***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Republicans at the Bar
• A fine opening sketch, and I enjoyed the whole laid-back feel-good vibe to this.
• Lots of funny jokes all throughout this. My favorites were the envelope joke, Kenan’s “999 problems” bit followed by Jason’s Romney going “Oh, a rapster reference!”, and almost anything Bill’s Rick Perry said (particularly “I might have won if I didn’t take a deuce every time I opened my mouth”).
• I also kinda liked the throwaway bit where Jason requested a napkin as a drink followed by the waitress literally giving him a drinking glass with just a napkin stuffed inside of it. That just made me laugh for some reason.
• Looks like they’ve gone back to having Bobby’s Gingrich never speak. They really have no idea what to do with him as Gingrich, do they? That Moon President cold opening was a step in the right direction, so why not continue in a similar route?
• For a moment, I thought they were going to sing “Live from New York...” at the end as part of the song.
Monologue - Josh Brolin
• I enjoyed the self-deprecating stuff at the beginning about SNL hosts looking really, really stupid on TV. It’s funny cuz it’s true.
• The “Spokesman for the 90s” bit was weak.
• Jay Pharoah finally gets his first live speaking role in months. His Will Smith impression has become played-out, though. The problem with the impression is that it’s too one-note. It’s just a series of grunts and “WHOO!”s; there’s nothing else Jay does with it. Still, the MIB 3 re-enactment with him and Brolin was pretty funny, and ended the monologue decently enough.
Commercial - Game of Thrones
• This wasn’t too bad, although we’ve seen Andy do stuff like this a bazillion times before.
• Bobby looked hilarious in that get-up.
• Even in straight roles, Taran Killam manages to make me laugh. Just something about his dignified British accent and the way he looked in that wig and facial hair made me crack up.
Sketch - The Californians
• What in the world was something like this doing on so early in the show? This was a terrible sketch. The boring thin premise revolving around Californian accents, dramatic close-ups, and staring at the mirror wasn’t funny to begin with, and was certainly not strong enough to be repeated ad nauseum throughout the entire sketch. By the time Kenan showed up at the end, the joke was already beyond dead.
• Fred’s voice was somewhat funny, but I wonder why Kristen and especially Bill were cracking up so much. They both seemed very taken aback by Fred’s voice, as if they didn’t expect him to talk like that. I’m guessing Fred used a less-exaggerated voice in rehearsals of this sketch and he changed it at the last minute before airtime to surprise the other performers.
• Brolin came off awkward and out-of-place in this.
• I still have a hard time recognizing the new girl. Much like last week, every time Kate popped up tonight such as in this sketch, I went “Who’s that???” for about half a minute until I remembered they have a new featured player. She looks so much different in each sketch she’s in, too. But then again, I’m usually that way with new castmembers in general until I get used to their face/look.
Sketch - America’s Next Top Empire State of Mind Parody Artist
• An “Empire State of Mind” sketch in the year 2012? Really?
• I could look past how dated this sketch is if it was funny, but IMO, it wasn’t. I was bored by most of this and the song parodies weren’t funny.
• Andy’s Weird Al impression was absolute crap. He didn’t even try putting any effort into sounding or acting like him. Andy’s able to get away with doing that for some of his impressions, but that didn’t work here. Oh, and is SNL aware that Weird Al hasn’t had glasses and a mustache in literally AGES? To borrow a quote from the Voy SNL board, “Way to be current, SNL”.
• But as bad as Andy’s Weird Al was, it wasn’t as crappy as Kenan’s Tay Zonday “impression”. Geez, Tay Zonday is a fairly easy impression to pull off, yet Kenan can’t even get THAT right. Unbelievable. I would excuse that if Kenan’s performance was funny, but the writing gave him nothing to work with here.
• While I’m on the subject of bad impressions, Abby’s Ke$ha is still weak. She doesn’t sound anything like her, which is odd considering Abby’s impressions are usually better than that.
• I should just stop now, because I have absolutely nothing positive to say about this sketch. Except that I did enjoy Jay’s Jay-Z impression and his inexplicably giving a perfect score to every performance.
And if Jay’s Jay-Z impression were doing this review, his rating for this sketch would be: infinity stars
Digital Short - Laser Cats 7
• Laser Cats is one of those things where I initially kinda groan at first when it starts, but then I end up enjoying it much more than I expected. I think that’s what I also said in my review of last season’s Laser Cats short (from the Elton John episode), but I’m too lazy to check right now.
• I was a bit surprised to realize that this is the 7th edition of Laser Cats, but then I remembered that this is Bill and Andy’s 7th season and they’ve done one Laser Cats short per year starting in their first season. To me, it doesn’t really feel like Bill and Andy have been on SNL for 7 seasons. It still feels like it was only yesterday when the 05-06 season premiere first aired and Bill & Andy were two fresh-faced new guys being introduced in that 'Impression-Off' on Weekend Update.
• Tonight’s Laser Cats installment had some decent moments, and the medley of Spielberg movie parodies was nicely done. But there were a few parts in the first half that kinda dragged.
• My biggest laugh came from the following exchange between Bill and Andy: “What about your wife and kids?” (*dramatic pause*) “Fuck ‘em.”
• I hate how these always end the exact same way with Bill and Andy asking Lorne what he thought and Lorne saying he hated it. 7 years and they’ve never changed the damn ending. Are we really supposed to find that exact same joke funny after 7 times?
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Garth & Kat
• Best jokes: Bags of heroin
• Seth’s “What Are You Doing?” segment was awful and exemplified the many things I don’t like about Seth Meyers. This segment felt like it was set up to become a biting and clever political commentary (just imagine what Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert would’ve done with this segment), yet it ended up just being filled with bland, unfunny, uninspired, inoffensive milquetoast humor that anyone can come up with. This is just one of the reasons why I roll my eyes whenever anyone tries to convince me that Seth Meyers as an Update anchor is “doing some of the most biting comedy on the show”. Complete and utter BS.
• Oh, and all I have to say regarding Garth and Kat is: for the people who are saying “At least we don’t have to worry about ever seeing these characters again”... uh, not so fast, guys. First off, there was nothing in tonight’s Garth and Kat appearance that implied this was their farewell. They just treated this like a standard Garth and Kat bit. Compare this to last week’s Gilly sketch, where it was very obvious that was intended to be Gilly’s final appearance. Second of all, it’s not even 100% confirmed yet if Kristen’s leaving in May. I don’t understand why some people are acting like she’s already packed her bags and has officially left the building. Just hold your horses, folks. Like I said in my review last week, don’t be so quick to believe the rumor about this being her last season until it’s set in stone. Even Jim Downey said in an article yesterday that he’s expecting Jason and Kristen to stick around for the first few months of next season up until the elections in November. And I bet that’s exactly what’s going to end up happening, as sad as it makes me to say. I’ll be happy if I’m proven wrong on this stuff.
Sketch - Piers Morgan Tonight
• I didn’t mind seeing this return. I’m starting to think I’m the only person who finds Taran’s Piers Morgan impression funny. Oh well. BTW, I hope I’m not starting to come off too biased towards Taran lately. What can I say, the guy just consistently makes me laugh and makes me hopeful for SNL’s future.
• The studio audience sounded really dead during the first minute of this; they were barely responsive to the jokes at first. However, they got more and more into it as the sketch went on.
• It felt like this was the first time Sudeikis appeared all night, until I remembered he was in the cold opening. Man, he is obviously sooooo ready to leave the cast, but you just know Lorne will probably beg him into returning next season until the elections. Anyway, Jason had a few funny lines in this sketch, and I particularly liked his surprised reaction to the Casey Anthony bit.
• Fred’s Ice-T impression has really slipped. When he played him last season, his impression sounded close enough and it was a lot funnier (in fact, it was one of the few times in all of last season that Fred made me laugh). Tonight, it sounded like he wasn’t even trying with the impression anymore and it was nowhere near as funny.
• Jay’s Kanye voice was a little rusty (he imitates Kanye’s voice better when he’s singing), but I did get some laughs from his impression this time. Jay is on a roll tonight; this is his third celebrity impression in one night, which might be a record for him. I guess they wanted to make up for him not having anything to do in the previous three episodes.
• Nasim’s Kim Kardashian added nothing here, and the “black man in me” punchline/double entendre was tired and could be seen coming from a mile away.
• Was it really necessary to bring back Andy as the tightrope guy? It was funny last time; not so much tonight.
• Brolin seemed to have trouble with his lines during this sketch; he kept stumbling over them. Come to think of it, there’s been quite a bit of line-flubbing from the performers all throughout tonight’s whole episode, especially from Jay.
• Overall, I was disappointed in this sketch. The first Piers Morgan installment worked much better, IMO.
Sketch - Slow-Motion High School Hallway
• When this sketch started and I saw the high school setting, I thought this was going to be the return of that weak Narc School sketch they did the first time Brolin hosted. Glad to see I was wrong.
• The premise of this was creative, and the overall sketch was pretty funny. It’s stuff like this that needs to be placed earlier in the show, not weak nonsense like “The Californians”.
• Most of the performers did very well in this, especially during the parts when they had to quickly shift from slow-motion to normal-motion when passing the line. IMO, Bill did the best job. He’s a pro when it comes to pulling off things like this.
• Was that Abby or the new girl playing the band member next to Kenan? If it was Abby, then she’s barely appeared at all tonight (what else is new).
• The witch ending didn’t work for me.
Another Digital Short - Gotye Backstage
• I always like when they do two Digital Shorts in the same episode. I think that’s only happened three times before (the Steve Martin episode from ‘06, John Malkovich’s most recent episode, and the Megan Fox episode), but this is the first time they’ve ever altered the title screen of the second short to say “Another SNL Digital Short” instead of just saying the usual “An SNL Digital Short”.
• I never noticed until watching this short, but Andy and Taran basically have the exact same hairstyle.
• As soon as I realized this would turn into Andy and Taran parodying Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”, I knew this would be funny. The last time Taran did some kind of a parody of a musical guest (Robyn), it became a classic Viral Video moment.
• While this short wasn’t exactly a classic, it was still funny and one of my favorite segments of the night. Andy and Taran were hilarious here, and it’s stuff like this that helps Taran make a name for himself and gain more popularity with the casual viewers who are mostly only familiar with the veterans in the cast.
• Glad to see that despite the subpar quality of most of the Digital Shorts this season, there’s still a little bit of spark left in some of them.
Sketch - Principal Frye
• Wow, FOUR big roles for Jay in one night? Are pigs flying outside right now?
• At first, I wasn’t too happy to see this character return, but to my surprise, this ended up being an improvement over his first appearance last season.
• Jay thankfully toned down this character’s heavy breathing thing (the last time this sketch appeared, he kept doing that damn breathing thing before every single one of his lines and it sounded much louder back then, too), plus he had funnier dialogue this time. All of his ridiculous animal stories were amusing and I admit to laughing every time he said “Attention, teachers and stuuuuudents”.
• Kenan was also improved this time. I didn’t like his character in the first installment of this sketch, but he made me laugh much more this time with the story about “his side of town”.
• Hell, even Brolin got some laughs here, playing a funny drunk character. In fact, this was Brolin’s ONLY stand-out performance of the whole night. After tonight’s episode, I think we can now see the REAL reason why he was so overshadowed during his first episode in ‘08. It wasn’t because of all the special cameos that night (e.g. Sarah Palin); it was because he’s just a boring host.
• the Gotye Backstage Digital Short
• Republicans at the Bar
• Slow-Motion High School Hallway
• The Californians
• Weekend Update
• America’s Next Top Empire State of Mind Parody Artist
Best Performer of the Night:
• nobody had a perfect night, but Jay Pharoah (surprisingly), Andy Samberg, and Bill Hader each had a dominant presence
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (Californians, Empire State of Mind, Digital Short #1, Update, Piers Morgan)
ELLIOTT: 2 sketches (Empire State of Mind, Slow-Motion Hallway)
HADER: 4 sketches (Republicans, Californians, Digital Short #1, Slow-Motion Hallway)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 5 sketches (Republicans, Game of Thrones, Empire State of Mind, Digital Short #1, Slow-Motion Hallway)
PEDRAD: 4 sketches (Republicans, Piers Morgan, Slow-Motion Hallway, Principal Frye)
SAMBERG: 7 sketches (Republicans, Game of Thrones, Empire State of Mind, Digital Short #1, Piers Morgan, Slow-Motion Hallway, Digital Short #2)
SUDEIKIS: 2 sketches (Republicans, Piers Morgan)
THOMPSON: 5 sketches (Republicans, Californians, Empire State of Mind, Slow-Motion Hallway, Principal Frye)
WIIG: 5 sketches (Republicans, Californians, Empire State of Mind, Update, Slow-Motion Hallway)
BAYER: 4 sketches (Californians, Empire State of Mind, Slow-Motion Hallway, Principal Frye)
KILLAM: 5 sketches (Game of Thrones, Digital Short #1, Piers Morgan, Slow-Motion Hallway, Digital Short #2)
MCKINNON: 2 sketches (Game of Thrones, Californians)
PHAROAH: 4 sketches (Monologue, Empire State of Mind, Piers Morgan, Principal Frye)
JOSH BROLIN: 7 sketches (Monologue, Californians, Empire State of Mind, Digital Short #1, Piers Morgan, Slow-Motion Hallway, Principal Frye)