Posts Tagged ‘Jimmy Fallon’


(Season 38, Episode 10)

Bumper

WHAT THEY’RE PROMOTING:

 

MARTIN SHORT: nothing really unless you count “Frankenweenie” back in October

PAUL MCCARTNEY: “Kisses on the Bottom” (album) – even though it came out way back in February

 

 

COLD OPENING: “Silent Night” (1:41)
Silent Night

–      Let me just take this moment to say that what happened in Newtown, Connecticut was a horrific tragedy. We’ve seen tons of school shootings all across the United States and for this one to happen at a fucking elementary school should tell the US government something about A) gun control laws and B) how they deal with mental health because clearly someone or two people or whatever who are able to go into an elementary school and start shooting at six-year olds has got something wrong in their head that has been ignored their whole life. I’m definitely not placing any sympathy on the shooter(s) so don’t think that but I just think that if they were treated at an earlier age, maybe shit like this wouldn’t happen. I also agree with Morgan Freeman’s statement that the media keeps sensationalizing the shooters instead of the victims for the most part which makes others want to one-up them and go out looking like a monster. It’s rather sickening on everyone’s part and I just hope the parents are able to recover this tragic loss. Sorry for getting on the soapbox a bit there but I just wanted to say that right off the top.

–      Anyway, this was a lovely tribute. They didn’t need to say anything. No one came out and talked specifically about what happened but this song by the New York Children’s Chorus encapsulated the whole thing and was a very classy and poignant way to open the show.

–      The kids did look pretty darn happy to get to say LFNY at the end.

 

 

MONOLOGUE: Martin Short (6:28)
Monologue

–      This was excellent. Martin was a ball of energy, the lyrics were hilarious, and the cameos were just the icing on the cake.

–      The stuff before the backstage/music portion of the monologue was very funny as well like Martin pretending to be humble and talking about his love of things in order of importance and ending with family. I also loved the brief return of Ed Grimley.

–      Paul Shaffer playing piano with Short was also great and I liked him mentioning that Letterman was “the cranky one.” Short sitting on the piano was funny and awkward when he mentioned that he didn’t know how to sit on one.

–      I liked Kristen Wiig’s cameo. Martin wanting to kiss her little deformed hand was very funny and it seemed to be ad-libbed when he got all hot and bothered by it.

–      I loved Martin going around kissing everyone because you could see Jimmy Fallon and Tom Hanks actually holding hands and jumping around excitedly in the background afterwards. Also, Sam Jackson backing up and his cold stare towards Short when he attempted to kiss him was hilarious too.

–      Martin kissing Lorne Michaels was also a hilarious shocker and it was nice to see Tina Fey there as well.

RATING: *****

 

 

SHOW: A Tony Bennett Christmas (5:13)
A Tony Bennett Christmas

–      ANOTHER CAMEO?!? Alec Baldwin returned and was fantastic! Having Martin play Tony Bennett’s brother Jerry was a hilarious bit of business as well.

–      Having Jay Pharoah show up as Kanye West (another great impression of his) made me realize that this was the first speaking role for a castmember tonight. Not that I’m saying it’s a bad or a good thing… just an observation.

–      The usual sponsor bit was also hilarious with Kanye awkwardly promoting a laxative suppository product. Baldwin’s “it sure is easy to get down in the dumps when you can’t take one” line was hilarious and Short had some great allusions to constipation as well.

–      Short hugging Baldwin over and over was also quite funny.

–      Is it just me or has Alec Baldwin lost a shitload of weight?

RATING: ****

 

 

SKETCH: Royal OB/GYN (5:27)
Royal OBGYN

–      Absolutely hilarious; I can see this as being a future classic. I don’t blame Bill for a second for coming so perilously close to cracking up in this sketch because Short’s character looked hilarious and WAS hilarious as well. It also seemed that after a while, Short was clearly trying to MAKE Hader crack up on purpose.

–      The first time Hader almost laughed was from Short’s ridiculous example of how he should respond when he sees her vagina. It caused me to lose it as well because Martin is just so damn good at being silly and over-the-top.

–      All the euphenisms that Short came up with for Kate’s vagina were hilarious. The “Downton Abbey” one got the biggest reaction but my favourite ones were “the King-Maker” and “Piccadilly Cervix.”

–      The guard bit worked but I wish we had not have seen Bobby sneaking by in the corner of the frame.

–      “Church of Taint Andrews” being the name for the Royal Butthole was hilarious as well.

–      Fred’s return as the Queen at the end was actually pretty damn funny because it was used so sparingly and I liked her saying she had to get her “Judi Dench” washed.

RATING: *****

 

 

COMMERCIAL: You’re a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown (3:04)
You're a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown

–      Oh my God, this was terrific. The impression showcase was hilarious enough but combined with the fact that it was a Charlie Brown special just made it all the more hilarious.

–      It was great to see Jason’s Philip Seymour Hoffman impression make a comeback.

–      The best new impressions were definitely Martin Short as Larry David (I actually thought it was really Larry for a second), Kate as Edie Falco, and Taran as Michael Keaton (his facial expressions were perfect).

–      The random shots of the audience reactions were hilarious.

–      The football scene was awesome with Bill and Kate just exchanging profanities and then Bill quickly saying that they would take a little intermission.

RATING: *****

 

 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “My Valentine” (3:07)
Paul McCartney1

–      Joe Walsh?! Holy shit! I don’t think I have ever heard this song before this episode but this was a fantastic performance from McCartney et al. I may be a bit biased because I love the guy but I just really dug this.

 

 

WEEKEND UPDATE with Seth Meyers (10:39)
Guests: Jacob and The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party
update1 update2 update3 update4 update5 update6 update7

–      Best Jokes: North Korea rocket launch; Hillary Clinton/no hairdresser; HSBC; Jersey Shore Series Finale; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Google/porn; deer/contraceptives; daughter born on 12/12/12

–      I was really surprised to see Vanessa Bayer playing this Jacob character because I remember her doing the same character from two years ago in a bar mitzvah sketch. I liked all of Bayer’s cheap “low-level roast jokes” followed by her mugging for the camera. This was very funny though in a great character-focused and dry kind of way.

–      The Girl You Wish… commentary was the best one that Cecily has done up to this point and she continues to impress me with her performances time after time. Too many highlights to list here because the whole thing was awesome but rest assured, I loved it all. Also, her quick racist comment is always great and the minstrel show thing was the best one yet.

RATING: **** ½

 

 

SHOW: What Up With That? (7:45)
What Up With That.

–      Yes, I like the fact that they brought this back. Samuel L. Jackson and Carrie Brownstein were great cameos as well along with Hader as Lindsey Buckingham of course.

–      Martin Short bringing back Jackie Rogers Jr. was absolutely hilarious even though they seemed to have forgotten to apply his pale white makeup or maybe didn’t have enough time. Either way, it was very awesome to see him back. Sam’s reaction during the whole thing was great too. They need to get Jackson to host again.

–      Jason’s dancing continues to entertain me.

–      Of course, everyone’s talking about Sam’s F-bomb. I believe Sam’s story that Kenan was supposed to interrupt him but they messed up the cue. Sam saying “bullshit” afterwards though was definitely intentional and Kenan had a terrific recovery line by telling him “That costs money.” Carrie making the zip-your-lip motion afterwards was funny too.

–      I also like how Kenan called Carrie “the funny one on Portlandia.”

–      Poor Tim Robinson; he made his only appearance of the night here as a dancing Santa.

RATING: ****

 

 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “Cut Me Some Slack” (4:39)
Paul McCartney2

–      This was not a song I expected from McCartney as it was more fast-paced and heavy but he did a great job nonetheless. Nirvana (well, most of them) were awesome in accompanying the legend as well.

 

 

SKETCH: Old Friends (3:42)
Old Friends

–      Silly little sketch with solid performances from both Short and Armisen as two old friends who share a lot of really strange details about their lives like Fred being a James Cameron impersonator (and apparently it’s going really bad) and Short being an actor for EMT training.

–      The odd detail with Martin and Fred asking Taran for the gramaphone and a captain’s telescope while adding that they would like to pay a lot for them was really funny.

–      Martin’s World War II book opens up with “It was the 1940s and everything was in black and white.”

–      The bit at the end with Martin saying he lives in a big field was also quite funny.

RATING: *** ½

 

 

SKETCH: Pageant Audition (4:08)
Pageant Audition

–      And one more highly-entertaining sketch to finish the night off… why not? Martin and Paul were a great duo and I liked how Paul kept asking if he could sing but Martin told him that he was not capable of singing.

–      The bit at the beginning with Kenan was hilarious.

–      Martin simply yelling at Paul doesn’t sound funny in theory but when it comes to the performances here, it really worked. I also liked how Paul just played the whole thing straight-faced and was clearly trying really hard not to laugh at Short’s antics.

–      Jason and Cecily were good straight characters too.

RATING: **** ½

 

 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “Wonderful Christmastime” (3:40)
Paul McCartney3

–      I absolutely LOVED how they segued from the previous sketch right into this musical performance.

–      Wonderful musical performance to finish off the night. Paul delivered and it was nice to see the New York Children’s Chorus again.

 

 

Goodnights
goodnights

 

BEST PERFORMER(S) OF THE NIGHT:

–      Martin Short

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Yep, I’m going the full monty for this. What we got here was a beautiful, lovely, awesome, wonderful, hilarious show. Martin Short was absolutely perfect as the host and Paul McCartney was stunning. The bevy of cameos was also terrific and along with the touching tribute at the top of the show, it just made this whole episode come to life. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I hope people recognize it as a classic in years to come.

TONIGHT’S RATING: *****

Advertisements

by Brendan Wahl

(Season 37, Episode 16)

The Show:

1. FOX Report (5:14)

Shepard Smith (Hader) (along with his dead mother) hosts the FOX news program in which he has a special interview with Mitt (Sudeikis) and Ann Romney (Wiig) along with their “five adult sons” (Armisen, MEYERS (!), Moynihan, Killam, & writer Michael Patrick O’Brien) in an effort to help out the campaign. Kid Rock (Samberg) also stops by to endorse Romney and sing the new campaign song.

– This was a great way to start the show and I like how they made the usual Romney opening a bit more interesting with the addition of his sons and Samberg’s funny portrayal of Kid Rock.
– I love how Hader’s Shepard Smith impression has gone off the deep end. It started with a bit of an exaggerated southern accent but now they really went all out with it with the Psycho reference involving the skeleton of his mother.
– Wiig did very well here with a mostly-silent role as Mitt’s wife and I laughed a lot at her various facial expressions.
– So random for Seth to be in this sketch but I guess he had to do it since Paul Brittain’s no longer there. It was funny when Killam was mentioning different things that they like to do and Seth was just subtly moving his hands in rhythm.
Rating: ****

2. Monologue (2:39)

Lindsay thanks everyone for allowing her the opportunity to host but then runs afoul of some of the cast’s little tests to make sure she remains clean and sober, including an ankle bracelet, Kenan checking her eyes, Kristen patting her down, and Jimmy Fallon making an appearance to point out Jon Hamm in the audience as “replacement host” if necessary.

– They addressed LiLo’s issues here as expected but did it in a pretty original and very funny way that I didn’t really see coming at all. The cameos from Fallon and Hamm were great.
– Best part here was Kenan saying he’s been stoned since Good Burger. Nice reference to that marijuana incident a few years back.
– What was with that random audience member yelling out “Kristen Wiig!”? I’m sure they got kicked out right after.
Rating: ****

3. The Real Housewives of Disney (3:18)

Much like the Housewives of Atlanta, this series focuses on a number of materialistic housewives constantly at each other’s throats. This one focuses on Snow White (Bayer), Rapunzel (Lohan), Belle (Elliott), Jasmine (Pedrad), and the drunken mess, Cinderella (Wiig).

– This was excellent and a very clever way to parody the Real Housewives show. My only note is that Lohan playing Cinderella would’ve made for a better joke but then again, I don’t think she would’ve done as good a job as Kristen did.
– My favourite parts were Kristen’s introduction (“I’m a huge fuckin’ mess…”), the dwarves bit, Pedrad cooking Abu into a casserole, Taran as the gay Prince Charming (especially that laugh!), and Abby’s demo tape.
Rating: **** 1/2

4. 2012 Psychic Awards (3:35)

Psychic Dan Fernando (Samberg) and assistant Lucy (Lohan) present a number of awards to various psychics and then show a memorial video of ones that will die during the following year.

– This was very funny and kept short enough so that it didn’t go beyond the premise’s short expiration date. It’s also the first time in a long time that I remember there being a good “awards show” sketch.
– Andy’s “the power of the mind!” bits were very funny and I like how the smoke barely came into frame.
– Hader not being sure of where to walk off the stage was a funny little detail that happens at almost every awards show.
– The memorial segment was great too, especially with the various facial reactions from the psychics who will die.
Rating: ****

5. Scared Straight (6:07)

Officer Sikorsky (Sudeikis) is tired of the punk kids (Moynihan, Hader, & Samberg) in his office and so he sends in Lorenzo McIntosh (Thompson) and Lindsay Lohan from the Scared Straight program to talk some sense into them. Instead, they make thinly-veiled movie references about their own lives and threaten bodily harm in prison.

– It was nice to see this sketch again as I have enjoyed pretty much every single edition of this recurring segment. I could see the twist of Lindsay playing herself from a mile away but it was still an inspired idea.
– Lindsay was obviously a little wooden here and had trouble with some of her lines but it didn’t really take away from the sketch too much.
– Jason also gets goofier with every one of these sketches, which is a good thing. I also loved how he crazily jumped up on the desk and caused everyone to laugh out loud. Otherwise though, Bill actually held it together fairly well in the part of the sketch where Kenan usually makes him laugh.
– The AIDS line was surprising. I didn’t think they’d get away with that.
Rating: *** 1/2

6. Jack White sings “Love Interruption” (2:45)

– A good slow-paced tune that was a bit out-of-character for White.

7. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (9:26)
Guests: James Carville and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi (with: Jon Hamm)

Best Jokes: Snooki pregnant; Seth Rogen: Stoner of the Year; Chuck Norris bridge

– Bill’s James Carville impression is as great as always and it was nice to see him back after not being around for almost a year. His mannerisms were great as always and I liked his bit on Cops, him mentioning that he should be king of the snakes, the random reference to his childhood enemy, and the whole bit with him going out with Newt Gingrich.
– It was also great to see Snooki do an Update commentary again and Moynihan had some funny comments as per usual. However, he looked a lot less orange than he usually did for this impression. I loved the bit with Snooki saying “Never once in my life did I think…” but the Jon Hamm cameo was the icing on the cake as the father of Snooki’s baby.
Rating: *** 1/2

8. Delinquent Girl Teen Gang (4:29)

A gang of rebellious dancing girls (Lohan, Armisen, Elliott, & Wiig) continue dancing in the streets despite the pleas of Officer Jenkins (Hader). Babette (Armisen), however, gets a little too close to the traffic and keeps getting hit by cars.

– This was an utter waste of time. The sketch was bad enough because of the one-note joke of Armisen constantly getting hit by cars but the fact that it hearkened back to that terrible Nascarettes sketch made it even worse.
– I did like Armisen asking if they can call it a night but that was a very minor part.
Rating: *

9. Digital Short: Afro (1:15)

Two people (Samberg & Wiig) who share an afro sing about falling in love while another man (Thompson) uses various instruments while singing about them as well.

– What the hell was this? This was one of the strangest digital shorts I’ve ever seen. That being said, it wasn’t as horrible as that last sketch but it certainly wasn’t good or anything.
– Kenan gave me my only laughs in this sketch.
Rating: **

10. B108 FM (5:05)

A couple of annoying morning DJs (Moynihan & Killam) talk about hip hop with their intern Illiterate Lisa (Lohan) and Karen (Bayer), the only normal one, reading the news.

– I gotta give Taran and Bobby credit for their performances here and they made this sketch much better than it had any right to be. I also gotta give “mad props” to Vanessa Bayer for her low-key mousy performance as well. She just keeps getting better and better as her tenure goes on.
– Lohan wasn’t too bad here.
– The listing of schools that are closed was funny mostly due to Killam constantly referring to Bayer as Jiggle Butt and Moynihan’s random “I’m gonna kill myself!” comment.
– The part with the radio hosts waiting for a call was funny as well.
Rating: ***

11. Chantix (1:42)

– Repeat from Charles Barkley/Kelly Clarkson (1/14/12).

12. Housesitter (4:42)

A new housesitter (Lohan) comes over to look after a young woman’s (Wiig) home but as she gives her the tour, she keeps receiving phone calls in which she becomes insane and yells into the phone to stop calling.

– This was a typical weird Kristen Wiig sketch but this was a whole lot better than that crab legs sketch and Wiig was really good with her insane performance here as usual.
– Lohan was a pretty decent straight character here and I did like how she was getting increasingly frightened, especially when Wiig said she was sorry that Lohan would die in her house.
– I also loved the weird comments Wiig would make between phone calls.
– The neckbrace on Wiig was a funny little detail.
Rating: *** 1/2

13. Verizon (1:31)

– Repeat from Zooey Deschanel/Karmin (2/11/12).
– ANOTHER repeat?!

14. Jack White sings “Sixteen Saltiness” (2:46)

– Another great performance although this one was a lot more fast-paced and hard-rock than the first.

15. Rude Buddha! (3:36)

Buddha (Samberg) gives various people (Lohan, Hader, Moynihan, & Bayer) some sage-like advice but it becomes painfully obvious that he is just being a dick and giving terrible life lessons out or ones that make no sense.

– This was kinda weak. Samberg tried but this was essentially the same joke over and over again. I DID like the Facts of Life reference.
– Lohan added absolutely nothing to this sketch. She wasn’t bad or anything but obviously the writers had no real place for her in this sketch.
– Nasim was good as the dialed-in assistant.
– The ending was funny and abrupt.
Rating: **

16. 70’s Album (:35)

A man (Sudeikis) sits in front of a fire and talks about how great it would be to have all your favourite 70s hits in one album.

– This was a hilarious blackout bit. It started off like any of those ads where they start talking about the CD and what it would include but having Sudeikis just ask the opening question and then trail off without doing the rest of the ad was great.
Rating: ****

17. Burnt by the Fire (:25)

The same man (Sudeikis) is back and this time, he burns his hand in the fireplace.

– Not quite as good, but still funny.
Rating: ***

18. Goodnights

OVERALL: Not a terrific show but certainly not the disaster that some people are saying it was. The show was a lot stronger in the pre-Update parts but there were only a few bad sketches with some really good ones sticking out as well. As far as Lohan’s performances, she is probably the weakest host of the season by default because of not really doing a whole lot and being stuck into a lot of supporting roles plus her weak delivery during the Scared Straight sketch. However, she wasn’t awful. Just average. So yes, it IS the worst show of the season but I still think it was pretty good.

BREAKDOWN:

HOST: LINDSAY LOHAN – 8 segments (Monologue; The Real Housewives of Disney; 2012 Psychic Awards; Scared Straight; Delinquent Girl Teen Gang; B108 FM; Housesitter; Rude Buddha!)

CAMEOS: JIMMY FALLON – 1 segment (Monologue)
JON HAMM – 2 segments (Monologue; Weekend Update)

FRED ARMISEN – 5 segments (FOX Report; 2012 Psychic Awards; Delinquent Girl Teen Gang; Verizon; Rude Buddha!)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 3 segments (The Real Housewives of Disney; 2012 Psychic Awards; Delinquent Girl Teen Gang)
BILL HADER – 8 segments (FOX Report; 2012 Psychic Awards; Scared Straight; Weekend Update; Delinquent Girl Teen Gang; Chantix; Verizon; Rude Buddha!)
SETH MEYERS – 2 segments (FOX Report; Weekend Update)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 6 segments (FOX Report; 2012 Psychic Awards; Scared Straight; Weekend Update; B108 FM; Rude Buddha!)
NASIM PEDRAD – 3 segments (The Real Housewives of Disney; 2012 Psychic Awards; Rude Buddha!)
ANDY SAMBERG – 6 segments (FOX Report; 2012 Psychic Awards; Scared Straight; Delinquent Girl Teen Gang; Afro; Rude Buddha!)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 5 segments (FOX Report; 2012 Psychic Awards; Scared Straight; 70’s Album; Burnt by the Fire)
KENAN THOMPSON – 4 segments (Monologue; 2012 Psychic Awards; Scared Straight; Afro)
KRISTEN WIIG – 8 segments (FOX Report; Monologue; The Real Housewives of Disney; 2012 Psychic Awards; Delinquent Girl Teen Gang; Afro; Chantix; Housesitter)

VANESSA BAYER – 4 segments (The Real Housewives of Disney; 2012 Psychic Awards; B108 FM; Rude Buddha!)
TARAN KILLAM – 4 segments (FOX Report; The Real Housewives of Disney; 2012 Psychic Awards; B108 FM)
JAY PHAROAH – 1 segment (2012 Psychic Awards)

EPISODE MVPs: Bill Hader/Kristen Wiig


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 37, Episode 10)

The Show:

1. Winter Formal (5:07)

The Boston Teens are back! Sully (Fallon) and Denise (Rachel Dratch!) wait to get into a formal and also interact with their friend, Patrice Donovan (Amy Poehler!) and then a man (Killam) that turns out to be a huge fan of their antics.

– It’s weird that I totally forgot about these recurring characters being brought back when it comes to Jimmy Fallon characters that he did while on the show. Absence makes the heart grow fonder though I guess because I really enjoyed seeing them back again.
– Amy Poehler was a huge surprise here, actually. She had a pretty funny small part though.
– I loved all the “retawded” moments the best and the moment where Fallon grabbed Amy’s boob was pretty damn funny.
– It looks like the picture quality was off. I’ve noticed before that whenever SNL does a fuzzy screen and cuts to someone, the picture looks a bit blurry but they usually seem to fix it quickly. This just seemed to linger. It wasn’t a huge mistake and it wasn’t super annoying or anything, but I did notice it.
– Awesome, super-energetic LFNY delivery from Fallon.
Rating: *** 1/2

2. Monologue (3:04)

Jimmy talks about how thankful he is to be back on the show, talks about all the sketches that he ruined by laughing the whole way through them, and then goes backstage and sings a Christmas song while the entire cast dances around him.

– Excellent stuff. Jimmy going around the whole studio and talking about the sketches he ruined by laughing was great, but I also loved him saying that Buble was doing cocaine and the final big dance number with him and all the castmembers on the stage except for Seth Meyers of course.
– Wow, Jimmy looks really, really happy to be there. He had a really infectious energy.
– Lorne’s first appearance of the season.
Rating: *****

3. Today (4:51)

Hoda Kotb (Pedrad) must deal with Kathie Lee’s (Wiig) antics and drunken behaviour on another episode of the morning gab-fest. Before things get too crazy though, Regis Philbin (Fallon) interrupts the show and joins Kathie Lee in bashing Hoda before ultimately taking her spot at the desk.

– It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen this sketch and I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Kristen seemed to tone down the mugging and obnoxious behaviour that she usually uses during these sketches. I personally never really found it annoying but I guess some people do.
– I think Nasim is definitely the best Hoda Kotb we’ve seen in this sketch so far.
– I never knew Jimmy Fallon could pull off a Regis Philbin impression but he did a pretty damn good job and reminded me of what a great impressionist he was while he was on the show.
Rating: *** 1/2

4. Michael Buble Christmas Duets (2:52)

After the success of Buble’s Christmas album, he releases another one featuring duets with other celebrities/singers including the girl from MIA (Pedrad), Sting (Fallon), Thom Yorke (Armisen), Ke$ha (Elliott), Russell Brand (Fallon again), Taylor Swift (Wiig), Scott McCreery (Killam), and Justin Bieber (Fallon yet again!).

– They’ve been doing a lot of these ensemble sketches lately and this was another terrific one. Buble played a great straight man to all the insanity going on around him.
– My favourite impressions were the three from Jimmy Fallon (he’s a house of fire tonight!), Fred’s insane Thom Yorke impression, Taran as Scott McCreery, and Pharoah as Kanye West.
– Although Kristen didn’t do an actual impression of Taylor Swift, her facial expressions were pretty damn accurate.
Rating: ****

5. Mirror Chat (3:26)

Jimmy waits for the next sketch in his dressing room and begins to talk to his reflection (Samberg) about what he should do throughout the night to keep the show moving along at a great pace. His reflection suggests old tried-and-true methods and some of which are not really of interest to Jimmy.

– This was hilarious and very reminiscent of the Mick Jagger/Jimmy Fallon mirror sketch from Year 27. This seems like it’ll probably be a future classic with a good impression of Fallon by Andy and great performances with twice.
– My favourite parts were Jimmy and Andy talking about how sad a certain song was, Andy telling Jimmy to do another impression other than Seinfeld because he couldn’t do one, and the part where they were both pressed up against the mirror.
Rating: **** 1/2

6. 1920’s Holiday Party (4:55)

Lilia (Wiig) begs fellow partygoers not to force her to have to sing even though all they’re concerned with is getting Maxwell (Samberg) to play them a piano song. Meanwhile, another man (Fallon) begs them not to force him to dance as well.

– I was going to dismiss this as an unnecessary sequel to this sketch from two years ago, but they did shake this up a bit with the addition of Jimmy Fallon’s character.
– I really liked the part with Jimmy dancing on top of the piano and a few of the times when Kristen missed her cue to sing along with Andy playing the piano. Andy’s deadpan delivery when saying that the song is over was pretty funny too.
– The ending with the raccoons was kinda dumb.
Rating: ***

7. Tommy Palmese (2:42)

An ad is shown for a new one-man show featuring Tommy Palmese (Armisen) telling his life story with a whole lot of neuroses much to the chagrin of anyone watching it.

– I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. Fred always does well playing these quirky types of roles.
– Bill Hader’s discomfort during the scene with Fred in his face was hilarious and probably my favourite part. I also liked Vanessa Bayer running out of the theatre.
Rating: *** 1/2

8. Season’s Greetings (2:15)

Jimmy, Horatio Sanz, Chris Kattan, and Tracy Morgan perform their old classic “Christmastime is Here”  for the very enthusiastic SNL audience that just eats it right up.

– I can’t really rate this but it was awesome to see these four doing their Christmas song again. A lot of people said Tracy seemed pissed off here but based on his smiles during the goodnights, I think this was just part of his character.
– Kattan sticking his head into the frame was hilarious.

9. Michael Buble sings “Holly Jolly Christmas” (2:02)

– Buble did a pretty good job here and it was nice to hear a nice traditional Christmas song with the audience clapping along as well for a while.

10. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (9:23)
Guests: Nicolas Cage with Jude Law (and a director) and Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, & Amy Poehler

Best Jokes: the two Trump debate jokes; Romney attack; radioactive monkeys; Wolf Dad; toy drive

– The ‘Get in the Cage’ segment with Andy was pretty much the same as the other two that he did but I still love his Nic Cage impression. I really like his reasons why it was silly that he wasn’t included in the new Sherlock Holmes movie. Paul Brittain as the director was a good little addition. Not bad overall.
– The appearance of Jimmy Fallon was somewhat expected but certainly not Tina Fey! Amy also joins in and the two co-anchor teams go at it with a Joke-Off. My favourites were Jimmy’s joke about the crumpled-up $20 bill and “unlike the strippers, the toys must NOT be damaged.” Great segment that the crowd really dug.
Rating: ****

11. Beethoven’s Orchestra (5:52)

After a performance of Symphony No. 9, Beethoven (Fallon) takes the time to introduce each individual member of his orchestra much like an energetic bandleader might do between sets at a modern-day concert.

– This was a piece controlled by a nice steady performance by Jimmy as the charismatic Beethoven not even attempting to do a German accent, which made me laugh quite a bit.
– The Hitler joke was hilarious and Paul Brittain had a great moment with it.
– Wow, Andy has been dominating a lot tonight. He’s probably having one of his best nights performance-wise as well.
– Nice to see Horatio Sanz and Chris Kattan making another appearance, this time in a proper sketch. Kattan blowing on a jug was funny as was Horatio playing a Mozart song and then laughing about it.
– Random appearance by Wiig as Triangle Sally! That was awesome. Kenan as B.B. King was out of nowhere too.
Rating: *** 1/2

12. War Horse (4:39)

Two patrons (Hader & Wiig) get ready to watch a play with rave reviews called “War Horse,” but then quickly learn that the usual horse puppet has been replaced by a man (Fallon) doing a very unconvincing job. Halfway through the play, the boy (Samberg) is also replaced by a hand puppet.

– Wow, talk about a strange sketch but still highly enjoyable.
– There were many great parts here including Jimmy inexplicably dancing as the horse, Jason Sudeikis appearing at random points singing strange little musical interludes, the intermission starting after about a minute and ending almost as quickly, Kenan using a hand puppet in Andy’s role after the intermission, and the random “USA” chants to end the play.
– The bits with Hader & Wiig could’ve been trimmed down a bit as it seemed that they were just there to explain the joke for us as if we didn’t already get it ourselves.
Rating: ****

13. Michael Buble sings “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (3:45)

– Another traditional Christmas song makes for another happy viewer, indeed. Buble did another great job here too.

14. Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos (4:00)

Tim Tebow (Killam), Matt Prater (Samberg), and co. (Thompson, Pharoah, & extras) receive a visit from Jesus (Sudeikis) who tells them that he helped them win the last six games but that they have to at least make an effort in the first half of the game so as to not make it look like a random miracle.

– Funny premise for a sketch and Jason turns in another fun performance here, this time as Jesus. Very funny execution.
– Special mention to Killam, who does a great job as Tebow and his constant overbearing love for Sudeikis was really funny and probably one of his best performances on the show so far. I’ve been so impressed with Taran for the little time that he’s been on the show.
– Surprised Jimmy wasn’t in this sketch but it wasn’t a damper or anything because it was a well-written and very well-acted sketch.
– Loved the mormon line at the end.
Rating: ****

15. Goodnights

– Rockefeller ice rink goodnights?! AWESOME! When’s the last time they did those? Like 2005 with Jack Black, I believe.

OVERALL: Another super-awesome show with a lot of great sketches and a fantastic host in Jimmy Fallon. I noticed that he didn’t break character at all during the entire show (he’s come a long way since 2003/2004) and his performances throughout the episode were more than stellar. Add to that two impressive performances by Michael Buble and a great Christmasy feel to the whole thing made this one a true winner. What an absolutely fantastic season we’ve had so far… and it’s only half-over.

BREAKDOWN:

HOST: JIMMY FALLON – 10 segments (Winter Formal; Monologue; Today; Michael Buble Christmas Duets [3 roles]; Mirror Chat; 1920’s Holiday Party; Season’s Greetings; Weekend Update; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse)
MUSICAL GUEST: MICHAEL BUBLE – 2 segments (Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets)

CAMEOS: RACHEL DRATCH – 1 segment (Winter Formal)
TINA FEY – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
CHRIS KATTAN – 2 segments (Season’s Greetings; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
JUDE LAW – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
TRACY MORGAN – 1 segment (Season’s Greetings)
AMY POEHLER – 2 segments (Winter Formal; Weekend Update)
HORATIO SANZ – 2 segments (Season’s Greetings; Beethoven’s Orchestra)

FRED ARMISEN – 5 segments (Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; 1920’s Holiday Party; Tommy Palmese; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 5 segments (Winter Formal; Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; 1920’s Holiday Party; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
BILL HADER – 5 segments (Monologue; 1920’s Holiday Party; Tommy Palmese; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse)
SETH MEYERS – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 5 segments (Winter Formal; Monologue; Today; Tommy Palmese; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
NASIM PEDRAD – 4 segments (Monologue; Today; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
ANDY SAMBERG – 7 segments (Monologue; Mirror Chat; 1920’s Holiday Party; Weekend Update; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 4 segments (Monologue; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)
KENAN THOMPSON – 4 segments (Monologue; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)
KRISTEN WIIG – 6 segments (Monologue; Today; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; 1920’s Holiday Party; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse)

VANESSA BAYER – 3 segments (Monologue; Tommy Palmese; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
PAUL BRITTAIN – 3 segments (Monologue; Weekend Update; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
TARAN KILLAM – 6 segments (Winter Formal; Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)
JAY PHAROAH – 3 segments (Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)

EPISODE MVPs: Jimmy Fallon/Andy Samberg


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.

BREAKDOWN:

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))

CAST:

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)

FEATURING:

VANESSA BAYER – none
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)

EPISODE MVP: Bill Hader


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 36, Episode 21)

1. The Situation Room (5:01)

Wolf Blitzer (Sudeikis) and Jennifer Kates (Bayer) comment on the bin Laden story while President Obama’s (Armisen) victory speech gradually gets more and more cocky, eventually delving into a sort of stand-up act.

– This was easily one of my favourite cold opens that they’ve done thus far this season. I really didn’t know what to expect at first, but when Jason’s amusing Wolf Blitzer impression then cut to Obama, I started to worry a bit.
– Thankfully, this was the best thing Fred has done as Obama. What starts off as a somber patriotic speech soon turns into a rally in El Paso as Obama even begins smoking again in front of everyone.
– There were a lot of great moments here from Barack’s carefree attitude to his acquiring of a new catchphrase (“killll bin laden!”) and his two assistants (Killam & Pedrad) with shirt guns beside him.
– It also sounded like actual audience members were getting shirts launched at them. That’s a nice touch.
– Also, this sketch reminded me of one they did back in the late 80s called “Bushwacked,” where Dubya Sr. was hosting a talk show and trying to prove he wasn’t a wimp by smoking and shoving his guests around.
*****

MONTAGE: I just need to add this… A CARTOON BY ROBERT SMIGEL?! When’s the last time you remember seeing this announced? I nearly jumped off my chair when I saw that!

2. Monologue (4:31)

Ed tells the story of when he first found out that being a comedian was his future.

– It’s nice to see a standard monologue. They seem to be kind of rare these days.
– Ed starts out the night on a good, albeit long-winded, foot. It’s also rare to see this type of monologue where the funny part is really only at the end but it was worth the wait.
– When Ed got into his outfit, I nearly spit out my drink. The baton-twirling was funny too.
*** 1/2

3. Corn Syrup Producers of America (1:25)

What starts as some vague criticism from a fellow housewife (Wiig) regarding the excessive use of corn syrup, a woman (Pedrad) suddenly becomes quite scornful at these allegations and dresses down her friend.

– Repeat from Zach Galifianakis/Jessie J (3/12/11).
*** 1/2

4. what up with that? (8:15)

Diondre Cole (Thompson) welcomes his guests Paul Simon, Chris Colfer, and of course Lindsey Buckingham (Hader) and doesn’t let any of them get too many words in before delving off into musical interludes like usual.

– This may have been the ultimate edition of this sketch. There were already rumors that this is Kenan’s last year on the show and this edition of “what up with that?” may have solidified them. That having been said, it was probably also one of the best editions.
– I liked the direction they went with this by having it be a sort of “music past and future” edition with legendary Paul Simon and Glee castmember Chris Colfer.
– So many things to like about this sketch from the usual dancing by Jason Sudeikis to the fun characters played by Ed Helms and Kristen Wiig to the insane cameo from the real Lindsey Buckingham (complete with a mean guitar riff).
– I liked a lot of the smaller bits too like Paul Simon being very familiar with the format and thus feeling bad for Buckingham (Hader) and trying to get a word in edgewise and the fact that all the singers and dancers on the show have names now.
****

5. The Ambiguously Gay Duo: The Dark, Clenched Hole of Evil (6:51)

It’s business as usual for the queersome twosome, but when Dr. Brainiac invents a flesh-ray gun and turns them into real live, people (Jon Hamm & Jimmy Fallon), the device goes haywire and also transforms Dr. Brainiac (Stephen Colbert), Bighead (Steve Carell), Two-Face (Helms), and Lizard Man (Armisen).

– This was simply fantastic. What started off as a typical episode of the Ambiguously Gay Duo soon evolved into something much more than that with the fantastic live-action portion.
– Everyone was perfectly cast here. Jon Hamm and Jimmy Fallon (who I thought was Mark Hamill at first) were absolutely hilarious as Ace and Gary and it was super-awesome to see Steve Carell AND Stephen Colbert in the flesh.
– I was really surprised to see Ed Helms make an appearance and he had a few funny lines as well.
– There were some great moments like when it was alluded that the villains also had some skeletons in the closet as well.
– How did they get away with that visual of Ace and Gary’s penis-car having a headlight?
– It is also amazing how they filmed this in less than a week as the production values were pretty terrific.
– This got a MONSTER ovation when it was done. I know the audience always cheers when a sketch is done, but they went absolutely nuts.
*****

6. Paul Simon sings “Rewrite” (4:08)

– Paul looks really, really old now but he hasn’t lost a step. His performance was very good and his backing band was pretty spectacular too.
– He did look elated to be back on SNL as well and the studio audience was greatful to have him.

7. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (14:22)
Guests: Anthony Crispino (Moynihan); Will Smith (Pharoah); Garth & Kat (Armisen & Wiig)

Best Jokes: Newt Gingrich on Facebook/Twitter; pet alligator; Spider-Man musical; Lonesome George; Oreos/sweatpants

– Say what you want, but I do enjoy Bobby’s second-hand news correspondent, Anthony Crispino. It’s a fairly one-note character, but Bobby makes it entertaining with his likeable performance as he comments on will.i.am’s big wedding to Kate Gosselin, a condom wrapper at the White House, and the world ending in 2012 according to Maya Rudolph’s calendar.
– The second commentary is a great impression in a somewhat-pointless segment. Will Smith (Pharoah) comments on his huge trailer causing residents to complain. Will talks about positivity and talks about how he can do anything now with his method of thinking. It wasn’t terrible, but Jay’s Will Smith is somewhat wasted here.
– Lastly, Garth & Kat (Armisen & Wiig) stop by to belt out some songs just in time for summer. It’s the same ol’ thing from these two characters, but they always have fun with it and despite what some people think of them, I still find them amusing most of the time. They’re also getting remarkably better at keeping straight faces. This edition was decent enough.
– Like last week, this wasn’t the greatest week for Seth’s jokes but he still had some good ones thrown in there.
***

8. Song Memories (4:28)

Four friends (Helms, Hader, Samberg, & Sudeikis) reminisce about long-standing memories while “Wild World” by Cat Stevens plays on the stereo.

– I haven’t seen this sketch since Ryan Phillippe/Ke$ha. It was a pleasant surprise.
– This sketch’s quality really depends on how funny the stories are from each guy and this sketch definitely succeeded there, as I found all of them pretty funny.
– Sudeikis’ placement of his grandfather’s ashes in a Jamba Juice cup followed by Ed Helms accidentally drinking it and spitting it out almost made me spit out MY drink.
– It was odd to see Samberg there instead of Forte, but his doctor story was pretty funny especially after the second punchline when it was revealed that he is a dentist.
– Ed’s story was funny too, but the drinking of the ashes was the best part of it.
– Another nonsensical ending and I think this one was the best yet.
****

9. One-Take Tony (3:36)

It is circa 1941 and master thespian, Tony Toluca (Samberg) arrives on the set much to the director’s (Helms) delight and bestowment of the nickname, One-Take Tony. However, Tony’s actions seem to prove otherwise.

– It’s rare to see a new character for Andy these days, but this was a fun bit.
– Ed was delightful as the director too and his old-timey voice and inflection was pretty accurate.
– It also feels like it’s been a while since we’ve seen a sketch like this where someone is filming something and an actor/situation keeps breaking up the proceedings.
– I loved Tony breaking character just because there was a dog wearing a hat (“It’s wearing a hat! That would never happen in the wild!”)
– The non-sequitor ending with Louis Armstrong was a great capper to this sketch.
*** 1/2

10. Paul Simon sings “So Beautiful Or So What” (4:58)

– The second song from Simon features another terrific performance by the 69-year old crooner.
– Unlike some musical guests, Simon’s second number is also a lot different in sound from his first one. Take note, Elton John.

11. Ann-Margret Tries To Throw Away A Wad Of Paper In The Trashcan (2:00)

The Swedish-born actress, Ann-Margret (Wiig), attempts to throw a wad of paper out while doing her crazy dancing moves and has some issues with this mundane task despite her husband’s attempts to help out.

– I had to go find what they were parodying before I watched this because I had NO idea.
– After watching the infamous dancing scene from Viva Las Vegas, I was able to fully appreciate this short, absurd piece.
– Wiig had the dancing down perfectly and Ed was a good straight man to the festivities.
****

12. Republican Candidate (1:16)

One Republican candidate (Helms), who represents all the bland faceless GOP nominees, makes some very general comments in his address to the nation.

– This was a very quick piece and gave Ed a lead role, but he seemed to stumble over his lines a bit. He was still pretty funny though in a deadpan sort of way.
– I like how Helms just said things like “my dad, the military, dogs, church stuff” and said how he was one of the lesser-known candidates, but he doesn’t know who.
***

13. Goodnights


OVERALL: This show was already going to be at least a good episode after Paul Simon’s first song. The first half of the show was tremendous with THREE knockout sketches (the cold open, what up with that?, and the Smigeltoon) and a fun monologue. After Update, Mr. Helms got a few more meaty roles than earlier and managed to do a pretty good job overall despite a couple of missed cues. This episode may have been just as good or very close to last week’s, but this time there wasn’t really a bad sketch. Sure, Update was not as great as usual but that’s only a small complaint in an episode with two serious candidates for best sketch of the season.

BREAKDOWN:

HOST: ED HELMS – 7 segments (Monologue; what up with that?; The Ambiguously Gay Duo; Song Memories; One-Take Tony; Ann-Margret Tries To Throw A Wad Of Paper Into A Trashcan; Republican Candidate)
CAMEOS: LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM – 1 segment (what up with that?)
CHRIS COLFER – 1 segment (what up with that?)
FILMED CAMEOS: STEVE CARELL – 1 segment (The Ambiguously Gay Duo)
STEPHEN COLBERT – 1 segment (The Ambiguously Gay Duo)
JIMMY FALLON – 1 segment (The Ambiguously Gay Duo)
JON HAMM – 1 segment (The Ambiguously Gay Duo)

CAST:

FRED ARMISEN – 4 segments (The Situation Room; what up with that?; The Ambiguously Gay Duo; Weekend Update)
ABBY ELLIOTT – none
BILL HADER – 3 segments (what up with that?; Song Memories; One-Take Tony)
SETH MEYERS – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 3 segments (Corn Syrup Producers of America; Weekend Update; One-Take Tony)
ANDY SAMBERG – 2 segments (Song Memories; One-Take Tony)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 3 segments (The Situation Room; what up with that?; Song Memories)
KENAN THOMPSON – 2 segments (what up with that?; One-Take Tony)
KRISTEN WIIG – 5 segments (Corn Syrup Producers of America; what up with that?; Weekend Update; One-Take Tony; Ann-Margret Tries To Throw A Wad Of Paper Into A Trashcan)

FEATURING:

VANESSA BAYER – 2 segments (The Situation Room; what up with that?)
PAUL BRITTAIN – 1 segment (Song Memories)
TARAN KILLAM – 2 segments (The Situation Room; what up with that?)
NASIM PEDRAD – 3 segments (The Situation Room; Corn Syrup Producers of America; what up with that?)
JAY PHAROAH – 1 segment (Weekend Update)

EPISODE MVPs: Fred Armisen/Bill Hader/Andy Samberg/Kristen Wiig


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 36, Episode 1)

SNL has had quite a summer. The first thing we discovered is that long-time castmember (since 2002), Will Forte, announced that he was leaving the show to care for his ailing sister in Los Angeles, five upcoming hosts were announced (Amy, Bryan Cranston, Jane Lynch, Emma Stone, and Jon Hamm), Jenny Slate was fired or quit (it was never confirmed either way, but it looks like the former), and finally… four new featured players were hired. Vanessa Bayer (a comedienne from Improv Olympic in Chi-Town) Paul Brittain (another iO Chicago player), Taran Killam (a former MADtv castmember for one season), and Jay Pharaoh (a very young stand-up comedian from Virginia) join the fairly large cast this season.

As mentioned by several people, this year is looking like its going to be a transitional year with several repertory players being cut next season (methinks it will be Fred and Kenan). However, that is in the future and for now, we look to this week’s show. Season premieres in general for the program can be iffy at best and drab at worst with a few notable exceptions (namely Damon/Springsteen and Cook/Killers come to mind). For the last few years, they haven’t always been the strongest choice (athletes, no-charisma divas) so that’s why when I heard that Poehler was set to be the first host of the season, I was definitely down for this.

Joining Poehler is Katy Perry, the gorgeous pop singer who apparently has been decidedly lukewarm when it comes to live performances. The songstress has been the source of a bit of controversy lately as her recent performance on Sesame Street with Elmo was pulled because of the very revealing clothing she wore on the program. Of course, this “controversy” is a rather silly situation and the hopes are that Katy will make reference to it in some way, shape or form.

Time to rumble!

The Show:

1. RNC Headquarters (5:43)

Republican candidate Christine O’Donnell (Wiig) meets with her advisors (Hader & Sudeikis) in the Delaware Senate campaign to discuss some of her recent controversial admissions like her dabbling in witchcraft when she was young and her anti-masturbation campaign. When O’Donnell admits that she initially confused masturbation with something else, her stance completely changes and the conversation turns lurid. Not to mention her history of running illegal dog-fights and her history of committing arson. This sketch works due to Kristen’s knack for comic timing and her chemistry with Hader and Suds. This was a great way to start the season with a fun target and some enjoyable writing. A-

2. Monologue (5:08)

Elated to be back, Amy promises to be a diva host and after announcing the arrival of the four new featured players, Poehler tells of her pre-show nightmare to the audience. The nightmare is mostly just an excuse to load up on cameos from the likes of Rachel Dratch, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, and Justin Timberlake, but it was still a hilariously rapid-fire section of the monologue with everyone delivering on the laughs, particularly Nasim in Poehler’s old Caitlin get-up, Wiig explaining a complicated dance number very quickly, and Fallon and Fey retaking their spot at the Update desk. A

3. Bronx Beat (5:51)

Well, I guess this was inevitable. This talk-show bit has never been a favourite of mine mostly due to its repetitive nature despite the strong attempts by Poehler and Rudolph (another cameo!) on every occasion. I would imagine that Emily Spivey came back to write this sketch because it follows the same typical formula. This time, Betty & Jodi discuss the recent outbreak of bedbugs and the latter talks about her renewal of wedding vows with her “stupid husband.” Their guest is a librarian with an Elmo shirt (Katy in a cute reference to the Sesame Street incident), whose boobs are discussed for a majority of the sketch. That was probably the downside although there were some good lines here and there like Betty saying that she would go to France except she “can’t speak the language and [she] hates the people.” C+

4. Bosley Hair Restoration (1:30)

The first real gross-out piece of the show is all about fixing your bald spots by removing some hair from “down under” and placing your short ‘n’ curlies where your hair should be. The pube wigs are pretty funny and Suds works well as the spokesman. B+

5. Maternity Matters (4:13)

I could tell from the opening that this was another sketch featuring Roger Brush (Armisen), the producer of several women’s issues shows, who is forced to act as host when the regular female host is absent. Of course, his answers are sexist and he is clearly in desperate need of some PR. Equating Poehler’s self-confidence problems with the stress involved in missing his water bill payment is the highlight. I read somewhere that this character is supposedly based on someone and it really wouldn’t surprise me if it was because Fred acts like a typical ball-busting producer who needs to be behind the camera. B+

6. The Mosque at Ground Zero (1:17)

What starts off as a description of the perfect gay wedding day (between Poehler and Bayer) turns into a crazy rapid-fire commercial for the new mosque at Ground Zero. It doesn’t end there though. Every Republican irrational fear of the Mosque is elevated tenfold here as they advertise pregnancy termination and innocent add-ons like an espresso bar. Classic. A+

7. Katy Perry sings “California Girls” (3:45)

God, she is absolutely gorgeous. Just thought I should let that out right now. Although I and several others were warned of her tendency to dog it during live performances, I found her to be quite apt and a pleasant little distraction to look at and admire. At least she didn’t auto-tune her whole performance either. B

8. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler (15:17)

At first it seems like Seth is going solo, but after an early-on edition of “Really?!?”, Amy joins in and reports on the rest of the news with Mr. Meyers. Like all other editions of “Really?!?”, this one is a lot of fun like when Seth mentions the nonsense over the troops being supposedly “not at war with Iraq anymore” and the silly controversy over homosexuals in the military. There’s plenty of good material from both newscasters this week like Seth’s war with Blockbuster, Kim Jong Not Ill being the leading cadidate to take over North Korea, and my favourite: buying your subway tickets on a iPhone app. Will Smith (new kid Jay Pharaoh with an awesome impression) stops by to yell and shill for his son, Jayden, who he’s promptly whored out to movies like The Karate Kid. There’s also a funny 911 call re-enactment where Poehler admits to doing two of the voices afterwards in an amusing bit (“The third voice was Gene Hackman,” Seth ad-libs). Finally, Gov. David Paterson (Armisen) wheels in for some comments on the two new candidates for his replacements. The usual schtick occurs, but he is interrupted by the real deal (yes, Gov. Paterson himself) and the two engage in some amusing banter, which is particularly impressive for a blind governor who can’t see cue cards. The best line: “You’re still sporting the beard? I shaved that off a year ago. Are you blind?!” It was nice to see Paterson has a sense of humour, but the two Patersons stepping in front of the camera aimlessly was the icing on the cake. They really brought the house down. A+

9. The Lean Years (3:33)

Continuing with the Showtime tradition of “women with secrets,” Amy Poehler stars in a series called The Lean Years as her Amber character with one leg. The portion of the sketch that features Amy talking about the show in a very serious, philosophical tone is the best part of the sketch. Never thought I’d see an impression of Stanley Tucci on this show though. B-

10. Digital Short: Theme from ‘Boogerman’ (2:09)

Katy Perry performs the critically-acclaimed original song from the aforementioned film at some type of awards show while clips of the movie play on the screen in the background. Based on the clips, there is no way of figuring out the convoluted plot of the film, which only adds to this digital short’s charm. The dancing is amusing as well as the ending. A-

11. Chez Henri (3:38)

A woman (Wiig) is constantly one-upped by her friend, Trish (Poehler), in front of their mutual friends (Elliott & Bayer) with her tiny hats. It continues to escalate to ridiculous levels with Bill Hader effectively playing an effeminate passer-by who keeps score. At first, I really didn’t like this sketch but upon second viewing, I’ll admit that it’s got that ‘so ridiculous, it’s funny’ vibe to it and it doesn’t hurt that the reveals of the restaurant are hilarious as well. B+

12. Katy Perry sings “Teenage Dream” (4:12)

Another tune from Perry and a very revealing skirt. Good thing Russell Brand wasn’t around… B

13. Actor II Actor (1:07)

Andy Samberg sits down for a James Lipton-style interview with Justin Timberlake but it turns out to be a very quick one-joke sketch as Andy just wants to know why Justin isn’t singing anymore. Despite the brief length of this sketch, it still turns out to be pretty funny just based on the chemistry between the two. B+

14. The Even More Expendables (2:35)

Mocking the fact that The Expendables really only had about two stars in it, the sequels and spin-offs are announced with people like Steven Seagal (Hader), Chris Tucker (Pharaoh), and Brigitte Nielsen (Samberg). It gets even more obscure than that though as Brooke Hogan (Elliott), Kim Jong Il (Poehler), Hooch (of Turner & Hooch fame), and Steven Slater (Killam) of Jet Blue infamy are all slated to appear. Not to mention the return of Sudeikis’ Rod Blagojevich impression. Just an excuse for the cast and host to do their favourite impressions, but hell, I had fun watching it unfold. B+

Amy has about a bajillion people to thank due to all the cameos and then gets a big hug from Maya Rudolph as the cast and guests bid a goodnight to one and all. Yep, Saturday Night Live is back, folks.

So how was this premiere? Better than last year’s and a LOT better than the one two years prior. Amy was an energetic host as one would expect and despite being a former castmember, she didn’t try to dominate the broadcast like some have done (coughMollyShannoncough). She definitely had some great support though from a re-energized cast and a number of cameos from some willing participants.

The cast clearly had a lot of fun and enjoyed having one of their own back with them for their first week back. Jay Pharaoh shined the most out of the newbies and did a couple of fun impressions (Will Smith and Chris Tucker), while also having a small part in the digital short. Taran Killam was pretty funny in his brief bit in the ten-to-one sketch, but Bayer and Brittain were barely visible during their first episode. This is nothing to worry about, people, this is their very first episode.

What else to say? Fun start to what I am hoping is going to be a hell of a season!

Notes:

Has there ever been a really bad performance by a former castmember-turned host besides a few awkward moments with Chevy? Even David Spade was fun.

I think it’s only a matter of time before Fallon hosts…

Katy Perry addressing her Sesame Street incident with that sly little jab was funny because she wasn’t overt about the joke.

I’m sold on Pharaoh so far. Just waiting for the other three newbies to do something memorable now.

I gotta admit I giggled like a schoolgirl at all the cameos in the opening monologue.

It’s about time Bobby Moynihan got promoted.

Tell me: What is YOUR favourite season premiere?! Also, who is your favourite former castmember-turned-host?

Host Rating: B+

Musical Guest Rating: B

Show Rating: B+


With the recent publicity that Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien have gotten he last couple of weeks it seems as though one man, Jimmy Fallon, has been pushed to the side.  Fallon who hosts Conan O’Brien’s old spot on NBC has really kept quiet on the events that have unfolded in the last few weeks.  He really hasn’t made any remarks about the late night situation at all even when just about every other late night host has had a field day with the fiasco.

CNN has recently put out an article on the likelihood of Jimmy Fallon inheriting the “Tonight Show”.   In their article they seem to detail that he has been wise to keep quiet about the whole event because he hasn’t been with the network long enough to earn his say.  It also says he’s following in the same footsteps as Conan.  But in light of recent events one would have to say this is not a good thing as things obviously didn’t work so well for Conan.

In my opinion, I have to say that I really can’t stand Jimmy Fallon as a host of a late night show.  I have tried over and over to get into his version of “Late Nite” but it just doesn’t work for me.  I’m not imposing that I could do any better as I know that he probably has a very difficult job. However, I find that he is just awkward at hosting the show.  When he delivers his monologues he seems as though he is very uncomfortable and has to force everything.

I tried watching his show when he first took it over in March ’09 and I figured that this awkwardness would pass over time.  I thought to myself, he just has to establish himself.  But here we are in January 2010 and he still seems as “new” at it as he did the first episode.  In fact, I am very surprised that NBC hasn’t tried to dump him.

All I can say is that if a  truly funny man like Conan O’Brien couldn’t please NBC as host of the “Tonight Show” then the really awkward host of “Late Nite with Jimmy Fallon” doesn’t have a chance either.  NBC is most likely not going to gamble with its flagship show anymore in the future after recent events. They will be looking for a stable, well-known individual to take over the show when Jay Leno finally leaves for good.   If even David Letterman wasn’t good enough to get the promotion back in 1992,  then that doesn’t bode well for Fallon either, because in my opinion even Letterman is a better late night show host then Fallon is.

—Matthew Casey