Ed Helms / Paul Simon
May 14, 2011
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - The Situation Room
• Been a while since we’ve seen Jason’s Wolf Blitzer. This is his first appearance all season, I think.
• Ugh, and here is Fred’s Obama non-impression. Hopefully this won’t turn out to be too bad.
• Hmm, at least they seem to be doing something different with his impression this time instead of the usual address-the-nation snoozefests. It’s actually nice to see Fred’s Obama loosen up.
• The stand-up comedy segment was a fairly-clever twist.
• Vanessa always looks quite attractive in these CNN/Fox News-types of sketches. How is it possible she can look so good in certain wigs (particularly when she plays Kourtney Kardashian), yet look so drab and plain when she’s her normal self? She’s like the reverse Kristen Wiig, who is quite good-looking in real-life but is always made to look unattractive with goofy wigs she wears for her characters. At least Abby and Nasim each have a perfect balance: they’re good-looking both in real-life AND in character roles!
• Speaking of Kristen Wiig’s looks (sorry to continue straying off-topic), has anyone else noticed how much Kristen has facially aged over the last few years? I was recently watching an episode from 05-06, which was Kristen’s first season, and I could not BELIEVE how much younger and prettier she looked! She looks like she’s aged about 10 years between 2006 to now. Her getting a nose job back in ‘08 didn’t help, either.
• Going back on-topic, this is far from the best cold opening ever, but for a Fredbama sketch, it’s surprisingly decent. I’m glad the writers finally went outside the box and did something new with him.
• Wait... what??? “A Cartoon by Robert Smigel”??? Holy shnikies! I thought Smigel retired TV Funhouse for good; he hasn’t done it in three years! What’s the occasion tonight?
Monologue - Ed Helms
• Uh-oh, I just saw the “What Up With That” set in the background when they cut to the audience applauding.
• Please don’t make Helms do a singing monologue... please don’t make Helms do a singing monologue...
• I forgot how much Ed Helms resembles Jason Sudeikis. I bet I’m gonna get them confused for each other at least once during this episode. I wonder if this monologue will be similar to Amy Adams’ where they addressed the resemblance between her and Kristen Wiig, then proceeded to have them play twins or sisters in half the sketches.
• A couple of decent jokes from Helms to start off.
• This childhood story has some funny parts, but is dragging on too long with too many serious moments.
• Helms stumbled over his delivery of that one joke pretty badly, causing it to get no laughs from the audience.
• I think I can already guess what the punchline is going to be: Helms will rip off his suit to reveal a leotard underneath and start demonstrating his baton-twirling skill.
• Yep, called it. Saw that coming from a mile away. Helms still made that funny, though.
• At least this is a real solo monologue with no interruptions or singing.
Sketch - What Up With That?
• *sigh* Here we go...
• Remember when the first two guests sitting in the chair in each installment used to BOTH be special cameos? Yet in the last two installments, they’ve had the first chair occupied by the host or musical guest (Robert DeNiro, Paul Simon).
• Jason’s dancing, usually always the highlight of WUWT, is just lazy tonight. He usually always goes wild and busts out a funny new dance move in each installment, but tonight he’s just doing the standard Running Man and that’s it.
• They’re having the non-speaking characters (Fred’s saxaphone guy, Nasim and Vanessa’s back-up singing ladies, and Jason’s dancing guy) actually talk this time??? Wow. Nice that they’re doing something a little different. Got a good laugh from Jason’s character taking a smoke break.
• Nice to see Helms’ banjo-playing talent worked into the show. Too bad his character here isn’t funny at all. Seriously, what’s the joke of Helms’ character even supposed to be? And don’t even get me started on Wiig hamming it up next to him.
• Hey, the real Lindsey Buckingham! I knew they’d eventually have him cameo in a WUWT sooner or later.
• So does having Buckingham himself appear prove that this will be the final WUWT? Add in all of the other out-of-character elements they put into this installment (having the recurring side characters speak, having Paul Simon point out how Buckingham never gets to say anything, actually letting the middle guest speak this time, etc.), and it definitely seems like they’re finally going to put WUWT to rest. Does this also mean that next week’s season finale will be Kenan’s swan-song? Let the speculation begin!
TV Funhouse - The Ambiguously Gay Duo
• Wow, I still can’t believe this is back!
• The contrast between the stock Ambiguously Gay Duo opening credits theme song and the rest of the cartoon is very noticeable, and shows just how far animation has come along since Smigel’s first AGD cartoon in 1996. I’m almost surprised they didn’t just re-animate the opening credits.
• So far, this is what we’ve come to expect from Ace and Gary, but still very funny and a welcome return.
• Whoa, live-action twist. What’s going on?
• Is... is that Jon Hamm??? Yes, HAMM!! And Jimmy Fallon?!?!? Holy crap, this is amazing! And... Stephen Colbert!!! OMG!!! And tell me that’s not Steve Carell as Big Head! Wow, no way. He looks barely recognizable with all that makeup. Carell, Colbert, and Helms reunited at last! It don’t get no better than this!
• Overall, this was amazing and made me realize how much I miss Smigel’s humor on the show these last few years. I doubt that means TV Funhouse is back to being a regular thing again, though; this just seemed like a special one-time thing.
SIDE NOTE: What happened to that sketch they showed being assembled during the previous commercial break before TV Funhouse? It looked like the crew members were setting up some kind of library set, but when the show returned from commercials, TV Funhouse aired, followed by another commercial break and now Paul Simon’s first musical performance is on. Did the sketch get cut at the very last second?
Also, I can’t believe we’re already at the musical guest/Weekend Update portion of the show. When was the last time the first half of an episode only had ONE sketch?
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Anthony Crispino, Will Smith, Garth & Kat
• So far, we’re a minute into Update and there’s yet to be an outstanding joke.
• No, please not the Secondhand News guy again! Wasn’t he just on a few episodes ago? I hate this one-joke character.
• Seth’s Spider Man joke was pretty funny.
• The Newt Gingrich/Harry Potter joke was mildly funny, but I personally don’t like it when Seth does character voices/accents during Update jokes.
• Jay Pharoah’s Will Smith ONCE AGAIN... Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you a quote from my review last week when I was talking about how badly Jay has been struggling on the show lately: “He’s almost NEVER in any live sketches anymore, and when he is, he either fucks up a line, looks awkward, or does the same impression he’s already done 100 times (Will Smith).” I rest my case. Thanks for proving my point, Jay! I owe you one, man.
• Oh, and tonight’s Will Smith commentary was TERRIBLE, by the way. No funny lines at all, with some of the jokes bombing hard.
• And what... the... hell was with that 15-second frozen grin Jay gave the camera after they showed the trailer/Kardashian photo? Not only did his frozen grin get absolutely NO laughs from the audience, he also looked into the wrong camera at first! I swear, Jay Pharoah messes up in virtually EVERY damn live sketch he’s in. No wonder Lorne and the writers don’t trust him. My rapidly-decreasing confidence in Jay has now reached the point where I’m actually surprised if he makes it through a sketch WITHOUT screwing up, and that is sad. The last castmember like that was Jenny Slate and... well, we know what ended up happening to her.
• Things are not looking good for Jay’s future on the show. I’m sorry, but Jay Pharoah has been exposed as a horrible castmember. I’ve come to slowly realize lately that he’s only a skilled vocal impressionist and nothing more. SNL is not the right show for him. He has NO comedic timing, NO acting skills, NO sketch comedy chops at all. He also probably doesn’t listen to the stage directions he’s given during rehearsals, which would explain his frequent screw-ups on the show. I can’t imagine Lorne is happy with that (I remember hearing Jeff Richards got fired for that same reason: frequently ignoring stage directions). Oh, and Pharoah’s stand-up comedy is awful as well, and don’t even get me started on his embarrassingly-unfunny tweets on Twitter.
• Sorry to take up so much space with my anti-Jay Pharoah rant. I just... I... I can’t remember the last time I reversed my opinion on a newbie THIS severely. I cannot believe I used to think Jay Pharoah was going to be SNL’s next Big Thing. Over the course of just one season, the guy went from being an exciting young newbie loaded with so much star potential, to being an unreliable amateur who’s only capable of doing the same one-note Will Smith impression and not being able to get through any live sketches without messing up. I’d say there’s a 60% chance Jay won’t be returning next season, and by this point I honestly wouldn’t even care.
• *sigh* Anyway, moving on...
• Seth’s jokes tonight are pretty weak overall. I think the Spider Man joke is the only one I came close to laughing out loud at, but even that one wasn’t too great.
• Every time Seth turns to the other camera, I keep hoping he’s going to sign off and end Update, but he just winds up introducing yet another guest commentary. I don’t understand why there always has to be three commentaries in every Update these days. When’s the last Update that was shorter than 10 minutes?
• As if tonight’s Update hasn’t already had enough lazy weak commentaries so far, now they have to drag out friggin Garth and Kat??? I hate how Fred Armisen is given so much free reign to do whatever stupid shit he wants on the show, such as wasting 10 minutes of airtime with this unfunny improv Garth and Kat routine.
• Overall, a horrible Update tonight. Barely any noteworthy jokes from Seth and three beat-to-death recurring guest commentators that featured nothing new.
Sketch - Song Memories
• Hmm, four guys sitting around... is this gonna be the song memories sketch? Guess not, since Andy’s one of the guys here.
• No, wait, it IS the Song Memories sketch! Andy’s just taking over Will Forte’s role. Before, I figured that if they ever brought this sketch back this season, they’d have Taran or Paul replace Forte’s role.
• Jason’s ashes story was pretty funny.
• Hmm, Bill’s father is estranged and living in another country? I think I can already guess what the punchline is gonna be: his dad is Osama Bin Laden.
• Yep, called it.
• Andy’s doctor story was hilarious, especially the dentist twist!
• Loved Helms drinking the ashes in the cup.
• The endings to these Song Memories sketches are usually dumb, but tonight’s Human Centipede reference was actually really clever and made me laugh a lot.
• Overall, the funniest Song Memories sketch in quite a while.
Sketch - One-Take Tony
• Ooh, a black-and-white sketch.
• I thought that was Jason playing the director before I recognized that as Helms. Told ya I was gonna get them confused for each other at least once tonight.
• Rare to see Andy playing this type of old-timey character.
• God, even in the smallest roles, Bobby Moynihan has to mug the camera with a stupid goofy facial expression. Like I said last week, dude’s the white Kenan Thompson.
• So far, this sketch reminds me of the Master Thespian sketch from the 1986 Robin Williams episode where Jon Lovitz’s character was filming a movie and had only one simple line (“And so adieu!”) yet kept messing it up during every take. You know what the strange thing is? When I was watching that sketch a few months ago, I imagined what it would’ve been like if it was done with the current cast and I imagined Andy Samberg playing Lovitz’s role (and Bill Hader playing Phil Hartman’s role as the other film actor). Am I a prophet or something?
• This sketch is just dumb and predictable so far. No laughs at all yet.
• I hate to admit it, but my only real laugh of the sketch came from Kenan at the end, with him randomly playing Louie Armstrong. His blatantly-fake trumpet-blowing cracked me up.
Sketch - Ann-Margret Tries to Throw Away a Wad of Paper Into a Trashcan
• Two sketches in a row set in an earlier decade? Are we getting an 80’s sketch next?
• Judging by the title, I guess this will be a sketch in the tradition of previous SNL sketches like “Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals” and “Al Pacino Checks His Bank Balance”.
• You can also ALREADY tell what the joke of this sketch is gonna be just from the title: Ann-Margret is gonna make the simple task of throwing something in the garbage difficult by just doing her trademark dance the whole time.
• Is that Abby with her back turned to the camera playing Ann-Margret? It’s about time Abby appeared in something tonight! Oh, wait. Of course, it just ends up being Kristen. Why am I surprised?
• Is it just me, or is Ed Helms playing a straight man in EVERY single sketch tonight? Have the writers forgot this guy’s a comedian? Why are they giving him no comedic roles???
• Remember what I said earlier about how Fred Armisen is given way too much free reign to do whatever stupid shit he wants on the show? Same goes for Kristen Wiig, which is why we get this dumb 5-minute time-wasting sketch where the only joke is just Kristen doing the Ann-Margret 1960’s dance over and over again.
• Before anyone says anything, yes I KNOW this is a dead-on impression of Ann-Margret and I give Kristen props for that, but it’s not funny to me. Oh, and Wiig doesn’t hold a candle to Jan Hooks’ far superior, less-hammy take on Ann-Margret. You see, Jan had the ability to do an accurate AND funny celebrity impression without having to resort to desperately hamming and mugging it up, which is why her Ann-Margret and Kathie Lee Gifford will always put Wiig’s takes on them to shame.
• Of course, you know Lorne is backstage watching and eating all of this sketch up, trying to convince America that Kristen Wiig is “OMG the greatest female castmember evar!!!1!!!11!!”
• At least if Abby played this role, it would’ve been slightly more interesting since we aren’t used to seeing Abby do something like this AND it would’ve been a nice rare showcase for her. Kristen, on the other hand, has already done stuff similar to this sketch 100 times and I’m beyond tired of it. In fact, just earlier in THIS SAME EPISODE during the “What Up With That” sketch, she did pretty much the exact same dance!
• Sorry for the Wiig rant. If you haven’t noticed, these last few months I’ve been trying to stray away from my trademark “Angry Kristen Wiig Rants”. It also helps that Kristen has thankfully been more tolerable this season in general. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how much she’s toned it down lately. However, most of her appearances in tonight’s episode are an unfortunate reminder of the many problems I have with her.
• Did Helms mess up his “Should’ve done this myself” line? Why did he stop mid-line, then repeat the full sentence a few seconds later?
• Is this sketch EVER gonna end?
Sketch - Republican Candidate
• I think this was the sketch they showed being set-up earlier tonight right before TV Funhouse aired. Wonder why they suddenly moved this to the end of the show.
• Well, looks like the writers finally gave Helms a lead role tonight. It’s about time.
• This premise seems interesting and different so far.
• Helms AGAIN flubs a line by stopping mid-sentence, pausing awkwardly, then repeating the full sentence again. Why does he keep doing this in every sketch?
• Overall, this sketch didn’t work out quite as well as it should have. The writing itself was fine, but Helms’ weak delivery hurt it. Do you people realize how odd it feels for me to type that? Ed Helms is one of my favorite comedians in the world right now, but he has been a surprisingly bad host tonight. Usually the writers are to blame if a comedian host gets wasted in boring straight roles all night (i.e. Bryan Cranston), but Helms has come off very nervous and ill-prepared during this whole episode. Disappointing.
• Wow, even during the goodnights, Helms still seems very stiff and nervous. WTF?
• Oh, hi, Abby! Has she been in any sketches AT ALL tonight? Remember what I said earlier about how Jay Pharoah has a 60% chance of not returning next season? Well, I’d say Abby Elliott has a 100% chance of not returning next season. Her zero appearances tonight pretty much confirms that she’s gone after next week’s season finale. Nice knowin’ ya, Ab!
• TV Funhouse
• Song Memories
• Weekend Update
• One-Take Tony
• Ann-Margret Tries to Throw Away a Wad of Paper Into a Trashcan
Best Performer of the Night:
• like last week, nobody stood out to me at all tonight... I guess I’d give “Best Performer of the Night” to Robert Smigel simply for gracing us with a TV Funhouse for the first time in years
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 4 sketches (Situation Room, WUWT, TV Funhouse, Update)
ELLIOTT: 0 sketches
HADER: 3 sketches (WUWT, Song Memories, One-Take Tony)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 2 sketches (Update, One-Take Tony)
SAMBERG: 2 sketches (Song Memories, One-Take Tony)
SUDEIKIS: 3 sketches (Situation Room, WUWT, Song Memories)
THOMPSON: 2 sketches (WUWT, One-Take Tony)
WIIG: 4 sketches (WUWT, Update, One-Take Tony, Ann-Margret)
BAYER: 2 sketches (Situation Room, WUWT)
BRITTAIN: 1 sketch (Song Memories)
KILLAM: 2 sketches (Situation Room, WUWT)
PEDRAD: 2 sketches (Situation Room, WUWT)
PHAROAH: 1 sketch (Update)
ED HELMS: 7 sketches (Monologue, WUWT, TV Funhouse, Song Memories, One-Take Tony, Ann-Margret, Republican Candidate)