by Brendan Wahl
Oh, I was not looking forward to this. I was not looking forward to this in the least. Perhaps the worst two-time host of all time, Robert DeNiro, graces us with his presence for a third time. I racked my brain all week trying to come up with a reason why this cue card-staring, wooden-acting, not-ready-for-live-television player would be invited back and I couldn’t come up with a single possible reason. Former director Beth McCarthy-Miller has stated that Robert was one of the most difficult hosts she has ever worked with, not so much because of an attitude or crazy behaviour, but more from his inability to emote in a live setting and make it look like he’s not reading cue cards. If they needed someone to promote Little Fockers, why not just forget their gripe with Ben Stiller and get him to host?
Joining DeNiro is an even more assinine choice in the form of Diddy-Dirty Money. Just who is Diddy-Dirty Money, you ask? Well, it’s P. Diddy and a couple of skanks. Yes, we will be treated to Sean Comb’s rapping “skills” while two hos dance alongside him. Wonderful. I really don’t have anything to say about this episode. I have pretty low expectations, so let’s see how it all plays out.
Let’s (sigh) start…
1. WikiLeaks: TMZ (3:41)
-DeNiro, Armisen (x2), Hader, Moynihan, Samberg, Sudeikis, Thompson, Wiig, Bayer, Brittain, Pedrad, Pharoah
Well, this is a pleasant start. After the start of what seems like another Obama opening, the tape cuts out and we are treated to Julian Assange (Hader), the founder of WikiLeaks, showing a snippet of his new TMZ-style show with his crew catching various world leaders like Muammer Kaddafi (Armisen) with a nurse/prostitute (Wiig), Hamid Karzai (DeNiro!) getting caught in an obvious bribery scandal, and Hillary Clinton (Bayer) getting “Biden’ed.” This satire nailed the show on every aspect including the inane chatter between the crew and the usual dialogue that the cameramen spew out when they catch their target. A-
2. Monologue (2:33)
After gushing over how much he loves New York, Travis Bickle mentions a number of famous institutions around the city that are obviously incorrect. Despite some audience members’ objections to his ridiculous name-dropping, DeNiro shrugs it off because he’s ROBERT F’N DENIRO. DeNiro looked stiff and a bit uncomfortable in the monologue but he wasn’t awful. B-
3. The Abacus Countdown (1:11)
Author Harlan Kane (DeNiro) brings a new book to the forefront after some of his other ridiculously-titled books like “The Godiva Gyroscope” and “The Pokemon Directive.” The satire here was pretty amusing and DeNiro got to be a little more relaxed because it’s a filmed piece. B
4. what up with that? (7:22)
-DeNiro, Robin Williams, Armisen, Hader, Samberg, Sudeikis, Thompson, Wiig, Bayer, Brittain, Killam, Pedrad
Marking the sixth occurrence of the recurring talk show sketch, Diondre Cole (Thompson) welcomes his guests in the form of DeNiro, ROBIN WILLIAMS, and of course… Lindsey Buckingham (Hader). The way Cole segways into one of the first huge musical numbers is new and inventive and freshened up the sketch a bit. Also, Shasta Taffy (Wiig) and a Devo-inspired assistant (Brittain) make an appearance along with Mothra (Samberg). I’m still not tired of this sketch; it freshens up a bit every time and manages to always be entertaining. B+
5. From The Garden (4:22)
Mr. Produce, Tony Sicilia (DeNiro), tries to host a show about how to prepare one’s produce but constantly finds bugs and other infestations because of his irresponsible son (Samberg) not taking care of them during his trip to The Today Show. Samberg is amusing, but DeNiro in a slow burn role is surprisingly not that bad. He does fumble a few lines throughout the sketch and he is still somewhat awkward, but he is still better than one would have expected him to be. B
6. Film: Party at Mr. Bernard’s (2:38)
-DeNiro, Hader, Moynihan, Samberg, Sudeikis, Wiig, Bayer, Brittain, Killam, Pedrad, Pharoah
Showing up to hang out in a palatial beach house, two dudes (Hader & Samberg) find their boss, Mr. Bernard (DeNiro) to be dead. It follows the plot of Weekend At Bernie’s as they pretend that Bernie is alive in front of all the partygoers, but unlike the film, no one is stupid and they realize that he’s living-challenged immediately! This is also followed by a somber courtroom scene but then it reverts back to the light-hearted tone of the original film in a moment’s notice. This is one of the top shorts I believe. A
7. Diddy-Dirty Money sing “Coming Home” (3:58)
Some inspirational lyrics here. No, not really. P. Diddy raps in an inane manner and his hos sing with him as well. Okay, well it’s not the most awful performance ever but his attempts to sound like Kanye West were really annoying. C
8. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (11:03)
-Also: Abby Elliott, Andy Samberg, Kristen Wiig, Vanessa Bayer, & Nasim Pedrad
After a pointed jab at New York’s LaGuardia airport, Seth introduces the Kardashians: Kim the pretty one (Pedrad), Kourtney the smart one (Bayer), and Khloe (Elliott). The large prosteriored sisters talk about the products that they’ve removed their names from like the Kardashian Birth Control Pills (“they were Skittles”) in an amusing segment. Seth declares Dreidelpalooza the WORST palooza ever in a funny bit and then brings on an actor (hanging upside down) from the Spider-Man musical, Ryan Christopher (Samberg). The production is plagued with problems and besides describing some new villains for the show, he also has a funny bit where he keeps trying to flip but the cue is not working. After a trio of funny jokes involving a man marrying his dog in Australia, Seth brings out his final guest in the form of Janet Judy Tran (Wiig), a 1992 video fitness instructor to talk about her role in Michelle Obama’s initiative against childhood obesity. What seemed like a stock Wiig character at first turned out to be a pretty accurate interpretation of those video fitness instructors. Solid Update as per usual. B+
9. Little Fockers (3:41)
-DeNiro, Ben Stiller, Hader, Moynihan, Sudeikis, Thompson, Brittain, Pedrad
Remember that hockey sketch from Cooper/TV on the Radio with the overexcited Keith (Moynihan) glossing over his favourite players except for the star, who was ignored the whole time? I always thought that was a fun sketch and now Keith is back. This time, he’s on the set of Little Fockers and after getting overexcited over the director, a REAL camera, and the craft services guy, he could really care less about DeNiro himself showing up to the set. He had so many good lines in this sketch and the surprise appearance from Ben Stiller was terrific as well. B+
10. Blizzard Man (4:37)
-DeNiro, P. Diddy, Samberg, Sudeikis, Thompson, Wiig
Never thought Blizzy B (Samberg) would be back, but this time P. Diddy recruits him for his latest album cut. We get the usual fun antics and ridiculous lyrics from the Vanilla Ice wannabe, but this time the sketch gets a dose of life with Blizzard Man’s mother (DeNiro) showing up. The image of Diddy trying to get all up in his bidness was really a sight to see but the sketch was definitely not as good as his last appearance. Despite some good moments, it’s a step down. C+
11. La Rivista Della Televisione (4:33)
-DeNiro, Armisen, Hader, Moynihan, Brittain
Pretty late in the show to air this recurring sketch. This one is a guilty pleasure for me from Vinny’s (Hader) terrible Italian to the general awkwardness usually shown in his interviews to the ridiculous sketches he usually has planned for his guests. This one’s pretty amusing as Vinny has Robert do an impression of himself, brings out his infant son (Moynihan) who is on a drunken bender, and then brings out the deer from The Deer Hunter. There’s also another great moment as Vinny tricks DeNiro into saying a line from Taxi Driver. B+
12. Bosley Hair Restoration (1:30)
-Armisen, Moynihan, Sudeikis, Wiig, Pedrad
Repeat from Poehler/Perry (9/25/10). B+
13. Diddy-Dirty Money (feat. Swizz Beatz) sing “Ass on the Floor” (3:48)
P. Diddy sits with some chicks while his two ladies and Swizz Beatz take over the singing and dancing necessary for the song. This was one of the most patheric displays by a musical guest ever. So Diddy sits in a chair surrounded by women for most of the song while this Swizz Beatz loser sings along with the two girls in the band. When Diddy finally joins in, he does nothing of note. Awful. Just awful. F
14. Sex For Beer (3:33)
-DeNiro, Ben Stiller, Samberg, Sudeikis, Killam
“Who do I have to screw to get a drink around here?” Everyone has heard this figure of speech before and the answer is finally given: the one you have to screw is an old wizard-looking guy (DeNiro) in a closet in the bar. This bizarre sketch works thanks mostly due to Sudeikis and his way of selling any situation, no matter how strange. There’s also another great cameo from Ben Stiller as another old man in the closet who’s getting his licks in as well. B+
15. Cartoon: American America: I, Hippie (:41)
After months of deliberation, we finally get the Fred Wolf-penned cartoon with the voice of Dana Carvey as a hippie talking about great stories. The final reveal is pretty damn funny and despite this being a very, very short piece it’s pretty good for what it was. A-
Robin Williams shouts out really loud before DeNiro thanks everyone and the inevitable hugs are exchanged between cast and guests alike.
Another pleasant surprise much like Johansson was a few weeks ago. This time, it’s not due to the host really proving something though. DeNiro was still stiff. He was still awkward. He still looked like he was reading from cue cards. But this time, he seemed to loosen up a little bit more. The writers also tended to know how to use DeNiro a lot better this time as well. Rather than give him too many outlandish characters or impressions that he would have to perfect, they limited him to playing himself in three different sketches, giving him that one crazy role in the Blizzard Man sketch, and having him appear in a number of filmed pieces (and in one of which, he played a corpse). I would like to applaud the writers for utilizing DeNiro in a very intelligent way.
Diddy-Dirty Money was one of the worst musical guests in recent memory. Sure, he was serviceable in his sketch appearance and it was a hilarious visual to see Combs hit on Rob in drag, the music aspect of this show definitely bit the big one, particularly the second song. I make this plea: for the love of all things holy, please do not let this man perform on the show again. Thank you.
The cast really had to work hard this week with a sorta-weak host and they managed to pull out all the stops, particularly Bill Hader who continues to be a very consistent performer. Sure, he flubbed a bit in the cold open but Hader still delivers most of the time and this episode was a good example of his abilities.
All this added up to a pretty solid show.
Robin Williams and Ben Stiller mark the first cameos this season since the premiere. Side note: was Robin texting in the middle of “what up with that?”
I love that they parodied Weekend At Bernie’s 20+ years after its release. Seriously. That was pretty awesome.
That was a pretty decent Kanye West impression by P. Diddy, I guess. Seriously though, ugh.
“This week, American diplomacy accidentally hit ‘Reply All.’”
“He is dead.”
“Kinda like a neighbour coming over to borrow a cup of sugar. It just makes sense.”
“I’m gonna need WAY more eye contact.”
Host Rating: C+
Musical Guest Rating: D
Show Rating: B+