One of my favourite breakthrough roles in the past five-ten years has to have been from Zach Galifianakis playing the mentally disturbed, but ultimately lovable character of Alan in The Hangover. The role garnered him all kinds of great press that he was not used to being a semi-famous stand-up comedian and all. So when I heard that Zach was slated for the next episode of Saturday Night Live, my hopes got really high.
But then I settled down.
Because let’s face it, he is a hilarious guy but this is the first time he is dipping his feet in the sketch comedy venture and it’s been proven before that funny people can falter on this show due to nervous jitters of being in front of a live and television audience.
That aside, the musical guest Vampire Weekend have been on before (in Year 32 with Amy Adams), so I was definitely looking forward to them as they delivered a powerhouse performance the last time.
On with it!
1. Health Care Reform
After last week’s breath of fresh air and change of pace as a cold open, we revert back to the usual standard of starting off with a political sketch. This time, President Obama (Armisen) addresses the public with senators Pelosi (Wiig) and Reid (Forte) at his side. Of course, health care is the subject of concern, but Obama also makes mention of its vast unpopularity and of Senator Reid’s slight chances of being re-elected because of that and “lots of other problems he has.” This was actually a pretty underwhelming start as the laughs were sparse. C
Zach makes sure to pat the bassist’s butt on the way to the stage and orders the audience to stop clapping before delving into one of the best monologues of the season. Basically using his stand-up material as his monologue, Zach soon moves over to the piano and gives everyone some words to live by. “Sometimes things happen and I say…’that wasn’t very Raven.'” Brilliant. A+
3. Affectionate Family
It’s the third appearance of the Vogelcheck family and their over-affection for each other through kissing and groping. This time, Bobby Moynihan plays the Vogelcheck brother bringing his girlfriend (Slate) to the funeral of their grandfather. Zach plays a priest in a small role and looked kinda nervous actually. Still, this was alright. B-
A couple’s (Galifianakis & Wiig) fascination with a hotel bidet causes some frustration with the hotel bellman when all their questions pertain to the device in question. They range from average to just ridiculous questions and despite some criticism I’ve heard of the bit, I thought it was fairly funny. B
5. Zach Drops By The Set
In this filmed piece, our host drops by the set of some hit shows to mess with the cast and crew and just cause some general disruption. This isn’t just inserting Zach into the shows with a green-screen either, they actually interact with him on the sets of various programs. I think either Law and Order or 30 Rock was my favourite. A
Well, we haven’t seen this one for a while. Kathie Lee (Wiig) creates more misery for her “pal” and co-host, Hoda Kotb (Slate), while continuing to somehow be invincible. This time out, we also get a glimpse of Sara Haines (Elliott) reading some chat room messages by various users, Kathie Lee drinking a box of wine like a juicebox, and Zach Galifianakis being invited inside the studio by Kathie Lee to creepily stalk Hoda. B+
7. Vampire Weekend sing “Cousins”
Love this band. They were fantastic the previous time they appeared as I mentioned earlier and this was no exception. It’s a very fast-paced energetic song that’s a lot of fun. Some great instrumental work too. A
8. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers
Boy, Update has been on quite a hot streak lately, huh? This time out, Seth delivers some goods again with my favourite being one about how some cops in Texas chased a goat for thirty seconds. Guests this week include Mo’Nique (Thompson) in an okay commentary about keeping her Oscar speech under 45 seconds. Will Forte then saves it for both guests by singing a hilarious song about Women’s History Month called “Women’s Herstory: Did You See What I Just Did There?” B+
9. what up with that?
I’ve always enjoyed this sketch and this week is no exception. This time, Diondre Cole (Thompson) has Paul Rudd, Frank Rich, and of course Lindsey Buckingham (Hader) as his guests. It follows the usual formula of the other two with way more singing and dancing than talking to the guests, but that’s where the charm lies. Jason Sudeikis is aces as a background dancer but Zach is equally as funny as an ambidextrous flute player. A
10. The Situation Room
Usually, a political sketch this late in the show is something of a bad sign but this one is pretty funny. Wolf Blitzer (Sudeikis) introduces several videos sent in from college students about important issues that of course just feature them (Zach included) dancing around. Bill Hader’s turn as Jack Cafferty is great as well. B+
11. Vampire Weekend sing “Giving Up The Gun”
Another great tune from Vampire Weekend, this one slower and more of a delight with the instrumental section however. A
12. Pageant Talk
Did Zach Galifianakis shave his beard for the last sketch of the night?! Well, it was worth it. Here, he plays a very effeminate man hosting a talk show on pageants of course. Kristen Wiig here reminded me of the character she played on that Biker Chick Chat sketch they did on the season premiere, but overall it was a pretty funny ten-to-one sketch that featured everyone breaking character. B
As Zach and the cast bid everyone a goodnight, it is plainly obvious that Zach attached a fake beard to his face. Or did he? I’m not sure, really.
Despite my initial trepidation, Zach was a wonderful addition to the cast tonight despite some first-sketch jitters. He excelled in the roles where he got to play himself (not too challenging, I know) but also especially in the last sketch of the night and his monologue was phenomenal.
Not much more to say about Vampire Weekend. They came, they saw, they rocked again.
Host Rating: A-
Musical Guest Rating: A
Show Rating: B+