by Brendan Wahl
It seems like this season has gone by so fast. We’re already at just about the halfway mark of the year (assuming we’re going back to the traditional 20-episode season this time) and only one more episode left until the extended break for the holidays.
What better news to get than that not only would funnyman Paul Rudd be returning to host (after the fun episode he helmed in Year 34), but that the legendary Paul McCartney would be making his return as the musical guest? I’ll answer for you. An episode announcement doesn’t get much better than that. The best part of the announcement is that not only would McCartney serve as musical guest, but he also does not have a new CD to promote. Therefore, we are pretty much guaranteed a slew of old tunes that everyone knows and loves. Granted, they will probably be akin to more of his stuff with Wings, but who cares? It’s PAUL MCCARTNEY.
I think this is the first time I’ve mentioned the musical guest in great detail before discussing the host. But I digress. Paul Rudd was a very willing host for his first go-around and it seemed only a matter of time before he came back to host again. This time, he’s promoting an intriguing new romantic-dramedy directed by James L. Brooks and co-starring Owen Wilson called How Do You Know. Rudd is usually the straight man in his films with an element of droll humour that puts him at a higher plateau than most “straight” roles.
Time to go!
1. Tax Package (3:30)
After the controversial ruling regarding the tax cuts for the rich, President Obama (Armisen) outlines the new plan before announcing that this is only happening because the Republican party LITERALLY held them hostage. Apparently the Stockholm Syndrome has affected El Presidente, causing him to act more like a Republican and has transformed him into something of a right-winger. This was a nice spin on old hat, especially the line about Obama denying his own American birthplace. B+
2. Monologue (2:11)
-Rudd, McCartney, Brittain
After discussing some of the excitement over “Paul” being on the show, the Role Model is then surprised when the Beatle himself joins him on stage to cause him to realize that the hype was surrounding McCartney. Paul Brittain briefly joins in on the action in a really funny walk-on, but Rudd and McCartney quickly cast him aside. Good start. B
3. Feline Culinary Creations (1:03)
-Elliott, Brittain, Pedrad
Introducing the new culinary dishes for cats, which of course, no matter how good they sound, all end up looking like crappy cat food. This was actually kinda clever. B+
4. Affectionate Family (4:42)
-Rudd, Armisen, Hader, Moynihan, Wiig, Bayer, Brittain, Pedrad
I guess Rudd must have had fun doing this sketch last time. The usual antics take place here with the way-too-affectionate Vogelcheck family, but they really up the ante this time. Austin’s (Rudd) brother (Hader) ends up feeling him up while they kiss and also grabs his mom’s can (Wiig) while he gives his dad a smooch. This sketch also introduces the Romanian Vogelcheck cousins (Brittain & Pedrad) and their odd way of expressing love. Bayer is good foil here as the creeped-out new girlfriend and the sketch is pretty much the same thing as it usually is with a few little twists. B
5. What’s That Name? (4:33)
-Rudd, Hader, Thompson, Wiig, Bayer
After what seems like a basic set-up (clues are given so that the contestants can guess which celebrities they are), the stakes are risen as a doorman (Thompson) and a maid (Wiig) ask the contestants to guess *their* name. The rich socialites (Rudd & Bayer) have trouble with this of course because they could care less in reality. There’s some pretty smart social commentary found within this sketch and it needs to be seen to be truly appreciated. A
6. Digital Short: Stumblin’ (2:07)
-Rudd, McCartney, Mario Batali, Armisen, Samberg, Bayer
One of the most fun digital shorts that Samberg and co. have come up with. This time, a young man (Samberg) “stumbles” through his entire day with his buddy (Rudd) as a catchy little tune plays alongside it. The greatest part about this? Paul McCartney showing up out of nowhere to add his own melodious voice as well as performing a tiny harmonica solo. Truly a season highlight. A+
7. Website Attacks (3:04)
Interrupting an announcement from a MasterCard representative (Pedrad), Julian Assange (Hader) takes over the airwaves from his British prison cell and talks about how if he is not released within one day, he will mess with other websites. Assange promises to get rid of everyone’s ONE good photo on Facebook, force people to watch Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper: Season 4 on Netflix, and leave Farmville alone so it will continue to piss people off. I have to reiterate how perfect this impression is for Hader and he has a ball with this quick sketch. A-
8. Sexually Speaking (3:49)
-Rudd, Armisen, Elliott, Hader, Moynihan, Bayer, Pedrad
Roger Brush (Armisen) is back, once again substituting for an absent female host on a sensitive women’s issues show. From a woman’s (Bayer) complaints about her husband’s (Moynihan) thin penis to one’s (Rudd) issues with his husband. Armisen’s reactions to each situation is pretty hilarious and for some reason, I never tire of this recurring talk show. B+
9. Paul McCartney sings “Jet” (4:11)
Honestly, I don’t know where people are getting this “McCartney ain’t got it anymore” thing, because I thoroughly enjoyed this performance and it’s not even CLOSE to one of my favourite McCartney songs. The mic volume seemed a bit low, but it was still a wonderful moment to see McCartney perform on the SNL stage after a seventeen-year absence. A-
10. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (8:45)
-Also: Paul McCartney and Bill Hader
After discussing how Democrats decided Obama has caved, Seth discusses the arrest of Julian Assange (“the bad man who wanted them to read”) and the great bit on Oprah denying any rumours of lesbianism. What comes next is an absolute delight as Seth and Paul McCartney himself do the voices of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker as they are pelted with garbage in a photo (“Ruffians!”). It’s simple, but hilarious all the same mainly because of Paul’s voice acting as Camilla. Seth then takes what would normally be a cheap bit and makes a great penis joke. Also joining him this week is Stefon (Hader), who talks about some great spots to visit during the holidays. And of course, Hader loses it. The Stefon segment is fantastic though, as per usual. A
11. Holiday Jam (4:46)
-Rudd, Thompson, Pharoah
The emcee (Rudd) of a school assembly/holiday event is interrupted by several startling announcements from an odd principal (Pharoah) and then an angry-as-hell gym teacher (Thompson). That the whole thing takes place at Booker T High School makes it all the more amusing. There’s not much to say about this other than it is a humourous little piece. B
12. Meryl Streep On Ice (1:24)
-Elliott, Sudeikis, Bayer, Brittain, Killam
Meryl Streep’s (Elliott) usual fun-loving personality is on display here as she takes to the ice rink and denies any extravagant talent she may have like she usually does. Great impression by Abby and a good vehicle for her to display it. B+
13. Paul McCartney sings “Band On The Run” (5:13)
This song sees McCartney’s vocals a bit more strained than the first song, but it’s still a great, classic song that essentially contains several different styles of music all rolled into one number. A-
14. Broadway Cares (3:52)
-Rudd, Hader, Sudeikis
Joining the multitude of stars performing their favourite Broadway numbers, Rudd decides to do a number from Cabaret but with no help from Jeff (Sudeikis) the stagehand. This is a showcase character for Suds as he excels in doing those obnoxious jackass characters without making them too one-note. His banter with Rudd is hilarious and this results in one of my favourite sketches all night. A
15. Paul McCartney sings “A Day in the Life” & “Give Peace a Chance” (5:11)
Paul decides to sing one of John Lennon’s old tunes as a tribute after the 30th anniversary of his death and then segues into his serenade to world peace. Another show-stopping moment from McCartney. The audience participation was a nice touch too. A+
16. Paul McCartney sings “Get Back” (1:45)
What starts off with the traditional goodnights quickly segues into a fourth performance from Mr. McCartney while the credits roll. Clearly, they don’t have time for the entire duration of the song but it’s enough to send the show out on a very, very high note. A+
What a wonderful show. All the way from a very capable host in Paul Rudd down to a magnificent musical guest in Sir Paul McCartney. Sure, we got a couple of recurring sketches. Sure, we got a few bits that weren’t perfect. But the whole show gelled together so beautifully. Rudd’s highlights would have to be the gameshow, the digital short, and his performance as a school emcee, while the cast was right there behind him putting on a number of stellar performances as well.
What else can be said about Paul McCartney? The man has been through it all. He has won awards, he has received criticism, he has been just about everywhere in the world, but everyone will always remember his legendary ability to perform. He may not ever be on the show as a musical guest ever again, but one will always remember his last hurrah on the show as a triumphant one.
Bill Hader is the cast MVP this week, appearing in more than anyone else and just being an all-around terrific performer. Surprisingly, Kristen was in barely anything this week and Taran Killam had one line in the entire episode.
“…and the justified stoning of their daughter.”
“That is cartoon donkey.” “Mary. But Steve Zahn, you know.”
Roger Brush is hilarious. “I don’t wanna get too graphic but she’s got clear water coming out of her butt.” “You want Dr. Linda up here peein’ outta her ass?”
“A glimpse into Seth Meyers!”
Host Rating: A-
Musical Guest Rating: A+
Show Rating: A