***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - A Message from President Obama
• Not great, not horrible, just so-so at best. A few of the new gun laws explained by Bill and Jason were okay, but I guess I'm just burned out on this overdone type of cold opening where politicians just talk to the camera the whole time. It's become boring to me.
• Bill just carelessly shrugging his shoulders when he was told he'll lose his job was an amusing quick bit. Bill always has a way of adding a funny subtle touch like that to a sketch.
• Lately, Jay never seems to be able to make it through his Obama impression without screwing up a line, or two lines in tonight's case.
Monologue - Vince Vaughn
• At the beginning when Vince revealed who the REAL important people of SNL are, I actually thought he was going to say the cue-card guys, as a self-deprecating dig at his infamously-bad cue-card staring from last time.
• An interesting and out-of-the-ordinary monologue. Even though Jim Carrey's last monologue and Jeremy Piven's monologue were both in a bit of a similar vein, Vaughn managed to make this his own. He was surprisingly good here and put much more effort into this than he did in his last monologue where he just stood there lifelessly while Darrell Hammond as Alfred Hitchcock got all the "funny" lines.
• Two out of the last three monologues have referenced Drunk Uncle: tonight's and Justin Timberlake's.
• This started running long near the end, but for the most part, it was still enjoyable overall, and I appreciate how this is the second week in a row where the writers attempted something unique for the monologue. This shows they're trying to put more effort into the monologues lately instead of continuing to treat them as a dumping ground for lame unfunny song-and-dance musicals.
• After this monologue ended, I was wondering if there would be some kind of follow-up later on in the night with Vince "checking in" on the audience members that he interacted with here. We did end up getting something like that during the goodnights, with Vince returning the male audience member's phone, which was a clever bit.
Commercial - The Al Pacino Accused Murderer Biopic Series
• The magic of Bill Hader: he can take a dumb one-joke premise like this, and make it that much funnier with his performance. This commercial would've been very weak with almost any other performer in the role, but a pro like Bill knew how to wring laughs out of this.
• While this wasn't outstanding or anything, it was watchable enough thanks to Bill, and I laughed out loud during the blackface bit with Bill asking "Is this cool???" and fist-bumping the black judge.
Sketch - Stormy Skies
• When they showed the set for this sketch during the commercial break, I got worried because I thought a Californians sketch was coming up; the set looked eerily similar at first glance to the one in the Californians. Luckily, this turned out to be something else.
• However, this sketch wasn't much better than The Californians, unfortunately. On top of that, the premise was too unoriginal; SNL already used the "hybrid between a weather report and a soap opera" concept before, back when Tom Arnold hosted in 1996 (one of the few good sketches from that embarrassing trainwreck of an episode). That sketch was much more well-written than this lackluster Stormy Skies sketch.
• The humor here came off as weak, many of the jokes fell flat and bombed with the audience, and the premise got old way too fast.
• Only thing I can remember laughing at was the part where Kate's violent rant got censored by the sound of the emergency drill.
• I really could've done without the return of Kenan's annoying Al Roker "impression".
Film - History of Punk
• This is the first short film SNL's done in a while. The first half of this season seemed to regularly have one short film per week, so I wonder why they stopped doing them for a while after that.
• This punk rock film was... interesting. It's easily the most original thing Fred's done in a while, the production values and details were well-done, and they were wise to do this as a filmed documentary piece instead of a regular live sketch so that it didn't come off as yet another tired "Fred as the lead singer of a weird band" sketch (BTW, I heard one of those was cut after dress last week, thank god).
• However, I wanted to like this more than I did. The result kinda disappointed me; I felt that the premise of Fred's character being pro-Margaret Thatcher wasn't strong enough to base an entire short film on. This could've been a brilliant piece if it had a funnier main joke than the pro-Thatcher bit, which wasn't able to hold up for a five-minute segment.
• The scene with Fred meeting Margaret Thatcher was pretty funny, especially the quick shot of Vanessa pretending to rock out on the guitar. Strangely, that pre-taped scene ended up being Vanessa's only appearance all night.
Sketch - Short Term Memory Loss Theater
• Speaking of premises that aren't able to hold up for a five-minute segment...
• This was awful; the epitome of a bad one-joke sketch. Immediately after the first time Bill whispered one of the actor's lines to them, you could see where this was going and the sketch never built up from there. It basically just repeated the same thing over and over.
• Jay's part did seem like it was going to be interesting at first. When his character said that he didn't want help from any of the other actors, I thought that meant he was going to make up his own nonsensical lines when he couldn't remember what to say, which could've been pretty funny. Instead, they just repeated the same stupid joke of Bill whispering Jay's lines to him, as if that joke hadn't ALREADY been run into the ground enough during this sketch.
• Aaaaaaand there's Bill's obligatory character break. What in the world was he even cracking up at? Something Fred did? I'm telling you, those two = the new Fallon & Sanz.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring LL Cool J & Brad Paisley, Marina Chapman
• Best jokes: Charlie Brown voice actor (even though I saw that punchline coming from a mile away)
• I said this earlier this season, and I'll repeat it yet again: Boy, Seth sure loves talking in German accents, doesn't he?
• I thought the LL Cool J/Brad Paisley commentary was going to be really funny at first, especially since Jason always cracks me up whenever he plays a redneck. However, this ended up being completely forgettable. Nothing notable happened here and the song at the end was simply not funny. The best line of this whole commentary was Kenan's line about being "the most lowdown, hardcore castmember of NCIS". Also, the way Jason exaggeratedly said Seth's name during one part made me laugh.
• I'm starting to get a little tired of how Kate always plays foreign-accented ladies on Update. This is, what, the third or fourth one this season alone? They're starting to have too much of a "sameness" feel about them. And her commentary tonight was very weak. Kate's performance herself wasn't bad, but she was given nothing to work with and she didn't really elevate the material. The writing in this was bad, especially that lame "monkey-style" joke.
Sketch - Junior Prom
• What exactly was the joke of this sketch? I kept wondering and wondering where this was going, and then the sketch ended before we got any kind of punchline. This whole thing was just boring and the ending was especially bad.
• My only real laugh came from Vince passing on poor Tim when he asked to dance.
• Bobby always seems to wear that same Chris Farley-looking wig whenever he plays young boys.
• Once again, Nasim Pedrad continues to "earn" her SNL paycheck with her silent bit role in this sketch, which was her only appearance all night. My god, the writers truly have no clue what to do with this poor girl anymore, do they?
• Bill's dancing at the end was kinda funny.
Sketch - Roundball Rock
• Nice delayed entrance there, Aidy. Seriously, what was that all about?
• As soon as I realized this was going to be the Roundball Rock sketch that was cut from the Louis C.K. episode, I instantly became excited. The descriptions of this sketch that I read back when this originally got cut made this sound like a hilarious insane sketch, and I was sad back then that we didn't get to see it for ourselves. So imagine my happiness when this finally showed up tonight.
• This sketch did not disappoint and it was just as hilarious as I was expecting. This gave me the big laughs that I needed after most of tonight's bad sketches.
• It's great to see Tim getting a rare lead role. He did a fantastic job here and I'm betting that he wrote this sketch himself since it fits the bizarre, oddball type of humor that I remember seeing from him in his pre-SNL comedy videos. SNL needs to stop being so hesitant to let Tim showcase his absurd humor more often. After all, when Will Forte first joined the cast, SNL had no problem letting him showcase lots of his weird humor right off the bat in his first season, where he instantly made his mark on SNL with bizarre classics like Give Up the Ham, Tim Calhoun, Jealous Boyfriend Inside a Box, that Bullhorn courtroom thing with Eric McCormack, etc. Tim has so much potential to be the current-era equivalent to Forte.
• Jason did an excellent job here, too, and he always kills in any sketch where he loses his temper and gets angry.
• In addition to the main jokes, there were lots of little details that were also funny as hell, such as the Teshes giving each other over-the-top high-fives throughout the song, the Teshes using tiny hammers to destroy the office, Tim looking at the execs with a sadistic grin while smashing each photo on the wall, Jason trying to act like he was the one playing the keyboard when the dramatic music came up in the background, and Vaughn waving his hand in front of Kenan's frozen face at the end.
• Not to take away from this sketch or anything, but I can't help but wonder what it would've been like if this was done with Will Forte and/or Will Ferrell, since they excel at the type of random humor this sketch has. Hell, imagine if this was done with BOTH of them together! Can't you picture Forte playing Tim's role while Ferrell plays Jason's role?
Sketch - Last Call
• Last time they did this sketch, I was one of the people who liked it and I considered it to be one of the better sketches in the Louis C.K. episode. But that doesn't mean this deserved to be made recurring. Doing this sketch a second time came off pointless and unnecessary, and I'd have preferred if the original installment just stood alone as a funny one-off piece. This just did not work as well a second time, and Vince Vaughn was nowhere near as funny as Louis C.K. was in the original installment. Louis and Kate played off of each other more naturally than she and Vince did.
• There were still a few decent moments here. Kate's character in this always has a couple of funny random non-sequitur lines, and I liked Vince's "Who cares? It has hands!" line when explaining that he couldn't tell if Kate was a man or woman. Oh, and the "pass the tequila shot" gag was certainly... unexpected.
• Roundball Rock
• Short Term Memory Loss Theater
• Junior Prom
• Stormy Skies
• portions of Weekend Update
Best Performer of the Night:
• Bill Hader
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 3 sketches (Stormy Skies, Punk, Short Term Memory)
BAYER: 1 sketch (Punk)
HADER: 6 sketches (President Obama, Al Pacino, Stormy Skies, Punk, Short Term Memory, Prom)
KILLAM: 3 sketches (Stormy Skies, Punk, Prom)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Monologue, Punk, Prom)
PEDRAD: 1 sketch (Prom)
PHAROAH: 3 sketches (President Obama, Short Term Memory, Prom)
SUDEIKIS: 4 sketches (President Obama, Punk, Update, Roundball Rock)
THOMPSON: 5 sketches (Stormy Skies, Update, Prom, Roundball Rock, Last Call)
BRYANT: 4 sketches (Stormy Skies, Short Term Memory, Prom, Roundball Rock)
MCKINNON: 4 sketches (Stormy Skies, Update, Roundball Rock, Last Call)
ROBINSON: 3 sketches (Stormy Skies, Prom, Roundball Rock)
STRONG: 1 sketch (Stormy Skies)
VINCE VAUGHN: 6 sketches (Monologue, Stormy Skies, Short Term Memory, Prom, Roundball Rock, Last Call)