*** 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 Anne Hathaway/The Killers episode (October 4, 2008). Here's the original review I wrote for the sketch:
Cold Opening - The Vice Presidential Debate
• I was wondering if Queen Latifah would reprise her impression of Gwen Ifill. She was good in this role once again, and I laughed at her plugging the Obama book, and all of her facial reactions to Palin. However, the fact that they had to go through the trouble of bringing her back just to play this role really shows how much SNL needs a black female castmember. Maybe they’ll hire one after Amy leaves.
• Tina did her usual spot-on Palin impression and I loved Jason’s Biden as well, he was very funny and delivered the goods.
• Highlights of the Biden portions of this sketch were him slamming McCain while claiming to be a dear friend, his stance on same-sex marriages, and the “Joe Biden is better than THAT” part.
• Highlights of the Palin portions of this sketch were her comments about marriage between “two unwilling teenagers”, her love for Jews and Cuban food, and the “Are we not doing the talent portion?” part.
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - GOP At Coachella
• I thought this would be pretty funny at first, but I ended up being a little bored by the result. This wasn't terrible, but could've had more laughs. Thankfully, the energetic performances from everyone helped make this more watchable.
• I don't know why, but I'm getting a little tired of all the group LFNYs that the show has been doing lately, though it seems that's the only way for any of this season's newbies to get to say it, at least.
Monologue - Seth Rogen
• A very disjointed monologue that was too "all over the place" and unfocused for my likes.
• Rogen's journal readings were just okay but felt like it should've been a lot funnier than it was, while the part with Rogen's relatives doing his trademark laugh was decent, and the special guest cameos didn't do much for me at all aside from a couple of funny lines from James Franco.
• When Zooey Deschanel first walked on, it seriously took me a few seconds to tell whether that was actually her or just Noel playing her. And on a related note, seeing Zooey and Noel side-by-side during the goodnights was really something; the resemblance between them was almost eerie. Kinda reminds me of one moment during the classic "Goodnight Saigon" sketch with Will Ferrell where we see Artie Lange and Bobby Moynihan back-to-back at one point, which was funny because people back then were always saying how much Bobby resembles Artie.
Sketch - Shallon
• If you've seen one Shallon sketch, you've seen them all. Tonight's installment did nothing to disprove that. And considering I never cared for this character to begin with, I could not have been any less thrilled seeing the return of it.
• Even Bobby's one-liner was just a variation of other "be a man" statements he made in the first two installments.
• The only real positive statement I can make is that at least Rogen seemed much more into the sketch than John Goodman's unenthusiastic performance from the last installment (where he seemed like he just wanted to get the whole sketch over with already). Edward Norton still remains the best straight man a host has ever played in these Shallon sketches, however.
• Speaking of Seth Rogen in a straight man role, get used to seeing that, because there's going to be a WHOLE LOT of it tonight...
Commercial - CNN Pregnancy Test
• An interesting idea doing a topical fake ad, although this one wasn't quite as outstanding as it wanted to be. This still had enough laughs, however.
• The ending with Vanessa showing up with the baby when she didn't even know she was pregnant reminded me of the ending of that pregnancy test commercial with Ana Gasteyer from the end of her SNL tenure.
Sketch - Steakhouse
• I'm not sure what to make of this strange sketch, but all I know is that I barely laughed.
• The physical comedy of Rogen helping Aidy do things like eat and put on lipstick wasn't as outlandish as it needed to be. And then they completely lost me when they resorted to cheap bathroom humor towards the end with the whole farting thing; that kind of thing can be funny if pulled off well, but in this sketch, it felt very out-of-place and let me know that the writers had no idea where to take this.
Short - Monster Pals
• A very interesting and entertaining short. The humor and approach to this was in a bit of a similar vein to the "Sad Mouse" short from last season. That makes sense, as Mike O'Brien wrote Sad Mouse and I see he was also a co-writer of this Monster Pals short. Makes me wonder what Sad Mouse would've been like if Mike had played the lead role instead of Bruno Mars.
• Two other reasons this reminded me of Sad Mouse is 1) the scene with Mike walking up to various unsuspecting people in the street to see if they're his friend was reminiscent of when Bruno Mars (in his mouse costume) walked up to unsuspecting people in Times Square trying to get them to wave at him, and 2) the grainy-looking opening/closing title sequence; they used that same grainy screen effect in Sad Mouse's title sequence.
• It took me a while, but around the middle of this short, I figured out that it was Mike playing the main monster from the way his voice sounded and from the way his mouth looked.
• I could tell by the ending with Mike making fun of his own looks that Tim Robinson had a hand in writing this, as making self-deprecating jokes about ones own looks is a Tim Robinson trademark.
Sketch/Commercial - Blue River Dog Food
• It feels like it's been ages since SNL last did a live fake ad like this. I don't mean fake ads like the sperm bank sketch at the end of tonight's episode, but fake ads that would usually be pre-taped.
• This ended up being a very strange piece and not one that I found particularly funny. Cecily was basically just doing a variation of her intentional overacting from that "24-hour Energy for Dating Actresses" commercial earlier this season... and that wasn't exactly the type of performance that I wanted to see from Cecily again. She didn't really make me laugh much in this sketch and the premise wasn't funny enough to be drawn out as long as it was.
Weekend Update - Strong & Jost, featuring David Ortiz, Jacob
• Best jokes: Kim Jong Un re-elected, Katherine Heigl files lawsuit, man sentenced/sucking toes
• Kenan's David Ortiz impression has to be the most effort I've ever seen Kenan put into changing his voice, and I've never heard him talk in that type of accent before. The commentary itself had a few laughs, which isn't much, but is still a little more than I usually laugh at Kenan's Update bits. The "Do you suffer from depression? Don't." ad was legitimately funny, and the "Samsung/Sam's son" bit was so stupid and idiotic that it made me laugh for some reason. I think there was something about his accent that made stupid jokes like that come off funny.
• What I said earlier in this review about how if you've seen one Shallon sketch, you've seen them all also applies to the Jacob commentaries. Are we STILL supposed to laugh at Jacob always going back to reading from his speech whenever the anchorperson asks him a question? The only thing SNL did differently in tonight's Jacob commentary was the brief bit with him wiping away an emotional tear after being asked about Derek Jeter's final season.
Sketch - Engagement Party
• At first, I thought that exterior shot of the restaurant at the beginning was the exact same one they showed in the Steakhouse sketch earlier tonight.
• When I read the descriptions of this sketch a few weeks ago when it got cut from the Louis C.K. episode, I assumed that the whole "he sucked one once" thing was merely a running joke throughout the sketch, like a subplot, and not the main joke of the sketch. Little did I know until watching this that it was the SOLE joke of the sketch. And an unfunny and juvenile joke at that.
• A very weak, completely laughless sketch. What WAS this??!?!? I kept waiting for it to go beyond the dumb "he sucked one once" thing, but then the sketch just ended and that was it!
• Beck's appearance as the guy who Rogen "sucked" must've been a new addition, because I don't remember reading about that part in any of the cut sketch descriptions. Supposedly, Beck played a completely different role in the Louis C.K. dress version.
• And the point of Nasim just standing there silently the whole time was....???
Sketch - Undercover Sharpton
• The idea of Al Sharpton working in an undercover drug bust is funny in itself. But there's only so much of Kenan's Sharpton impression I can take, and barely anything amusing actually happened in the sketch. This came nowhere close to living up to its potential. What could've been a very funny sketch ended up being a forgettable disappointment.
• The opening title sequence was funnier than anything in the sketch itself. I especially liked the part of the opening titles where they did a freeze-frame on Sharpton accidentally dropping the gun when he tried to pose with it.
• Oh, look, there's Rogen in yet another straight man role. The writers do remember that he's a COMEDIAN, don't they? I voiced similar complaints about how they misused Louis C.K. in too many straight man roles a few weeks ago, but even HE got to play more comedic parts than Rogen has. Hell, even in Rogen's own monologue, the spotlight was largely taken away from him. I swear, the writers never seem to know what to do with Rogen whenever he hosts.
Short - A Very Smoky 420
• As a rule, I'm a fan of anything that features Kyle Mooney being weird, and this particular short featured him at possibly his weirdest yet, which is certainly saying something. This is the kind of stuff I was hoping to see him do on the show when it was first announced last summer that he was joining the cast. I'm so glad that SNL has been giving Kyle free reign to do his brand of surreal humor in these Good Neighbor shorts. Part of me was worried before the season started that SNL would try to force Kyle to tone down his bizarre comedy to appeal to the "mainstream" target audience (we've seen this happen in the past to people like Amy Poehler), but instead, SNL has been embracing Kyle's weirdness by airing these unfiltered weird shorts of his. That decision has been one of the few things SNL has gotten right this season.
• This short was a variation of a video I saw Kyle in on YouTube once that had the same punchline (that Kyle's never actually smoked weed), but I thought tonight's short was actually the funnier of the two, as they did a lot more with the concept.
• The humor here was delightfully random, and I loved Kyle's various strange stoner songs, especially the one that just went "Dooooooooop".
• I have to say, though, that these Good Neighbor shorts have really been underutilizing Beck lately. In the past two, he didn't appear until towards the end in just a walk-on role, and in the one before that (the Chris Fitzpatrick class president one), he didn't appear at all. Then again, maybe it's a good thing that these shorts have been mainly showcasing just Kyle lately, because Kyle desperately needs the screentime more; he does very little in the live portions of the show while Beck, on the other hand, gets quite a lot of live roles (for a featured player, at least).
• I'll refrain from complaining about Rogen playing his 150th straight man role tonight, because I don't want a negative rant to drag down my review of this great short.
Sketch/Commercial - Herman & Sons Great Sperm Giveaway
• Hey, Rogen in a non-straight man role (not counting his brief appearance in the Monster Pals short)! It only took SNL all damn night to finally do it. I had almost forgotten what it's like seeing Rogen play comedic characters thanks to tonight's episode.
• This sketch had a very silly and sophomoric idea, but I admit that it made me laugh. The premise was executed well-enough and this was kept short enough that it worked.
• Aidy's quick walk-on was good, and I liked the randomness of them playing the Chewbacca sound effect when they showed the Chewbacca picture.
• Monster Pals
• A Very Smoky 420
• Engagement Party
• the Jacob commentary on Weekend Update
Best Performer of the Night:
• James Franco (by default)
CAST MEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
BAYER: 3 sketches (CNN, Update, Engagement)
BRYANT: 4 sketches (Shallon, Steakhouse, Engagement, Herman & Sons)
KILLAM: 3 sketches (Coachella, Monster Pals, Engagement)
MCKINNON: 4 sketches (Monologue, Shallon, Steakhouse, Sharpton)
MOYNIHAN: 4 sketches (Monologue, Shallon, Engagement, Sharpton)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Coachella, Shallon, Engagement)
PHAROAH: 1 sketch (Monster Pals)
STRONG: 5 sketches (Steakhouse, Dog Food, Update, Engagement, Sharpton)
THOMPSON: 5 sketches (Shallon, Monster Pals, Update, Sharpton, Herman & Sons)
BENNETT: 5 sketches (Coachella, CNN, Engagement, Sharpton, 420)
JOST: 1 sketch (Update)
MILHISER: 2 sketches (Shallon, Steakhouse)
MOONEY: 3 sketches (Steakhouse, Sharpton, 420)
O'BRIEN: 2 sketches (Monster Pals, Sharpton)
WELLS: 3 sketches (Coachella, Monologue, Shallon)
WHEELAN: 3 sketches (Coachella, Steakhouse, Monster Pals)
ZAMATA: 2 sketches (Coachella, Sharpton)
SETH ROGEN: 9 sketches (Monologue, Shallon, Steakhouse, Monster Pals, Dog Food, Engagement, Sharpton, 420, Herman & Sons)