Edward Norton / Janelle Monae
October 26, 2013

*** 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 a sketch from the Ben Affleck/N.E.R.D. episode (March 13, 2004). Here's the original review I wrote for the sketch:


(SKETCH) Frondi's Gigli bashing


-- Fred's Frondi character and his Gigli insults.

-- Ben being a good sport for even allowing this sketch to be aired in the first place.

-- For some reason, I laughed at Parnell's high-pitched voice as the mentally-challenged guy.

-- The magazine covers ending (and did anyone notice the "Frondi vs. William Hung" article?).


-- None.

Grade: A





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

**** = Great

*** = Average

** = Meh

* = How'd this get past dress?


Cold Opening - A Message from Kathleen Sebelius

• I'm not really a fan of this type of "A Message from..." openings with one person talking to the camera; I usually find these forgettable. This particular one wasn't too great or too bad - just average. It did get a little better as it went along, though.

• Bobby stole the whole sketch as usual, by just walking on, smashing the monitor to pieces with just one hit, then giving a thumbs-up and leaving. Hilarious.

• The other good parts were the low-res website with "simpler fonts and graphics", the Kayak.com/Canada bit, the porn titles, and the live "freeze-frame" at the end.

Stars: ***


Monologue - Edward Norton

• I used to think Taran Killam and Edward Norton looked a lot alike, though I don't really see it much now that Edward is older-looking.

• The Chris Kattan joke was pretty funny.

• Alec Baldwin's cameo was a nice surprise and his various hosting tips to Edward were funny, although I think Edward was capable of carrying his own monologue. Loved all of the celebrity impressions Edward did here, especially his Woody Harrelson.

• Miley Cyrus' cameo, on the other hand, was an UNpleasant surprise. Has she just been sleeping inside the studio since she last hosted a few weeks ago or what? And did we really need to hear her announcing to her fans that she's going on tour? Isn't this supposed to be a comedy monologue?

• Minor nitpick: Alec said the first time he hosted was in 1991, but it was actually 1990.

Stars: ***


Commercial - Autumn's Eve Pumpkin Spice

• Wasn't too crazy about this, though it had its moments. But I'm just really burned-out on SNL's feminine hygiene product commercial parodies. Every time they do one nowadays, it always feels like a knock-off of something Tina Fey would've written.

• Some parts I did like were Taran's smile fading when he got a whiff of Aidy's pumpkin spice douche during her testimonial, and the part with Cecily and Aidy on the swing.

• This noticeably started dying down near the end, though they made it funny again with Kate's reaction to the peppermint douche.

Stars: **½


Sketch - Stranger Awareness

• I found Nasim's character in this funny for the first few seconds when I thought she was going to just be a supporting character. Then I soon realized she was going to be the main focus of the sketch, and the joke with her character being "all about candy" got old after a while. Not to mention it's just tiring seeing Nasim showcase yet another little kid character.

• Bobby was, once again, the funniest part of the sketch. I loved his line to Edward's character "Be a man and take responsibility for your child!"

• Something about Kenan's performance & delivery in this sketch reminded me a lot of his All That days.

• Strangely, John Milhiser in his normal look resembles Jon Cryer more than when he actually played Cryer a few weeks ago.

Stars: **½


Sketch - Steve Harvey

• I couldn't help but groan when this showed up. I'm beyond tired of Kenan's Steve Harvey "impression" and the last installment from the Kevin Hart episode was completely laughless. Tonight's installment was a very slight step up, but that's not saying much at all. There were still barely any laughs in this, but at least I did laugh, which is more than I can say for the Kevin Hart installment.

• Who was that you could hear loudly clearing their throat off-camera at the beginning when Kenan was talking? It wasn't an audience member, because the person was clearly miked.

• My only laughs came from Kenan's Steve describing his annual halloween routine, and the names he came up with for killer cereals ("Jeffrey Dahmer Toast Crunch", "John Wayne Gacy Grahams").

• Why does it seem like whenever Kyle Mooney is in a live sketch, he never has any lines? Though the sight of him wearing a blood-drenched cereal box and holding up a knife made me chuckle.



Commercial - The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders

• A very well-done and dead-on Wes Anderson parody, with some good laughs and lots of nice attention to detail.

• Some of the highlights include Edward's impression of Owen Wilson, the bit with Kate's Tilda Swinton getting stabbed, and the newspaper reviews.

Stars: ****


Sketch - Critter Control

• I was surprised to see Brooks Wheelan playing an actual "character"; I thought he would be one of those cast members who basically plays himself in every role. His acting in this sketch was kinda strange, but I have to admit that he did make me laugh. Hell, even the way he looked made me chuckle.

• The sketch itself was strange, too; so strange, that I don't really know what to make of it at all. I can't help but wonder if Tim Robinson wrote this.

• There were still some positives, though. Edward did a very good job blending into character here, the camera angle from inside the vent was a unique touch that you don't usually see on the show, and Beck Bennett had a funny line when he said he wants to stay and see how this turns out. I also laughed at Beck's horrified facial reaction during one part.

Stars: **


Sketch - Hank the Numbers Savant

• Rain Man is my personal favorite movie of all-time, so this sketch definitely piqued my interest as soon as Edward walked in. I didn't really mind that SNL was doing a parody of the film 25 years after it originally came out.

• Edward did a dead-on Rain Man impression, right down to the hand movements. He even facially looked a lot like him, although when you think about it, Edward and Dustin Hoffman do share a bit of a resemblance in general.

• The sketch itself had a promising idea and did contain a few laughs such as Edward counting the cups instead of the jellybeans. But overall, the sketch felt very underwritten and had potential to go much farther than it did. The abrupt ending was especially disappointing.

• What was with Mike O'Brien cracking up after Kenan messed up the "Bumblebee" line?

Stars: **½


Weekend Update - Meyers & Strong, featuring Anthony Crispino

• Best jokes: Chris Christie drops challenge, new subway cars

• Wow, Seth really butchered that intro to Anthony Crispino.

• The Anthony Crispino commentary was the usual routine as always and he didn't have any news bits that I found particularly funny tonight, but these are always made entertaining by Bobby's performance and the fact that you can tell he and Seth are having a lot of fun with it. However, I'm not quite sure how to feel about the gag they've been doing with him lately where his voice gets comically higher-and-higher pitched when saying "I'm pretty sure..."; I still think that's too silly for its own good.

• Am I crazy, or has that "Florida state flag" punchline been used on Update multiple times before by Seth? I swear I heard him use that same punchline before.

• A thankfully-short Update tonight, which is one of the few positive things about it.

Stars: **


Sketch - 12 Days Not a Slave

• Similar to my comment about Brooks Wheelan in the Critter Control sketch, I was surprised to see Jay starring in a non-impression lead role. And even more surprisingly, he did a decent job here.

• The sketch itself seemed like it was going to be very interesting at first, but it never really took off. The overall result was just forgettable.

• The two best parts were Aidy's "These have been the best 12 days of my life" line and the cutaways to Taran's angry scowl.

• Miley cameo #2 was just as unnecessary as Miley cameo #1.

Stars: **½


Sketch - Restaurant Virgins

• This sketch had very weak writing that was salvaged only slightly by some of the performances, particularly Edward's.

• For the second sketch in a row, Aidy was the best part. She always does a very good job in "voice of reason" roles like the one she played in this sketch, and some of her reactions/lines made me laugh.

• I also laughed at the "turn-of-the-century southern woman" bit with Aidy questioning if Mike O'Brien's gay and Mike acting like he was about to beat her up.

• Did they just have Beck Bennett keep on the same suit he had in the Critter Control sketch? They might as well have, since he played the same type of role in both sketches. However, I did like the part with him asking if he could move to a different table far away from the waiters. But I'm disappointed that these were Beck's only two appearances of the night. They really wasted him and Kyle Mooney tonight.



Sketch - Halloween Candy

• I wonder if this was written by the same person who wrote that memorable Christmas Tree Ornaments sketch with Steve Buscemi, since both sketches are in the same vein and have a similar structure.

• While this paled in comparison to the Buscemi sketch, I still enjoyed this a lot. Edward gave a very fun performance and had lots of funny little comments throughout. I especially liked his "Now who's in control?", razor blades, and Klondike bar comments.

• At first, I thought Bobby was playing the same character he played in that Justin Bieber Valentine's Message short, but he had a different name in that one and wore glasses.

Stars: ****


I guess they had to cut a sketch at the last minute, as they returned from commercial only to show the SNL Band playing for a few seconds before going back to another commercial break. It's always so awkward when they do that.




Episode Highlights:

• The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders

• Halloween Candy


Episode Lowlights:

• Steve Harvey

• Restaurant Virgins


Best Performer of the Night:

• Edward Norton / Aidy Bryant



BAYER: 2 sketches (Autumn's Eve, Not a Slave)

BRYANT: 6 sketches (Autumn's Eve, Stranger Awareness, Steve Harvey, Not a Slave, Restaurant, Candy)

KILLAM: 3 sketches (Autumn's Eve, Numbers Savant, Not a Slave)

MCKINNON: 6 sketches (Kathleen Sebelius, Autumn's Eve, Stranger Awareness, Midnight Coterie, Critter Control, Not a Slave)

MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)

MOYNIHAN: 6 sketches (Kathleen Sebelius, Stranger Awareness, Numbers Savant, Update, Not a Slave, Candy)

PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Stranger Awareness, Midnight Coterie, Restaurant)

PHAROAH: 3 sketches (Midnight Coterie, Critter Control, Not a Slave)

STRONG: 5 sketches (Autumn's Eve, Midnight Coterie, Critter Control, Update, Restaurant)

THOMPSON: 3 sketches (Stranger Awareness, Steve Harvey, Numbers Savant)


BENNETT: 2 sketches (Critter Control, Restaurant)

MILHISER: 3 sketches (Stranger Awareness, Steve Harvey, Midnight Coterie)

MOONEY: 2 sketches (Steve Harvey, Midnight Coterie)

O'BRIEN: 3 sketches (Midnight Coterie, Numbers Savant, Restaurant)

WELLS: 4 sketches (Stranger Awareness, Steve Harvey, Midnight Coterie, Critter Control)

WHEELAN: 1 sketch (Critter Control)


EDWARD NORTON: 9 sketches (Monologue, Stranger Awareness, Steve Harvey, Midnight Coterie, Critter Control, Numbers Savant, Not a Slave, Restaurant, Candy)