***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - The Rush Limbaugh Show
• I was wondering which castmember would play Rush if SNL parodied him tonight, and Taran ended up being a good choice. Even if his impression wasn’t all that accurate, it was still very funny, making this yet another enjoyable Taran Killam celebrity impression. How is this man still just a featured player?
• The sketch itself started out funny, but the premise ran out of steam after a while. It was just too thin to be stretched out as long as it was. Taran’s funny performance helped keep it from getting bad, but this would’ve benefited from being much shorter. The Pencil Dullers bit in particular went on too long for my liking.
• Parts that I liked the most were the Syria Tourism Board slogan (“Ahh! No! There’s nowhere to hide!”), Moist Books, and of course Fake Rape Whistles.
• Loved Taran’s LFNY delivery at the end.
Monologue - Jonah Hill
• A good, unique idea for a monologue, and I’m glad they didn’t just do another song-and-dance routine like Jonah’s ‘08 monologue where he sang about being fancy or whatever.
• My favorite part of the video was Bobby’s comment about Jonah’s glasses getting increasingly smaller and his scarves getting increasingly bigger.
• Speaking of glasses, does Jay Pharoah wear glasses regularly now? I saw him wearing them at the goodnights last week, too.
• Hey, it’s Tom Hanks! Very nice to see him, and his appearance here was funny. Is Hanks ever going to actually HOST again, by the way? I remember when he made a guest appearance in last season’s Elton John episode, I optimistically took that as a sign that Hanks would later host during the 11-12 season... but alas, it has yet to happen.
Sketch - Six Year Old
• I was wondering if they’d bring Jonah’s Borscht Belt comedian-esque kid character back tonight, and I was happy at first to see that they did, considering how much I enjoyed this character’s first appearance in Jonah’s ‘08 episode. However, tonight’s appearance ended up being underwhelming.
• First off, why did they have to reuse the EXACT SAME Benihana setting from last time, even down to having Fred reprise his exact same Su-Shin character from the first installment? That’s just lazy. They could easily have put Jonah and Bill’s characters into any completely different setting, which I would’ve liked to see.
• Here’s a quote from my review of the original installment in 2008: “Jonah’s cue-card reading was very blatant during this sketch.” Sadly, that same observation I made 4 years ago can be repeated for tonight’s installment, as Jonah’s cue-card staring here was equally bad. I can understand, though, because Jonah’s Six Year Old character talks so much that it may be hard for Jonah to remember all that lengthy dialogue.
• But even forgiving Jonah’s distracting cue-card starting, I STILL felt that his performance was off here. He did a funnier job in this first installment of this. Whereas tonight, his delivery came off too sloppy, he wasn’t as funny, and he sounded like he was on the verge of cracking up during several points here.
• I also didn’t care for the ending, as it was just a carbon copy of the first installment’s ending.
• The only thing truly different and new that was done with tonight’s installment was the addition of Vanessa as Bill’s girlfriend, which was a nice inclusion.
Digital Short - Tennis Balls
• A slight (VERY slight) step up from the last few dreary Digital Shorts, but that’s really not saying much because tonight’s short was still fairly weak and got tired quickly. Sadly, however, this is probably the best we can get out of the Digital Shorts these days.
• “Darius Rucker Jr.”? How random.
• John MacEnroe’s cameo was pretty funny.
• What was up with Kenan’s voice?
• Taran looked almost unrecognizable in that makeup he wore as the ghost.
• The ending with Andy getting hit, followed by him whining about it on the floor was absolutely stupid and not funny at all. Was that seriously the best ending they could come up with?
Sketch - J-Pop America Funtime Now
• This sketch is REAAAALLLLLY wearing thin with me.
• As usual, the few laughs here were mostly provided by Jason’s character, particularly when he showed the “exams” that Vanessa and Taran turned in: a paper full of stickers as the answers and an origami crane.
• Another funny part was the picture of Taran and Vanessa from a Rastafarian version of the show. I wanna see them do that version of this sketch! Okay, maybe not, but hey - at least if they would have Taran and Vanessa’s characters exploiting a different racial stereotype in each installment instead of them doing the Japanese thing every damn time, it would keep the sketch from getting too old. Hear that, SNL?
• I was curious beforehand what kind of character Jonah would end up playing since I never would’ve pictured him being in a J-Pop sketch. As it turned out, Jonah’s performance here was an absolute mess. The cracking-up towards the end didn’t help... he did something like that last time he hosted, too: remember how he strangely laughed his way through that Model-T Cars & Jars of Beers country singers sketch?
• Please stop with the cutaways to Fred as the girlfriend in each installment, as if we’re still supposed to find that tired joke funny.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Paula Deen, Sarah Palin, Stefon
• Best jokes: Lactose intolerant
• I remember pretty much hating the Paula Deen sketch that Kristen did in last season’s Scarlett Johansson episode, and tonight’s Update commentary wasn’t really any better. There was nothing much to this at all, though I guess the N-word/nutrition thing at the end was kinda funny. However, what was with the abrupt ending afterwards? It felt like there was supposed to be more after that but they sloppily cut it short at the last minute... which is probably a good thing.
• The commentary with Andy as faux-Sarah Palin had its moments, even if the bit had no real point to it. I can’t complain too much because I did laugh a few times here and I loved the reference to the Da Bears sketches.
• Stefon was Stefon. That about sums it up; nothing else for me to say here.
• Oh, wait, I do have one thing to say about the Stefon commentary: “Sinbad O’Connor”? Wasn’t that also a line from the classic Sinatra Group sketch?
Sketch - Brutus
• Now this was just sad. The epitome of bad sophomoric, lowest-common-denominator, juvenile humor. In fact, this sketch almost seemed like something straight out of 04-05 or 09-10. Not that I’m saying this current season is quite as bad as those two, mind you. Actually if anything, this current season has a lot in common with 93-94, as in the first half of the season was decent, then the quality suddenly took a big downhill slide in the second half of the season. But that’s another topic for another time...
• So, getting back on topic... I absolutely hated this sketch, and it didn’t help that I couldn’t understand some of what Fred was mumbling as the ape. Please tell me I’m not the only one who had a hard time understanding him.
Sketch - Liza Minnelli Tries to Turn Off a Lamp
• A shameless and unnecessary rip-off of last season’s “Ann-Margret Tries to Throw Away a Wad of Paper Into a Trashcan”, a sketch I never cared for to begin with. However, this knock-off was even worse. I don’t care how accurate the Liza Minnelli impression was; Kristen was downright annoying to the tenth power in this and she grated on my nerves like nobody’s business. At least in the Ann-Margret sketch, she was able to do an accurate impression WITHOUT speaking much and that sketch itself was fairly short. This one, on the other hand, went on waaaayyyyy too long.
• Like I said in my review last week, it’s sad how these writers don’t know how to play to Kristen Wiig’s strengths. Annoying sketches like this are NOT how you’re supposed to utilize this woman’s talents.
• What was with that lame cheesy ending with Jonah doing the Liza Minnelli dance himself?
What the heck happened to the SportsCenter sketch they showed being set-up during the commercial break at this point of the show? During that brief snippet, you could even see Jonah and Jay Pharoah sitting at the set, both wearing a wig & costume while waiting for the show to return from commercial break. Why’d SNL cut the sketch at literally the very last second and replaced it with a random shot of the SNL Band playing? Very odd. I’m actually kinda laughing when I think about how Jonah, Jay, and whoever else went through the trouble of putting on their wigs & costumes for this sketch, only to be told one second later “Uh, yeah... we’re not doing this sketch after all. Change your costumes again!” What a waste of time.
Sketch - Anniversary Song
• This is one of those sketches that starts off really slow and you’re not sure where it’s going at first, then the humor and jokes escalate as the sketch progresses, culminating in what is overall an entertaining sketch.
• The exchanges between Jonah and Kristen had several silly little lines that I enjoyed, particularly Jonah saying (regarding Coolio) “He wrote ‘you’ like the letter U... That’s in 1997 - he was really ahead of his time!”
• Awesome how they broke the fourth wall by having all the performers continue singing and clapping their way off the set and into the audience. It’s not every day you see SNL do something like that.
• The “Coolio: 1963-3162” In Memoriam card they showed at the end was brilliant. Like some other people watching, I got startled for a quick second when they first cut to that shot and I thought to myself “Wait, Coolio died? WTF? How come I didn’t hear about this?” before I realized the year they put for his death... then I laughed my ass off. Hilarious way to end the night.
• Anniversary Song
• Liza Minnelli Tries to Turn Off a Lamp
• most of Weekend Update
• parts of J-Pop America Funtime Now
Best Performer of the Night:
• Taran Killam
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (Six Year Old, Digital Short, J-Pop, Brutus, Anniversary Song)
ELLIOTT: 3 sketches (Six Year Old, Brutus, Anniversary Song)
HADER: 4 sketches (Six Year Old, Update, Brutus, Anniversary Song)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 4 sketches (Monologue, Digital Short, Brutus, Anniversary Song)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Monologue, Six Year Old, Anniversary Song)
SAMBERG: 4 sketches (Monologue, Digital Short, Update, Anniversary Song)
SUDEIKIS: 2 sketches (J-Pop, Anniversary Song)
THOMPSON: 3 sketches (Six Year Old, Digital Short, Anniversary Song)
WIIG: 4 sketches (Monologue, Update, Liza Minnelli, Anniversary Song)
BAYER: 4 sketches (Six Year Old, J-Pop, Brutus, Anniversary Song)
KILLAM: 5 sketches (Rush Limbaugh, Digital Short, J-Pop, Brutus, Anniversary Song)
PHAROAH: 2 sketches (Monologue, Anniversary Song)
JONAH HILL: 7 sketches (Monologue, Six Year Old, Digital Short, J-Pop, Brutus, Liza Minnelli, Anniversary Song)