been consistently terrible for the last two seasons and I’d hate to have Jay’s fine Obama impression being wasted in shitty cold openings like this. Jay shouldn’t be used as Obama until the writers finally figure out to how parody Obama or until Jim Downey steps down... whatever comes first.
Monologue - Paul Rudd
• Predictable is the right word to describe this monologue’s premise. We all knew they’d do a “two Pauls” joke about Rudd and McCartney, but I didn’t think the ENTIRE monologue would be based on just that one joke. However, Rudd was still able to get some laughs out of the material and it’s always nice to see Paul McCartney pop up in a sketch.
• The Paul Brittain part made me laugh because I was wondering before if they’d throw in a joke about one of the castmembers having the same first name as tonight’s guests, but I figured they wouldn’t because Brittain is too new and unknown so I thought they’d assume the audience wouldn’t be familiar enough with Brittain to respond to the joke. They did it anyway, and it was a decent way for Brittain to get some much-needed face time.
• I feel bad for Paul Rudd, because both times he hosted, he was overshadowed by other guests and events. The first time Rudd hosted, it was Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and Proposition 8 that overshadowed him, and now he has to get upstaged by Paul McCartney. Maybe next time Rudd hosts, SNL should promise that episode won’t have a musical guest at all or even any special cameos so all the writers’ focus can be on him.
Commercial - Cat Cuisine
• This was decent, although the repeated bit with the nasty-looking cat food being plopped down onto plates got old after a while.
• There were a few other chuckleworthy parts, such as Nasim tasting the cat foot herself, the shot of Paul Brittain doing that “kissing the air” gesture that foreign chefs do, and the fake cat paw clinking wine glasses with Abby.
Sketch - The Kissing Family
• No. Just... no.
(Yes, the above may be the shortest review of a sketch I’ve ever done in my 10 years of SNL reviews so far. Expect to see more “reviewing” like the above from me. It’s a better way of commenting on a horrible sketch than just me bitching and moaning for four long bulleted paragraphs about how horrible the sketch was. In fact, I should make “No. Just... no” my trademark for sketches I don’t wanna waste time reviewing, much like how The Doc uses the “Skip It” video for similar purposes in his reviews.)
Sketch - What’s That Name?
• This sketch got cut from a recent episode... and no, it wasn’t last week’s Robert DeNiro show; it was from an earlier episode, I think the Jon Hamm one.
• When this started, I thought this would be an inferior rip-off of the Name That Dog sketch with Greg Kinnear, but this thankfully went a slightly-more original route. The premise here wasn’t great, but the sketch was executed just fine and got a few good laughs.
• Bill stole the sketch as the gameshow host. His facial expressions were hilarious, especially the look he gave the audience after saying “Those people???”
Digital Short - Stumblin’
• I’ve been disappointed by most of the Digital Shorts this season, but I liked this one. The main reason is because unlike most of the recent musical Digital Shorts which are all flashy, high-budget, and try too hard to become instant Viral Hits, this one was just fun, silly, random, Kids in the Hall-esque non-sequitur humor that I loved about the earlier years of Digital Shorts.
• Rudd getting involved in the “stumblin’” just made this even better, and Paul McCartney’s appearance doing a tiny harmonica solo was easily the funniest part. And did you notice Rudd’s dancing during the harmonica solo? He looked hilarious!
• This short was Andy’s only appearance tonight; he was MIA in the live portions of this episode.
Miscallenous - A Message from MasterCa... uh, I mean Julian Assange
• I was wondering where Nasim’s message at the beginning was going, then they fooled me for the second week in a row with this getting interrupted by Bill as the WikiLeaks founder taking over the airwaves once again. If they made this a weekly thing, then think of all the bad recurring characters that can get interrupted mid-progress by these Julian Assange bits. Imagine the latest new Gilly or Manuel Ortiz Show installment suddenly fading to a snowy white screen followed by “Hello, I’m WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange...”
• This was a very well-written sketch with several great lines, especially the parts about Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper and not finding Osama. And Bill’s performance was fantastic; I particularly loved his creepy laugh and the constant sipping of tea.
Sketch - Sexually Speaking
• No. Just... no.
• Wait, I do have one thing to say: Fred Armisen, please get the fuck off of SNL. What does it tell you when three of worst sketches in this episode all starred him (this, Obama, and Kissing Family)? Fred has gone from being a near-comic genius/one of SNL’s saving graces in his glory years to now being a current-era Chris Kattan, maybe even worse. For someone like me who used to be a huge fan of Fred, this is fucking depressing to endure. So please, Fred... GET THE FUCK OFF OF SNL NOW.
Stars: *½ (the ½ is for Bobby’s funny facial expression as the husband in the audience)
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Paul McCartney, Stefon
• Best jokes: Anti-Obama poem
• While I’m all up for another McCartney sketch appearance, the Charles/Camilla audio caption bit was boring and useless. Also, at the end, did McCartney say this was the best thing he’s ever worked on or the worst? I was hard to tell, but it sounded like “best”. It would’ve been funnier if he said “worst”, because him acknowledging the pointlessness of this segment would’ve probably saved it.
• Also, Seth doing the voice of Prince Charles reminded me of when he used to actually play him back in the 04-05 season, in those Update commentaries that always ended with him and Fred kissing. Hmm, has anyone else noticed that SNL particularly relies on a lot of gay humor during weak seasons (94-95, 04-05, 09-present)?
• The Stefon bit was the usual. I got a few chuckles from his comments, and I liked his version of the “12 Days of Christmas” song.
Sketch - Booker T. High School Holiday Jam
• At first, I thought this was going to be a follow-up to that awful School Choir sketch from last season’s Taylor Lautner episode (remember Jenny Slate as Hanukkah Elvis?).
• It’s great to finally see Jay Pharoah starring in a non-impression role, to prove that he can do original characters and is not just another Darrell Hammond or Abby Elliott. Jay’s voice and heavy breathing kept cracking me up, although the writing itself could’ve been MUCH better. The sketch felt too underdeveloped and there should’ve been more variety in Jay’s scenes. Jay did have a few funny absurd lines, though, like him praying for the woman to not get raped by a “horny pony”.
• Kenan almost killed the sketch with his pointless appearance, playing a loud character as he usually does.
Commercial - Meryl Streep on Ice
• An okay commercial that made better use of Abby’s great Meryl Streep impression than that weak Update commentary from last season.
• Finally, Jason makes his first appearance of the night, and it wasn’t even live. I hate how they’re obviously phasing him out this season. Anyway, his over-emotional character in this commercial was one of the funniest parts.
• Taran also had a funny one-liner, although he ALREADY seems to be getting typecast as lispy, flamboyant gay men (he played three gay guys in the season premiere alone, and also played one in the cut Thanksgivies Awards dress rehearsal sketch that was posted online). This season, he and Bill Hader seem to have stolen Fred Armisen’s title as the go-to castmembers for whatever gay walk-on roles the writers come up with.
• Also, this pre-taped commercial was Taran’s ONLY appearance all night, so like Andy Samberg, he had no live appearances at all in this episode.
Sketch - Broadway Cares
• JASON! Sorry for the excitement, but it actually seems like a novelty nowadays to have Jason starring in a live sketch. It’s already starting to feel like Jason’s only a “part-time castmember” this season, similar to Eddie Murphy in 83-84 and Dana Carvey in 92-93. Also, strange how Jason wasn’t even on the same set as the rest of the performers in this sketch. Made it feel like he filmed his appearance in a separate studio or something.
• However, there’s been plenty of Bill tonight, as he dominated this episode, which is always a good thing. I’ve always said that he AND Jason should’ve been the stars of the cast these last few years during their era. It’s probably too late for that now, as they both seem to be on their way out since a lot of people are speculating that this will be their final season. I personally think this will be just Jason’s last year; Bill will most likely stay on one more season.
• They haven’t done this “Jeff the asshole boommike guy” sketch since 2007. I’ve always enjoyed those sketches a lot, probably more than most people do, because I’m a big Sudeikis fan. And it’s rare to have a current recurring sketch that I actually LIKE seeing.
• I always love the way Bill angrily yells “Jyyeeeeeff!!”
• Funniest parts of this installment were Jason’s big pussy comment, his reference to Rudd being in “Clueless”, and Jason’s cabaret performance at the end complete with fishnet stockings.
• For some reason, I also laughed at the “If you’re gonna go there?!??” bit probably more than I should’ve.
• Julian Assange
• Broadway Cares
• Digital Short
• Bill Hader’s performance in What’s That Name?
• The Kissing Family
• A Message from President Bush
• Sexually Speaking
• a few parts of Weekend Update
Best Performer of the Night:
• Bill Hader
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 4 sketches (President Bush, Kissing Family, Digital Short, Sexually Speaking)
ELLIOTT: 3 sketches (Cat Cuisine, Sexually Speaking, Meryl Streep)
HADER: 6 sketches (Kissing Family, What’s That Name, MasterCard/Julian Assange, Sexually Speaking, Update, Broadway)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 2 sketches (Kissing Family, Sexually Speaking)
SAMBERG: 1 sketch (Digital Short)
SUDEIKIS: 2 sketches (Meryl Streep, Broadway)
THOMPSON: 3 sketches (Cat Cuisine, What’s That Name, High School Holiday Jam)
WIIG: 3 sketches (Kissing Family, What’s That Name, Sexually Speaking)
BAYER: 5 sketches (Kissing Family, What’s That Name, Digital Short, Sexually Speaking, Meryl Streep)
BRITTAIN: 4 sketches (Monologue, Cat Cuisine, Kissing Family, Meryl Streep)
KILLAM: 1 sketch (Meryl Streep)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Cat Cuisine, Kissing Family, MasterCard/Julian Assange)
PHAROAH: 1 sketch (High School Holiday Jam)
PAUL RUDD: 7 sketches (Monologue, Kissing Family, What’s That Name, Digital Short, Sexually Speaking, High School Holiday Jam, Broadway)