***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - A Message from Fred Armisen in Blackface
• Much to the excitement of absolutely nobody, we have the first appearance of Fredbama this season.
• I don’t know why everyone is so surprised that Fred gave up trying to sound like Obama. This is not anything new, folks; Fred gave up trying to sound even remotely like Obama after the 08-09 season. The biggest example is probably the Obama cold opening from the Ryan Reynolds episode in 09-10; Fred just flat-out used his real voice in that one and I remember being FLOORED back then at how he didn’t put any effort at all into the Obama voice anymore.
• The writing in tonight’s cold opening was a slight step up from the usual Fredbama snoozefests, but that’s not saying much as this still dragged in spots.
• The “America’s Most Powerful” countdown list was a decent change-of-pace at least, and there were a few funny lines here such as the one about Chinese dignitaries asking to touch Obama’s hair, and the Fantasy Congress League joke.
Monologue - Steve Buscemi
• A funny monologue that nailed pretty much every single “second banana” cliche from movies. My favorites were Kenan as the magical African-American and Andy as the “You take care of her” jock.
• My only complaints are that 1) Bobby’s “Vegas” bit fell flat, and 2) Steve Buscemi himself barely got anything to do in this monologue. Come on, SNL! This is the type of monologue you’re supposed to do when some dull celebrity or athlete or other non-actor is hosting, not someone like Steve Buscemi who’s certainly funny enough to carry a good monologue all on his own.
Commercial - Frozen Mexican Dinner
• Not as bad as you’d expect this to have been from reading the description in Jamie Klein’s cut sketch reports. While this still relied on cheap bathroom humor and an obvious punchline, it was the execution of this that made it an okay commercial. Nothing too great, but certainly passable. I have no real complaints about it.
• Paul Brittain did a very good job in a rare lead role. Him wildly playing the maracas at the end after being cured was really funny.
Sketch - The Miley Cyrus Show
• It’s nice that they finally took this sketch into a much-needed different direction, even if not everything here worked.
• I still don’t understand the point of having Bobby play one of the band members. He does nothing but sit silently in the background the entire time and he’s barely even on camera. A complete waste of Bobby as a performer.
• Jason was really milking the whole “hair-tossing” mannerism in this installment. He kept doing it before every single one of his lines, and it seemed to bomb with the audience.
• Criminal underusage of Steve Buscemi here. The writer(s) of this sketch obviously treated Buscemi as a total afterthought by giving him a nothing role with barely any airtime, and that’s a shame. Compare this to all the other hosts who played a guest in these Miley Cyrus Show sketches and got much more to work with than Steve.
• As for Maya Rudolph’s return as Whitney Houston - No. Just... no.
Digital Short - Batman
• This short started getting somewhat predictable after a while, but this wasn’t bad overall and was executed decently.
• I’m starting to notice, however, that they seem to love doing Digital Shorts that revolve around a character who keeps angering someone by unexpectedly popping up in different random places (the toilet Digital Short from the infamous January Jones episode, the short with Ryan Phillippe, the Sergio short with Jon Hamm).
• My favorite parts here were Batman taking a picture of Buscemi’s prostate exam, and the bit with Batman and Aquaman having no pants on in the shower.
Sketch - Dateline
• This was certainly a random sketch to bring back. The last time this was done was all the way back in the 08-09 season.
• Bill’s Keith Morrison always kills me, but tonight’s Dateline installment was too similar to the last few Dateline sketches, and the central joke of these (Keith Morrison “ohh”-ing and “ahh”-ing at every detail of a murder) can only be funny for so long before it gets tired.
• Even the bit with Buscemi as the prisoner “ohh”-ing and “ahh”-ing along with Bill was an exact copy of the last installment when Tracy Morgan was the one playing the prisoner.
• The interview with Kristen’s character, however, was an original bit that took this into a slightly different direction. Loved Bill anxiously eating popcorn during that segment and the completely frozen look on his face after Kristen’s “I would let him stick his dong right up in my dump hole” line, which was followed by Bill painting a picture of her out of admiration.
• The ending was funny, too, with Bill’s imitation of the drowning clown.
Sketch - Coach Bert
• An early contender for Best Sketch of the Season. This whole thing was a riot, had me pretty much laughing non-stop, and finally made great use of tonight’s host.
• So many things about this sketch that I loved, but if I had to single out the true highlights, I’d say the parts that made me laugh the most were Buscemi’s embarrassing “Bert Man” song played on the tape, Bill’s appearance as the NAMBLA president, Jay’s line about how he would’ve actually preferred being molested instead of having to listen to the “Bert Man” song, and all of Buscemi’s facial reactions to everything. Just an excellent sketch, all-in-all.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Herman Cain, Drunk Uncle
• Best jokes: Donkeys crossing border
• The Herman Cain commentary was mostly slow and forgettable, but it did get better towards the end with the “Bend over for Herman Cain” bit along with the other inappropriate declarations he made afterwards.
• It was refreshing to see Bobby Moynihan playing a role that, for once, DIDN’T involve him mugging or talking in a loud voice. Bobby did a good job in this role, and his random “Immigraaaaants!” remark in particular gave me a big laugh. But the commentary did get dragged out too long near the end and felt like it should’ve been trimmed down. Also, whether you liked this segment or not, get ready to see plenty more of this character because you just KNOW they’re gonna bring Drunk Uncle back many times and probably run him into the ground with diminishing returns.
• And it’s probably just me, but something about the way Bobby looked and sounded as Drunk Uncle reminded me of John Belushi. Not sure why, though.
Sketch - Surprise Sue
• No. Just... no. I thought this damn character was retired for good.
Commercial - “Sex” Ed Vincent’s Couples Workshop
• Looks like Paul Brittain finally gets his first major recurring character. Congrats!
• This was again enjoyable, although a little too similar in structure to the last Ed Vincent piece. If they continue using this character, they’re gonna have to shake things up with his commercials a little more if they don’t want it to get too repetitive. I suggest maybe using him in a live sketch at least once; that would be interesting.
• Buscemi as “The Erotic Chef” added a lot to this and he got some great laughs, especially the “hot dog between the cantaloupes” bit.
Sketch - Christmas Tree Ornaments
• I had been waiting all night for something like this. A bizarre sketch starring Steve Buscemi front-and-center doing what he does best: playing a loveable creepy character.
• Just about all of Buscemi’s little comments throughout this had me laughing my ass off; I can’t even pick out my favorite line. This is a great example of a sketch that would absolutely bomb with most hosts, but becomes an instant classic with the right host who excels at pulling off disturbing roles in such a low-key and likeable manner. Many people are saying that they could see this same sketch being done with Christopher Walken... I’ll add more to that by saying I could also picture John Malkovich doing this sketch as well. Let’s remember that Malkovich, like Buscemi, is another great Walken-esque host that SNL needs to have back much more often.
• I liked the running gag with Kristen placing the ornaments incorrectly, especially when the tree just disappeared out of nowhere.
• Coach Bert
• Christmas Tree Ornaments
• “Sex” Ed Vincent’s Couples Workshop
• Surprise Sue
• Maya Rudolph as Whitney Houston
• some portions of Weekend Update
Best Performer of the Night:
• Paul Brittain / Steve Buscemi
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 2 sketches (Fredbama, Frozen Mexican Dinner)
ELLIOTT: 2 sketches (Monologue, Sue)
HADER: 4 sketches (Monologue, Dateline, Coach Bert, Sue)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 4 sketches (Monologue, Miley Cyrus, Coach Bert, Update)
PEDRAD: 2 sketches (Monologue, Coach Bert)
SAMBERG: 2 sketches (Monologue, Digital Short)
SUDEIKIS: 4 sketches (Miley Cyrus, Digital Short, Dateline, Coach Bert)
THOMPSON: 4 sketches (Monologue, Miley Cyrus, Coach Bert, Update)
WIIG: 5 sketches (Monologue, Digital Short, Dateline, Sue, Ornaments)
BAYER: 2 sketches (Miley Cyrus, Sue)
BRITTAIN: 4 sketches (Frozen Mexican Dinner, Digital Short, Sue, “Sex” Ed Vincent)
KILLAM: 2 sketches (Dateline, Coach Bert)
PHAROAH: 2 sketches (Monologue, Coach Bert)
STEVE BUSCEMI: 8 sketches (Monologue, Miley Cyrus, Digital Short, Dateline, Coach Bert, Sue, “Sex” Ed Vincent, Ornaments)