***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Mitt Romney Press Conference
• This was pretty good and felt a bit different for current-era cold opening standards.
• Jason’s buttered bread offer was funny, as was him comparing his own voice to a black comedian doing a white guy voice.
• Bobby as Chris Christie surprisingly didn’t ruin this like I was worried he would. It’s a given that Bobby’s impression sucked of course, but he did deliver a few funny lines here.
Monologue - Ben Stiller
• The Jewish version of Willy Wonka/“Oh, so just Gene Wilder” joke was hilarious.
• Not too bad a monologue. The Willy Wonka twist was unique enough at least, and while all the Jewish stereotype jokes were obvious, it still worked decently in this format.
Commercial - Lincoln Financial Group #1
• Wow, this was absolutely TERRIBLE. Embarrassingly bad. I mean, what the hell was the point of this? A punchline where Jason decides to have sex with his future self??? And just when I thought the fake ads this season seemed to be going for a smarter approach...
Sketch - Fox & Friends
• Nice to see this back. This was an appropriate forum to parody the Hank Williams Jr. incident and Jason was perfectly cast as him.
• Vanessa accidentally stumbling over the punchline of that one joke was cringeworthy and caused it to get no laughs from the audience.
• The “We don’t say things like that about Obama on our show... we IMPLY it” bit was great.
• Stiller added nothing to this sketch; in fact, he almost dragged it down. Strangely, it seems that whenever the host appears in these Fox & Friends sketches, they ruin it; remember Helen Mirren gave a similarly-awful performance in the Fox & Friends sketch from her episode last season?
• The quickly-scrolled list of factual corrections at the end was again funny; not quite as strong as the list from the previous installment, but tonight’s version still had a lot of hilarious gems hidden in there, particularly the one about Whole Foods providing free abortions.
Commercial - Lincoln Financial Group #2
• Oh, great, so this is a running segment throughout tonight’s show?
• This one, while still very weak, was not quite as bad as the first, simply because Bill’s deep “fat guy” voice kinda made me laugh and I’ve never heard him use that particular voice before; he sounded almost like a black guy.
Sketch - The Best of Both Worlds with Hugh Jackman
• Is this whole episode just going to be a rerun of the Helen Mirren episode? This is the second sketch in a row tonight brought back from that episode.
• A quote from my review of the first installment of this sketch last season: “Interesting concept for a talk show and it worked just fine this time. However, I don’t know how well this’ll be able to hold up in future installments when they make this recurring (and you KNOW they will).” Well, looks like this was able to hold up pretty well because tonight’s second installment wasn’t bad at all.
• This started out typical and nothing special with Stiller’s Mandy Patinkin, but got much better starting with Bill’s hilarious Clint Eastwood. The exaggeratedly-high pants was a nice touch. Also got a good laugh from his random “Git off my lawn!” line.
• Nice unexpected twist with Hugh Jackman himself showing up as Daniel Radcliffe and desperately refuting all the negative things Andy as Hugh Jackman kept saying about himself. Andy’s line “The doctor turned my kangaroo pouch into a didgeridoo” was particularly funny.
• Was it really necessary to repeat the exact same ending from last time with two of the guests murdering Bobby’s crew member character and blood spraying all over the wall? Oh, and I agree with others - Bobby did a lousy job selling the 'burned eyes' bit.
Digital Short - V-Necks
• This short kinda bored me and was mostly dumb. There were a few mildly funny parts like the Negative V-Neck and when Samberg and Stiller’s lines would be subtitled on the bottom of the screen like in a foreign movie, but I just didn’t care for most of this and the ending with Stiller whining in a cartoonish voice as he got arrested was particularly bad.
• Stiller looked friggin old in this short. He’s aging terribly these days.
Interlude - Hank Williams Jr. rocks with the SNL Band
• Wow, this was just great and a lot of fun. Probably the best overall segment of the night, simply because SNL rarely ever does any out-of-the-blue format-breaking stuff like this anymore. Jason did a fantastic job here.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Nan Washingtom, Stefon and Derek Zoolander
• Best jokes: Pet costumes, Jose Reyes/Mets
• Kristen’s pancakes commentary... my goodness, how I hated the living HELL out of this segment. I was harsh on some other recent Update commentaries Kristen did like the Disco Queen or Fitness Instructor ones, but tonight’s commentary was a new low. Did she really just waste what felt like 10 minutes of precious airtime unfunnily rambling non-stop in a slow voice about cooking pancakes??? This almost singlehandedly killed tonight’s entire episode. There are just no words to describe how much I despised this endless dreck.
• Oh, and I love how ALL of Kristen’s “new” characters are no different from her old ones. I could swear I’ve seen her play this exact same character before with the exact same mannerisms, quirks, voice, and always-talking-into-a-microphone habit. Seriously, the only thing that varies with each Kristen Wiig character is the name and wig she wears. “Versatile castmember” my ass.
• Stefon was actually pretty much a welcome sight in comparison to the moronic Wiig pancakes nonsense we had to sit through. The Stefon commentaries have become formulaic as hell but are always good for a few laughs and it was nice to see them going outside the box tonight with the addition of Zoolander.
Sketch - Shana
• I had a strange feeling even before this episode started that this character would appear tonight.
• Who’s brilliant idea was it to place this sketch back-to-back with Kristen’s endless pancakes commentary on Update? I swear, SNL’s just trying to re-ignite the Wiig Backlash that finally started dying down last season. Come on, SNL, we *WANT* to like Kristen Wiig again, but how can we when you’re forcing crap like this upon us tonight?
• The less said about this sketch, the better. Just that my only laugh surprisingly came from Abby with her great delivery of the line “Obviously the spider’s not real; it has a hat on”. She’s getting better at playing straight roles (which is good, I guess, since it seems that’s the only type of role she’s ever given this season... what the hell happened to her celebrity impressions?).
• Speaking of Abby, tonight’s Shana installment ends “the curse” of the female castmember who plays the OTHER girl in the Shana sketches (similar to the well-known “Hoda Kotb Curse”). Up until last season, anytime someone would play the OTHER girl in a Shana sketch, that person would end up getting fired at the end of that season: In the first Shana sketch in 08-09, Casey Wilson played the “OTHER girl” role and got fired at the end of that season. Same thing when Jenny Slate played that role in the second Shana sketch from 09-10. So naturally, last season when the “OTHER girl” role was given to Abby in the Shana sketch from the Bryan Cranston episode, I thought for sure that sealed her doom for the end of that season, yet here she is a year later still on the show. Congrats on beating the curse, Abby!
Commercial - Lincoln Financial Group #3
• Aaaaaand we end tonight’s unfunny trilogy of Lincoln Financial ads with the classic “man in drag” crutch. Although at least they threw us for a loop with the initial revelation of Abby as the girl next to Stiller, but it still just ended up leading to the expected unfunny low-brow “Stiller in drag” punchline.
Commercial - Columbus Day Assblast
• I already declared these Underground Festival commercials officially run into the ground in my review of the last one from the Helen Mirren episode (very strange, BTW, how half of tonight’s sketches were last done in the Mirren episode). Tonight’s installment just further confirmed that, yep, SNL has indeed milked this once-brilliant concept completely dry. There’s nowhere left for this to go.
• Oh, and the running joke with Ass Dan always dying has GOT to stop. It’s become just embarrassing at this point; why is that stupid overplayed “Ass Dan dies while saying ‘Imma live forevah’” joke in every single one of these Underground Festival commercials? And shit like this is why so many people can’t stand Bobby Moynihan anymore. Why must he do practically EVERY character with such a loud obnoxious voice? Even Kenan knows how to tone it down every once in a while. Speaking of Kenan, where has he been in tonight’s episode?
• At least they did something a bit different with Stiller’s spiritual advisor character and the camera always cutting away from him, even if it wasn’t funny.
Sketch/Commercial - Bruce Springsteen: Just the Stories
• A dull premise and even duller execution of it. This might’ve turned out better as a pre-taped piece instead of a live sketch... I dunno; but the point is, this sketch didn’t work.
• It also didn’t help that Stiller’s Springsteen impression was a little off tonight. I did, however, get a laugh from his unintelligible “hunh hunh hai hunh!” countdowns before going into song.
• In some of those still photos of Stiller as Springsteen, he actually looked more like Michael Richards, oddly enough!
• This has been the closest to a big role Fred Armisen has had all night, and that’s just pathetic and shows how useless Fred is on SNL nowadays. Seriously, get him the fuck off the show. Oh, and his Little Steven impression was terrible, BTW.
Commercial - Tinyballs
• Interesting how right after I said that the Bruce Springsteen sketch above might have worked better as a filmed piece, it’s followed by this Tinyballs segment: something that would’ve fallen flat if it were a live sketch but worked much better in this pre-taped movie trailer format.
• A lot of the steroid jokes here weren’t creative, but it just came off funnier in this trailer format. And by this point tonight, I was desperate for some laughs after the long string of bad sketches that followed Weekend Update.
• I especially liked the bit with Taran admitting to the little girl “We’re cheating, honey”, and the little girl happily smiling in response.
• In no surprise at all, Jay Pharoah ONCE AGAIN made his only appearances tonight in pre-taped segments. Seriously, what the hell is going on with this guy? It’s getting sad. It’s becoming more and more obvious that Lorne has absolutely zero faith in Jay, considering how he’s seldom used in any live sketches. I can’t think of any other castmember in SNL history that was used in pre-taped pieces but got consistently shunned out of live sketches so blatantly. Like I said last week, Jay’s never gonna improve as a live performer if he’s never IN any live sketches anymore to begin with. In fact, his live performances will probably just get worse the more he remains out-of-practice.
• Jason as Hank Williams Jr. rocking with the SNL Band
• The Best of Both Worlds with Hugh Jackman
• Mitt Romney Press Conference
• Fox & Friends
• the Nan Washingtom pancakes commentary on Weekend Update
• Lincoln Financial Group ads (all three)
• Bruce Springsteen: Just the Stories
• Columbus Day Assblast
Best Performer of the Night:
• Jason Sudeikis
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 3 sketches (Fox & Friends, Bruce Springsteen, Tinyballs)
ELLIOTT: 3 sketches (Hugh Jackman, Shana, Lincoln Financial #3)
HADER: 4 sketches (Mitt Romney, Lincoln Financial #2, Hugh Jackman, Update)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 7 sketches (Mitt Romney, Monologue, Fox & Friends, Hugh Jackman, Digital Short, Columbus Day, Tinyballs)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Mitt Romney, Digital Short, Columbus Day)
SAMBERG: 4 sketches (Monologue, Hugh Jackman, Digital Short, Shana)
SUDEIKIS: 5 sketches (Mitt Romney, Lincoln Financial #1, Fox & Friends, SNL Band Interlude, Columbus Day)
THOMPSON: 1 sketch (Shana)
WIIG: 3 sketches (Mitt Romney, Update, Shana)
BAYER: 3 sketches (Mitt Romney, Fox & Friends, Digital Short)
BRITTAIN: 4 sketches (Mitt Romney, Monologue, Digital Short, Tinyballs)
KILLAM: 5 sketches (Mitt Romney, Fox & Friends, Digital Short, Shana, Tinyballs)
PHAROAH: 2 sketches (Columbus Day, Tinyballs)
BEN STILLER: 10 sketches (Monologue, Fox & Friends, Hugh Jackman, Digital Short, Update, Shana, Lincoln Financial #3, Columbus Day, Bruce Springsteen, Tinyballs)