Saturday Night Live: Justin Timberlake/Lady Gaga (5/21/11)

Posted: May 23, 2011 by Brendan Wahl in SNL Reviews
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by Brendan Wahl

(Season 36, Episode 22)

Here it is, folks. The season finale. It’s been one hell of a ride so let’s crank this puppy out.

The Show:

1. Strauss-Kahn’s Cell (3:33)

Dominique Strauss-Kahn (Killam), former head of the IMF, arrives to Riker’s Island on his first day in prison only to be greeted by two other inmates (Thompson & Pharoah) who proceed to get in-depth about Europe’s financial problems.

– Good thing I watched this episode again later, because I had no idea what this cold open was parodying.
– Jay in a live sketch?!? AND the cold open?! Wow.
– Kenan and Jay were funny in the sketch, but Jay was very noticeably reading the cue cards at one point near the beginning of the sketch.
– Killam was also funny without uttering a single word until the end just by his facial expressions alone
– Anyway, this was a somewhat slow-moving cold open, but it was a nice, refreshing change from the ‘Obama addresses the nation’ opens or any other type of news show

2. Monologue (4:07)

Justin talks about how he is there to do sketch comedy and definitely not sing before he launches into a musical number about all the things he won’t do tonight.

– What do you expect me to say? Justin is one of the finest hosts the show has ever had and he always brings a buttload of charisma to everything he does.
– So, of course, Justin’s song was a hoot and I enjoyed every single moment of it, including the obvious joke that he sang about not singing.
– Particularly hilarious moments include Justin approaching a female audience member, “taking a sexy breath,” his wacky dancing, and the rain effect just to name a few.

3. Liquorville (5:59)

A mascot (Wiig) for tea gets interrupted by the mascot (Timberlake) for Liquorville, who proceeds to do a number of dances to the tune of popular songs.

– It’s unfortunate that neither Forte or Parnell are around to do these sketches anymore, but Kristen Wiig is a very suitable replacement, especially with her naiive references to “teabagging” and Justin telling her to google it.
– Justin’s dancing was as funny as ever, especially the visual of his beer bottle costume twirling around and rising up and down.
– Lady Gaga showing up was a pretty big surprise too and her wine costume was pretty damn funny. And was it just me or did she have a slight wardrobe malfunction at one point? If not, it was very, very close.
*** 1/2

4. WXPD News New York (5:05)

Herb Welch (Hader) is back, reporting a story on a carbon monoxide leak at a high school. In the process, he interviews a young teacher (Timberlake) and the principal (Armisen) while Jack (Sudeikis) pushes Herb to probe further into his investigation.

– Another appearance by Herb Welch and it’s essentially the same as his last appearance, but Hader never fails to make this old geezer a hilarious character.
– I loved Herb attacking the principal when he found out he was Japanese and then his usual attacking the camera/coming back from the dead ending.
– Interesting to note here is that Nasim Pedrad played the same newscaster that was in the news sketch on Emma Stone/Kings of Leon when they were reporting on “souping.” And the news station in that sketch was also called WXPD.
– Was that an on-air prank by Samberg to scream “you suck” just to make Hader crack? It almost worked and it didn’t really seem to contribute to the sketch at all.
– The very end with Sudeikis getting a microphone in his face made no sense and was hilarious.

5. Digital Short: 3-Way (The Golden Rule) (3:05)

The harmonizing duo (Jandy Timsamlake) are back and after finishing off with each other’s mothers (Sarandon & Clarkson, again) they decide to meet up with their respective girlfriends. When they each discover that it’s the same girl, they sing about having a three-way.

– I knew they’d bring this back, but I had no idea what they would try to pull off.
– I really liked their continuous yelling of “yeah” at the beginning and then stopping themselves when they noticed the stoplight.
– Again, Lady Gaga is involved in a sketch and again, it helps it a lot more than hurts it. Her staring at them during the “helicopter dick” scene was uproarious.
– This was no Motherlover or Dick in a Box, but it was still hilarious and another successful return for the Andy/Justin duo.

6. Lady Gaga sings “The Edge Of Glory” & “Judas” (4:21)

– Once again, Gaga impresses the SNL stage with her impressive presence and powerful singing abilities.
– She only performed part of the first song; a quiet, somber piece at the piano, before launching into her second ditty
– Where “Judas” was a frenetic dance-a-thon, “The Edge Of Glory” was anything but. It resulted in a sort-of schizophrenic performance and it was definitely entertaining.

7. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (8:45)
Guests: “Get in the Cage” with Nic Cage (Samberg) and guest Bradley Cooper; Stefon (Hader)

Best Jokes: Donald Trump; Disney/Seal Team 6; 25,000th Big Mac; baby cakes; ‘planking’; marijuana-laced margerine

– Seth’s edition of “Really!?!” regarding Arnold Schwarzenegger was hilarious and I’m glad to finally see it make its return. I especially enjoyed Seth saying that Arnold “has really big balls for a guy with little steroid balls” and the fact that almost all his movies make great headlines for this story.
– The second edition of “Get in the Cage” was funny and it was cool to see Bradley Cooper show up on the program again; he was a fun host a couple years ago. I especially like Cage when he freaks out about how he’s not in the movie his guest is promoting (“I’m told the actors were given food!”). Cooper was very laid-back and all smiles, which made this very entertaining and Cage’s rant at the end of the bit was the icing on the cake. The revelation that Mel Gibson is Nic’s life coach and that Wesley Snipes is his accountant was also funny. I enjoyed this one quite a bit more than the Jake Gyllenhaal edition.
– Seth leaving Update at the end with Stefon in a Casablanca homage was a great way to go out.
**** 1/2

8. What’s That Name? (6:14)

Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga compete on a game show that tests their trivia knowledge, but it soon turns into a confrontation as Justin is stumped by a woman he shtupped a couple of weekends ago and a former band member. Gaga, however, has no problem remembering every single one of her fans.

– Even though they did this one with Paul Rudd before, this was a perfect way to bring it back and Hader is a perfect match for the host.
– Timberlake’s facial reactions during the sketch were hilarious as well as Gaga’s knowledge of everyone’s name and life situation.
– Justin was a sort-of slow burn here and the part with the ‘N Sync band member was an absolute highlight.
– I think this may go down as an all-time classic.

9. Merryville Love Tunnel (3:34)

A couple (Sudeikis & Pedrad) take a spin in the Merryville Love Tunnel, where several of the animatronic robots (Timberlake, Hader, & Killam) creep out the husband and slowly attempt to take away his girlfriend and marry her.

– I never thought this would be more than a one-off sketch, but the edition from Carrey/Black Keys was hilarious and this was a really fun follow-up.
– Sudeikis was a perfect straight man here as per always and the performances by the three playing the robots were perfect as well.
– Jason’s scream in particular made me laugh out loud.
– Even though this was recurring, at least this went in a much different direction and the wedding at the end plus Hader’s flirting was a funny ending.
*** 1/2

10. Secret Word (4:31)

It’s another edition of the 1960s game show with Mindy Gracin (Wiig) this time going up against a magician named the Mysterious Crandell (Timberlake).

– Hader as ANOTHER game show host in the same show?! Has that ever happened? Maybe with Phil Hartman back in the 80s, but I doubt it.
– This is a sketch that has somewhat run out of steam despite the consistently funny performance by Kristen and Bill.
– The jokes where Wiig accidentally says the secret word are running thin as well, except for the one where she misinterpreted “BOOT” as “8OOT”
– I did like Timberlake’s phony magician character and the cheap motorized pinwheel that he employed to try and confuse the host (Hader).
** 1/2

11. Lady Gaga sings “Born This Way” (4:20)

– Well, hatching out of an egg was certainly a unique way to make an entrance.
– Gaga belts out another impressive song here. There’s no denying that she should become a five-timer on the show if her career keeps going the way it is.
– The glitter birth: wow.

12. The Barry Gibb Talk Show (5:18)

In the fifth edition of the popular recurring sketch, Barry (Jimmy Fallon!) and Robin (Timberlake) welcome their guests Rachel Maddow (Elliott), Ben Bernanke (Armisen), and Roland S. Martin (Thompson).

– It was mildly surprising that this showed up again, but Timberlake obviously loves doing this, so that’s why it’s only a mild one.
– I didn’t think this was as funny as the previous ones, but this was still a funny sketch and it certainly had its moments, mostly due to Jimmy Fallon’s freak-outs and Timberlake’s decision to remain silent.
– The best part was Fallon being revived with the gold medallions as a defibrillator and screaming out that he survived the rapture.
– Kenan was on the brink of cracking up at the end when Jimmy started touching his face.

13. Goodnights

– Well, it really looks like this may be Fred’s last year. The camera lingered on him quite a bit and he seemed to be doing a lot of emotional embracing.
– Timberlake briefly dancing with an audience member was pretty cute.
– Holy crap, they let the goodnights run the entire time! That’s awesome that they did this for the season finale.

OVERALL: In what may be a representation of the entire season, this was yet another phenomenal episode (even with pretty much everything being a recurring sketch/character) with only one hiccup and an average sketch or two. Everything else was terrific though and it all resulted in a helluva season finale. Timberlake can almost be depended on for a great episode now as I don’t think he’s ever hosted a bad one yet. Much like Jon Hamm, he has proven himself to be a great go-to host once again and even has a few recurring sketches under his belt. Lady Gaga was also a great addition to the show and her participation in sketches made the show that much more fun.


HOST: JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – 8 segments (Monologue; Liquorville; WXPD News New York; 3-Way (The Golden Rule); What’s That Name?; Merryville Love Tunnel; Secret Word; The Barry Gibb Talk Show)
MUSICAL GUEST: LADY GAGA – 3 segments (Liquorville; 3-Way (The Golden Rule); What’s That Name?)
CAMEOS: BRADLEY COOPER – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
JIMMY FALLON – 1 segment (The Barry Gibb Talk Show)
FILMED CAMEOS: PATRICIA CLARKSON – 1 segment (3-Way (The Golden Rule))
SUSAN SARANDON – 1 segment (3-Way (The Golden Rule))


FRED ARMISEN – 3 segments (WXPD News New York; What’s That Name?; The Barry Gibb Talk Show)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 3 segments (What’s That Name?; Secret Word; The Barry Gibb Talk Show)
BILL HADER – 5 segments (WXPD News New York; Weekend Update; What’s That Name?; Merryville Love Tunnel; Secret Word)
SETH MEYERS – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 2 segments (Merryville Love Tunnel; Secret Word)
ANDY SAMBERG – 3 segments (WXPD News New York (voice only); 3-Way (The Golden Rule); Weekend Update)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 2 segments (WXPD News New York; Merryville Love Tunnel)
KENAN THOMPSON – 2 segments (Strauss-Kahn’s Cell; The Barry Gibb Talk Show)
KRISTEN WIIG – 2 segments (Liquorville; Secret Word)


PAUL BRITTAIN – 2 segments (Strauss-Kahn’s Cell; Merryville Love Tunnel)
TARAN KILLAM – 3 segments (Strauss-Kahn’s Cell; What’s That Name?; Merryville Love Tunnel)
NASIM PEDRAD – 2 segments (WXPD News New York; Merryville Love Tunnel)
JAY PHAROAH – 1 segment (Strauss-Kahn’s Cell)


  1. Scott says:

    One of the things I liked most in the night was at the end of the Barry Gibb Talk Show. Remember when they just randomly went into “Rapper’s Delight?” Callback to their History of Rap duet on Late Night a few months back. ❤ references.

  2. Brendan Wahl says:

    I never saw that Late Night segment, but I did enjoy that little “Rapper’s Delight” moment as well.

  3. […] Justin Timberlake/Lady Gaga […]

  4. Jo Ann Zinaman says:

    Actually, Fred came back the Next Year and Fred might even come back Next Year which would be the Fall of 2012 and the Spring of 2013. Actually, Justin DID have A Bad Episode where I think it was Will Forte and I think They did Plasticville or something like that. Justin didn’t Hardly dance in that Sketch. Justin and Jimmy didn’t do too much of Anything or I didn’t care for Barry Gibb’s Guest on This Episode. I don’t Remember what Justin did for This Monologue, but that probably wasn’t that much of Anything Either. This was the Only Time that I was Disappointed and Unhappy with Justin Timerberlake. Also, Jon Hamm’s Third Time to Host was not as Good as His Other Two Times that He had Hosted. Jody

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