***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - The Lawrence Welk Show
• Our first recurring character appearance of the season, and this sketch alone is ALREADY making me yearn for last week’s recurring character-free season premiere.
• At least the addition of Melissa McCarthy’s character added something a bit different and she was certainly committed to the material, but there was nothing that saved this sketch from being the usual laughless Lawrence Welk tripe.
• Am I the only one who had a hard time understanding Melissa’s lines with those fake teeth in her mouth?
• Nice detail, however, with Melissa’s fake muscular He-Man doll arms; a nice contrast to Kristen’s tiny baby doll hands.
• I did really like Taran’s performance. I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I’m still seeing some of Will Ferrell in Taran when he does these kinds of roles.
• Interestingly, this season so far is 2 for 2 in hosts appearing in the cold opening. Wonder if the streak will be kept alive next week. I think it’s possible, since Ben Stiller is hosting and they might do a follow-up to the cold opening of his last episode in ‘98 where he and Lorne had that Star Wars-esque battle on top of Rockefeller Center.
Monologue - Melissa McCarthy
• I honestly try and try and try to give musical song-and-dance monologues a chance, but more often than not, I always end up hating them and that was the case tonight. I just can’t understand why this format has become such an often-used crutch for the monologues in recent years.
• I guess the bit with the thin silhouette dancers behind the screen was kinda funny.
• Bobby can dance surprisingly well for someone his size. I liked his moves.
Commercial - Lil Poundcake
• A nice, comically-disturbing fake ad. The HPV twist was unexpected and funny, although overall, it did feel like this should’ve gone a tad further.
Sketch - Arlene
• The first of many sketches tonight where Melissa would put her all into giving a strong physical performance for a sketch that was very thin on actual material. As a whole, this sketch ended up getting tiring and repetitive after a while, but I certainly appreciated Melissa’s dedication. Jason also did a good job as the straight man and had some funny little comments throughout.
• Some highlights were the horse balloon/Italian Stallion bit and Melissa popping the balloon under her shirt followed by Jason worriedly saying “I hope that was a balloon”.
• Overall, when it comes to office room sketches where the host plays a character obsessed with Jason Sudeikis, well, Christopher Walken did a much funnier one back in ‘08.
• Hey, look who’s on the show - Mr. Jay Pharoah, ladies and gentlemen! And in a completely useless bit role that might as well have been played by an extra. I understand Lorne’s reluctance to give Jay much airtime due to how green a performer he’s proven to be and how often he’s screwed up in live sketches last season, but how does Lorne expect Jay to ever get over his awkwardness and improve in live sketches if he’s hardly ever IN any live sketches these days?
Digital Short - Stomp
• After the absence of a Digital Short in last week’s season premiere and the fact that Jorma and Akiva both apparently aren’t on SNL anymore, I figured that meant the official end of Digital Shorts, but I guess they’re still alive after all. What they seem to be doing, however, is slowly phasing the shorts out of the show, since I remember in the second half of last season around February-March, there was a long 2-3 month stretch where there weren’t any Digital Shorts at all.
• Tonight’s Digital Short was... certainly random. In fact, I’d say it was the second most random Digital Short of all-time, right behind “Cherry Battle”.
• That’s not to say that automatically makes this short bad OR good. I definitely love myself some nice random, bizarre, non-sequitur humor, but this short was all over the place. There were some laughs from little details like the way Andy whispered “Rhythm” right in Bill’s face or Jason’s funny gleeful facial expression during the musical, but the whole Stomp twist in the second half and the overly-extended massacre of the Blue Man Group went on way too long and was just not that funny.
• But then just as I was about to declare the second half of the short a dud, this actually had a funny punchline at the very end with Bill and Andy’s quick deadpan exchange: “Was that Blue Man Group?” “Yep” “Sh*t!” I got a good laugh from that ending. So yeah, I’m very torn on my overall opinion of this short... not quite sure what to make of it as a whole.
• Oh, and yes, I recognize the inside joke with Fred playing a member of Blue Man Group. Unfortunately, I don’t give a crap about Fred Armisen anymore these days to be able to fully appreciate that inside reference. The man has clearly fucked up his legacy on SNL, and it’s gotten to the degree that I now view him with absolute contempt no matter what he does. It’s so hard to believe this is the same Fred Armisen who used to be one of my absolute favorite current castmembers during his earlier seasons (in my opinion, he and Will Forte OWNED this show from 02-05 before the Hader/Sudeikis/Wiig/Samberg featured player group came in), and nowadays I get almost pissed off every single time Fred shows his mug on camera.
• Also, speaking of the Blue Man Group part, was that Paul Brittain playing the other Blue Man Group member next to Fred?
Sketch - The Comments Section
• The format of this reminded me of a cross between two similar sketches from last season: the “I Didn’t Ask for This” sketch from the Jon Hamm episode and the “Finding Your Power” sketch from the Jim Carrey episode.
• This Comments Section sketch was pretty funny overall. A nice and relevant parody of the typical troll-ish snarky YouTube replies/comments. And I think every single board has a member similar to “Da Truf”.
• What was with Nasim’s lame-ass “I think you’re ROTTEN!” remark to Bobby’s character? What a friggin weak cop-out by the writers. Maybe the “rotten” comment being lame was supposed to be the joke, but the whole set-up to that confrontation had me thinking Nasim was going to deliver a hilarious brutal smackdown to Bobby.
• Also, after the Nasim/Bobby confrontation, I was worried that the other two guest segments with Taran and Melissa were going to end the exact same way with one of their victims coming out to insult them face-to-face. Thankfully, I was wrong.
• Loved Jason’s performance as the host, especially the fake-out where he asked about Taran’s girlfriend and him revealing that Melissa’s character “called Garfield the N-word”.
• Great random ending with Bill coming out to punch each guest in the gut. This is an example of being random in a FUNNY and SUCCESSFUL way, unlike tonight’s Digital Short which was just confusing.
Commercial - Chris Rock in Rock’s Way
• I already said a few days ago what needed to be said about Jamie Klein’s “wonderful” description of this sketch when it was cut after dress last week. But you have to wonder how many other cut sketches over the years did Jamie inaccurately describe? I’m sorry, but I just cannot get over it... How in the WORLD does someone interpret a Jay-Pharoah-as-Chris-Rock-on-Broadway sketch as “Jay rocks about Broadway”? Seriously.
• Jay did a fantastic Chris Rock impression here, and it was also nice to see him debuting a new impression on the show for the first time in what felt like forever. I think the last new impression Jay debuted on SNL was Will.i.am in that Black Eyed Peas talk show sketch all the way back in March last season, and his Will.i.am impression was actually really lousy.
• At first, I almost thought this was going to be similar to those sketches from the early 80’s where Eddie Murphy played famous black singers doing Broadway plays (like the Stevie Wonder “A Fiddler Be On the Roof” sketch and the “James Brown is Annie” sketch) or to a lesser extent, that weird sketch from 1990 with Chris Rock HIMSELF playing MC Hammer doing “The Sound of Music”. But thankfully, tonight’s “Rock’s Way” sketch stood on its own and was very funny overall.
• Was Taran playing the same “Um... the bitch can skate!” character he did in last season’s Meryl Streep on Ice sketch? He had the same look, glasses, and gay sassy voice. Either way, his “black-tacular” comment in tonight’s sketch was pretty funny; I also liked the funny grin he made after that comment. It’s little stuff Taran does like that with his characterizations that helps him stand out.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Gaddafi’s Two Best Friends From Growing Up, Tyler Perry
• Best jokes: Chris Christie/president, France/unsafe sex
• The lame Gaddafi’s Two Best Friends bit AGAIN? Ugh... And with the exact same joke as last time, even down to ending with Seth doing the same whispering schitck himself again? Seriously, Fred Armisen, get the fuck off the show NOW. Your legacy as a castmember is BEYOND ruined at this point. And you can tell it’s him who writes these awful Gaddafi’s Two Best Friends commentaries because it’s almost the same premise as his Nicolas Fehn character. There’s really not much difference when you think about it.
• Kenan’s Tyler Perry commentary felt a little rehashed as well, but this one wasn’t too bad overall. Kenan had some amusing lines tonight, such as “Some of you may know me from my films/sitcoms... or you may be white” and him casually saying the long title of his next movie.
Sketch - Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Focus Group
• My issue with this sketch was basically the same as the problem I had with the Arlene sketch earlier: while I loved Melissa’s admirable effort and her devotion to going all out in trying to make everyone laugh (particularly the ranch dressing bath she gave her face at the end), it just couldn’t hide the fact that the sketch/writing itself had little-to-no actual funny material. This Focus Group one was even worse in that regard. Most of this sketch just seemed like Melissa was repeating the same lines over and over again and it honestly got annoying after a while.
• Another problem I have with both this and the Arlene sketch is that they felt very Mad TV-ish. That in itself isn’t automatically a bad thing (Mad TV had its moments and highlights), but these two sketches were reminiscent of the WORST aspects of Mad TV where they would often do sketches with spazzy loud characters just running around acting weird for 5 minutes while normal people around them just stare in horror. I know, I know... that also describes the characters of a certain female who’s currently in the SNL cast.
• I could still find some minor chuckles in a few parts of this sketch like Melissa desperately claiming that she needs the money to “get out of a couple of jams” (I don’t know why but I just found that amusing) and her inexplicable hatred of Abby’s character.
Sketch - The Essentials with Robert Osborne
• Here’s a quote from my review last week of the War Movie dying requests sketch: “I’m relieved to finally see a TCM sketch without the usual introduction from Jason/Bill and without an ethnic stereotype character played by Fred.” I now apologize to everyone here for jinxing tonight’s show with that comment. So is it safe to assume that a “Fred-as-an-ethnic-stereotype” Turner Classic Movies sketch will air next week?
• Despite my complaints about them bringing back the “usual introduction from Jason/Bill”, the segments tonight with Jason’s Robert Osborne actually provided the ONLY laughs of this otherwise weak sketch. Jason had some funny little lines here, like “If you’re a film buff like me, you probably noticed that Lulu slipped on the stairs” or him describing Lulu’s death or his debating with himself at the end whether or not to go to the bar after the show.
• As for the rest of the sketch, this was clearly the part of tonight’s episode where the writers gave up even TRYING anymore to mask the fact that every sketch is just an excuse for Melissa McCarthy to be physical. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Melissa’s performances, but she also needs funny writing/premises to back her up. This sketch instead provided nothing but the same dumb predictable joke over and over and over and over (Melissa slipping down the stairs).
• Some people are comparing this to that infamous sketch last season with Kenan as the kid in the wheelchair constantly falling on the floor. While I see the similarities, tonight’s sketch wasn’t quite as bad. I’d say this sketch was merely just weak, whereas the disastrous Kenan/wheelchair debacle is something I consider to be one of the top 10 absolute worst SNL sketches of all-time.
Sketch - Complaints
• Hey, look who’s on the show - Mr. Paul Brittain, ladies and gentlemen! I think Paul and Jay are secretly in a weekly battle to earn the title of “Most Invisible/Underused Featured Player”. Paul clearly wins that title this week, while Jay won it in a clean sweep last week.
• A decent 10-to-1 sketch. This was nothing really special as a whole but this had its share of laughs, such as the anecdote of Andy referring to Nasim as Dog the Bounty Hunter during sex, Andy proudly saying “You get me!” as one of the complaining women walked away, and the note from a woman claiming that because of Andy, her dog is pregnant.
• It was also nice to see Melissa playing a low-key, subdued character for once tonight, and she had good delivery of her personal revelations at the end.
• Bill quickly getting tasered at the end was also funny and came out of nowhere.
• Chris Rock in Rock’s Way
• Lil Poundcake
• The Comments Section
• Gaddafi’s Two Best Friends From Growing Up
• The Lawrence Welk Show
• The Essentials with Robert Osborne, minus Jason’s segments
Best Performer of the Night:
• Melissa McCarthy / Jason Sudeikis
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 3 sketches (Lawrence Welk, Digital Short, Update)
ELLIOTT: 3 sketches (Lawrence Welk, Rock’s Way, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing)
HADER: 4 sketches (Arlene, Digital Short, Comments Section, Complaints)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 5 sketches (Monologue, Comments Section, Rock’s Way, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, The Essentials)
PEDRAD: 4 sketches (Lawrence Welk, Comments Section, Rock’s Way, Complaints)
SAMBERG: 3 sketches (Digital Short, The Essentials, Complaints)
SUDEIKIS: 4 sketches (Arlene, Digital Short, Comments Section, The Essentials)
THOMPSON: 5 sketches (Arlene, Digital Short, Rock’s Way, Update, Complaints)
WIIG: 4 sketches (Lawrence Welk, Monologue, Lil Poundcake, Complaints)
BAYER: 5 sketches (Lawrence Welk, Lil Poundcake, Rock’s Way, Update, Complaints)
BRITTAIN: 2 [?] sketches (Digital Short [?], Complaints)
KILLAM: 6 sketches (Lawrence Welk, Monologue, Comments Section, Rock’s Way, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, The Essentials)
PHAROAH: 2 sketches (Arlene, Rock’s Way)
MELISSA MCCARTHY: 7 sketches (Lawrence Welk, Monologue, Arlene, Comments Section, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, The Essentials, Complaints)