by Brendan Wahl
(Season 37, Episode 11)
1. A Message from Rick Santorum (5:11)
Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum (Samberg) pledges to continue to campaign in lesser-known areas of the United States even if it means he has to swipe pies off windowsills and live the rest of his life like an animal.
- This is the first time we really got to see Andy getting a full-fledged sketch all to himself with his Rick Santorum impression. He did a good job and combined with the great writing, it made for a very solid and topical cold open.
- My favourite parts were Andy talking about starting a war with Iran for the benefit of Israel and some of the various counties he mentions that he will do campaigning within. His “pillow biters and donut bumpers” comment was great too as it really showed Santorum to be the homophobic asshole that he truly is.
- Andy doesn’t get to say LFNY a whole lot.
2. Monologue (2:19)
- Much like his monologue two seasons ago, Charles seemed fairly easygoing and calm here, willing to poke fun at his own image and not appearing too stiff or awkward. He’s come a long way since his dreadful 1993 performance. Might help the fact that he’s actually on a show where he has to talk all the time now.
- They just had to make another gambling joke, didn’t they?
- I loved his general summary of what has happened with the NBA since he left and his comment about responding to the “Round Mound of Rebound” remarks 25 years later.
Rating: *** 1/2
3. Chantix (1:42)
A new product brings a couple (Hader & Wiig) closer together as it allows the wife to finally quit smoking. However, it has several adverse effects that are far worse that begin to turn her into a psychotic monster with severe personality disorders.
- Wow, this was probably my favourite commercial parody in quite a long time. It’s sure to be a future classic.
- Bill and Kristen’s expressions were quite hilarious and I loved Kristen’s Jazz Hands and Robert Deniro Face symptoms.
4. Inside the NBA (4:58)
Ernie Hitchens Jr. (Hader) hosts the roundtable discussions while troublemakers Charles Barkley (Thompson) and Kenny Smith (Pharoah) poke and prod at Shaquille O’Neal (Barkley), who really doesn’t say anything wholly interesting or noteworthy.
- This was quite funny and Charles in particular was great with his performance as a very boring and monotonous Shaquille O’Neal. Does he really have that crazy beard now?
- I always love when the castmember does an impression of the host and the host does an impression of someone different. It’s much more clever than having the host play themselves and having Kenan play Shaq for example.
- It’s nice to see Jay in this sketch and he did very well here also.
- Bill’s comment at the end about how they’re all black friends was hilarious and caused Kenan and Jay to lose it. I didn’t notice this at first but when I eventually did, it’s quite a funny blooper. Charles smiled a bit as well.
5. White People Problems (3:43)
During an episode of Investigation Discovery, Charles Barkley discusses many problems that predominantly affect caucasians like a couple (Armisen & Bayer) not being able to have airline seats together, a woman (Elliott) wanting to know where the chicken comes from at Arby’s, and a couple (Wiig & Killam) that don’t know what to do regarding some guests and their summer home.
- This was another sketch with a great premise and I enjoyed the performances throughout, especially from Charles, Kenan, and Jay as the host and two victims specifically.
- There were some great lines here like Charles asking Jay if the woman ever heard of slavery and the bit at the end with Charles leaving early to go on break.
- Taran rocked in this sketch. Even with a small role like this, he shines.
6. ESPN Bowl Madness (1:15)
- This was amusing enough and kept short so that it didn’t drag on too long. It made a good point in making fun of all the ridiculous sponsors that games will have attached to their names nowadays.
7. Joanne’s Confession (3:43)
- This was REALLY bizarre. It started out weird anyway with Charles in drag but then when “her” husband popped out from behind the couch, my first reaction was “WHAT.”
- That being said, there were certainly parts I enjoyed here and this was one of those sketches that got more laughs based on how increasingly bizarre it kept getting. The bit with Charles saying that he would fantasize about Lynda Carter was hilarious.
- The casting of Paul Brittain as Charles’ husband was perfect casting because he’s the smallest, weakest-looking castmember.
Rating: *** 1/2
8. Charles Barkley Post Game Translator App (2:08)
- Good premise but I felt like some of the jokes were too sports-related for me to fully appreciate. Still, it was okay.
Rating: ** 1/2
- A powerhouse performance by an impressive young singer who is particularly good in a live setting thanks to her great voice. Yeah, I will admit that I am indeed a fan.
10. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (14:31)
Guests: Michele Bachmann, Nicholas Fehn, and Drunk Uncle
- Kristen’s Michele Bachmann commentary was decent but it relied a bit too much on the blinking jokes and the gay husband quips (I did like the Barack Obama bit though). Her impression is one that I’ve always liked immensely though and so this wasn’t particularly bad or anything, just not up to par of the usual Bachmann material.
- Nicholas Fehn again? Really?! The last time Fred did this character was in Year 35 and then before that, it had been about a year. It was fine, I guess, but enough with this already.
- Drunk Uncle is back already and yet I think I liked this appearance even more than his first appearance during the Katy Perry episode. I can’t even begin to talk about what I loved but I’ll pick out as many things as possible like his 2007 glasses, his listing of what you used to be able to get for five bucks, the Smartphone bit, and his random “Reagan!” comment. Judging from the audience reaction, they seemed to love his appearance onto the scene as well.
Rating: *** 1/2
11. Lord Wyndemere (3:51)
- I never thought they’d bring this sketch back but I didn’t really have a problem with it because I love Paul’s energy that he puts into the character and Jason’s performance is good in these sketches as well. I particularly liked Bill’s strange expressions as well.
- Charles cracked up at several points throughout the sketch, particularly in the long shots.
12. The 17th Annual Adult Video Awards (2:37)
Ron Jeremy (Moynihan) and Crystal Butt (Elliott) present the memoriam section of the awards show where several people associated with the pornography business that have since passed away are honoured for their work.
- This was a lot better than it sounds. They had the awards memoriam segment mocked to a tee. Everything was pitch-perfect and yes, I am going to give this a near-perfect rating.
- My favourite bits were Bobby’s line about “a 12 if you measure from the nuts” and the memoriam sections featuring Jay Pharoah, Fred as the writer, Andy and Jason as the two unwilling guys, the picture of the dude in jail, Nasim being in movies for years and years, and Kenan as the cleanup in that picture. Note not all of these people will be credited as being in this as some were just in pictures rather than acting in the piece.
- The only thing I didn’t care for was the lame ending.
Rating: **** 1/2
13. Digital Short: Convoluted Jerry (1:23)
- Lame. Lame. Lame. Did I mention this was lame? While it wasn’t worse than that “Wish It Would Rain” digital short, it was probably just as bad. The “Andy singing” shorts are really starting to get tiresome with a few exceptions here and there.
- The only thing I liked was Andy’s description of the plot of Inception and Barkley asking Samberg what he was talking about.
Rating: * 1/2
- Another good performance, perhaps even better than the first one. I really like this song in particular.
- I don’t care what anyone says about Kelly’s changed appearance or whatever. She will always remain beautiful as far as I’m concerned.
15. The Mayan Calendar (4:19)
- I wonder how many Mayan sketches we’re going to get until December 21, 2012. This one was pretty funny anyway, particularly for a ten-to-one sketch. Some of the jokes were kinda obvious but it was still worth it.
- I got a good laugh out of Fred putting on glasses out of nowhere.
- Kenan was great here too as the carver.
- The ending was really strange with the Mayan calendar’s little speech.
OVERALL: A very fun show with a surprisingly adequate performance from host Charles Barkley (that makes two in a row for him!) and lots of support from a newly-energized cast thanks to the Christmas break. Barkley of course had his limitations but the staff did a great job at writing around that and accentuating some easy things for him to do like a Shaq impression and dress in drag. Plus, no cameos tonight for a change!
HOST: CHARLES BARKLEY – 9 segments (Monologue; Inside the NBA; White People Problems; Joanne’s Confession; Charles Barkley Post Game Translator App; Lord Wyndemere; The 17th Annual Adult Video Awards; Convoluted Jerry; The Mayan Calendar)
FRED ARMISEN – 4 segments (White People Problems; Joanne’s Confession; Weekend Update; The Mayan Calendar)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 2 segments (White People Problems; The 17th Annual Adult Video Awards [2 roles])
BILL HADER – 5 segments (Chantix; Inside the NBA; Lord Wyndemere; The 17th Annual Adult Video Awards; The Mayan Calendar)
SETH MEYERS – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 4 segments (Weekend Update; Lord Wyndemere; The 17th Annual Adult Video Awards; The Mayan Calendar)
NASIM PEDRAD – 1 segment (The 17th Annual Adult Video Awards)
ANDY SAMBERG – 5 segments (A Message from Rick Santorum; Lord Wyndemere; The 17th Annual Adult Video Awards; Convoluted Jerry; The Mayan Calendar)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 2 segments (Lord Wyndemere; The 17th Annual Adult Video Awards)
KENAN THOMPSON – 4 segments (Inside the NBA; White People Problems; Joanne’s Announcement; The Mayan Calendar)
KRISTEN WIIG – 5 segments (Chantix; White People Problems; Joanne’s Confession; Weekend Update; The 17th Annual Adult Video Awards)
VANESSA BAYER – 3 segments (White People Problems; Joanne’s Confession; The 17th Annual Adult Video Awards)
PAUL BRITTAIN – 2 segments (Joanne’s Confession; Lord Wyndemere)
TARAN KILLAM – 2 segments (White People Problems; The 17th Annual Adult Video Awards)
JAY PHAROAH – 3 segments (Inside the NBA; White People Problems; The 17th Annual Adult Video Awards)
EPISODE MVPs: Charles Barkley/Bill Hader/Paul Brittain