John Goodman / Kings of Leon
December 14, 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 re-posting the original review I wrote for the selected sketch back when it originally aired.


Tonight's look back will be at the monologue from the Zach Galifianakis/Jessie J episode (March 12, 2011). Here's the original review I wrote for the monologue:


Monologue - Zach Galifianakis

• Zach’s first monologue from last season was absolutely classic and I was wondering if he could top that tonight... he managed to do so with flying colors. This monologue was an absolute fucking riot from beginning to end; by far, the funniest monologue of the season!

• Among the many highlights were the Axe/Ask Body Spray racist joke, Zach trying out several characters, and of course the entire lip-synched Annie bit with the various messages on the easel. And the way Zach kept licking his hand before tearing off each paper was a funny little touch that kept cracking me up.

• Great callback at the end to his last monologue with the “Hoobastank is here!” reference.

Stars: *****





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

**** = Great

*** = Average

** = Meh

* = How'd this get past dress?


A MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA: A predictable approach to tonight's obligatory parody of the infamous Mandela sign language interpreter, but this opening still worked for the most part. Despite the fact that this relied on Kenan hamming it up (usually a recipe for disaster), this surprisingly wasn't terrible and there were a couple of laughs here, especially from the part with Kenan doing the Thriller dance. However, I couldn't help but feel that the whole premise was basically the same joke as that cold opening from last season where Cecily played Mayor Bloomberg's sign language interpreter. Also, why do the new male cast members this season keep getting cast as security guards in quick walk-on appearances? It feels like almost every episode this season has had a sketch where two of the new guys play security guards dragging someone off-stage. ***


MONOLOGUE: Wasn't too thrilled that they wasted Goodman's long-awaited SNL return with another tired song-and-danceologue... and one that co-starred Kenan, no less. There's already been way too much Kenan so far tonight, and we're only 7 minutes into the episode! Little did I know at the time that this was just the beginning of tonight's "Kenan Thompson Overexposure Extravaganza". Also, just a minor nitpick, but Goodman stated that he hosted SNL every year from 1989-2001... I don't know if he meant every season or every calendar year, but either way, he was incorrect. Calendar year-wise, he didn't host in 1991, and season-wise, he didn't host in the 2000-01 season. Anyway, I didn't find the song in this monologue all that funny and I got bored with it halfway through. Of all the monologues they could've done for Goodman's big SNL comeback, THIS is what we got? **


GUY FIERI'S FULL THROTTLE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: It feels like it's been a while since Bobby last played Guy Fieri. This commercial was decent, with some pretty funny impressions throughout. The duet with Goodman and McKinnon was especially good; Kate cracked me up during that. It took me a while to figure out who was playing Kid Rock, before I realized it was Brooks Wheelan. For some reason, I always seem to have a hard time recognizing Brooks in sketches... maybe because he rarely ever appears in them. Speaking of him as Kid Rock, was one of his lines muted out, or was that just a glitch on my local NBC affiliate? I noticed throughout the commercial that you could see Noel Wells playing who appeared to be Reba McEntire (at first, I thought that was actually Nasim playing Kathy Griffin), but they didn't give her any lines or even say who she was playing. Did they make some last-minute cuts to this commercial or something? ***


DANCE OF THE SNOWFLAKES: A very strange choice for first sketch of the night. I didn't really know where this sketch was headed at first, but it ended up getting better as it went along. There were several funny lines, mostly from Kenan surprisingly. And it was interesting and unique seeing a sketch where the dialogue consisted entirely of pre-taped thought voice-overs. However, I HATED the ending. I certainly don't mind SNL occasionally going for heart-warming happy moments - especially during the holidays, but it just didn't fit this particular sketch and it felt like the whole sketch was leading up to a funnier conclusion than that. And no, Kenan yelling "My boner's back!" afterwards wasn't enough to save the ending, either. **½


THREE WISE GUYS: Well, it was certainly a nice surprise at first seeing Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro there... Uh, wait. Correction: it was certainly a nice surprise at first seeing Sylvester Stallone there. DeNiro, on the other hand, needs to stay the hell away from live TV permanently. Anyway, after the novelty of seeing Stallone, Goodman, and DeNiro on-camera together quickly wore off, there was nothing left. NOTHING. The sketch itself was terrible, boring as hell, and felt like it dragged on forever. The slow pacing and the sluggish delivery from everyone didn't help; even the funny camel-toe line was ruined by weak delivery. And hey - it's great to see that DeNiro is still just as painfully awkward at performing sketch comedy as he always was! I love how we had to wait half a damn minute for him to squint and read the word "frankincense" off the cue card. It looked like Goodman was wearing the same purple track suit that Tracy Morgan wore when he cameod in Al Sharpton's 2003 monologue... which is funny because that same episode also had a Three Wise Men sketch, and from what I remember, that sketch featured much clever writing than tonight's did. *


WEEKEND UPDATE: Best jokes - Bush/Shows latest paintings, Ambulance bill. I usually always find myself bored during most of Kenan's Update commentaries, and his Santa commentary tonight was no exception. Though at least he played a low-key character here compared to his usual stuff and I do admit the Atlanta joke was okay, but I still didn't care for most of this. Drunk Uncle predictably made an appearance tonight, though I was beginning to think he wouldn't when I remembered that he already did a commentary about Christmas a couple of seasons ago (I think he even wore the same reindeer horns back then that he wore tonight). I constantly go back-and-forth on my opinion of Drunk Uncle, but I think I've finally come to accept him. My problem before wasn't ever really with him, but more with how long his commentaries would always go on. But the length doesn't really bother me anymore. He always has his share of funny comments each time he appears (like his racist "Black Friday" comment tonight), and as long as they don't use him TOO frequently, I don't mind him showing up. John Goodman coming on as a relative of Drunk Uncle's was a given. Goodman performed fine here, but his appearance just kinda came and went without anything noteworthy really happening. They could've done more with him. **½


TOO HOT: A pretty good sketch, and featured a funny performance from Goodman. Seeing him dressed like that brought back memories of his Linda Tripp. Anyway, Taran was an excellent straight man and managed to get plenty of laughs of his own with all of his reactions. And Beck's dancing at the end was hilarious. ***


SHALLON: I should've known this character of Nasim's would be brought back... and of course, it's in the exact same setting and follows the same basic joke from the first installment, even down to rewriting the bit from last time where Bobby angrily told Edward Norton "Be a man and take responsibility for your child!" (only his line tonight wasn't as funny and came off forced). I already didn't care for the first installment, and this second one was even worse. The studio audience apparently agreed with me, as not even they could seem to get behind this installment much. I also didn't care for Goodman's performance; to me, he came off disinterested and he didn't seem into this sketch at all (not that I blame him). The only genuine laugh of tonight's sketch was Aidy randomly saying she'll hide in a dry cleaning bag. What was with that part where the camera cut over to John Milhiser as if he was supposed to say something, but he just sat there silently for a long time, then when Pedrad started saying her next line off-camera, Milhiser finally began to say something but quickly cut himself off. Strange. I wonder what happened there.


HALLMARK HOLIDAY COUNTDOWN: A strange filler segment, and it always feels unusual to me whenever SNL does a fake ad that features no performers at all. There were a few chuckle-worthy movie titles here, but not anything worth noting. **


THE CHRISTMAS WHISTLE: Another strange sketch, and one that's kinda hard to review. This seemed like it was going to go somewhere very interesting, but I wasn't too crazy about the direction it ended up taking for the most part. This wasn't really bad, but also had potential to be much funnier. I did like Bobby as the voice of the angry downstairs neighbor; something about Bobby playing unseen characters yelling from off-camera always seems to crack me up (i.e. that Acupuncture sketch from last season's Kristen Wiig episode). Anyway, this sketch picked up a little with the twist at the end. Taran made a funny appearance, and I loved the voice he used. Also, I don't know if this was intentional or not, but at the end when Nasim disgustedly let go of the whistle after Kate told her it was in Taran's mouth, it looked like the whistle fell right into the candy dish on the table, which gave me a chuckle. **½


H&M: I think SNL is starting to go to the "music video" well a little too often this season, as this H&M one wasn't all that funny. It had its moments here and there like Goodman straining to put on those tiny jeans and the shot of Kyle Mooney wearing a live puppy over his shoulders. But as a whole, this video never really clicked and felt kinda forced, as if SNL thinks that any music video they do will automatically become a viral hit. Sorry, SNL, but this one couldn't hold a candle to "We Did Stop" or "Boy Dance Party". But then again, I'm starting to think that even SNL knew tonight's music video was below par, considering they put it on so late in the episode. I couldn't help but notice in that wig and with that old-school 8-ball jacket, Jay looked like early 90's Fresh Prince-era Will Smith. **


LAST CALL: Last time they did this sketch in the Vince Vaughn episode, I was of the opinion that they shouldn't have made it recurring and that it would've been better if they had just left it as a funny one-off sketch with Louis C.K. However, I didn't mind tonight's third installment, and it was a decent ending to an otherwise bland and boring episode (the words "bland" and "boring" could also be used to describe this season as a whole so far, BTW). Goodman played off of McKinnon far better than Vince Vaughn did, and Goodman and McKinnon both had several funny non-sequitur lines throughout. Their disgusting actions were pretty funny, too, and I give them both credit for going all out. But can't SNL at least have a different cast member play the bartender in each installment instead of it always being Kenan each time? I'm not just saying that because I'm beyond tired of SNL's over-reliance on the all-too-familiar "cut to Kenan reaction shot" gag, but also because I'm tired of seeing so much Kenan tonight PERIOD. They were already relying on him way too much this season in general, but that went into friggin overdrive tonight - it felt like he had a major role in literally EVERY SINGLE SKETCH in this episode. ***




Episode Highlights:

• Too Hot

• Last Call


Episode Lowlights:

• Three Wise Guys

• Shallon

• Monologue

• H&M


Best Performer of the Night:

• Kate McKinnon



BAYER: 1 sketch (Snowflakes)

BRYANT: 4 sketches (Guy Fieri, Snowflakes, Shallon, Christmas Whistle)

KILLAM: 4 sketches (Guy Fieri, Too Hot, Christmas Whistle, H&M)

MCKINNON: 6 sketches (President Obama, Guy Fieri, Shallon, Christmas Whistle, H&M, Last Call)

MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)

MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Guy Fieri, Update, Shallon)

PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Shallon, Christmas Whistle, H&M)

PHAROAH: 2 sketches (President Obama, H&M)

STRONG: 2 sketches (Update, Too Hot)

THOMPSON: 8 sketches (President Obama, Monologue, Guy Fieri, Snowflakes, Update, Too Hot, Shallon, Last Call)


BENNETT: 2 sketches (President Obama, Too Hot)

MILHISER: 3 sketches (Guy Fieri, Shallon, H&M)

MOONEY: 3 sketches (Guy Fieri, Christmas Whistle, H&M)

O'BRIEN: 2 sketches (President Obama, H&M)

WELLS: 3 sketches (Guy Fieri, Shallon, H&M)

WHEELAN: 1 sketch (Guy Fieri)


JOHN GOODMAN: 10 sketches (Monologue, Guy Fieri, Snowflakes, Wise Guys, Update, Too Hot, Shallon, Christmas Whistle, H&M, Last Call)