*** 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 re-posting 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 Jon Stewart/India.Arie episode (March 9, 2002). Here's the original review I wrote for the sketch:
SKETCH: News Media
- A lot of impressions in this sketch were good to see again, such as Parnell's Tom Brokaw, Darrell as both Dan Rather and Ted Koppel, and Ana's Helen Thomas.
- Seth's Stone Phillips wasn't as great as Rob Lowe's impression was.
- Jimmy actually doesn't to a half-bad Tom Brokaw voice.
- Tina breaking the fourth wall and mentioning she shouldn't be in a sketch was very clever. I noticed that Tina's been making appearances in sketches more frequently lately.
- It's about time SNL let's Jeff Richards do his great David Letterman impression on the show. I've been waiting and waiting for this to happen, and now they finally found the perfect opportunity to bring it in. And I love the way this sketch played up the rivalry between Letterman and Koppel.
- The ending was great.
- This was another in a recent trend of sketches that came so damn close to having the entire cast in it, but only 1 cast member was missing. The Dueling Bassists sketch from the Jack Black episode was only missing Amy, the Super Buzzers gameshow sketch from last week was only missing Jeff, and now this sketch was only missing Rachel.
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - CBC News Toronto
• Bobby was a given to play Rob Ford and he was hilarious in this sketch. I was already laughing out loud right from the first shot of him.
• I wonder if being married to a Canadian woman in real life (Cobie Smulders) made it easier for Taran to do a comically-exaggerated Canadian accent in this.
• The various press conference clips were all funny, especially the one with Bobby crashing over the podium and landing "on his little d***".
• The 60 Minutes portion was a good unexpected twist. Also, this is just a random observation, but Kate looked really good during that scene.
Monologue - Lady Gaga
• Well, that was certainly a unique and energetic entrance Gaga made onto the stage at the beginning.
• We've gone this far without having a traditional type of "song-and-danceologue" this season (I don't really count the Tina Fey monologue as one), and I guess it had to return sooner or later. I certainly can't say I'm thrilled to see it back.
• The portion with Gaga going into the audience was okay (although I'm curious as to why SNL doesn't use writers as fake audience members anymore these days), and her interaction with Bobby was the best part. The rest of this monologue was a total write-off.
Commercial - Paxil Second Term Strength
• An interesting and topical idea for a fake ad, but the result was kinda forgettable and didn't really have much to talk about.
• It felt kinda weird seeing Taran's John Boehner in a normal setting after that crazy "We Did Stop" music video from earlier this season.
• It took me several viewings of the Boehner portion of this commercial to figure out who that was playing the old-timey colonial guy yelling at Taran, before I realized it was Brooks Wheelan. At first, I actually thought it looked like Jason Sudeikis, though I knew it couldn't have been him for obvious reasons. This is the second time I've confused Wheelan for Sudeikis at first glance, which is strange since they don't really look anything alike.
Sketch - Waking Up with Kimye
• Oh, god. Everyone, please allow me to quote a statement I made earlier this season in my review of the Lady Gaga Talk Show sketch from the Bruce Willis episode: "Oh, great, just what SNL needed: yet another damn celebrity-hosted talk show sketch... How long until this one becomes recurring?"
• The format of this was at least slightly more unique than other recent celebrity talk show sketches, but this sketch still didn't produce many laughs overall.
• I always used to consider Jay's Kayne to be one of his weaker impressions, and although I still do think the voice needs work, Jay's impression of him has gotten a lot funnier and he gave an excellent performance in this sketch.
• This is now the third episode in a row where the lead-off sketch of the night has starred or co-starred Nasim. It's obvious that SNL has finally become aware of how badly underused Nasim had been and they seem to be trying to push her a little more now.
• Gaga's self-deprecating comment about how people shouldn't try too hard with their outfits had potential to be an okay joke, but it was ruined by Gaga milking her 'wink-wink'-type stare at the camera way too long.
Sketch/Commercial - Whaaat? The Worst Cover Songs of All Time
• The set-up of this with Taran reminded me a little of a sketch from 1997 where Will Ferrell played Dennis DeYoung of Styx advertising an album of career-ending songs from various singers. Funny thing is, that sketch was from an episode hosted by Nathan Lane, who Bobby played in this Cover Songs sketch.
• An okay sketch containing some laughs from each singing scene. My favorites were the Lil Wayne/Susan Boyle duet and Kenan as Rick Ross singing a hip-hop version of "Cups".
• While the Adele non-singing joke was funny, I still want to hear Aidy actually sing as Adele, because I've read several times before that Aidy can do a good impression of her.
• My only real complaints are that Taran wasn't really given any funny lines during his portions of the sketch, and Bobby's usually dead-on Nathan Lane voice sounded a bit off tonight, like he was just doing a stereotypical gay voice.
Weekend Update - Meyers & Strong, featuring Mr. Senior, Jebidiah Atkinson
• Best jokes: John Boehner/"No way to fix this", Maid Cafe
• Wow, the audience was actually subdued during the Seth/Cecily portions of tonight's Update, giving a lukewarm response to almost every joke. Not that I blame them; it's just unusual because the crowd always laughs out loud at every damn Update joke these days, no matter how good or bad the joke actually is. I miss the more honest, harder-to-please audiences of the Colin Quinn era, where the audience wasn't afraid to let Colin know when a joke sucked.
• I gotta say, I'm REEEEAAAALLLLLYYYY getting annoyed-as-hell by Seth and Cecily's habit of loudly laughing off-camera during the guest commentaries, as if they've never seen the commentaries before. It was bad enough when it was just Seth doing that the last few seasons (usually only when Kristen Wiig or Bobby would do a commentary); now that he's got Cecily doing the same thing, this just proves that Cecily is being molded into a female Seth clone, which really worries me and gives me very little hope for the future of Weekend Update. This is NOT the direction Update needs to be headed in.
• Mr. Senior... now here's a new Kenan character that I can already tell will eventually get run into the ground if/when they make him recurring. His debut tonight was okay, though. I personally agree with his general point about how ridiculous it is that Christmas celebrations seem to start earlier and earlier these days. And his pre-taped segment on the streets was a very welcome change of pace for an Update commentary. However, I can't help but feel that I would've enjoyed this whole commentary more if one of the newer cast members had played Kenan's role instead; I especially would've liked to see Kyle Mooney doing this.
• Speaking of the newer cast members, it's strange how Kenan's pre-taped segment was the first time we've seen anything of most of the newbies tonight. I really don't like how SNL has seemingly put the newbies on the backburner after the Bruce Willis episode. I know they're still new and everything, but the way SNL was utilizing them in the season premiere and the Willis episode was more of a step in the right direction. Why did SNL move away from that? The show seems almost AFRAID to use the newbies now.
• As soon as Taran showed up, I became interested and said to myself "Oh, this is gonna be good", as Taran's Update commentaries are usually always very funny and memorable (i.e. Marco Rubio). Tonight, he did not disappoint, as I loved his commentary as the old-timey speech critic. He gave a great performance and had lots of funny insults, particularly the "Lincoln log" comment, him asking "Too soon?", the whole Jesus review, and of course his hilarious ad-libbing after he accidentally misread one of his insults. The index card-throwing/"Next!" bits were funny, too, especially when one card hit him right back in the face after he threw it.
Sketch - Co-op Board
• This was nothing special overall, although it started out like it was going to be promising. It just never really took off, though.
• What's this? Kyle Mooney with actual LINES in a live sketch?!?! It's about damn time! While his role in this sketch was just a small supporting one, I'm pretty sure this was his first role with significant lines in a live sketch since his Bruce Chandling Weekend Update commentary all the way back in the season premiere.
• Speaking of Kyle, he and Aidy as the couple talking about lovemaking sounds was my favorite part of the sketch.
• Kenan's part as the low-key perv had potential, but like his Mr. Senior character, I would've found it much funnier if someone else played the role, because Kenan can't pull off "creepy" very well. Taran or Bobby, on the other hand, would've killed in this role.
• The ending came off kinda sloppy, especially with the weird way the camera zoomed out. And what was with the boom mic staying in the shot for so long at the beginning and end?
Sketch - Spotlightz!
• I was kinda surprised to see the return of Vanessa's child star character from that Scarlett Johansson sketch from 2010, although I remember reading that this character was supposed to return in an episode from last season (I think) but it got cut after dress.
• From what I remember of my review of the first sketch Vanessa played this character in, I liked her performance (and remember, this was early in Vanessa's first season and was one of the very first sketches she had a lead role in) and considered the sketch to be one of the few decent things in that otherwise-awful Scarlett Johansson episode.
• Tonight's installment was okay as well, although not quite as good this time and some scenes were more cute than funny. I did like how they got a lot more of the cast involved as the child actors this time, instead of having only Vanessa and the host play the child actors once again.
Film - Blockbuster
• This was a creative and well-put-together short, and one that was interesting to watch progress because you couldn't really tell beforehand where it was going to go.
• Not everything was laugh-out-loud funny (nor did it seem to be trying to), but I was able to appreciate the whole unique approach, style, and humor that this used.
Sketch - Talent Pageant
• I was very pleasantly surprised to see John Milhiser FINALLY getting a real lead role, which instantly made me interested in this sketch. You could argue that he had a co-starring role before in that Centaur sketch from the Bruce Willis episode, but at least this Talent Pageant sketch was one where you could actually see John's face for more than two measly seconds.
• This sketch turned out to be decent. While the premise was nothing new or creative, the performances and commitment from both Milhiser and Gaga really made this, along with some funny unexpected gags like the fake leg-bending bit.
• I can't believe SNL is still relying on the tired, overused "Kenan bug-eyed reaction shot" cutaway joke. Though I did like Aidy's reaction shot with her shaking her head and grimacing.
• Like the Centaur sketch, I'm assuming this sketch was also written by Milhiser himself, because as I said in my review of the Centaur sketch, I read several places before that Milhiser is supposedly very good at physical humor, which he certainly displayed in this sketch. Hopefully, his funny performance here will get him some notice and more airtime in the future, and will hopefully keep him from going the Paul Brittain/Rob Riggle route like so many have predicted.
Sketch - Lady Gaga in 2063
• I liked the premise of doing a futuristic sketch with an over-the-hill washed-up Lady Gaga, although this sketch is obviously something that would cater more to the hardcore Gaga fans watching. I still found enough humor here to make this sketch passable if nothing else.
• Kenan did okay as the straight man, especially when he assumed Gaga singing Bad Romance on the piano was just her having a stroke. But man, am I tired of seeing so much Kenan in this episode; it feels like he appeared in practically EVERY single sketch and so many of his roles would've been better suited to other performers.
• I kinda liked the sweet ending with Gaga, even though it, again, was pandering to her fans.
Commercial - Rosé Zone
• Nice premise, but the end result was nothing to write home about. There were a few chuckles, mostly from the reality show clips themselves, but this was really just a forgettable end-of-show filler piece.
• With tonight's episode, I think it's safe to say that Beck Bennett has officially replaced Bill Hader as SNL's resident voice-over guy, as he did a voice-over in pretty much half of the sketches tonight alone.
• Taran's Jebidiah Atkinson commentary on Weekend Update
• CBC News Toronto
• the Seth/Cecily portions of Weekend Update
• Waking Up with Kimye
Best Performer of the Night:
• Jay Pharoah
CAST MEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
BAYER: 5 sketches (Kimye, Co-op Board, Spotlightz, Talent, Rosé Zone)
BRYANT: 7 sketches (Monologue, Cover Songs, Update, Co-op Board, Blockbuster, Talent, Rosé Zone)
KILLAM: 7 sketches (Toronto, Paxil, Cover Songs, Update, Spotlightz, Blockbuster, Talent)
MCKINNON: 4 sketches (Toronto, Kimye, Cover Songs, Co-op Board)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 6 sketches (Toronto, Monologue, Kimye, Cover Songs, Blockbuster, Talent)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Kimye, Update, Co-op Board)
PHAROAH: 4 sketches (Toronto, Paxil, Kimye, Cover Songs)
STRONG: 5 sketches (Kimye, Cover Songs, Update, Co-op Board, Rosé Zone)
THOMPSON: 6 sketches (Monologue, Cover Songs, Update, Co-op Board, Talent, 2063)
BENNETT: 3 sketches (Update, Co-op Board, Blockbuster)
MILHISER: 3 sketches (Update, Blockbuster, Talent)
MOONEY: 3 sketches (Update, Co-op Board, Spotlightz)
O'BRIEN: 1 sketch (Blockbuster)
WELLS: 5 sketches (Kimye, Cover Songs, Update, Spotlightz, Blockbuster)
WHEELAN: 3 sketches (Paxil, Update, Blockbuster)
LADY GAGA: 8 sketches (Monologue, Kimye, Cover Songs, Co-op Board, Spotlightz, Blockbuster, Talent, 2063)