*** 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 Peyton Manning/Carrie Underwood episode (March 24, 2007). Here's the original review I wrote for the sketch:
SKETCH: Dancing Basketball Coach
- Like I always say, you know a sketch is going to be very funny when you see that Forte has a leading role in it.
- Peyton talking about being so scared of the other team that a little pee came out of him got a big laugh out of me. Then it got even funnier when Forte talked about wetting his pants.
- Forte’s hilarious dancing had me dying so much, and it was also funny when Peyton joined him and he played Forte’s leg as a guitar. Forte’s dancing also broke up most of the castmembers in the background, as you could see most of the guys trying not to laugh, especially Kenan and Peyton, who tried to hide by putting their towels to their face. Even Hader was laughing a bit, which is very rare for him since he never breaks character. Armisen didn’t even try to hide his laughing. Only Sudeikis and I think Samberg were able to keep a straight face.
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - The U.S. Men's Heterosexual Figure Skating Championships
• It took me a while to recognize Cecily at the beginning. She looked a lot different in that wig.
• An amusing premise and an overall good cold opening. All of the skating scenes were pretty funny, especially the pairs team one with Beck acting like a perv.
• In that wig, Bobby reminded me of how he looked when he first joined SNL, back when he had long curly hair.
Monologue - Jonah Hill
• Despite the fact that I'm always tired of questions-from-the-audience monologues and the fact that I'm just starting to get tired of monologues relying on a celebrity cameo, this one wasn't too bad. I do find it strange, though, that this is Jonah's second consecutive monologue that relied on a celebrity cameo to do a lot of the heavy lifting.
• As always, I got some laughs from Taran's split-personality Brad Pitt impression (I call it that because Taran sometimes plays Pitt completely low-key and normal, while other times he plays him over-the-top and goofy with the "Bahhhhhh!" sounds).
• This monologue ending with an overhead shot of the stage was a decent little change of pace.
Sketch - Six Year Old
• It shouldn't be a surprise that they brought this back, though I was wondering how they'd work around not having Bill Hader to play the dad anymore. Having Hader's place being taken over by Vanessa's girlfriend character that was introduced last time makes enough sense.
• I felt that the second installment from Jonah's 2012 episode was a disappointing follow-up to the first. Tonight's third installment, however, was actually not bad and a definite step up from the second one. Jonah had several funny lines all throughout this one, his delivery was strong, and unlike the first two installments, he thankfully wasn't glued to the cue-cards for a change.
• However, I still don't understand why these sketches always have to take place at a Benihana restaurant. Jonah's character could easily be put into ANY setting, so why keep him in a Benihana in every single installment? Show him at school interacting with teachers and other kids, show him at home, show him at a playground, show him at a child psychologist's office... ANYTHING.
• Minor issue, but couldn't they have found some way to hide Jonah's arm tattoo? It was a bit distracting seeing that on what we're supposed to believe was a six-year old character.
Film - The Hit
• I have to admit that during my initial viewing, I thought this film would be really funny at first but I didn't really care for the direction it went in and found the result pretty boring. However, I liked this more on second viewing, where I was able to appreciate the more low-key approach. This short wasn't anything outstanding, but it was fine for what it was.
• The ending with Jay getting shot could be seen coming from a mile away, but I did get a chuckle from Taran and Kenan's reactions afterwards. Also, the gleeful look on Jay's face as he tried to sneak up on the bunny made me laugh as well.
Sketch - Couples Quiz!
• Oh, great, so Kenan playing gameshow hosts is going to be a regular thing now? *sigh* They even reused the gag of Kenan yelling at a contestant the EXACT SAME WAY he did in the "New Cast Member or Arcade Fire" sketch. Is that also going to be a "thing" now whenever he plays a gameshow host? Sure, his yelling was funny in the New Cast/Arcade Fire sketch because it was unexpected and uncharacteristic for him, but now it's already gotten old and annoying.
• Nothing much to say about the actual sketch itself, considering the flimsy 'clogged toilet' premise and very few laughs I got from this. The premise was something that could maybe work as a little joke in a sketch, but not as the basis for an ENTIRE sketch.
Weekend Update - Meyers & Strong, featuring Officer Frank Medina, Olya Povlatsky
• Best jokes: Whisky floods river, Wedding dispute
• The back-and-forth ad-libbing between Seth and Cecily over the "YOU DON'T KNOW ME" bit was the first time all season that we've seen any real chemistry between those two. Too little, too late, however, considering Seth only has one week remaining (praise the Lord!). After Seth's departure, I wonder how the chemistry will be between Cecily and Mr. More-of-the-Same... er, I mean Colin Jost.
• When Cecily was introducing the first commentary, as soon as she said something about the cop who arrested Bieber, I immediately knew we'd be seeing Kenan playing the cop even before the camera panned over to him, and I couldn't help but get disappointed because 1) I always find myself bored during Kenan's Update commentaries, and 2) I see that SNL's continuing their insistence on shoving Kenan down our friggin throats all season long. Admittedly, he did have a few okay lines here, but I never really care for Kenan's performance or delivery in his Update commentaries, and a lot of his commentaries blend together to me. I'm starting to notice lately that I'd enjoy most of his commentaries more if someone else was playing the role. We have so many fresh, new male cast members this season who aren't doing jack squat and desperately need the airtime to prove their worth. I'd rather see them in roles like "Mr. Senior" and the Bieber cop instead of Kenan.
• I was kinda surprised to see Kate's immigrant lady return, but her commentary tonight was fine. She had several good lines and she helped sell the material with her performance. In fact, I think I actually liked her appearance tonight a little more than her first from last season, even though that one was decent in its own right.
Sketch - Sweetland Ranch
• After my initial viewing, I dismissed this whole sketch as being completely dumb and having a terrible non-ending. But then afterwards, I read a comment on another board about how this sketch seemed like something Jack Handey would write, which interested me because I'm a HUGE fan of Handey's material; he's the writer behind a lot of my favorite bizarre off-the-wall sketches from my favorite SNL era (1986-93). So after reading that comment, I gave this sketch a second viewing and enjoyed it more. This really DOES feel like something that would've appeared in 86-93.
• I still think the ending was awful, though, and way too abrupt as if they cut the sketch off prematurely. I get the feeling this sketch was a bit longer in dress rehearsal.
Commercial - me
• An all-around well-done "Her" parody, and featured a very good performance from Jonah.
• Not even the Michael Cera cameo could hurt this, and at least he was used the right way.
Sketch - Boss Dinner
• Surprisingly, this is the first (and last) we've seen of Aidy Bryant all night.
• At the beginning when it was established that Beck was playing Jonah's boss, I thought for a second that this was the return of the "Baby Boss" character and I was going to give SNL credit for actually putting the character in a new setting, but then I realized this couldn't have been a Baby Boss sketch because Beck was standing/walking in a normal adult way and he wasn't wearing a wig like he wore in the first installment.
• This actual sketch turned out to be a flimsy one-joke bit that got old fast. Jonah's off-camera yelling from the bathroom did sound kinda chuckle-worthy at times, but this whole thing was just way too thin. And this was yet another sketch tonight that had a lame ending.
• I read some comments about how this felt like a bad sketch that Chris Farley would've done in 94-95, and that is so dead-on. That season relied way too heavily on idiotic one-joke sketches where the main joke is Farley screaming over and over the whole time, and this Dinner sketch with Jonah would've felt right at home in that season, even though this sketch wasn't QUITE as terrible.
Film - Inside SoCal
• I've recently come to the realization that I'm in the minority in liking Good Neighbor shorts. That's kind of a bummer to me. The reaction to these shorts among both the internet community and the "real world" community haven't been too positive. I'm probably biased towards these shorts because I've really enjoyed Good Neighbor's pre-SNL Youtube stuff and I'm excited to see their humor being showcased to a mainstream audience, but thinking about it, I can see what others mean when they say that Good Neighbor's humor doesn't seem to be translating perfectly to SNL. Not quite sure what it is, but something's not quite the same; maybe because they don't have the third Good Neighbor member (Nick Rutherford) with them anymore, I dunno. However, I still think these Good Neighbor shorts have been far more interesting than 80% of the live sketches this season. At least the Good Neighbor guys are willing to try something different and creative every time, which is more than you can say for SNL's general writing this season.
• As for this Inside SoCal short, if you're not a fan of Good Neighbor's intentionally-awkward style, then you probably disliked this one because the awkwardness was turned up to 11. Personally, all of the awkward humor in this short made me laugh from beginning to end, especially the weird musical intros to each segment. I enjoyed this overall short and find it to be one of the funnier ones the Good Neighbor guys have done on SNL so far.
• Were Beck and Kyle reprising their characters from the Sigma short that aired earlier this season? They sure acted and sounded the same to me, especially Kyle. If this was indeed the Sigma guys, then I really appreciate the fact that we saw them in a completely different setting tonight, which is something that I always say SNL needs to do with recurring characters nowadays.
• The brief non-speaking appearance from Brooks Wheelan and Mike O'Brien (in their only appearance of the whole night, of course) basically symbolized how little of an impact those two have been making to SNL this season. They, along with John Milhiser, have to be some of the most invisible featured players SNL has ever had. If any of those three were to suddenly disappear from the cast tomorrow, how many of you would even notice?
• As much as I liked Beck and Kyle in this short, my biggest laughs actually came from Taran's movie review and, of course, Bobby's walk-on as the angry dad. Speaking of Bobby, both of his appearances in tonight's episode were pre-taped; he didn't make any live appearances at all, which is very unusual for him. It feels like a lot of cast members in general barely appeared in tonight's episode. And getting back to Bobby, I've noticed that he's been used very little these last three episodes in general. Is he currently filming a movie or something?
Sketch - Lamborghini
• Well, at least they're starting to space the appearances of these ex-porn stars sketches out more. Until now, these installments had been appearing way too close to each other.
• These sketches have seen better days and have lately begun to feel increasingly worn-out the more SNL uses them. That being said, this installment still had its share of laughs and there are always some funny one-liners from Vanessa and Cecily. One of my biggest laughs, though, came from a very brief throwaway non-sequitur: Cecily randomly grumbling "Why I oughta..." which made absolutely no sense but cracked me up for some reason.
• I still don't really like way they shoehorn the hosts into these installments, but Jonah was decent here and he certainly added more to this than Tina Fey did in the last installment.
• Inside SoCal
• The U.S. Men's Heterosexual Figure Skating Championships
• Boss Dinner
• Couples Quiz!
• the Officer Frank Medina commentary on Weekend Update
Best Performer of the Night:
• Beck Bennett
CAST MEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
BAYER: 3 sketches (Six Year Old, me, Lamborghini)
BRYANT: 1 sketch (Boss Dinner)
KILLAM: 5 sketches (Figure Skating, Monologue, The Hit, Couples Quiz, SoCal)
MCKINNON: 4 sketches (Figure Skating, Six Year Old, Update, Boss Dinner)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 2 sketches (Figure Skating, SoCal)
PEDRAD: 2 sketches (Six Year Old, Ranch)
PHAROAH: 2 sketches (Figure Skating, The Hit)
STRONG: 5 sketches (Figure Skating, Couples Quiz, Update, Ranch, Lamborghini)
THOMPSON: 4 sketches (The Hit, Couples Quiz, Update, Boss Dinner)
BENNETT: 3 sketches (Figure Skating, Boss Dinner, SoCal)
MILHISER: 1 sketch (Monologue)
MOONEY: 1 sketch (SoCal)
O'BRIEN: 1 sketch (SoCal)
WELLS: 2 sketches (Monologue, Six Year Old)
WHEELAN: 1 sketch (SoCal)
ZAMATA: 2 sketches (Six Year Old, Couples Quiz)
JONAH HILL: 8 sketches (Monologue, Six Year Old, Couples Quiz, Ranch, me, Boss Dinner, SoCal, Lamborghini)