Ben Affleck / Kanye West
May 18, 2013

Aykroyd. Hartman. Carvey. Hader.

 

RATINGS SYSTEM

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

**** = Great

*** = Average

** = Meh

* = How'd this get past dress?

 

Cold Opening - Politics Nation with Al Sharpton

• Can't say I'm thrilled about the decision to open the season finale with this. I figured the cold opening would be a recurring Bill Hader sketch to mark his last night.

• There were a few chuckle-worthy parts like when they showed the bar "grappuh" regarding how much the IRS bothered black people just yesterday, and the Frederick Douglas comparison. But no matter how much I try, I can never get excited about these Al Sharpton sketches, and tonight's installment was particularly forgettable.

• Has anyone noticed that the running joke with Kenan's Sharpton mispronouncing words is the EXACT SAME running joke from Kenan's Steve Harvey sketches where he also mispronounces words, like phobias ("fo-bye-uhz")? How unoriginal. Are these Sharpton and Harvey sketches written by the same person?

• Hmm, this sketch featured a castmember that's confirmed to be leaving (Hader), a castmember that's rumored to be leaving (Sudeikis), but who got to deliver LFNY? The one castmember in the sketch that's mostly likely returning (Kenan). Gee, that makes sense, SNL.........

Stars: **

 

Monologue - Ben Affleck

• The first half with Bobby "welcoming" Ben to the five-timers club was pretty good and Bobby was his usual funny self, especially all the times he was unsure what to do next because he thought Ben would say "no" to all the things that were offered.

• Unfortunately, this died down in the second half with the appearance by Jennifer Garner. I just didn't care for that part and found their whole conversation to be mostly boring. However, I did like the part with Garner asking who does all the "work" at home, as well as the cue-card gag.

• I would've preferred if the second half of the monologue continued going further with Ben's unceremonious induction into the five-timers club. Why not a scene where Ben actually visits the five-timers club and the only celebrities there to welcome him are a whole bunch of forgotten, unimpressive ONE-timer hosts? Hell, you could even have Ralph Nader as one of them, as a reference to Tom Hanks' five-timers monologue! I think that would've been funny.

Stars: **½

 

Sketch - Bengo F#*@ Yourself

• When this started as yet another "Fred as a foreigner addressing the nation while a voice-over translates" piece, I was ready to mentally check out on this. But then when Fred as Mahmoud mentioned he would be doing his own version of of Argo with him playing Ben Affleck, I suddenly became very interested. That was a great twist.

• This ended up being a very funny sketch. It featured one of Fred's best performances in recent memory, and even him constantly saying "Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd" before every sentence didn't get old for me - it honestly made me laugh each time.

• Even the subtle throwaway jokes were funny, such as Bill exclaiming "I am a Hollywood executive!" when they first showed him in his office. I also liked the subtle meta-reference with Fred saying "You ah!", ala Fallon & Dratch's Boston Teens.

• Ben's line about wanting to make a movie worse than Gigli was simply hilarious. It's that kind of self-deprecating humor that always makes Ben such a likeable and relatable host.

• Did anyone else notice an off-camera voice whispering "Ben! Ben!" very loudly at the end of one scene? Was that the stage manager cueing Ben to get ready for the next scene?

Stars: ****

 

Commercial - Xanax for Gay Summer Weddings

• Meh. The premise of this commercial was decent, I guess, but I feel permanently burned-out on this type of gay humor on SNL nowadays. It always feels like they've already done the exact same sketch/commercial before.

• Bill had the funniest lines in this, such as him saying how everyone at gay weddings knows the choreography to a Beyonce song that hasn't even been released yet, and him mentioning how his grandmother called Obama the n-word during his wedding. His goofy dancing during one part was funny, too.

• The lesbian wedding ending fell flat for me.

Stars: **½

 

Sketch - Depression Scene

• An interesting sketch; one that was fun to watch progress, as this wasn't your typical sketch where the joke is made obvious within the first 30 seconds.

• All three of the performers did a very good job in their roles, and it goes without saying that Bill has always been the master at pulling off old-timey classical roles like this. It was a treat to see him do it one last time tonight. And I love the voice he used in this one; it was actually a lot different from the voice he usually uses in these types of sketches set in the 1930s-1950s.

Stars: ***½

 

Sketch - New Beginnings Camp

• Remember what I said earlier in this review about being burned-out on stereotypical gay humor on SNL and how it always feels like they've done the same sketch before? Wash, rinse, repeat.

• Any time SNL does an overabundance of gay-themed sketches in a single episode, it always immediately brings the 04-05 and 09-10 seasons to mind - never a good thing.

• Ben did fine as the camp director, and I liked his delivery of the line "hetero is better, yo".

• Was Aidy's character a boy, or was she playing a lesbian? If it was a lesbian, then Aidy's been getting typecast in that role lately - she's played three lesbians over the last two weeks alone.

Stars: **

 

Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Amy Poehler, Stefon

• Best jokes: Disney character redesigned, Beckham retires

• Not even Amy Poehler's return could get me excited about another damn edition of "Really", a segment that's been past its prime for years. Amy certainty tried, but she couldn't breathe much life into this worn-out segment. I only laughed at the quick bit about Amy's "Weed 420" license plate.

• I had no problem with Amy staying for the rest of tonight's Update to do jokes, if only because it spared us from having to put up with Seth doing it alone. Seth was always much better on Update when he had Amy as his co-anchor to play off of. There's a reason why he went downhill as soon as he started doing Update solo in 2009 after Amy left the cast.

• That being said, Amy's jokes tonight were all unmemorable and none stood out as a real hit. Even Seth had better jokes tonight than she did.

• And so, here we arrive at the true centerpiece of tonight's Update: Stefon's epic farewell. Where do I even begin?

• First off, I loved Stefon's reaction to meeting Amy for the first time.

• When I heard earlier this week that Bill was leaving, I was hoping they'd do an actual sketch with Stefon and his brother played by Affleck, as a callback to Stefon's first appearance. But I knew there was no way they'd NOT have Stefon's final appearance be on Update, because I knew they'd want to bring closure to the story arc between him and Seth. Little did I know beforehand, though, just how far they'd go in bringing that story arc to a conclusion. As soon as Stefon threw his tantrum at Seth and stormed off the Update set, I knew things were going to get interesting.

• The whole pre-taped sequence with Seth leaving the studio, chasing after Stefon, and crashing his wedding was freakin' amazing. And the wedding scene had me rewinding over and over again; the writers pulled out all the stops for this, even going as far as having all the wedding guests be the club members that Stefon mentioned in his previous appearances (i.e. Fat Urkel, Menorrah the Explorer, etc.). You gotta love that level of commitment.

• And heck, they even had Affleck making a quick appearance as Stefon's brother, as a callback to Stefon's debut! Looks like I kinda got my wish after all.

• And the ending with the Weekend Update All-Stars (Girl At A Party, Arianna Huffington, Jean K. Jean, David Paterson, Ann Romney, Jacob, Drunk Uncle, The Devil) throwing rice at Seth and Stefon was the icing on the cake. Overall, this was a BEAUTIFUL send-off for Bill Hader; in fact, one of the most clever send-offs SNL has ever done for anyone.

• On that note, I kept getting the feeling that this was also a send-off for Seth. I know he initially said he's returning until the middle of next season, but there were so many things about the Stefon farewell that felt to me like it was Seth's way of saying goodbye, too. In addition to all of that, you also had Seth's original co-host, Amy, there at the desk tonight, as well as the aforementioned Weekend Update All-Stars group of characters from Seth's entire WU tenure. Are we 100% sure this ISN'T Seth's last show?

Stars: ***½

 

Sketch - Greg Pulino's Funeral

• A good sketch, made better by Ben's excellent performance. He was very committed to the material here, and his exaggerated fake accent had me cracking up for the whole sketch.

• The co-workers and family members had some amusing stories about Ben's character, especially Kate as the ex-wife.

• Taran exclaiming "What?!?" in an Ashton Kutcher-esque voice seems to be becoming his own catchphrase - he's done it in several sketches this season.

• Is Jay only being used for cutaway shots tonight? This is the second time they've done that type of gag with him in tonight's episode, and it ended up being his only two appearances of the night. In fact, Jay's barely been doing anything on the show these last few episodes in general. He practically disappeared in the home stretch of this season. What was the last significant big role he's had besides Obama? I honestly can't even remember. Lately, Jay's starting to rival Nasim for the title of "least-productive repertory player".

Stars: ***

 

Sketch - Hermes Handbags

• I always like these ex-porn stars sketches, but they'll never be able to top or equal the first installment in terms of laughs, unexpected turns, and surprising one-liners. While the last two installments still made me laugh a lot, something about the writing of them has come off a bit too forced, like they're trying too hard to replicate the success of the original installment.

• I can't complain too much because tonight's installment still got a lot of laughs out of me. As usual, there were plenty of funny one-liners from Vanecily, especially Bayer's line about her eye getting sucked out by a butt, and Strong's line about banging someone who she thought was E.T. but was really just an old Chinese guy on a bike.

• I particularly like Bayer in these sketches; IMO, these have featured her best performances of the whole season. She's really in her element in these.

• The one thing that improves every time they do this sketch is the host. Jamie Foxx was completely forgettable in the first one and I could've done without him; Justin Timberlake was decent in the second one and he made me laugh a little; Affleck was great in the third one and he actually enhanced the last few minutes of this. His Snickers line in particular was hilarious.

Stars: ****

 

Sketch - Shauna's Engagement

• This is an example of a premise that seems funny initially, but isn't able to hold up for an entire five-minute sketch. This started out amusing, but got old fairly quickly and didn't go anywhere. There's not much else to say about the sketch besides that.

• However, Taran made me laugh out loud with his attempts to speak while stifling his tears, especially the way his face got all bloated up.

Stars: **

 

Miscellaneous - Ian Rubbish and the Bizarros perform "It's a Lovely Day"

• Earlier this week when there was talk circulating that Fred might be FINALLY leaving the show, that news didn't seem 100% confirmed so I wasn't quite ready to celebrate just yet. It seemed like it was too good to be true. Then this sketch popped up and instantly put away any doubts I had left: tonight is definitely Fred's last show. Wow.

• For a Fred Armisen farewell sketch, this was much better than anything I could've pictured them doing for his send-off. It was a brilliant decision to bring his character from the History of Punk film back for this farewell piece, and this was executed beautifully. And I always appreciate whenever SNL does something very special for the final sketch of the season instead of just ending the season with a regular run-of-the-mill sketch.

• I've been one of Fred's harshest critics these last few years, but you have to remember that I actually used to be a HUGE fan of his SNL work until 2009. In Fred's first 4 or 5 seasons, he and Will Forte were equally my favorite current castmembers. Then around 2006 or 2007, Hader & Sudeikis began inching their way to the top of my "current favorite" list, but Fred and Forte were still up there at the time. Then when we reached the 09-10 season, it was all downhill from there for Fred. He's done so much annoying, embarrassing, cringeworthy material these last 4 seasons that it turned me against him so drastically and made me almost forget why I used to like him so much in the first place. So you can guess how happy I was earlier this week when the rumors started about his possible departure. But where I was expecting to say "Good riddance!" to him tonight, I instead ended up feeling a little emotional over his departure while watching this sketch. While I'm still very thrilled about him leaving since it was long overdue, I'm glad he left on a positive note with this sketch, as it helps me remember all the GOOD memories that Fred brought to SNL over the years instead of dwelling on the bad memories.

• Did you notice that there was a written message on Fred's guitar strap that said "TY LM I heart U"? A very sweet sign of appreciation from Fred to Lorne.

Stars: ****

 

Goodnights

• It really got to me emotionally seeing Bill trying not to break into tears while hugging his castmates, especially that shot of him, Fred, and Jason sharing a very long hug together. With Bill Hader's departure, SNL loses one of its best castmembers of all-time. I do feel that this was the perfect time for him to leave as he honestly wasn't as dominant this year as he usually is, but his departure will still leave a big hole in the cast, and they're going to have some huge shoes to fill with him gone.

• I'm just as confused as everybody else over whether or not Jason is leaving. There were some hints during this episode that he IS leaving, and there were some hints that he's NOT. Personally, I really hope this was his last show. Jason's had a phenomenal season overall and is my personal pick for MVP of the year (although he kinda tapered off a bit the last two months or so). But honestly, there's no real reason for him to return next season at all. So why not leave after you've had a strong final year like this? It's a shame that he didn't get any real send-off, but I just read that there was a Bongo's Clown Room sketch cut after dress. In those sketches, it's always Jason's "final night" at his job. If he's leaving SNL, it makes perfect sense to have done that sketch this week. Why else would they have done that sketch in a season finale? So I'm thinking maybe that sketch was intended to be his send-off tonight, but I guess it didn't go over well enough with the dress audience to make it to air.

• If Bill, Fred, AND Jason all leave together, it would give next season a VERY different feel, which I think is a good and exciting thing for SNL. They'd be losing their two alpha-males (Hader & Sudeikis) and the longest-standing sketch player of the current cast (Armisen), which would officially mark the end of an era.

 

_________________________________________________________

 

Episode Highlights:

• Stefon's Farewell

• Bengo F#*@ Yourself

• Ian Rubbish and the Bizarros perform "It's a Lovely Day"

• Hermes Handbags

 

Episode Lowlights:

• New Beginnings Camp

• Shauna's Engagement

• the "Really" segment on Weekend Update

• Politics Nation with Al Sharpton

 

Best Performer of the Night:

• Bill Hader / Ben Affleck

 

CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN

ARMISEN: 4 sketches (Bengo, Update, Engagement, Ian Rubbish)

BAYER: 5 sketches (Bengo, Gay Weddings, New Beginnings, Update, Hermes)

HADER: 7 sketches (Politics Nation, Bengo, Gay Weddings, Depression Scene, Update, Engagement, Ian Rubbish)

KILLAM: 5 sketches (Gay Weddings, New Beginnings, Funeral, Engagement, Ian Rubbish)

MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)

MOYNIHAN: 6 sketches (Monologue, Bengo, Gay Weddings, New Beginnings, Update, Engagement)

PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Update, Funeral, Engagement)

PHAROAH: 2 sketches (New Beginnings, Funeral)

SUDEIKIS: 6 sketches (Politics Nation, Gay Weddings, Update, Funeral, Engagement, Ian Rubbish)

THOMPSON: 3 sketches (Politics Nation, New Beginnings, Update)

 

BRYANT: 2 sketches (Gay Weddings, New Beginnings)

MCKINNON: 5 sketches (Gay Weddings, Depression Scene, Update, Funeral, Engagement)

ROBINSON: 2 sketches (Funeral, Engagement)

STRONG: 4 sketches (Gay Weddings, Update, Funeral, Hermes)

 

BEN AFFLECK: 8 sketches (Monologue, Bengo, Depression Scene, New Beginnings, Update, Funeral, Hermes, Engagement)

 

2012-13 YEAR IN REVIEW

 

To start this off, here’s my episode-by-episode list of best/worst sketch, best performer, and final verdict:

 

Seth MacFarlane / Frank Ocean

BEST SEGMENT: Puppetry Class

WORST SEGMENT: Rodger Brush

BEST PERFORMER: Vanessa Bayer / Bill Hader

FINAL VERDICT: great episode

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt / Mumford & Sons

BEST SEGMENT: Hypnotist

WORST SEGMENT: The Finer Things

BEST PERFORMER: Taran Killam / Joseph Gordon-Levitt / Kate McKinnon

FINAL VERDICT: good episode

 

Daniel Craig / Muse

BEST SEGMENT: Lesser-Known Bond Girls

WORST SEGMENT: Regine

BEST PERFORMER: Kate McKinnon

FINAL VERDICT: forgettable episode

 

Christina Applegate / Passion Pit

BEST SEGMENT: The Vice Presidential Debate

WORST SEGMENT: Choreographer Jillian Chizz

BEST PERFORMER: Jason Sudeikis

FINAL VERDICT: mediocre episode

 

Bruno Mars

BEST SEGMENT: Sad Mouse

WORST SEGMENT: Haters

BEST PERFORMER: Bill Hader / Jason Sudeikis / Tom Hanks

FINAL VERDICT: good episode

 

Louis C.K. / Fun.

BEST SEGMENT: Lincoln

WORST SEGMENT: Mountain Pass

BEST PERFORMER: Bobby Moynihan / Louis C.K.

FINAL VERDICT: good episode

 

Anne Hathaway / Rihanna

BEST SEGMENT: The Legend of Mokiki and the Sloppy Swish

WORST SEGMENT: McDonald's Firing

BEST PERFORMER: Taran Killam / Anne Hathaway

FINAL VERDICT: average episode

 

Jeremy Renner / Maroon 5

BEST SEGMENT: Coroner

WORST SEGMENT: Booknotes

BEST PERFORMER: Jason Sudeikis

FINAL VERDICT: terrible episode

 

Jamie Foxx / Ne-Yo

BEST SEGMENT: Maine Justice

WORST SEGMENT: Bitch, What's the Answer?

BEST PERFORMER: Bobby Moynihan

FINAL VERDICT: very mixed episode (terrible first half, strong second half)

 

Martin Short / Paul McCartney

BEST SEGMENT: Monologue

WORST SEGMENT: (none)

BEST PERFORMER: Martin Short

FINAL VERDICT: great episode

 

Jennifer Lawrence / The Lumineers

BEST SEGMENT: Danielle

WORST SEGMENT: Monologue

BEST PERFORMER: Bobby Moynihan

FINAL VERDICT: forgettable episode

 

Adam Levine / Kendrick Lamar

BEST SEGMENT: Monologue

WORST SEGMENT: Circle Work

BEST PERFORMER: Andy Samberg

FINAL VERDICT: terrible episode

 

Justin Bieber

BEST SEGMENT: Bieber Decoys

WORST SEGMENT: Bravo TV Shows

BEST PERFORMER: Kenan Thompson

FINAL VERDICT: mediocre episode

 

Christoph Waltz / Alabama Shakes

BEST SEGMENT: Stranded Cruise

WORST SEGMENT: Regine

BEST PERFORMER: Taran Killam / Christoph Waltz / Cecily Strong

FINAL VERDICT: average episode

 

Kevin Hart / Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

BEST SEGMENT: Z-Shirt / Funeral

WORST SEGMENT: Steve Harvey

BEST PERFORMER: Tim Robinson

FINAL VERDICT: mediocre episode

 

Justin Timberlake

BEST SEGMENT: Monologue

WORST SEGMENT: She's Got a D!%k

BEST PERFORMER: Justin Timberlake / Bobby Moynihan / Vanessa Bayer

FINAL VERDICT: great episode

 

Melissa McCarthy / Phoenix

BEST SEGMENT: Outside the Lines

WORST SEGMENT: Kim Jong Un Address

BEST PERFORMER: Melissa McCarthy / Jason Sudeikis / Taran Killam

FINAL VERDICT: forgettable episode

 

Vince Vaughn / Miguel

BEST SEGMENT: Roundball Rock

WORST SEGMENT: Short Term Memory Loss Theater

BEST PERFORMER: Bill Hader

FINAL VERDICT: mediocre episode

 

Zach Galifianakis / Of Monsters And Men

BEST SEGMENT: Monologue

WORST SEGMENT: Match.com

BEST PERFORMER: Zach Galifianakis

FINAL VERDICT: good episode

 

Kristen Wiig / Vampire Weekend

BEST SEGMENT: Acupuncture

WORST SEGMENT: Garth & Kat

BEST PERFORMER: Aidy Bryant / Bobby Moynihan

FINAL VERDICT: terrible episode

 

Ben Affleck / Kanye West

BEST SEGMENT: Stefon's Farewell

WORST SEGMENT: New Beginnings Camp

BEST PERFORMER: Bill Hader / Ben Affleck

FINAL VERDICT: average episode

 

Overall Best Episodes

1. Martin Short / Paul McCartney

2. Justin Timberlake

3. Seth MacFarlane / Frank Ocean

 

Overall Worst Episodes

1. Jeremy Renner / Maroon 5

2. Kristen Wiig / Vampire Weekend

3. Adam Levine / Kendrick Lamar

 

Best Sketches (this doesn't include any of the short films; I have a separate category for that)

1. Maine Justice (the first installment)

2. Hypnotist

3. Puppetry Class

4. Roundball Rock

5. Ex-Porn Stars (the first installment)

6. Darrell's House

7. M&M Store

8. Bieber Decoys

9. Pandora Internet Radio

10. Outside the Lines

 

Worst Sketches

1. Regine

2. The Californians

3. Choreographer Jillian Chizz

4. Steve Harvey (the Kevin Hart installment)

5. Circle Work

6. The Lawrence Welk Show

7. Rodger Brush

8. Bitch, What's the Answer?

9. Mountain Pass

10. Short Term Memory Loss Theater

 

Best Hosts

1. Martin Short

2. Zach Galifianakis

3. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

 

Worst Hosts

1. Jeremy Renner

2. Adam Levine

3. Justin Bieber

 

Best Cold Openings

1. The Biden/Ryan VP Debate

2. The 2nd Obama/Romney Presidential Debate

3. Super Bowl Blackout

 

Worst Cold Openings

1. Booknotes

2. Kim Jong Un Address

3. Benghazi Hearings

 

Best Monologues

1. Zach Galifianakis

2. Martin Short

3. Louis C.K.

 

Worst Monologues

1. Jeremy Renner

2. Justin Bieber

3. Jamie Foxx

 

Best Commercials

1. Djesus Uncrossed

2. You're a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown

3. Lesser-Known Bond Girls

 

Worst Commercials

1. New Bravo Shows

2. She's Got a D!%k

3. Brad Pitt

 

Best Short Films

1. Lincoln

2. Sad Mouse

3. The Legend of Mokiki and the Sloppy Swish

 

Worst Short Films

1. Valentine's Day Message from Justin Bieber 

 

And that wraps up the 2012-13 season. Just one more thing before I end this review. This is difficult to say, but I might as well announce it now: next season will be my final season of reviewing. After 13 consecutive seasons of doing these SNL reviews, I've decided to retire from them after next year. I'll explain why in my season premiere review this fall. I will also be doing something special in each of my reviews next season to make my final season a significant one. Until then, have a great summer, everyone.