Will Ferrell / Usher
May 12, 2012


***** = Excellent, a possible future classic

**** = Great

*** = Average

** = Meh

* = How'd this get past dress?


Cold Opening - Obama Visits Biden

• I knew tonight’s episode would start with a sketch based on Obama’s recent gay marriage support, but I was so worried it would be yet another boring solo Fredbama address with him just droning on and on to the camera. Thankfully, I was wrong and they went in a more interesting direction.

• The whole “angsty adolescent son/apologetic father” dynamic between Biden and Obama was funny and unexpected. Jason did a great job portraying Biden in such a childish way here.

• As soon as Jason’s Biden mentioned his imaginary friend “George”, I instantly knew we were in for an appearance from Ferrell’s Bush impression and I already started cheering.

• It’s always so fun to see Ferrell’s Bush return and he did his usual hilarious job here. Also, did anyone notice that his Bush impression seemed a little more accurate than usual tonight? For example, the way he spoofed Bush’s hand mannerisms while he’s speaking; I don’t think Ferrell ever did that with his Bush impression before tonight.

• Interesting to see Ferrell and Sudeikis being teamed up; they worked great together here. I remember years ago, I used to think that Sudeikis had a lot of similarities to Ferrell, but I don’t really feel that way anymore these days. If anything, Taran Killam now reminds me a little more of Ferrell than Sudeikis ever did.

• The “Mission Accomplished” explanation towards the end was my favorite part.

Stars: ***½


Monologue - Will Ferrell

• Ferrell’s interaction with his mom was pretty charming and nice and everything, but where were the real LAUGHS? Maybe it was their intention to do a lighthearted monologue that’s not supposed to be laugh-out-loud funny, but SNL has to realize that when you have Will Ferrell hosting, people are going to expect a hilarious monologue. Why were we not given that?

• There were still a few genuine laughs here. I liked the Time Magazine breastfeeding cover reference, Ferrell’s back-and-forth with Wally the cue cards guy, and Ferrell insulting the piano player.

• This isn’t the first time Ferrell’s mother appeared on the show; I remember also seeing her in the SNL Mother’s Day special from 2001, back when Ferrell was still in the cast.

• I was amused by comments I read on the SNL boards today about Ferrell looking the same age as his mother. It’s true, Ferrell has always looked kinda old for his age. When he first joined SNL in 1995, he was in his late 20s but he could’ve easily passed for mid-to-late 30s.

• Another interesting thing I just realized about Ferrell’s age: he’s actually one year younger than Fred Armisen, though you certainly can’t tell by looking at them. Fred looks much younger by comparison.

Stars: **½


Commercial - Nasaflu

• You can tell that the writers were very eager to pair up Ferrell and Wiig together. I bet in Lorne’s mind, Kristen is the female version of Will Ferrell. Sorry, Lorne, but she is not even close. Case in point: when Ferrell left the cast in 2002, the casual SNL fans and the internet SNL fans were equally saddened by his departure. With Kristen Wiig on the other hand, it’s mainly just the casual SNL fans who are dreading her upcoming departure, while a majority of the internet fans can’t wait for her to leave.

• What exactly was the point of this commercial? The whole thing was very one-joke and went nowhere. However, this is where Ferrell’s ability to save weaker scripts came into play. He managed to make his loud weird sneezing get some laughs, in the way that only Ferrell could make work. If anybody else had played this same role, this commercial would’ve fallen completely flat.

Stars: **


Sketch - The Culps

• Ana Gasteyer!!! The Culps! This was a nice surprise. Coming into tonight’s episode, I never would’ve expected them to bring these characters back tonight, but then as soon as this sketch started and I saw the familiar Culps-esque set behind Kenan, I was immediately reminded of them and wondered if they would indeed make their return here.

• Many moons ago back when Ferrell was a castmember, I used to not care for the Culps sketches at all. Even though I’ve always loved Ferrell and Gasteyer as castmembers (in fact, they were and still are my two favorites from that era), I used to find their Culps characters really boring and I used to hate whenever those sketches appeared. However, the Culps have grown on me quite a lot since then; over the years, I’ve gained more and more appreciation for their sketches when watching them in reruns. Sometimes it takes hindsight to really like a particular recurring sketch. The Delicious Dish is another Ferrell-era recurring sketch that I used to hate back then but I now really enjoy.

• Ana and Will have not lost their touch with these characters at all. The song medley was the usual funny stuff, and it was interesting seeing them take on music from today. I especially loved their parodies of LMFAO songs.

Stars: ***½


Sketch - ESPN Classic

• A Will Forte cameo in a Will Ferrell episode! Cool.

• Not sure how to react to this sketch being resurrected tonight. I’m not upset nor am I jumping up in joy about it either. “Indifference” pretty much sums up how I felt seeing this sketch return. I wonder if the only reason for them doing this tonight is because Jason might be leaving next week and they wanted to do one last ESPN Classic. Then again maybe not, because if so, wouldn’t they have just waited until the season finale next week to do this sketch? Unless Forte wasn’t available for next Saturday and could only appear this week.

• When they first mentioned at the beginning that the airdate of this program was on June 17, 1994, I said to myself “That date sounds familiar... isn’t that when the infamous O.J. Simpson car chase happened?”, then I quickly pulled up Google on my laptop and checked to make sure, and I was right. And surely enough, that’s what this sketch ended up focusing on.

• The O.J. breaking news twist was a change of pace for these formulaic ESPN Classic sketches, but unfortunately, the twist didn’t really lead to anyplace interesting.

• It felt like they wasted the hell out of Ferrell in this sketch. Very disappointing. The interludes with his reporter character were only okay - not that funny for Ferrell standards, though he did his best to sell his dialogue with his always-funny delivery. Honestly, the writers should’ve given him much funnier lines here.

• My only true genuine laughs came from the usual cluelessness of Forte’s character and the part with Sudeikis’ character saying the slogan “When your uterine lining looks like the elevator from The Shining...”

Stars: **


Digital Short - The 100th Digital Short

• This. Was. Incredible. Just epic. They went all out in bringing back just about every memorable character that ever appeared in a Digital Short, and even some of the more-obscure ones. It was a lot of fun trying to remember the original short that each character tonight first appeared in. I actually had to rewind this multiple times because the character cameos went by so fast that I couldn’t catch them all in one viewing.

• There were lots of nice surprise pop-ins during this: Sergio, cinephile Michael Bolton, Fred’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (complete with the dress he wore in the original short), rapping Natalie Portman (complete with the black-and-white camera filter from the original short), the giant fish from Like a Boss, etc. etc. etc.

• Ferrell’s bit was awesome, especially him bragging “Three Best Ofs - count ‘em, bitch!” Funniest line of the night right there.

• Justin Bieber continues his streak of only appearing on SNL when a former castmember is hosting: Tina Fey in 2010, Dana Carvey in 2011, and now Will Ferrell. Has anyone else noticed that weird coincidence?

• My only complaints about tonight’s epic short: 1) How come Akiva didn’t appear until the end? I don’t understand why they would have Bieber in Akiva’s place for most of this. 2) How could there not be a Lazy Sunday reference in this??? Come on, SNL, that was the first Digital Short to blow up in popularity! Was Chris Parnell not available for a cameo this week? Even if he wasn’t, they could’ve at least shown a clip from Lazy Sunday in the background like they did with several other clips.

• Despite those minor criticisms, I really enjoyed this overall and it was so much fun reliving all the years of Digital Shorts. If it’s true that in addition to being the 100th Digital Short, this is also intended to be Andy’s last Digital Short ever, then I guess this pretty much proves next week is his last show. But if so, why didn’t they just save this short for next week when it would’ve been more fitting to air?

Stars: *****


Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Nicolas Cage and Liam Neeson

• Best jokes: Turtle shell carvings

• The “Really” segment... *sigh* Look, I know I’ve been beating up on Seth A LOT in my reviews lately, and honestly I’m trying to be a little more tolerant of him, but he makes it friggin impossible sometimes. Tonight’s “Really” was marred by his unexpected bizarrely-hokey delivery throughout it. What was THAT all about? He usually delivers his “Really” rants in an appropriate sarcastic/snarky tone, but tonight he instead used this weird corny, stilted, hokey delivery that came out of nowhere. It came off sounding unusual and it ended up ruining any semblance of humor in his rant, not that there were any great jokes in there anyway. His off delivery in tonight’s “Really” seemed like a sign of him becoming burned out; as if he’s not really trying anymore.

• “Get in the Cage”??? Oh, come the hell on, SNL. I thought this segment was retired after the real Nicolas Cage appeared last time where they finally shook the formula up. You’d figure there would be no place left for the segment to go after that installment, but nope, they have to continue trotting this out and going back to the tired old formula. And after all of the great SNL-related cameos so far in tonight’s episode, they expect us to be excited about a LIAM NEESON appearance??? I have nothing against Neeson or anything, but come on...

• Anyway, I didn’t care for most of tonight’s “Get in the Cage” at all. The only good part of this was the “Hungry Hungry Hippoes” movie bit... that was it. The rest of this was a bore and you can tell this segment has run its course. If Andy leaves next week, then I guess this was the final “Get in the Cage” edition. Not exactly a memorable way for that segment to go out. Should’ve just left it alone after the real Nic Cage appeared.

• What, no Ferrell on tonight’s Update?

Stars: *½


Sketch - The 2012 Funkytown Debate

• Geez louise, what a horrible sketch. And the strange thing is, when this started and I first saw the “Funkytown Debate” title, I immediately became interested and thought we were in for a hilarious sketch. I said to myself “Funkytown and Will Ferrell... how can this go wrong?” Well, it DID go wrong - big time. This ended up flopping HARD. I appreciate SNL’s attempt to do an experimental out-of-the-ordinary sketch, but this just did not work at all.

• I had to laugh at the casting decision of having Vanessa Bayer play a robot, considering the many comments I read from people earlier this season about Vanessa coming off very robotic and stiff in her performances (you have to admit she’s gotten better lately, though).

• The ending seemed unintentionally abrupt and sloppy, as if Taran wasn’t supposed to get cut off the way he did.

Stars: *½


Sketch - Broadway Sizzle

• Boring, boring, BORING! I really don't like the direction tonight’s episode has been taking since Update. What the hell is happening??? Why is a Will Ferrell-hosted episode tanking so hard all of a sudden?

• At least the Funkytown sketch above had a creative premise; it was just very poorly executed. This Broadway Sizzle sketch, on the other hand, was D.O.A. There was nothing even remotely interesting about this sketch’s premise, setting, or the two lame-ass main characters played by Kristen and Bill.

• Pleeeeease let next week be Kristen’s last show, so this sketch won’t have the chance to be brought back ad nauseum. One installment was already torturous enough.

• Oh, and why in the world was this Bill Hader’s first appearance of the whole night? The episode was almost over at this point, and they’re just NOW putting him in a sketch for the first time all night??? Unbelievable. What a waste of Hader’s great talents.

• Not even Ferrell could do anything to save this dreadful sketch. You know the current SNL writing is in poor shape when they manage to make even Will Ferrell come off bland in this.

Stars: *


Sketch - Anniversary Party Toasts

• The return of those Wedding/Funeral Speech sketches from 08-09? Was this really necessary to bring back tonight of all nights? Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against these Speech sketches - the previous installments have been fairly decent, but this is NOT the type of old sketch you’re supposed to pull out of the mothballs for a Ferrell-hosted episode. Come on, SNL writers! Where’s Celebrity Jeopardy? Where’s Bill Brasky? Where’s Neil Diamond? Where’s James Lipton? Where’s The Ghost of Harry Caray? Hell, even The Ghost of Robert Goulet or something? Honestly, I’ve been disappointed by tonight’s episode in general. While there were a few highlights in the first half of this episode (mainly the cold opening and Digital Short), the night turned into a dreary snoozefest halfway through starting with Weekend Update, and the show never recovered. The overall episode was a letdown compared to Ferrell’s epic 08-09 season ender, where you could tell the writers went all out and brought their A-game for him. Hell, I’d argue that even Ferrell’s 04-05 episode was a little better than tonights. To me, tonight’s episode is a major sign that Lorne needs to clean house in the writing staff this summer, no question about it. It is unacceptable that these writers managed to half-ass a Ferrell-hosted episode. Sorry for that lengthy rant, but it’s something that needed to be said.

• They wasted Ferrell in this sketch (how many times have I said that tonight?), playing a boring average role that was too similar to the character he played in the Funeral sketch last time he hosted. Actually, it might’ve been the same character, but I’m too lazy to check right now.

• It was not necessary to bring back Fred, Bobby, and Kristen’s characters. They already did everything they could with them in the first two installments.

• I did love the addition of Taran’s new character; he was hilariously creepy. And something about the way he looked in that wig & make-up reminded me of Lana Del Rey for some reason. I’m not sure why.

• Will Forte’s return as Hamilton the Anti-Obama Guy was definitely welcome. This character always has me cracking up and he did not disappoint tonight. I got a lot of laughs from his angry gay marriage rant against Obama (or as he called, “amabO”).

• The “I found a finger in my salad!” ending was weak and a blatant re-write of the “there’s a body in the bathroom!” ending from the first Wedding Speeches sketch.

Stars: **½


Commercial - Almost Pizza

• Rerun. There was no point in re-airing this when it was so late in the show. It’s not like they needed time to fill; it was 12:58 A.M. when this started playing. And thanks to this being aired so late in the show, the goodnights got cut off VERY early before Ferrell even finished talking.

• If they had to re-air a commercial tonight, it should’ve been an old one with Will Ferrell from his SNL years. Why not? After all, the last time Ferrell hosted in ‘09, they re-aired the Wade Blasingame attorney-at-law commercial from 2000.




Episode Highlights:

• Digital Short

• Obama Visits Biden

• The Culps


Episode Lowlights:

• Broadway Sizzle

• The 2012 Funkytown Debate

• Weekend Update


Best Performer of the Night:

• Will Ferrell / Jason Sudeikis



ARMISEN: 4 sketches (Obama Visits Biden, Digital Short, Funkytown Debate, Toasts)

ELLIOTT: 2 sketches (ESPN Classic, Funkytown Debate)

HADER: 2 sketches (Broadway Sizzle, Toasts)

MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)

MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Funkytown Debate, Broadway Sizzle, Toasts)

PEDRAD: 1 sketch (Funkytown Debate)

SAMBERG: 3 sketches (Digital Short, Update, Funkytown Debate)

SUDEIKIS: 3 sketches (Obama Visits Biden, ESPN Classic, Toasts)

THOMPSON: 4 sketches (The Culps, Digital Short, Funkytown Debate, Broadway Sizzle)

WIIG: 6 sketches (Nasaflu, ESPN Classic, Digital Short, Funkytown Debate, Broadway Sizzle, Toasts)


BAYER: 3 sketches (ESPN Classic, Funkytown Debate, Toasts)

KILLAM: 3 sketches (Obama Visits Biden, Funkytown Debate, Toasts)

MCKINNON: 2 sketches (Funkytown Debate, Toasts)

PHAROAH: 1 sketch (Funkytown Debate)


WILL FERRELL: 9 sketches (Obama Visits Biden, Monologue, Nasaflu, The Culps, ESPN Classic, Digital Short, Funkytown Debate, Broadway Sizzle, Toasts)