Joseph Gordon-Levitt / Mumford & Sons
September 22, 2012


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

**** = Great

*** = Average

** = Meh

* = How'd this get past dress?


Cold Opening - Live with Kelly & Michael

• I'm surprised to see a non-political cold opening at this point of the election year.

• Jay's Michael Strahan was very funny, and a bit different from the usual impressions we see him do. He had some good lines here.

• I'm still iffy on Nasim's Kelly Ripa impression, but I guess she's serviceable in the role and I can see what she's going for with the voice.

• This opening wasn't too bad, but there were parts that came off a little too redundant.

• As much as I love Bill, he couldn't really do much for the Robert Pattinson impression. I was underwhelmed by most of his segment (although I did like the "brooding in the corner" part towards the end). The problem is that 1) the material Bill was given here was dull and unfunny, and 2) he was completely miscast in this role; it should've gone to someone younger-looking like Taran or even Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

• Wow, Jay is 2-for-2 in saying LFNY in every episode this season. I'm not counting the Weekend Update Thursday special, although if you do count that, then it's interesting to point out that all the LFNYs this season so far have been delivered by the newer castmembers: Jay, Taran, Vanessa, Bobby, and Nasim. This is yet another sign that SNL is carefully transitioning the focus of the show this season from the veterans to the newer cast. I love that, and it kinda reminds me of what we saw happen during the 05-06 season, where then-newbies Hader, Sudeikis, Wiig, and Samberg slowly started to take over the show while veterans Sanz, Parnell, and Dratch were being phased out.

Stars: **½


Opening Montage

• A couple of minor changes were made to the montage this week, most notably Kate McKinnon's picture. Last week, she had a serious expression in her pic; this week, she has a normal smile.


Monologue - Joseph Gordon-Levitt

• That Ashton Kutcher/Bruce Willis joke was about a few years too old.

• The Magic Mike twist was completely unexpected, and I don't really know what to say about it. I don't think anyone could've predicted JGL doing a monologue like this.

• Bobby ripping off his vest to reveal another vest underneath was a very funny subtle joke. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only thing I laughed at in this whole monologue... well, Taran's deadpan expression at the end of the dance made me chuckle.

• This whole thing just came off pointless and brought back bad memories of Channing Tatum stripping/dancing his way through most of the sketches when he hosted last season.

• Aaaaaaand... that's the whole monologue??? That's it? What the----?

Stars: **


Commercial - Undecided Voter

• Interesting fake ad, although a bit slow at times.

• At first, I couldn't tell who that was playing the spokeswoman, before I realized it was Cecily. I almost thought it was an extra playing her role at first. I'm still not too familiar with the new castmembers' faces yet, so don't be surprised if this happens to me again for the next few episodes.

• Some of the funny lines here include Bill asking "What IS oil?" and Taran asking if a woman have a baby from french kissing. The random Asian guy was kinda funny, too.

Stars: ***


Commercial - Tres Equis #1

• Two fake ads in a row in the first half of an episode? Did they have trouble getting the set ready for the following sketch and needed more time?

• This was very good. Most of the various scenes with JGL while the narrator described him were funny, and JGL was perfect in this role.

• Hey, another Random Asian Guy tonight! Is SNL trying to break their record of most Asian people seen in a single episode? Or are they subtly mocking people's complaints about the lack of diversity in the cast?

Stars: ***½


Sketch - Private Detective Sam Flint

• Bill is always perfect in these old-timey roles; I always enjoy hearing him talk in that classical 1950s style.

• There were some funny twists such as Bill turning out to just be a caricaturist, him revealing he had a three-way with JGL's wife and the guy she cheated with just "to see how far they'd take it", and him showing the monster drawing he named Feebles.

• JGL sure was convincing in his portrayal of a pissed-off client.

• What the heck was with the ending? Was that even an ending? So abrupt. You rarely hear complaints about SNL sketches being too SHORT, but this sketch definitely goes under that category. This would've benefited from being a bit longer, going further with the premise, and having an actual ending.

• Lousy non-ending aside, it was certainly refreshing to have the first sketch of the night be something original, old-timey, and premise-driven like this for a change.

Stars: ***


Commercial - Tres Equis #2

• It's usually always pretty fun when they do a recurring commercial parody throughout an episode. This second one was even better than the first.

• Sudeikis coming out of nowhere as the angry dad was HILARIOUS. The whole back-and-forth between him and JGL had me laughing out loud, and Sudeikis' performance was absolutely great. And I loved JGL's line "1 swim meet... you couldn't come to just 1 swim meet!"

• Between this commercial and the "Mitt Romney at McDonalds" segment on the Weekend Update Thursday special earlier this week, Sudeikis has been doing a lot of spit-takes on the show lately. He must be the King of Spit-Takes in this current cast.

Stars: ****


Sketch - Hypnotist

• Oh, I loved this! The whole sketch was pulled off very well, and Taran was an absolute riot. He had me laughing so much all throughout this; not only with the main things he did of course, but even the little things like him silently mouthing various things to the crowd ("I'm not really hypnotized!", etc.), the way he looked when his character would laugh (there was something about his fake mustache that made his smile/laugh look so humorous)... his whole performance just killed me.

• They really fooled me towards the end with Taran confessing to having an affair, followed by him and Vanessa arguing. I wasn't expecting the revelation afterwards that they both were actually faking. That was a fantastic twist.

• I know I've said this about Taran in several sketches last season, but performance-wise he totally reminded me of Will Ferrell during this sketch, and I love that. There's a certain fearlessness, a certain approach to physical comedy we see in Taran from time to time that makes me realize he just might be the closest SNL's come to having a player like Will Ferrell ever since he left the cast in 2002. And it's not just roles like this where I see Ferrell in Taran; there's a certain way he has handled some of his subtle roles, too, that immediately brought Ferrell to mind. Taran's already been a very good castmember in his own right so far, but when he displays Ferrell-esque leadership and fearlessness like in this particular sketch, it 1) makes me even more excited for him as a performer, and 2) gives me absolutely no doubt that he's on his way to becoming the star of the show in the future. It's stuff like this that makes him stand out from the rest of this current cast.

Stars: *****


Commercial - G.O.B. Tampons

• Wow, we're certainly getting plenty of commercial parodies tonight.

• For a feminine hygiene product commercial (which SNL has done A LOT of since the Tina Fey era), this still managed to feel pretty original and the overall commercial was decent. Vanessa made for a fine spokeswoman in this.

• I liked Taran's cheesy laugh and thumbs-up during the bathtub scene.

• Between this and that Mothers Day commercial parody last season, I'm sensing a trend lately where Vanessa is often seen in a bathtub in these fake ads. Oh, those pervy SNL writers!

Stars: ***


Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Assad's Two Best Friends From Growing Up, Ann Romney, Stephen A. Smith

• Best jokes: Brad Pitt Bollywood musical

• Seth's "What Are You Doing?" rant wasn't too bad; it was better than his usual Update material these days. He had a couple of inspired lines here that made me laugh, such as the Obama comparison to criminals sending a puzzle to cops, and the comment about the Queen of England only saying 11 words since 1940.

• The Two Best Friends segment: I hated this as usual. Seriously, it's the same unfunny thing every single time, and it wasn't even amusing to me the first time back when it was "Kadaffi's Two Best Friends". WHY do they keep doing different variations of this same segment with no changes to the main joke?

• I was very impressed by the Ann Romney segment! Kate did an excellent job here in her first Weekend Update appearance, and her portrayal of Ann Romney was really funny. She had lots of great little remarks throughout; my favorites were the ones about apple-picking being a Mormon mardi gras, and shaking Jon Voight's "cold lizard hands". And her breaking into the Beyonce song at the end really surprised me and cracked me up. Before now, I hadn't formed an opinion on Kate yet as she hadn't done much to judge her by, but I definitely like what I saw of her in this Ann Romney commentary.

• Oh, and the quick random cameo from Bill as Rick Perry was worth a laugh.

• I wasn't crazy about the Stephen A. Smith commentary. While Jay's impression of him is dead-on, it's also way too one-note, redundant, and formulaic. Honestly, the routine got tired before the commentary even ended, and it didn't help that this commentary seemed to go on for a VERY long time. There were still a few minor laughs here and there, mostly from the line about his hairline trying to get away from his loud mouth.

• Man, how long was this Weekend Update overall? Even for Seth Meyers-era standards, this Update felt unusually long and seemed like it would never end. Remember during the last few episodes of last season, they were actually doing shorter Updates with only 1-2 commentaries per week? I had hoped that was becoming a trend that would carry over into this season, but I guess not.

Stars: **


Sketch - Song Memories

• The beginning of this really confused me at first. When this started and I saw the four guys sitting at the table, I asked myself "Is this the Song Memories bit?" But then they introduced the Beatles cover band played by Mumford and Sons and I thought "Oh, never mind, this is a different sketch; I wonder what this is gonna be about..." But then it DID end up being the Song Memories bit! Strange. But hey, I'll give SNL credit for shaking up the formula of the Song Memories routine with the addition of the cover band.

• What was the point of having the three new castmembers play silent background extras in this? For anyone who didn't notice that, watch the sketch again - whenever the camera shows a long shot of Jason, Kenan, JGL, and Bill, you can see Cecily, Aidy, and Tim sitting in the background behind them.

• Weird seeing Kenan as one of the four Song Memories guys, but he did fine. In fact, his Michael Phelps story was my favorite out of all the four stories in tonight's installment, and the fake gold medal he held up was hilarious.

• I admit to laughing at the Sandusky punchline in Bill's story, even if the audience didn't.

• As tepid as the audience response to that Sandusky joke was, that was nothing compared to the lack of response JGL's lame Mexico/bus joke got - I didn't hear the audience laugh AT ALL. Ouch!

• Anyone else notice that odd camera zoom-in during a brief part? Strange.

• Okay, it's obvious they had no idea how to end this sketch, but I can't really complain since I always enjoy whenever SNL does a fun, breaking-the-fourth-wall moment like this sketch's ending. However, this one pales in comparison to the similar-but-funnier ending of that Coolio sketch last season.

• I wonder if this was intended to be the final Song Memories sketch, since Jason's leaving soon. Maybe that would explain the special things they did in this installment (Beatles cover band, the audience-interaction ending).

Stars: ***


Sketch - The Finer Things

• I thought this had potential when this started and it was kinda fun watching Jay in this (he has improved so much as a live performer in general), but I was very underwhelmed by the overall sketch. Didn't care for this at all.

• I can tell this will most likely become recurring, even though it shouldn't because not only was it weak, it doesn't feel like there's much else they can do with the premise in future installments.

• JGL's attempt to sound urban was worth a few chuckles, and he actually wasn't bad at doing an urban voice. He's been a fantastic host tonight in general, by the way, just like the last time he hosted.

• Anytime Bobby Moynihan plays a wigger usually always cracks me up (Mark Payne notwithstanding). His appearance helped this sketch a lot; he was easily the only memorable part of the whole thing.

Stars: *½


Sketch - We Present Her to You

• For one terrifying moment, I thought this was going to be the Kissing Family sketch because Fred was wearing the same wig & a similar outfit to the one he wears in those sketches, but then I realized they would never put a Kissing Family sketch on this late in an episode.

• This is kinda hard to review. I'm not really sure what to make of this odd sketch as a whole. I will give credit to SNL for trying something different, I guess, and at least this had Fred starring in a non-recurring character role for once this season, but something about this sketch still felt derivative of several musical sketches Fred's already done in the past and this one just didn't come off all that funny.

• What made this work was JGL's dancing/gestures/acting-out during the whole "We present her to yoooouuuuuu" song. JGL pulled this role off very well.

• My main laughs, however, actually came from Tim Robinson's very uncomfortable facial reactions as JGL was crawling all over him and feeding him during the song. The look on Tim's face was just great.

• Speaking of Tim Robinson, I couldn't help but notice in that wig, he looked quite a bit like Bronson Pinchot (a.k.a. Balki from "Perfect Strangers").

• I didn't like the ending. Having Tim just say "No" and run out of the house seemed like a cop-out ending to me; I was hoping for a funnier punchline than that.

Stars: **


Sketch - Powers Realty

• My first laugh came right at the start from the initial sight of Nasim's cheesy 80's hair.

• Wow, two big roles in a row for the new guy! I mentioned in the previous sketch how Tim resembled Bronson Pinchot in that wig. Well, in this sketch, the wig Tim wore made him look a little bit like Jeff Daniels to me. And while we're at it, in the Weekend Update Thursday special earlier this week, during the Cash Cab parody, he wore a bald cap that made him strongly resemble a young Joe Jackson (the singer, not Michael Jackson's father). As I said earlier, it's taking a while for me to get used to the three new castmembers' faces, so you'll have to bear with me these next few episodes if I continue to make odd comparisons like I'm doing with Tim.

• The premise of this sketch was a little sophomoric but still funny, made even funnier by the performances. Tim and especially Nasim did a fine job carrying this. A few people have said they were annoyed by Nasim's voice in this, but IMO, her voice/delivery in this sketch was actually really funny. There was something about the peevish, pathetic-sounding voice she used in this sketch that amused me and it fit her character perfectly.

• Aaaaaaand... the sketch gets cut off. Wow. And it just had to happen right when poor Tim was mid-sentence and before we even got to see what JGL was drawing on the poster. Funny thing is, I was worried this would happen LAST week when that Wooden Spoons sketch started at a very late time in the show, but they were able to narrowly escape having that one get cut off. No such luck this week. I know SNL is a live show and that sometimes the show can run longer than planned, but they should know better than to try to squeeze in a final live sketch when there clearly isn't enough time. It would be wiser to just run a short pre-taped segment in that spot instead and to save the sketch for another episode.

Stars: N/A (I won't rate this sketch since we didn't see the whole thing)




Episode Highlights:

• Hypnotist

• the Ann Romney commentary on Weekend Update

• both Tres Equis ads


Episode Lowlights:

• Assad's Two Best Friends From who gives a fuck

• The Finer Things

• Monologue


Best Performer of the Night:

• Taran Killam (for the Hypnotist sketch alone) / Joseph Gordon-Levitt / Kate McKinnon (for Ann Romney alone)



ARMISEN: 2 sketches (Update, We Present Her)

BAYER: 4 sketches (Undecided Voter, Hypnotist, G.O.B. Tampons, Update)

HADER: 7 sketches (Kelly & Michael, Undecided Voter, Private Detective, Hypnotist, G.O.B. Tampons, Update, Song Memories)

KILLAM: 4 sketches (Monologue, Undecided Voter, Hypnotist, G.O.B. Tampons)

MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)

MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Monologue, G.O.B. Tampons, Finer Things)

PEDRAD: 4 sketches (Kelly & Michael, Monologue, Undecided Voter, Powers Realty)

PHAROAH: 4 sketches (Kelly & Michael, Monologue, Update, Finer Things)

SUDEIKIS: 2 sketches (Tres Equis #2, Song Memories)

THOMPSON: 4 sketches (Monologue, Hypnotist, Song Memories, Finer Things)


BRYANT: 3 sketches (Monologue, Hypnotist, Song Memories)

MCKINNON: 2 sketches (Update, We Present Her)

ROBINSON: 4 sketches (Undecided Voter, We Present Her, Powers Realty, Song Memories)

STRONG: 5 sketches (Monologue, Undecided Voter, Tres Equis #1, Tres Equis #2, Song Memories)


JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT: 9 sketches (Monologue, Tres Equis #1, Private Detective, Tres Equis #2, Hypnotist, Song Memories, Finer Things, We Present Her, Powers Realty)