Saturday Night Live: Jesse Eisenberg/Nicki Minaj (1/29/11)

Posted: January 31, 2011 by Brendan Wahl in SNL Reviews
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by Brendan Wahl

(Season 36, Episode 13)

Boy oh boy, folks. I was real worried about this one. Jesse Eisenberg, recent Oscar Nominee and star of other films like Adventureland and Zombieland, was not my first pick at the next contender to host the long-running comedic institution. Jesse seems like a bundle of nervous energy and not in a good way, but in a rather Ellen Page-esque way that he might have trouble getting through the program. I set my expectations very low for this episode and hoped that by some miracle, it would surpass them. Joining Jesse is Lady Gag…err, I mean Nicki Minaj with her big hair and booty.

Yes, her booty is big.

This has got to be the worst intro I’ve ever done.

Anyway, I’m tired so let’s START!

The Show:

1. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s Response to the President’s State of the Union Address: The Second Attempt (4:12)

Wow, that’s a mouthful. Spoofing a recent YouTube favourite, Kristen Wiig reprises her role of Tea Partier Michele Bachmann and, in a very dry manner, mocks the crazy candidate’s response to the President’s State of the Union address complete with camera gaffes and wacky charts that don’t seem to tell anything. Having seen the actual video, I can safely say that it was ripe for parody and SNL sure had a blast with this one, making it another home run for Wiig and the writers (presumably Jim Downey or Seth). The Xena footage was a hoot, especially. A

2. Monologue (4:12)
-Eisenberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Lorne Michaels, Samberg

Wow, that’s a lot of ‘bergs. Jesse spends the beginning of the monologue talking about how he’s totally not a nervous ball of energy, but rather a cocky bastard who knows he’s bound to win the Oscar. After displaying his knowledge about women and their periods, he is soon joined by Mark Zuckerberg (Samberg) who talks about being a billionaire, of course. They are soon joined by the real deal, who meets Jesse for the first time and shares an awkward moment with our host. After some really stilted acting opposite Lorne Michaels, Zuckerberg does slightly better with Eisenberg. Still, it’s a fun monologue. B+

3. Once Daily Estro-Maxx (1:54)
-Armisen, Hader, Moynihan, Thompson, Brittain

Now there’s a new product for sex-changing hormones that only requires you to take ONE estrogen pill a day, which still works but is more obvious and takes way longer to complete the transformation. The sight of the male castmembers in drag (minus Kenan, who plays a security guard) was a hoot. B+

4. Mr. Wizard’s World (3:34)
-Eisenberg, Elliott, Hader, Thompson, Pedrad

Spoofing an old show from the Nickelodeon era, Mr. Wizard (Hader) teaches some children (Jesse, Elliott, Thompson, & Pedrad) about static electricity from rubbing balloons onto fabric. However, two kids (our host and Nasim) find a much better way to rub the balloons on each other and slowly discover each other’s anatomy (“Balloons make things grow”). The joke was obvious once the Van De Graaf was brought out, but the actors were game here and really sold the joke. A-

5. Don’t Forget The Lyrics (5:26)
-Eisenberg, Sudeikis

Mark McGrath (Sudeikis) has now resorted to hosting the pathetic karaoke-inspired gameshow. Jesse’s awkward singing is pretty damn funny as well as the slow-burn of McGrath and his sinking dignity. There’s not much else to say here. Jesse bombs each song he attempts with completely inappropriate lyrics while McGrath serves as a way to also make fun of the gameshow’s stupid premise. B+

6. WXPD New New York (4:17)
-Eisenberg, Hader, Samberg, Sudeikis, Thompson

Featuring the second performance of senile reporter Herb Welch (Hader), this time he investigates a drug bust while interviewing a college student (Eisenberg). His banter with the kids is only upstaged by his dialogue with the newscaster (Sudeikis) back in the studio, trying to direct the reporter on how to properly do his job. Bill came perilously close to cracking up here and it almost made everyone else lose it as well. When the newsman insults Herb’s parrish, the microphone-attack commences. I absolutely adore this character. A

7. Film: The Creep (2:41)
-John Waters, Minaj, Samberg

After a fun introduction by the conoiseur of creep, John Waters, the Lonely Island sings a new hit about “doin’ the creep’ complete with the pencil-thin moustaches and the absolutely bizarre walk. Nicki Minaj joins in on the fun and her moment at the funeral is the highlight in this otherwise-average digital short. B-

8. Nicki Minaj sings “Right Thru Me” (3:52)

Donning a big mess of white/pink hair, Nicki cruises through a decent rap-inspired tune. I know nothing about Nicki besides her being a protege of Lil Wayne (I think), but this was a pretty good performance. She certainly has presence. B+

9. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (10:28)
-Also: Fred Armisen and Kenan Thompson

After a pretty clever swipe at Michele Bachmann, Seth’s jokes go over at a steady rate especially the joke about the NBC/Comcast deal (“Seriously, I HAVE to say that”) before welcoming the Egyptian president (Armisen), who has shut the internet down and denies his total lack of popularity. After explaining that he called Time Warner to get the issue fixed, he makes a corny joke and some Bible allusions. It’s a pretty funny commentary by Armisen and a nice change of pace with a different impression. I also LOVED the Charlie Sheen bit (“There goes Charlie Sheen with some paperwork. That fifty-year old man with sunglasses and cargo shorts must be going to an important meeting”) and the elderly driving bit as well (they don’t focus on objects in the foreground, but rather interracial couples on the sidewalk). Seth’s second and final guest is Tyler Perry (Thompson), complete with money sticking out of his suit. Perry discusses his new plans for his sure-fire Oscar nominee complete with star Jesse Eisenberg. A fine, fine edition of Update as per the norm. A-

10. The Essentials – The Bride of Blackenstein (5:55)
-Eisenberg, Minaj, Sudeikis, Thompson, Pharoah

The second appearance of this recurring sketch marks the appearance of a blaxploitation flick known as The Bride of Blackenstein. The scientist (Pharoah), however, has his dimwitted assistant Igor (Eisenberg) to retrieve the brain for the bride (Minaj) and as a result, she is a sassy black woman who wants the monster (Thompson) to settle down and get a job. This sketch nails the blaxploitation movie to a tee with the constant close-ups of her ass and especially one of the villagers’ (Hader) reactions to the booty in question, despite his wife’s (Wiig) qualms. This was a classic over-the-top bit. A+

11. Skins (4:02)
-Eisenberg, Elliott, Samberg, Brittain, Pedrad

After an introduction by the MTV exec for programming (Samberg), we learn that the controversial new show Skins has lost several of its sponsors and so they must hawk crappy new sponsors during the show. It starts out funny, but gets even more ridiculous as it goes on (“That sounds great. For young vaginas.” “I’m twelve.”). The satire of the show is pretty smart and Samberg’s executive character is funny as well. Another candidate for best sketch of the night. A

12. Spa Talk (5:24)
-Eisenberg, Elliott, Moynihan, Thompson, Wiig, Bayer

Tyla Yonders (Wiig), most likely a new character for Kristen, hosts a show in which she wistfully slips around and gives facials to her one-dimensional guests. The way in which she conducts herself had me laughing a lot harder than I probably should have. Kristen has a way in which she can take a subtle character and make it work even better than it does on paper. It’s refreshing to see a character that doesn’t rely on catchphrases, but then we’ve had a trend of those lately (Herb Welch, Tyla, Mindy Gracin, etc.) and its resulted in helping out a great season thus far. A-

13. Nicki Minaj sings “Moment 4 Life” (2:57)

Donning her Blackenstein wig, Minaj sings another tune that sounds a little like her first one but its still pretty entertaining. Slight step down from the first one. B

14. El Shrinko (2:01)
-Eisenberg, Hader, Samberg, Wiig, Bayer, Pedrad

To help explain why Arthur (Samberg) and Randy’s (Eisenberg) penises are so small, they invent a product called El Shrinko that has supposedly shrunk them down from a monstrous size that girls just wouldn’t appreciate. This was more clever than I can devote words to from the purposely forced static acting by the girls (“What’s that? Say it now? …el shrinko!”) to the random appearance by their friend Derek (Hader). B+

Jesse thanks the Zuck, Nicki, and the cast and crew before waving goodnight.

Well, that was a heck of a show. Certainly much better than I expected from the likes of Jesse Eisenberg. Just from looking at the guy, I assumed he would be a nervous wreck and I was completely wrong in that assumption. Solid stuff this week and it seems like most of the cast got at least one moment in the sun, particularly Bill Hader (like usual), but we also had a lot of Andy Samberg this week as well, which is a nice treat.

Nicki Minaj was an average musical guest, while Eisenberg was a fun host who didn’t need to be the center of attention in everything he was in.

Great stuff.

Host Rating: A-
Musical Guest Rating: B
Show Rating: A-

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