***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Obama and Boehner
• The premise with Boehner being portrayed as a pathetic bullying victim was a funny angle at first, but it started wearing thin after a while and didn't go anywhere else.
• This still had a couple of laughs, though, and was at least better than the typical boring "Obama behind the desk addressing the nation" cold opening.
• One of the parts I liked was the story about the ladies bathroom prank and Obama's line "Neither hand succeeding" regarding Boehner's attempt at covering his private areas with his hands.
• The despondent voice Bill used throughout this was very funny.
Song-and-Danceologue - Jamie Foxx
• As expected, Jamie handled himself very well here with total ease, and did a great job getting the crowd hyped up. Unfortunately, the material itself wasn't exactly funny.
• The "How black is that?" bit got old fast and the piano song was okay but nothing really special. I was just expecting this monologue to be a lot funnier considering who the host was.
• Kinda strange that they went back to the "host plays the piano" route so soon after the infamous mishap in Jeremy Renner's monologue, but nothing surprises me with musical monologues nowadays. At least Jamie didn't have any technical difficulties with HIS piano.
• The cameo at the end from 2 Chainz added nothing to this.
Sketch - Bitch, What's the Answer?
• This was weak, especially for something chosen as the lead-off sketch of the night. The whole joke of this was revealed right at the start with the title, and there really was no other place left for the sketch to go. On top of that, the joke itself just wasn't funny. Simply saying "bitch" over and over again isn't inherently funny... and the odd thing is, they did a sketch like that the first time Jamie hosted in 2000, where he was a prisoner and Will Ferrell was his bitch; the joke of that one was Jamie saying "bitch" over and over in every sentence, just like this sketch. And just like this sketch, that prison sketch was very weak; not even Ferrell could save it. Only thing I remember liking about that one was the weird deep voice Tim Meadows used as one of the fellow prisoners.
• What salvaged tonight's sketch was Bobby's funny straight man character, and Jamie's interaction with him towards the end. Bobby's shameful reaction after calling Jamie a bitch made me laugh.
• Another funny part was the picture of Tim Robinson on the cover of the board game they showed at the end. The goofy expression on Tim's face was hilarious! The guy has a face that just exudes comedy. I sure wish they'd give him more airtime; tonight is the THIRD episode this season where he made no live appearances.
• Bobby seems to be growing his hair out lately; it's starting to look like it did back when he first joined the cast, when his hair was a lot longer and curlier.
Sketch - J-Pop America Funtime Now
• What is there left to say about this? The concept of these J-Pop sketches has already gotten tired, and this is only the fourth installment. The problem is that there's really no variation within these J-Pop sketches whatsoever; the only thing that changes in each installment is the character played by the host.
• I said this before, but I still think this sketch would work a lot better if they would actually have Taran and Vanessa's characters exploiting a different racial stereotype in each installment instead of just the Japanese thing every time. Remember, they hinted at this in a previous installment where they showed a picture of Taran and Vanessa hosting a Rastafarian version of their show.
• Jamie Foxx is probably the last host I would've ever expected them to do a J-Pop sketch with, so it was at least kinda interesting to wonder what kind of character he would come on as. The character he ended up playing wasn't all that funny, though.
• There were two things towards the end of tonight's sketch that were different, at least: Jamie angrily asking Jason why it's so obvious that Jamie isn't Japanese, and the bit at the end with Jason subconsciously imitating Taran and Vanessa's speech pattern.
• Speaking of that last part with Jason imitating Taran and Vanessa, it makes me wonder if that was their way of retiring Jason's character. Doesn't that seem like an appropriate way for his character to go out? We know that Jason's leaving soon, although nobody knows when exactly that is. Some people still think that it might be next week's Christmas episode, others think that he might stay the whole season and leave in May. But there were some hints in this sketch and in the Maine Justice sketch (more on that later) that make me think Jason's departure might indeed happen next week.
• By the way, I wonder if they're going to continue doing these J-Pop sketches after Jason leaves. If they do, would they just replace Jason's character with a new professor played by another castmember, or would they just ditch the professor part of the sketch altogether? Hopefully, it's the latter, because that might force them to finally change up the format of these J-Pop sketches a little and experiment more with it.
Commercial - Alex Cross 2
• A disappointing Tyler Perry parody. Jamie did his best, but the premise wasn't very funny and there were barely any laughs overall. Most of this just came off boring.
• The only part I really enjoyed was Jamie doing the cross-eyed thing while arguing with himself, then rolling around on the floor beating himself up.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Mrs. Claus, Ding Dong
• Best jokes: Obama Christmas Tree
• Is it bad that during Seth's "deli sandwiches named after celebrities" joke, I already knew the punchline would have something to do with Jerry Sandusky? I appreciate a good edgy, offensive joke as much as the next guy, but SNL is starting to go to the "mentioning Sandusky's name as a punchline" well a little too often this season; it's starting to get predictable and it loses its edginess the more they over-rely on it. Also, I don't often complain about Seth's smugness like other people do, but what the heck was with that self-congratulatory grin & head nod Seth gave the camera after the Sandusky joke tonight? Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back there, Seth...
• Aidy's really doing well for herself lately, finally getting the airtime she deserves after spending the first few months of this season getting practically nothing to do. Her Mrs. Claus commentary tonight was pretty good. While the premise wasn't all that original, the commentary was still executed well and Aidy gave a very good and likeable performance with several funny lines.
• I always enjoy seeing a host appear in their own Update commentary, and so far Jamie Foxx is 2-for-2 in that regard (remember in his first episode from 2000, he did an Update segment as Stevie Wonder). His Ding Dong commentary tonight was good, with lots of cheesy-but-funny puns based on Hostess snacks. I especially liked the names of all the Hostess rappers he listed that are on his album.
Sketch - Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney?
• Hmm, odd having two gameshow sketches in the same episode, but this has happened a few times before: the Justin Timberlake/Lady Gaga episode had two gameshows that appeared within 15 minutes of each other (and Hader played the host in both of them!), and the Garth Brooks episode from 1998 had two famous ones ("Old French Whore" and "Who's More Grizzled?").
• As for this sketch, this was a big improvement over tonight's earlier Bitch gameshow sketch. I was laughing right from the start of this one, especially at the initial reveal of the three contestants all being black. But then I got worried that the writers would have trouble keeping the premise funny for an entire five-minute sketch, and I started wondering if this was something that was going to be funnier in concept than in execution. Luckily, the sketch worked out fine for the whole duration and didn't run out of steam like I had feared.
• Nice touch at the end with Dermot Mulroney coming on and mistaking a picture of Dylan McDermott for himself.
Film - Marcus Banks, Tree Pimp
• The streak of brilliant short films this season continues, as SNL delivers yet another great one tonight.
• I loved this whole segment, and Kenan was excellent; this has got to be one of his best performances in his entire SNL tenure.
• What was with the studio audience? During the first half of this short, the audience was strangely subdued and virtually silent for some reason, but they got more into it during the second half.
• Some of the many highlights of this film included Fred having the tree go down on him in his car, Kenan telling the under-aged jailbait tree to get lost, and Kenan informing the family at home that "Ya'll got 20 minutes" with their tree.
Sketch - Maine Justice
• Supposedly, this was cut from last season's Will Ferrell episode; Ferrell was supposed to play Jamie Foxx's role, Kristen Wiig was in Aidy Bryant's role, and Andy Samberg was in Bobby Moynihan's role.
• This sketch had me laughing my ass off the entire time. The absurdity of these alleged Maine citizens inexplicably speaking in southern accents, dressed in old-timey clothes, and constantly mentioning the town alligators cracked me up to no end, then I laughed even more during the twist where it was revealed that they're actually New Orleans citizens relocated to Maine after Hurricane Katrina.
• But what really made this sketch was Jason's performance. He was absolutely HILARIOUS in this! Everything from his over-the-top southern voice, the pursing of the lips, the occasional leaning forward over the podium while yelling, the constant wiping of his mouth with the handkerchief, his long-winded tirade about using Bobby to put out "them ass fires"... Jason just had me dying during this sketch. The man is having an outstanding season so far.
• Bobby, who's also been having a very good season himself, was a great straight man in this. I said in a recent review from last month that he adds a certain funny touch to his straight man roles that amuses me, and this sketch is another example of that. I laughed at his calm, casual delivery of "Also, uh, what the hell is going on here?" at the beginning of the sketch, as well as his deadpan facial expressions whenever the camera would cut to him.
• And just when I thought the sketch couldn't get any funnier, we suddenly get an unexpected cameo from Charlie freakin' Day playing a hilarious unintelligible hillbilly, which elevated this already-fantastic sketch into "epic" territory.
• Following up what I said earlier in this review about the possibility of next week being Jason's final show, there were two things about this Maine Justice sketch that further make me think there's a chance he could be leaving next week: 1) the fact that this sketch starring him, which was cut after dress a year ago, is just NOW being brought back. They don't often bring back a cut sketch from a previous season, though there have been a few exceptions in recent years. 2) The fact that this included a cameo from Jason's celebrity buddy Charlie Day. I doubt SNL called Charlie up just so there could be a Horrible Bosses mini-reunion with him, Jason, and Jamie; I'm thinking maybe Jason requested a Charlie Day cameo for one of his last episodes.
• Now, you may be asking yourself "But if next week is Jason's last show, why didn't he announce that in any of the many recent talk show interviews he's done?" Let's remember that with last season's finale, there was no announcement beforehand that it would be Kristen and Andy's last show. There were rumors going on about it online, but nothing official; we had to wait until the actual episode itself to find out that Kristen and Andy were leaving. So maybe this is a new thing that SNL's doing now, where they don't announce a veteran's departure until their last episode is airing. It's possible that Jason made all those recent talk show appearances as a hint that he's leaving this month and he's waiting until next week's Christmas episode to make the official announcement. But hey, we'll see. I still think it could go either way; he might leave next week or he might stay until May. But let me just say that if next week IS his last show, they'd better give him a damn good send-off sketch; he certainly deserves one.
• Sorry to stray off-topic so much...
Sketch - Swarovski Crystals
• This was another very funny sketch, and a great way to close the show. At first, the set-up of this reminded me a bit of a cross between two sketches from the 2010-11 season: the El Shrinko commercial with the female cast playing bad actresses giving stiff testimonials, and that sketch with Miley Cyrus & Kristen Wiig advertising a moisturizing cream/rock music CD. But thankfully, this Swarovski Crystals sketch went in its own direction and ended up being very enjoyable.
• Vanessa and Cecily (a.k.a. Vanecily... sorry, I couldn't resist typing that) both gave an excellent performance as the two ex-porn stars, and they both had one funny line after another; in fact, so many funny lines that it's difficult to narrow down the highlights as I cracked up at almost every single line that Vanecily were given.
• By the way, it's also good to see Vanessa Bayer getting an original comedic lead role for what feels like the first time in ages, as she's been wasted in mostly straight roles this season. As for Cecily, on the other hand, it's amazing how quickly a new castmember like her has become integrated into SNL; it seems like she's gotten a lead role in each episode so far this season.
• Maine Justice
• Swarovski Crystals
• Marcus Banks, Tree Pimp
• Bitch, What's the Answer?
• Alex Cross 2
• J-Pop America Funtime Now
Best Performer of the Night:
• Bobby Moynihan
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 2 sketches (J-Pop, Tree Pimp)
BAYER: 2 sketches (J-Pop, Swarovski)
HADER: 2 sketches (Obama and Boehner, McDermott or Mulroney)
KILLAM: 4 sketches (Bitch, J-Pop, Alex Cross 2, Tree Pimp)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Bitch, Tree Pimp, Maine Justice)
PEDRAD: 1 sketch (Bitch)
PHAROAH: 4 sketches (Obama and Boehner, McDermott or Mulroney, Tree Pimp, Maine Justice)
SUDEIKIS: 3 sketches (J-Pop, Alex Cross 2, Maine Justice)
THOMPSON: 3 sketches (McDermott or Mulroney, Tree Pimp, Maine Justice)
BRYANT: 2 sketches (Update, Maine Justice)
MCKINNON: 1 sketch (Tree Pimp)
ROBINSON: 1 sketch (Tree Pimp)
STRONG: 2 sketches (Alex Cross 2, Swarovski)
JAMIE FOXX: 9 sketches (Songologue, Bitch, J-Pop, Alex Cross 2, Update, McDermott or Mulroney, Tree Pimp, Maine Justice, Swarovski)