***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - On the Record with Greta Van Susteren
• Aaaaaaand tonight’s show begins with a flop. While I guess it was good to see Darrell Hammond back... could his whole rambling speech as Trump have been any less funny? This cold opening was really bad. Darrell’s Trump just went on and on and on and on with no real laughs occurring here at all. It felt like he was just saying the same things over and over for 5 minutes.
• Much like Maya Rudolph’s appearance last week as Whitney Houston, the writers did nothing with Darrell’s Trump tonight other than just having him repeat the same old weak, tired catchphrases we’ve already heard 100 times before back in the days when Darrell regularly played Trump.
• I was also disappointed that there was no other actual material in this cold opening beyond the weak Trump stuff. Andy and Bobby were completely wasted, and even Kristen was surprisingly stifled (I normally wouldn’t complain about Kristen Wiig finally being stifled, but her Greta Van Susteren impression is usually funny).
• Oh, and the writers really need to start expanding Bobby’s Newt Gingrich “impression” beyond him just holding his head tilted with a dopey grin. Would it hurt them to give Bobby some actual lines?
Monologue - Katy Perry
• Your typical run-of-the-mill monologue. Nothing great here, but after that dud of a cold opening with Darrell’s Trump, I was desperate for some laughs, so I didn’t hate this monologue that much.
• I liked Kristen’s line about her hair salon/bakery being unsuccessful because of customers leaving with diabetes. Nothing else noteworthy in this monologue, though.
Sketch - J-Pop America Funtime Now
• I was hoping they wouldn’t bring this back, because I can tell it’s gonna be that type of recurring sketch that will be basically the same every single time, featuring little-to-no variation in each installment.
• I wasn’t too crazy about the first installment last time, but at least it was an original and creative idea and I had to appreciate that. Tonight’s sketch, however, was just a carbon copy, and this seems like the type of sketch that’s gonna get old fast. If they absolutely have to continue doing more installments of this in the future, can they please explore some new ground with the characters so that these sketches don’t get so darn predictable?
• Jason’s teacher character again provided the biggest laughs, although most of his lines tonight were basically the same as his dialogue from last time. He did have two really funny lines tonight: the part with the Yao Ming doll where Jason yelled off-camera “He’s Chinese!”, and also his line “If there is such as thing as a loving version of racism, I think you found it.”
Commercial - The Apocalypse
• A fairly fun parody of “New Years Eve” and most of the impressions were strong. The writing, however, wasn’t all that great and felt like it could’ve been improved.
• Of the new impressions introduced here, my favorites were Kristen’s Kim Cattral, Abby’s Kirsten Dunst, and Jay’s Cuba Gooding Jr.
• Wow, Kenan did an excellent vocal impression of a retarded version of Bullwinkle! Great job, Kenan! Oh, wait, I’m sorry... that was supposed to be an AL ROKER impression??? Sure could’ve fooled me... Seriously, what the hell kind of impression was THAT?
• Did anyone notice at the end when they showed a split screen of various impressions from this commercial all saying “The Apocalypse!” in unison, Seth Meyers as himself was among them? Is this because he’s in the actual “New Years Eve” movie? Either way, this counts as a rare sketch appearance from Seth.
Sketch - Kalle
• Two foreign talk show sketches in a row tonight? Look, I know this type of thing shouldn’t be a big deal or anything, but it felt incredibly redundant seeing two consecutive sketches that were both local talk shows starring characters talking in foreign accents. I’d let this slide if both sketches were funny, but honestly, neither sketch was all that funny to me. Shouldn’t SNL have at least spread these two sketches apart more? Why place them back-to-back? It had me thinking for a moment that SNL was trying a rare experimental “themed” episode tonight where, as a running gag, every single sketch was going to be a foreign talk show (BTW, I would actually love to see SNL do an experimental episode nowadays that departures from the usual format of the show, but... just not like that).
• Anyway, as for this sketch itself, it was pretty one-joke and got predictable fast. I sure hope they don’t make this sketch recurring and just repeat the same “We have a clip!” premise in each installment.
• I did, however, get a laugh from the bit where they followed up Katy simply saying “I, uh...” with a clip of an actual eye. The clip of Kristen at home with her cats was pretty funny, too.
• Why was Katy wearing that long dark wig if she was supposed to be playing herself? As we saw in the monologue, goodnights, and all the bumper pictures, she has short blonde hair now.
Digital Short - Best Friends
• At first, I wasn’t thrilled to see another musical Digital Short so soon after the disastrous results of the last musical short (the “Rain” one). And tonight’s short did start out a little lame at the beginning when it was just Andy and Katy. But thankfully, this took a funny turn starting with Matt Damon’s role as the demented homeless guy, then this just got even better and better as it went along, featuring plenty of unexpected humorous bits. Val Kilmer was also good in his appearance.
• The Russian Roulette part was my favorite; it was very out-of-left-field and had me laughing my ass off.
• However, they clearly didn’t know how to end this, so they just threw in some forced “Happy Holidays” conclusion that ended this short on a weak note. Come to think of it, a lot of Digital Shorts lately have had bad endings similar to this, like the non-sequitur “Happy Halloween” ending from the short with Andy interviewing Drake.
• Nasim’s brief non-speaking role at the very end was her only appearance in tonight’s whole episode. She didn’t make any live appearances at all. In fact, is it just me or does it seem that Nasim has barely had anything to do this season in general?
Sketch - Doggie Duty
• Obviously a follow-up to the Bunny Business and Horse Play sketches. While I certainly enjoyed those two before, tonight’s didn’t quite work for me. These seem to be getting less and less funny in each follow-up: the original Bunny Business was pretty strong, then came Horse Play which wasn’t quite as good but was still funny overall, and now comes tonight’s Doggie Duty which was kinda weak. If this downhill slide continues, I shudder to think what the next follow-up to these will look like.
• Why do these always start with Fred’s Randy Newman? And it seems like he sings the exact same song in every one of these as well. That joke isn’t funny anymore; just stop it.
• The highlights of this one were Jason as Meatloaf (I especially loved his dancing at the end) and Bill’s hilariously-out-of-place Clint Eastwood.
• Andy did a lousy impression of the Spin Doctors guy. It was way too similar to his much-better impression of Adam Duritz from Counting Crows.
• While Katy did a very good Florence Welch impression, the writers gave her no funny lyrics or funny material at all. A weak way to end the sketch. They should’ve put the Clint Eastwood part at the end instead.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Rebecca Larue, Capt. Steve Rogers, Stefon
• Best jokes: Toys for rent/Contagion
• I was very wary when I realized Kristen was debuting a new Weekend Update character, considering how much I royally despised her last new Update creation - that Pancake Lady nonsense. Tonight’s Flirting Lady thankfully wasn’t as bad or as drawn-out, but that’s not really high praise for this because I still didn’t care much for it. It wasn’t horrible, though, and had one or two okay moments.
• Alec Baldwin’s appearance was a pleasant surprise! His segment tonight was very clever and funny, and it was great seeing him poke fun at his airplane incident. It’s stuff like this that shows just part of why Alec is such a beloved SNL host.
• Stefon was Stefon... in other words, same as usual. Not too bad, though. I got a big laugh from his quick impression of Wilford Brimley saying “Di-a-bee-tus”; that part was great.
Sketch - The Royal Family
• Fred Armisen in drag THREE separate times tonight? Really? Yeah, I know, I know... this is another minor issue that I shouldn’t be making a big deal about, but still... this just 100% confirms that Fred Armisen sadly has indeed become the new Chris Kattan. Yep, the transformation is finally complete, folks. Remember, there were some episodes in Kattan’s final season where he would play a woman in every single sketch he appeared in (I think the Queen Latifah/Ms. Dynamite episode is an example). Though at least Kattan had the sense to bail on the show after 8 seasons. Wish I could say the same for Fred.
• While I wasn’t all that excited to see this Royal Family sketch again, at least they took this into a somewhat-different direction by having Katy actually bond with the Queen and the Prince by talking in the same rude cockney accent.
• The comment about Fred looking like “Gandalf in drag” was pretty funny.
• Who were Jay and Kenan supposed to be playing at the end?
Sketch - Politics Nation with Al Sharpton
• Kenan’s Al Sharpton impression has actually improved now. Before, his Sharpton impression used to just consist of him merely talking in a gruff voice, but now you can tell he’s been recently studying Sharpton’s vocal pattern; Kenan sounded almost exactly like him tonight. Between this and Kenan’s surprisingly-accurate Cee Lo Green impression from earlier this season, he seems to be slightly improving as an impressionist lately (his absolutely horrible Al Roker notwithstanding).
• Unfortunately, that's pretty much the only positive statement I can make about this sketch. As a whole, this sketch was pretty damn bad. While it was an accurate parody of Sharpton’s constantly botched line-readings and complete incompetence as host of his own show, it just wasn’t funny to me. Most of the jokes here were dumb and fell flat, and even the studio audience didn’t seem really into this either. This felt like a filler sketch or like something that would normally get cut after dress.
• Okay, I did laugh at one line, where Kenan said (in response to a crew member) “That’s what I need to be asking you; have YOU ever been on TV before?” That was it, though.
Sketch - One Magical Night
• Now this I liked. An interesting and enjoyable experimental piece to close the show. In fact, this honestly felt like the first original sketch all night.
• It was nice to see Bobby starring in such a low-key subdued role, and he did a very good job. I find that I usually enjoy Bobby the rare times he actually plays something besides the typical hammy/loud/over-the-top roles he often gets stuck with nowadays.
• There were lots of bizarre, unpredictable little jokes during Bobby and Katy’s conversations that I liked, particularly Katy’s Jewel tattoo on her chest and Bobby pulling the paper out of his mouth that had Katy’s answer on it.
• The interludes with the Jason/Fred/Kenan band were fun. Jason Sudeikis actually has a very nice singing voice that he rarely gets to show off on SNL, and I liked how the lyrics of his song kept getting more subtly absurd each time the camera cut to the band.
• All of the male castmembers in this sketch looked pretty cool in their fancy dark suits. This was especially noticeable during the goodnights right afterwards, when they all were still wearing their suits from this sketch.
• One Magical Night
• Alec Baldwin’s appearance on Weekend Update
• Digital Short, minus the ending
• the Donald Trump cold opening
• Politics Nation with Al Sharpton
Best Performer of the Night:
• Jason Sudeikis / Alec Baldwin
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (J-Pop, The Apocalypse, Doggie Duty, Royal Family, Magical Night)
ELLIOTT: 3 sketches (The Apocalypse, Royal Family, Magical Night)
HADER: 6 sketches (Monologue, The Apocalypse, Doggie Duty, Update, Royal Family, Magical Night)
MEYERS: 2 sketches (The Apocalypse, Update)
MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Greta Van Susteren, The Apocalypse, Magical Night)
PEDRAD: 1 sketch (Digital Short)
SAMBERG: 5 sketches (Greta Van Susteren, Monologue, Digital Short, Doggie Duty, Royal Family)
SUDEIKIS: 4 sketches (J-Pop, The Apocalypse, Doggie Duty, Magical Night)
THOMPSON: 4 sketches (The Apocalypse, Royal Family, Al Sharpton, Magical Night)
WIIG: 6 sketches (Greta Van Susteren, Monologue, The Apocalypse, Kalle, Doggie Duty, Update)
BAYER: 2 sketches (J-Pop, Digital Short)
BRITTAIN: 3 sketches (The Apocalypse, Kalle, Magical Night)
KILLAM: 5 sketches (J-Pop, The Apocalypse, Royal Family, Al Sharpton, Magical Night)
PHAROAH: 3 sketches (The Apocalypse, Royal Family, Magical Night)
KATY PERRY: 9 sketches (Monologue, J-Pop, The Apocalypse, Kalle, Digital Short, Doggie Duty, Royal Family, Al Sharpton, Magical Night)