*** Stooge's Look-Back Sketch Review of the Week ***
Since this is my final year of doing SNL reviews after 14 long consecutive seasons, I'll be starting each of my reviews this season with a special "look back" on one of my all-time favorite sketches from the seasons that I've reviewed, by reposting the original review I wrote for the selected sketch back when it originally aired.
Tonight's look back will be at an installment of a certain very popular recurring sketch, from the Lucy Liu/Jay-Z episode (December 16, 2000), which is one of the earliest episodes I ever reviewed. Here's the original review I wrote for the sketch:
SKETCH: Celebrity Jeopardy:
- Yes, a CJ sketch! I always love these. I know
some people here think SNL does this sketch too much,
be c'mon, they only twice a year.
- Jimmy's Robin Williams impression was hilarious and
almost dead-on, but, like most of his impressions, he
didn't look a damn thing like him, but he sounded and
acted just like him.
- I'm not sure how accurate Lucy's Catherine
Zeta-Jones impression was since I've never saw her
- Darrell's Connery is still funny, like when he
messes up the titles (The Penis Mightier, Ape Tit,
Famous Tities, and our new one today, Anal Bum Cover)
and his always making fun of Trebek's mother, but he
always plays Connery. I think the only other person
he played on CJ was Phil Donahue. They have to give
him some other people to do, because there is hardly
anybody he can't imitate perfectly (John Travolta and
William Shatner being the exceptions).
- Will's Alex Trebek is always welcome, but it isn't
an accurate impression at all.
- Did anybody notice that after Will read off the
"Make Any Noise" title, somebody in the audience made
a "yeee" noise?
- The part where Sean Connery called Robin Williams
"Legally retarted" was hilarious.
- You could tell that Jimmy's hand with a pen sticking
through it was fake since you could see his real hand
holding the fake hand in his sleeve.
- Your usual excellent Celebrity Jeopardy. I'm glad
they brought this back.
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - NASA Shutdown
• A very random way to open up the show. I'm all for deviating from the more traditional type of political cold openings and it's nice that we've gotten two weeks in a row of that deviation, but I don't think it paid off tonight (or last week, either, for that matter).
• The idea behind this was okay, but I wasn't crazy about the overall result, despite a few funny lines from Kenan and Kate (i.e. "neither can congress"). Taran's random "erotic asphyxiation" line made me laugh, too. But as a whole, I didn't find this cold opening to be interesting.
Monologue - Bruce Willis
• Didn't care for that "six Die Hards" joke at the beginning, and Bruce's awkward delivery of it didn't help.
• Bobby Moynihan was his usual reliable self here and helped keep this otherwise dull monologue watchable. The harmonica stuff with Bruce was exactly the type of thing I was expecting beforehand, but at least they injected some comedy here with the Bobby portions, unlike Bruce's last monologue from 1989 where there were no jokes; it was just him singing a blues song & playing harmonica with G.E. Smith & the SNL Band.
• My favorite bit with Bobby here was him breathing in and out into the harmonica and then we find out he's just hyperventilating.
Commercial - 24-hour Energy for Dating Actresses
• This mostly just seemed like an excuse for the female cast members to overact.
• I "get" the relatable slice-of-life aspect this was going for, but it just wasn't all that funny and didn't entertain me much. I did find a few bits okay here-and-there, mainly the part with Cecily and Jay onstage.
• The comedians bit at the end with Kyle Mooney made me laugh, too, although he already seems to be getting typecast as bad comedian characters.
• Was that Beck Bennett doing the voice-over for this ad? It sounded like him at parts, but I'm not 100% sure. It most likely was him, though; a lot of people on the boards predicted before the season started that he'd be the new go-to guy for voice-overs any time a sketch/commercial calls for one (in the same vein of Bill Hader, Chris Parnell, and Phil Hartman) as he has a natural professional-sounding voice that's PERFECT for announcing.
Sketch - Black Ops
• And speaking of Beck Bennett, here he is in the type of utility/leader role that I knew he'd also be PERFECT for. It may have just been a thankless straightman part, but he did a solid job leading this sketch and I noticed something interesting: he actually faced the direction of each performer he delivered his lines to and he made eye contact with them. You don't see that on the show often; usually, even when the performers don't seem to be reading their lines off the cue cards, they're almost always facing directly towards the cue cards regardless of where the performer they're talking to is standing (from what I understand, they're told to do that).
• As for this sketch itself, it was decent. They nailed practically every action movie cliche that's out there, and the performers' reactions to Bruce's stories made this funny, especially Bobby's overexcitement.
• When I first saw Brooks Wheelan sitting in the background here, I thought that was Jason Sudeikis for a second. It was something about the look on Brooks' face and the way he looked in that hat.
• Couldn't they have given Mike O'Brien and Kyle Mooney a line? They were both just silently sitting there during the whole sketch. In fact, I didn't even notice Kyle was in this until rewatching the sketch just now.
• For some reason, the way Beck ran at the end amused me.
Sketch - The Ol' Barbershop
• Could Jay's imitation of Eddie Murphy's barber character from "Coming to America" been any MORE blatant? That being said, he did make me laugh in this sketch, and I enjoyed all of the conversations between him and Kenan.
• I also laughed at how Kenan wasn't even trying to pretend to cut the old guy's hair and was just miming the whole haircut.
• Just the way Bobby looked in that short blond wig made me chuckle.
• I've spent my review of this sketch so far talking about only Jay, Kenan, and Bobby because they were the only ones keeping the sketch interesting. Bruce was intended to be the main comedic focus, but quite frankly, he was not funny here and his delivery was TERRIBLE; I could barely even hear some of the stuff he was saying.
• Also, I'm getting tired of sketches like this where there's a group of people who all talk the same way except for the character played by the host, and the joke is that the host's character throws the conversations off by being bad at following the rhythm (i.e. that Construction Workers sketch with Daniel Craig).
• I don't understand the gag at the end where it was casually revealed that Bobby's a prisoner wearing an orange jumpsuit. Did Bruce screw up that reveal? It seemed like he was supposed to take Bobby's robe off earlier, but missed his cue and didn't realize it until right as he was about to leave. He totally fucked up that joke, didn't he? And he also seemed to screw up the Sheryl Crow bit afterwards. And did Jay screw up afterwards, too, when talking about his son? What a mess; nothing about the ending of this sketch made sense. I get the feeling they'll be showing the dress version of this in reruns.
Miscellaneous - Boy Dance Party
• Holy hell, this absolutely slayed me. Fucking hilarious. I had to keep rewinding this over and over again because there were so many quick funny little parts that I couldn't catch them all in one viewing. This was a great video and very well-put together.
• I don't even know where to begin in listing the funniest moments, but I will say my biggest laugh probably came from the "Shake That Sack" part. I also love how when the guys were all standing in frozen poses when Vanessa briefly returned, Taran was still spraying silly string on Bobby.
• The dancing from everyone was, of course, funny; I especially liked Beck Bennett's dancing. Who knew the guy from the AT&T commercials could twerk like that?
• I also want to add that the song was actually very catchy and got stuck in my head for quite a long time afterwards.
• Only thing I didn't care for was the ending with Vanessa getting scared by the neon football guy, which I felt was a lame way to end this.
Sketch - The Lady Gaga Show
• Oh, great, just what SNL needed: yet another damn celebrity-hosted talk show sketch... How long until this one becomes recurring?
• Vanessa's Gaga impression was not good AT ALL. The voice wasn't even close. Did you notice that at some points, she actually sounded like she was doing her Jacob voice with that staccato manner of speaking? Vanessa came off as very poorly miscast here. She's the last female in this current cast that I would've expected to play Gaga... well, second-last. Aidy would be the last, for obvious reasons. But anyway, why couldn't they have gotten, say, Nasim to play this role? Nasim looks the closest to Gaga out of this female cast, and at least it would've given her some much-needed airtime. But I'd say Noel Wells probably would've been the most suitable choice for the role, as she can do an impression of seemingly anyone.
• The sketch itself was as bad as expected; I found this really boring. My only real laughs came from Taran as the DJ and Aidy's reaction to her bizarre makeover. Bruce had his moments as Michael Kors as well, and at least it was refreshing seeing him in a role that was completely different from most of the stuff he did tonight.
• The segment with Kate as Penelope Cruz was a waste. What was with recycling the EXACT SAME joke from that old sketch Kate's Cruz was in with Sofia Vergara (which was actually from Kate's very first episode)? Is there no other aspect to Kate's Cruz impression besides the 'mispronouncing ingredients' routine?
• The way everybody got up and danced robotically at the end when the theme song was played kinda reminded me of how the Sprockets sketches always ended.
Weekend Update - Meyers & Strong, featuring Chaplain Barry Black, Brooks Wheelan
• Best jokes: sexual harassment suit, scientific inaccuracies, various Jenner divorce jokes (especially the "comedy/tragedy masks" one)
• Kenan's commentary was typical Kenan stuff. Didn't care for this at all, except for the rowboat/psych bit which was funny, I admit. But honestly, we have all these new cast members this season, yet we have to watch Kenan continue to do his tired Update schtick in a commentary that felt no different from anything else he's done on Update over the last 10 years??? And is it just me, or does it seem like Kenan's getting more airtime than EVER this season? Many of us were hoping that they'd be phasing Kenan out this season by barely giving him anything to do (just like what happened with Fred last season); instead, the opposite has happened - they now seem to be treating Kenan as the star "go-to" guy of the show. They've been putting him in EVERYTHING and giving him lots of important roles that utility guys/alpha males in the cast usually get.
• The multiple back-and-forth Jenner divorce jokes between Seth and Cecily was a fun throwback to when Seth used to do that when Amy Poehler was his co-anchor.
• Over the summer when I heard that Brooks Wheelan was joining the cast, I did some research and when I found out he's just a stand-up comedian with no acting or improv experience at all, I thought to myself "Then what kind of stuff is he gonna do on SNL???" The only thing I was able to picture him doing on SNL was frequent Update commentaries as himself where he does his stand-up. And now, it's finally happened tonight. You can bet that we'll be seeing many more stand-up commentaries from Brooks throughout the season. It feels refreshing having a cast member do a commentary as themselves for what feels like the first time in several years.
• Brooks did a decent job here. His commentary wasn't anything outrageously hilarious or anything, but it was enjoyable and contained enough good chuckles. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing more commentaries from this guy in the future.
• By the way, Brooks' commentary proved that that really WAS him playing Uncle Sam in last week's We Did Stop short like I speculated in my review. There were a few parts in that short where they showed "Uncle Sam" wearing a wifebeater and I noticed he had the exact same "Anthony Kiedis tribal stamp" on his left arm that Brooks showed in his Update commentary tonight.
• While we're still on the subject of Brooks Wheelan (wow, I can't believe I have so much stuff to say about him), some people seem to think that SNL might be grooming him to take over Seth's place on Update, but honestly, I don't see that happening AT ALL. Brooks does not have the right voice, look, or delivery for Update anchor; I just can't picture him in a suit sitting behind the desk telling news story jokes. Besides, didn't the news articles that announced Cecily as Seth's new co-anchor state that the plan at SNL is for Cecily to anchor Update alone after Seth leaves?
Sketch - Kirby's Lil' Kitty Cat
• Oh, noooo... Many people on the SNL boards, including me, were afraid they'd eventually bring back this character of Bobby's. Last time this character appeared, I didn't get what was supposed to be so funny and the whole sketch just came off to me as very idiotic. This time around... my feelings haven't changed a bit, as I also found this installment to be idiotic rather than funny, and Bobby's character still remains annoying to me.
• It also didn't help that they changed next-to-nothing about the script; there was very little difference between this and the first installment aside from 1) this one being based on "Armageddon" instead of "Aliens", and 2) Bobby's character seemed a little less "lost in his own world" and a little more aware of his surroundings (i.e. him admitting he's banging Bruce's daughter, which gave me my only chuckle of the whole sketch). Couldn't they have at least changed Bobby's obsession to something else this time, instead of him obsessing over his "lil' kitty cat" once again?
• Last time they did this sketch, I remember saying that Bobby almost seemed to be intentionally channeling Chris Farley, and that this was a character I could picture Farley himself playing in his later seasons (93-94 and 94-95). I still kinda feel that way, although not quite as much this time. But Bobby's delivery of some lines in tonight's installment sounded SO similar to Farley's voice that it was eerie, particularly the way he said "Oh, you can tell her yourself".
Sketch - Centauri Vodka Launch Party
• Kinda weird seeing Bobby play a perfectly normal character immediately after watching the preceding Lil' Kitty Cat sketch.
• Is Mike O'Brien ever going to get any actual FUNNY roles?
• This was a nice original premise that felt very welcome tonight after sitting through so many tired sketches that came off too "same-old same-old".
• The physical comedy here was funny and I'm assuming this sketch was written by John Milhiser himself, since I remember reading several places before that he's supposedly very good at physical humor. It's good to see SNL finally starting to showcase this guy.
• The random shot of Beck as Vin Diesel staring at a wall was hilarious! I loved the confused look on his face.
• Why did the sketch just... end? The ending came off very abrupt and made the sketch feel unfinished. I was expecting more.
Sketch - Protective Chun... Uh, I Mean, Son
• Geez, first we get the unneccesary return of Bobby's "I miss my lil' kitty cat" guy, now we get a second installment of Taran's "Glice" sketch? Oh, dear God...
• The first time they did the sketch last season, I didn't completely hate it. Despite the bad writing and one-note "glice" stuff, I remember praising Taran's performance in my review and raving about how much he reminded me of Will Ferrell in it. But that certainly didn't mean I wanted to see the sketch made recurring by any means. Hell no. And if they HAD to make this recurring, they needed to do more than just replace the word "glice" with the even-less-funny word "chun".
• Taran still gave an amusing performance in tonight's installment, and as always, he did his best with the material. But the repetitive "chun" stuff was just awful. Do they REALLY think it's a good idea to base the main joke of an entire 5-minute sketch on an unfunny word slip-up like "glice" and "chun"? What the hell's supposed to be so funny about that?
• This at least took an interesting turn with Bruce's character losing his temper and roughing up Taran, followed by Taran breaking down afterwards. I also liked Taran's line about how Bruce looks like he would take care of him if he were "trapped inside a Japanese-named office building". See, there's a decent sketch in there somewhere if only the writers would take out the stupid "glice/chun" nonsense.
• Interesting how they wrote off Jason Sudeikis' dad character from the first installment instead of simply getting another performer to play the same role.
• Kudos to Bruce for being able to keep a straight face when Taran was obviously trying to crack him up at some points, like he did to Bieber in the first installment.
Film - Sigma
• Did anyone else notice that at the very beginning, it sounded like the SNL Band started prematurely playing the show to commercial before abruptly stopping?
• Oh, I loved this short. The jokes were funny and came rapid-fire one after the other, and I could not stop laughing, especially during the "chug chug chug" and custom baseball card parts.
• And of course, it goes without saying that Beck and Kyle worked great together as a team here as the frathouse leaders. I like how they both had deadpan, emotionless facial expressions while saying all of those rapid-fire ridiculous things. I also laughed at the way Kyle's delivered his lines. I know some people find Kyle's naturally-odd delivery a little off-putting, but personally it always cracks me up.
• Much like the Boy Dance Party short from earlier this episode, the only part of this short that I didn't like was the ending with Beck and Kyle admitting they weren't listening; I felt that was a weak punchline.
• Overall, this was even better than last week's Good Neighbor short, which is saying something because I liked that one a lot, too. Though I do have to admit I was a bit too generous in my rating of last week's short. I still stand by my opinion that it was a funny short, but giving it a four-star rating WAS a bit much. I think I was just really excited to see the Good Neighbor shorts make their SNL debut because I love their online work, and I guess that biased my rating a little bit. I do think tonight's Good Neighbor short deserves a high rating, though.
Commercial - eMeth
• Rerun. I'm surprised they still left Aaron Paul's cameo at the end intact.
• Boy Dance Party
• Kirby's Lil' Kitty Cat
• The Lady Gaga Show
• Protective Son (a.k.a. the 'glice/chun' sketch)
• Bruce's performance in The Ol' Barbershop
Best Performer of the Night:
• Bobby Moynihan (minus the Lil' Kitty Cat sketch)
CAST MEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
BAYER: 4 sketches (24-hour Energy, Boy Dance Party, Lady Gaga, Protective Son)
BRYANT: 3 sketches (Boy Dance Party, Lady Gaga, Centauri Vodka)
KILLAM: 7 sketches (NASA Shutdown, 24-hour Energy, Black Ops, Boy Dance Party, Lady Gaga, Kirby, Protective Son)
MCKINNON: 4 sketches (NASA Shutdown, 24-hour Energy, Boy Dance Party, Lady Gaga)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 6 sketches (Monologue, Black Ops, Barbershop, Boy Dance Party, Kirby, Centauri Vodka)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Boy Dance Party, Centauri Vodka, Protective Son)
PHAROAH: 5 sketches (24-hour Energy, Black Ops, Barbershop, Boy Dance Party, Sigma)
STRONG: 4 sketches (NASA Shutdown, 24-hour Energy, Update, Centauri Vodka)
THOMPSON: 7 sketches (NASA Shutdown, 24-hour Energy, Black Ops, Barbershop, Boy Dance Party, Update, Kirby)
BENNETT: 5 sketches (Black Ops, Boy Dance Party, Kirby, Centauri Vodka, Sigma)
MILHISER: 3 sketches (24-hour Energy, Centauri Vodka, Sigma)
MOONEY: 3 sketches (24-hour Energy, Black Ops, Sigma)
O'BRIEN: 3 sketches (24-hour Energy, Black Ops, Centauri Vodka)
WELLS: 2 sketches (24-hour Energy, Centauri Vodka)
WHEELAN: 3 sketches (24-hour Energy, Black Ops, Update)
BRUCE WILLIS: 8 sketches (Monologue, Black Ops, Barbershop, Boy Dance Party, Lady Gaga, Kirby, Centauri Vodka, Protective Son)