Posts Tagged ‘maya rudolph’


(Season 38, Episode 20)
Bumper

 

 

WHAT THEY’RE PROMOTING:

 

KRISTEN WIIG: nothing

VAMPIRE WEEKEND: “Modern Vampires of the City” (album)

 

 

COLD OPENING: Benghazi Hearings (4:05)
Benghazi Hearings

–      I actually found that this was a pretty clever mash-up in pairing this with the Jodi Arias case and Nasim was pretty good in the role.

–      Hader using Jodi Arias as a ratings ploy for the Benghazi trials was a very funny way to play this and made for a more interesting than usual political opening. I also really liked Hader’s interaction with Nasim in asking about the accusations of her husband beating her and how it was all BS.

–      Bobby as Ariel Castro was a perfect ending.

–      So what was up with the nameplates here? Clearly, the names that were super-imposed on-screen were the correct ones. Must’ve been a last-minute mistake by the prop department. Hader also called Bobby by the wrong name at the end of the sketch. Whaaaat?

RATING: *** ½

 

 

MONOLOGUE: Kristen Wiig (4:18)
Monologue

–      I expected a musical type of monologue but I really enjoyed this with the whole backstage stuff. The best part of the musical monologue was Kristen getting some of the cast’s names wrong (“Will Ferrell” was the best one along with Bayer’s reaction), Kristen trying to open the fire exit, Kristen’s comment to Lincoln, and yes, the Gilly moment was amusing as well.

–      Kristen’s stuff before the music was pretty amusing too, especially the bit with the picture of her aka David Spade.

–      The random cameos from Jonah Hill and Maya Rudolph were funny, especially with them saying “it worked!” after figuring out that Maya was already pregnant.

–      The crowd was pretty electric throughout this whole thing.

RATING: ****

 

 

COMMERCIAL: 1-800-Flowers.com (1:51)
1-800-Flowersdotcom

–      Terrific commercial piece.

–      This was very interesting because Kristen was the daughter to McKinnon’s mother character. For those who said Kristen was hogging all the ‘funny’ roles, she was definitely the straight character in this one. It’s also funny because of all the Kristen comparisons that people made with McKinnon when she first started.

–      McKinnon was hilarious as the hapless mother. I really liked all her random embarrassing comments. The best one was after she lost her debit card (“my identity’s been thieved!”)

–      Hader also had a great bit at the end.

RATING: **** ½

 

 

SHOW: The Californians (6:54)
The Californians

–      Yep, still enjoy this sketch. The character-breaking only adds to the enjoyment for me. Now do I wish this would happen all the time? Of course not… but in this sketch, it’s excusable in my eyes. I also like how they exaggerate even more with their accents in order to MAKE the others crack up (“workin’ hard, Brad?!” was the best one).

–      Kristen’s “disguise” was pretty damn funny.

–      Taran’s gay Californian accent always makes me laugh but I think Maya actually made me laugh the most here (I know, right?) with her insane accent.

RATING: *** ½

 

 

COMMERCIAL: Aw Nuts! Mom’s a Ghost (2:10)
Aw Nuts! Mom's a Ghost!

–      Disney satire is always A-okay with me so I enjoyed this sketch with Kristen doing a great job as the Ring-like undead mom.

–      Bobby and Cecily were also perfect as the kids. They acted pretty much exactly like any of those terrible Disney overactors including talking in unison a lot and high-fiving after everything.

–      The naked guy in the background was a hilarious detail.

–      The Tim Robinson bit was hilarious as well.

RATING: *** ½

 

 

SHOW: The Lawrence Welk Show (5:03)
The Lawrence Welk Show

–      Yep, they brought this back… and it was pretty much exactly the same as every other time with Jason Sudeikis taking on the male singer role and doing a helluva job.

–      The sketch wasn’t too great but it had its good points like Fred’s line about the fingerlakes (“there’s supposed to be a lake in there…”) and the smelly bubbles, the sand sculpture, and Kristen getting smacked with coconuts.

–      Despite that, yes, the crowd reacted very strongly to the sketch and cheered upon Kristen’s appearance. Hardly anything close to non-reactions or indifference like some have suggested.

RATING: ** ½

 

 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “Diane Young” (2:36)
Vampire Weekend1

–      Really dug Vampire Weekend here. They haven’t had a bad appearance on SNL yet and this was yet another great performance with a fun horn section as well.

 

 

WEEKEND UPDATE with Seth Meyers (11:03)

Guests: Anthony Crispino and Garth & Kat
update1 update2 update3 update4 update5

–      Best Jokes: border security; NRA purses; boy suspended; stressful amount of children; Cops on Spike; best/worst place to be a mother

–      Seth sounded a little under the weather but he still had a real solid night.

–      Anthony Crispino was entertaining once again. I’ve always liked this character from Bobby and he brings these different little quirks with every performance that keeps it fresh every time. The high voice thing was silly but amusing.

–      Garth & Kat? It was fun. Not particularly hilarious or anything but they had fun and it was infectious because I had fun watching it. I liked the detail about Garth’s wife and Garth and Kat just being friends. Oh, and look at that… that “oh-so-quiet crowd” exploded into applause when they showed up.

RATING: *** ½

 

 

SKETCH: Target (5:20)
Target

–      It was not much of a surprise to see Kristen bring this character back either but at least this is one where the format is usually shaken up a bit or at least it is provided with some decent supporting performances/characters.

–      The beginning with Bobby as the cashier was very funny.

–      Aidy being a lesbian was amusing as was Jay Pharoah as the customer that refuses to accept service from Wiig. Kenan as the customer that just buys a bunch of cards for every occasion was funny just for the moment where Kenan accused Kristen of being a hoarder.

–      Target Lady got lots of recognition applause and the crowd heartily enjoyed the sketch. Darn that “quiet crowd” for enjoying the show so much!

RATING: ***

 

 

SKETCH: Acupuncture (5:01)
Acupuncture

–      Best sketch of the night. The blood gag was very well-done and the more disgusting it got, the more hilarious it was.

–      Jason Sudeikis played a great victim here. Of course, Kristen and Aidy were both really good too. It was nice to see Aidy in a big comedic lead role like this and she had great chemistry with Wiig. They must’ve gotten along really well during the production week.

–      So many great things about this sketch from Bobby doing the voice of the guy outside the window, them offering Jason the “medicine water” that was comprised of his own blood, Kristen doing her “Dr. Chang” impression after Armisen jumps out the window, and the big bubble of blood popping on Jason’s back.

–      I also liked the continuation of the gag into the introduction for Vampire Weekend, which was done by Kristen while Aidy stood beside her.

RATING: ****

 

 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “Unbelievers” (3:29)
Vampire Weekend2

–      Another solid performance. I really like their unique indy-rock sound. Please bring them back more, SNL.

 

 

SKETCH: Double Date (4:51)
Double Date

–      Wow, this was really great and I can’t put my finger on too many specifics, but a few included Bobby’s root beer comment, Taran’s insane laughing, and the ending with Bobby pulling out a change jar.

–      I just liked the whole idea of this not being played for perverse laughs or anything (it pretty much just so happened to be two young children on a date with two older women).

–      I wonder if SNL will get any heat for this sketch.

RATING: ****

 

 

COMMERCIAL: Classy Sexy Elegnace (3:25)
Classy Sexy Elegnace

–      This was a pretty good parody of the Kardashians and other reality stars doing albums. I love how pretty much anytime someone sang something it was auto-tuned.

–      Kenan  and Nasim were solid as the host/spokespersons (“Wow! I love that that song was a list and not a song!”).

–      Jay as the music producer hired by Craig T. Nelson was funny.

–      I also like the detail of the CD being spelled wrong because they named it in a hurry.

RATING: ***

 

 

Goodnights
goodnights

 

 

BEST PERFORMER(S) OF THE NIGHT:

–      Kristen Wiig/Bobby Moynihan

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Overall, I’d probably put this episode in the lower spectrum of the season but quite honestly, I have been thoroughly enjoying the 2012-2013 year and I hope we get the same quality going into the following seasons. It was nice to have Kristen back even if not ALL her characters were slam dunks; she has a fun presence. Good show.

 

TONIGHT’S RATING: *** ½


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 37, Episode 15)

 

The Show:

1. New York Sports Now (4:33)

A number of sportscasters (Hader, Thompson, Pharoah, & Killam) are caught up in the hysteria of basketball player Jeremy Lin and “Linsanity” that they keep resorting to making puns about how much they love the guy while one caster (Killam) goes a little too far with the racial epiphets.

– I’ll be honest: I don’t follow sports at all so I was a little confused when this sketch started. However, I soon realized what the joke was here and suffice to say, I was definitely along for the ride.
– Once again, Taran was the highlight here. His over-the-top racial comments were hilarious as were Kenan and Jay’s annoyed reactions. The real bite to these comments came from the fact that the Jeremy Lin comments were already borderline-racist, harmless as they may appear.
– The New York Post really said “Amasian”? Wow.
– The Jackie Robinson tribute video was hilarious too with the “Tolerant” line at the end and the gong hit by Pharoah following the segment.
– The absolute best part here though was definitely Bill Hader dubbing an interview with Jeremy Lin.
Rating: **** 1/2

2. Monologue (4:38)

Maya talks about all her lovin’ with the cast when she was on the show and then spends the rest of the monologue singing around the studio while finding all her former flings, including Lorne, Paul Simon (!!!), & Stefon (Hader).

– Much better monologue than I was expecting from Maya and you just KNEW she was going to sing.
– It looks like there was a technical glitch there where Maya was supposed to wink after seeing Stefon but the sound effect only came in just after she left. Still, it was great to see Lorne, Paul, and Stefon all standing together. What a funny visual!
– Having all the dancers on-stage at the beginning reminded me of the beginning of Melissa McCarthy’s monologue (before Kristen replaced the female dancers) earlier this season.
– The gong playing for Seth Meyers was so strange but funny nonetheless.
Rating: ****

3. Bronx Beat (8:08)

Betty (Amy Poehler!) and Jodi (Rudolph) host another edition of their catty talk show after a “15-month hiatus.” After making some chit-chat about Valentine’s Day and their personal lives, they welcome their guests, two members of the crew (Justin Timberlake! Samberg!), that resemble the hosts quite a bit.

– I usually don’t care for this sketch at all but it was nice to see it again after a long hiatus and it was a bit more creative than usual, especially when it came to the guests themselves.
– I actually really enjoyed the pre-guest banter between Maya and Amy this time with the highlights being the discussion about “Hoarders,” Jennifer Lopez dating a younger guy, and the fake-out with Maya explaining what romantic things her husband did for her.
– Looks like they both had a bit of a crack-up at one point.
– The appearance by Justin Timberlake was completely unexpected and it was pretty funny. Combining him with Samberg was a good idea.
Rating: *** 1/2

4. Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Laughs! (2:25)

Maya Angelou (Rudolph) hosts her own prank show much in the same style of Betty White’s new show in which she does “nasty” pranks on her friends like Morgan Freeman (Pharoah), Cornel West (Thompson), and Stephen King (Hader). Of course, after every one of these “harsh” pranks, Maya reveals herself and shares an emotional moment with her victims.

– This was pretty funny and I did enjoy Rudolph’s Maya Angelou impression, which was well-utilized here.
– Jay debuts another awesome impression here with Morgan Freeman.
– I thought for sure that Maya had done this impression on the show before but I was surprised to learn that she had not.
Rating: *** 1/2

5. Baby Blue Ivy (6:51)

Jay Z (Pharoah) and Beyonce (Rudolph) celebrate the birth of their new baby and receive visits from several celebrities including Prince (Armisen), Nicki Minaj (Pedrad), LL Cool J (Thompson), Taylor Swift (Wiig), Brad Pitt (Killam) & Angelina Jolie (Elliott), and Justin Vernon (Timberlake) of Bon Iver fame.

– I was not expecting this to evolve in a multi-impression sketch and as soon as Fred’s Prince impression showed up, I thought for sure that it would be framed much like the Prince Show sketches back a few years ago (they DID repeat the joke about Prince getting scared and hiding). Still, this was funny due to the performances involved.
– Andy as “white butler” was a funny joke.
– The Good: Rudolph/Beyonce; Pharoah/Jay Z; Armisen/Prince; Pedrad/Nicki Minaj; Killam/Brad Pitt; Elliott/Angelina Jolie; Timberlake/Justin Vernon
– The Average: Wiig/Taylor Swift
– The Bad: Kenan/LL Cool J
– So as you can see, I enjoyed most of the impressions. I’d say Pitt, Jolie, and Vernon were my ultimate favourites. This is the third time (I think) that the show has poked fun at a musical guest from the same season.
– The ending seemed miscued and awkward as Rudolph said “bye” twice.
Rating: *** 1/2

6. Sleigh Bells perform “Comeback Kid” (2:52)

– Unique is the best word I can use to describe this performance but I don’t mean it in a bad way. Not a bad little tune though. I liked it.

7. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers & Amy Poehler (6:51)

Best Jokes: Obama’s approval rating; CBS/Republican candidates; Shakira attacked; Valentine’s Day; Subway benches

– We get a Really!?! segment on the birth control hearing that did not have any women invited to the proceedings. The return of Amy was great and Seth & Amy had some pretty cutting remarks regarding the situation. The best one was the comment on Catholics.
– I like how Seth asked Amy to stick around and tell jokes.
– No guests this week? Surprising.
Rating: ****

8. What Up With That? (7:28)

Diondre Cole (Thompson) welcomes guests Bill O’Reilly, Kate Upton, and of course, Lindsey Buckingham (Hader), who gets cut off like usual.

– I didn’t expect this to come back after the one last season seemed like the swan song. I do enjoy this sketch but I really felt like the one last year should’ve been the finale as it was awesome, had great cameos, and told more about the characters involved on the show. This was good but certainly not one of the better ones.
– Crazy to see Bill O’Reilly there. I don’t like him at all but he did a good enough job by just plugging his book and looking annoyed at Kenan’s interruptions. I don’t think he stuck around for the goodnights though.
– Oops, a rare line flub for Taran at the beginning there!
– Maya’s character was pretty good and I did like her silly accent. Also, what the heck was Abby Elliott doing?
Rating: ***

9. Super Showcase (4:10)

A contestant (Bayer) gets the final question wrong and so the host (Hader) shows her what she would’ve won had she been right with the assistance of Shonda (Rudolph) and Vonda (Wiig).

– This was pretty terrible and reminded my of why I used to find Rudolph so damn grating back in the day. Combined with a hammy Wiig character, this died a slow death (and I like Wiig!).
– The only redeeming value of this sketch was Rudolph, Wiig, and Hader all cracking up throughout the sketch. Bayer came close as well.
Rating: * 1/2

10. The Obama Show (4:11)

In order to spread awareness of childhood obesity, Michelle Obama (Rudolph) presents a very Cosby-esque program revolving around the Obamas and the crazy misadventures they find themselves getting into.

– This was very silly but very funny and I especially liked the design of the opening credits with things like Joe Jamal-Biden dancing around. Much like the Beyonce/Jay Z sketch, they swerved me again though as I thought this was just going to be a Michelle Obama-addresses-the-nation opening rather than the full-fledged sketch we got here.
– Fred doing his Obama voice like Theo Huxtable was terrific and it breathed some life into the impression.
– Sudeikis as Joe Biden was the highlight here, especially when he showed up and took the blame for the hoagie in exchange for borrowing the car.
– Loved the “next week preview” with Amy returning as Hillary Clinton.
Rating: ****

11. Sleigh Bells perform “End of the Line” (3:41)

– The vocals seemed to be mixed pretty low for this performance but otherwise, it was just as good as the first.

12. How’s He Doing? (4:54)

The host (Thompson) of an African-American political discussion show fields questions to his two guests (Rudolph & Pharoah) about how Barack Obama is doing as the president and what it would take for them to not vote for him in the upcoming election.

– A fairly funny concept with a good performance from Pharoah in particular.
– The best part was the “what would it take?” segment with Maya and Jay consistently backing Barack Obama no matter what he did including a love affair with Ke$ha.
Rating: *** 1/2

13. Goodnights

 

OVERALL: Way better than any Maya Rudolph-hosted show had any right to be. She didn’t annoy me at all tonight except for maybe the gameshow sketch but the corpsing prevented that a bit anyway. There was some really good writing tonight and even Bronx Beat was good, which is definitely a great sign of an enjoyable episode! As for the cast, I have to give it up to Jay Pharoah for doing an awesome job tonight and he even managed to get some solid airtime with cameos out the ying-yang on top of that.

BREAKDOWN:

HOST: MAYA RUDOLPH – 8 segments (Monologue; Bronx Beat; Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Laughs!; Baby Blue Ivy; What Up With That?; Super Showcase; The Obama Show; How’s He Doing?)

CAMEOS: BILL O’REILLY – 1 segment (What Up With That?)
AMY POEHLER – 3 segments (Bronx Beat; Weekend Update; The Obama Show)
PAUL SIMON – 1 segment (Monologue)
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – 2 segments (Bronx Beat; Baby Blue Ivy)
KATE UPTON – 1 segment (What Up With That?)

FRED ARMISEN – 4 segments (Monologue; Baby Blue Ivy; What Up With That?; The Obama Show)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 2 segments (Baby Blue Ivy; What Up With That?)
BILL HADER – 5 segments (New York Sports Now; Monologue; Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Laughs!; What Up With That?; Super Showcase)
SETH MEYERS – 2 segments (Monologue; Weekend Update)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 1 segment (What Up With That?)
NASIM PEDRAD – 2 segments (Baby Blue Ivy; What Up With That?)
ANDY SAMBERG – 4 segments (Monologue; Bronx Beat; Baby Blue Ivy; What Up With That?)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 3 segments (Monologue; What Up With That?; The Obama Show)
KENAN THOMPSON – 6 segments (New York Sports Now; Monologue; Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Laughs!; Baby Blue Ivy; What Up With That?; How’s He Doing?)
KRISTEN WIIG – 3 segments (Monologue; Baby Blue Ivy; Super Showcase)

VANESSA BAYER – 2 segments (What Up With That?; Super Showcase)
TARAN KILLAM – 4 segments (New York Sports Now; Baby Blue Ivy; What Up With That?; The Obama Show)
JAY PHAROAH – 5 segments (New York Sports Now; Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Laughs!; Baby Blue Ivy; What Up With That?; How’s He Doing?)

EPISODE MVP: Jay Pharoah


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 37, Episode 8 )

The Show:

1. Cold Opening: A Message from President Barack Obama (5:05)

Barack Obama (Armisen) is there to let people know that he isn’t even the most powerful person in the grand scheme of politics and proceeds to run down a lengthy list of people who have more power than him, including Oprah, Pixar, and Tyler Perry.

– Much better opening than expected with some good lines from Fredbama, but the highlight comes from his list of people and organizations that are more powerful than the president himself. My favourite parts were his bits about Tyler Perry, Mark Zuckerberg, and Verizon Customer Service being above him as well.
– Interesting that Fred’s Obama hair is gray now to more closely match the real deal.
Rating: *** 1/2

2. Monologue (4:07)

Steve Buscemi explains the transition from going from character actor to lead actor and is constantly interrupted by people in the audience like the girl who is always the best friend in romantic comedies (Elliott), the soldier who everyone knows is going to die (Hader), and a sassy judge (Pharoah) among others.

– Funny monologue with a good job by Steve as expected and some interesting character work from various castmembers playing people in the audience.
– I liked pretty much everyone in the monologue but my favourites were Abby Elliott as the clumsy best friend, Kenan as the magical African-American character, Hader as Tex, and Jay Pharoah as the judge who “will allow it.”
– Steve’s Jersey Shore comment was funny.
– It’s great to see Jay get prominent roles lately.
Rating: *** 1/2

3. Frozen Mexican Dinner (1:39)

From now on, you’ll never have to worry about problems with constipation when you can just devour a frozen Mexican dinner that pretty much doubles as a laxative.

– It was nice to see another lead role in a commercial for Paul Brittain ever since that Hallmark piece from last season. His performance was really good here and reminds me of how they need to keep using this guy more.
– The best part was Paul playing the maracas at the end.
– That frozen dinner looked really disgusting.
Rating: ***

4. The Miley Cyrus Show (6:17)

This time, Miley (Bayer) talks about her recent Bob Marley cake that she received and how she is not a pothead. She then introduces her guest Jeff (Buscemi), a hippie, but Billy Ray (Sudeikis) becomes concerned and enlists the help of Whitney Houston (Maya Rudolph) to teach young Cyrus about the dangers of drugs.

– I was hoping we’d see this recurring talk show again. This is definitely my favourite thing that Bayer currently does on the show and Jason is equally as funny with his Billy Ray Cyrus impression. Another good edition of the sketch.
– My favourite parts were Miley trying to tell a joke while combating a nasty case of the munchies, Steve Buscemi saying he works at a Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, making it so that he has two jobs, and the music video of Miley’s drugged-out music video.
– Maya as Whitney Houston was not quite as bad as I was expecting and I did like some of her nonsensical ranting, especially the quick random Chaka Khan name drop.
– I like how Buscemi joined Sudeikis as part of the band later on.
Rating: *** 1/2

5. Digital Short: Batman (1:59)

Commissioner Gordon (Buscemi) is visited several times by Batman (Samberg) at the most inappropriate moments like when he is in the shower and having his prostate checked, for example.

– This was a very funny short and Buscemi looked really close to Gary Oldman in the new Batman films.
– The best part here was the random appearance of Paul Brittain as Aquaman and Steve telling them to put some pants on. I also really liked the random ending with Batman professing his love and the old-school retro Batman logo.
Rating: ****

6. Dateline (4:32)

Keith Morrison (Hader) presents a number of interviews related to the Mystery of the Chopped-Up Guy. Of course with each interview, Keith gets more and more excited depending on the level of brutality in the stories presented to him.

– I didn’t think we’d ever see this sketch come back but it was definitely entertaining, if a bit too long. Hader is always a hoot as Keith Morrison.
– I really liked the scene with Bill and Kristen because it was different than the usual and it was real funny to see Kristen doing a strange hillbilly-type character. It was also a great detail to have Kristen make a really disgusting remark and Hader not doing his usual reaction.
Rating: *** 1/2

7. Coach Bert (5:57)

At a conference to announce the latest news about the Central Cougars basketball team, one coach (Sudeikis) shares his findings on whether the somewhat creepy-looking mustachioed Coach Bert (Buscemi) is a pedophile or not.

– I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and agree that this was a definite classic and one of the best sketches of the season thus far. And for those of you who say this is “too soon”… I’ve got this to say. “fuck off, Colin Quinn.”
– Steve was also fantastic here as the beleaguered coach who kept protesting the ridiculous nature of the investigation.
– The best parts was Kenan getting upset over Buscemi’s failure to wash his hands, the whole scene with Bill Hader as the NAMBLA president, and the recorded tape of Buscemi’s demos (“I am the Bertman, Brett Favre is my friend…”).
– Seriously, Colin Quinn, get over yourself. It’s a COMEDY SKETCH.
Rating: *****

8. The Black Keys perform “Lonely Boy” (3:08)

– It was good to see the Keys back on SNL again and I enjoyed their performance just as I did the previous season on the episode hosted by Jim Carrey.
– The drummer looks like a frog.

9. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (11:36)
Guests: Herman Cain and Drunk Uncle

Best Jokes: Herman Cain/Ginger White; political Secret Santa; Hanson beer; donkey crossing; K-Mart Christmas trees; urinal videogames; harassing phone calls

– Kenan’s commentary as Herman Cain was pretty funny and I did like his struggling with the word Libya. His little piece with giving Seth some money and then saying that it wasn’t truly “free” was funny as well. All that being said, I thought the last part with Kenan telling people to “bend for Herman Cain” and his graphic description of ladies kneeling over with their mouths wide open was the best part of the commentary.
– Bobby Moynihan was very funny as the Drunk Uncle and I loved his strange random comments like “immigrants!” Bobby did a good job playing a drunk as well and it’s nice to see him get another potential recurring character. I feel like he doesn’t get a whole lot to do anymore these days.
Rating: *** 1/2

10. Surprise Promotion (5:11)

At the Playskool corporate offices, a meeting is held to discuss a fun way to surprise a new employee (Bayer) whom the boss (Buscemi) is planning to give a promotion to. One employee, Sue (Wiig), can’t keep her mouth shut though and starts getting really excited.

– I was surprised to see this character again as well because I don’t think they’ve done it since Season 35.
– I didn’t hate this as much as some people did all over the internet but it certainly wasn’t the best sketch upon a second viewing. There were a couple of visual gags that worked like Sue being in the vending machine.
– Buscemi’s random comment about Wiig’s knockers was hilarious.
Rating: **

11. “Sex” Ed Vincent’s Couples Workshop Sex Intensive (2:56)

“Sex” Ed Vincent (Brittain) is back and this time, he shows a commercial for his workshop for couples and their sex lives. He is also assisted by Dustin Van Camp (Buscemi), an erotic chef who shows how to make food sexy as well.

– Unlike the previous sketch, I was elated to see this character back after his first appearance last season and am really glad that Paul finally has his own major recurring character. He had some great stuff in this bit like his whole segment with the credit card method for homosexual couple techniques.
– Steve was excellent as the erotic chef with all his little food dishes. I also liked how he was in the audience while Paul was talking about homosexual techniques.
Rating; *** 1/2

12. The Black Keys perform “Gold on the Ceiling” (3:25)

– Another good song. It did sound an awful lot like the first one but both were entertaining so no real complaints.

13. Christmas Ornaments (3:29)

A husband (Buscemi) and wife (Wiig) couple look through their Christmas ornaments and start decorating their tree. The ornaments progressively get weirder and weirder.

– This was an excellent ten-to-one sketch and made great use of Steve Buscemi’s overall weirdness and Kristen doing a good job as the spaced-out wife.
– I loved the whole thing but the absolute best parts were Steve pressing on his little laptop ornament with beeps and bops and then doing the exact same thing for a pine cone ornament. I also really liked the ornament from his “very first Christmas… in 2008” and the various things that Wiig would do like hang the ornaments in the same place or the tree disappearing altogether.
Rating: *****

14. Goodnights

OVERALL: A very solid show with two classic sketches in Coach Bert and Christmas Ornaments and a bunch of above-average material with only one truly bad sketch (and the Sue bit wasn’t really THAT bad). Steve was an excellent host as anyone might’ve guessed and he easily stole a lot of the sketches that he was involved in. He was also utilized quite well and got to star in a good number of the pieces tonight. Now please don’t make us wait another 13 years to come back, Steve.

BREAKDOWN:

HOST: STEVE BUSCEMI – 8 segments (Monologue; The Miley Cyrus Show; Batman; Dateline; Coach Bert; Surprise Promotion; “Sex” Ed Vincent’s Couples Workshop Sex Intensive; Christmas Ornaments)

CAMEO: MAYA RUDOLPH – 1 segment (The Miley Cyrus Show)

FRED ARMISEN – 2 segments (A Message from President Barack Obama; Frozen Mexican Dinner)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 2 segments (Monologue; Surprise Promotion)
BILL HADER – 4 segments (Monologue; Dateline; Coach Bert; Surprise Promotion)
SETH MEYERS – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 4 segments (Monologue; The Miley Cyrus Show; Coach Bert; Weekend Update)
NASIM PEDRAD – 2 segments (Monologue; Coach Bert)
ANDY SAMBERG – 2 segments (Monologue; Batman)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 4 segments (The Miley Cyrus Show; Batman; Dateline; Coach Bert)
KENAN THOMPSON – 4 segments (Monologue; The Miley Cyrus Show; Coach Bert; Weekend Update)
KRISTEN WIIG – 5 segments (Monologue; Batman; Dateline; Surprise Promotion; Christmas Ornaments)

VANESSA BAYER – 2 segments (The Miley Cyrus Show; Surprise Promotion)
PAUL BRITTAIN – 4 segments (Frozen Mexican Dinner; Batman; Surprise Promotion; “Sex” Ed Vincent’s Couples Workshop Sex Intensive)
TARAN KILLAM – 2 segments (Dateline; Coach Bert)
JAY PHAROAH – 2 segments (Monologue; Coach Bert)

EPISODE MVPs: Steve Buscemi/Bill Hader/Kristen Wiig/Paul Brittain


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 36, Episode 20)

1. Cold Open: Osama bin Laden Video Will (4:41)

C-Span presents the last will and testament of Osama bin Laden (Armisen), while a translator (good ol’ Jim Downey) reads off the terrorist leader’s wishes and demands.

– I, for one, am very glad that SNL decided to tackle this story. I really wasn’t sure if they were going to hit it head-on or do some sort of patriotic theme in regards to the news. It would’ve been acceptable either way, but I’m glad they took this route.
– That being said, this wasn’t a terrific cold open but that’s not to say it wasn’t without its moments.
– In particular, I liked his constant clamouring for a 12-year old virginal Dakota Fanning to be one of his pallbearers and his gratitude for his “human shield, Fatima.”
– Fred was an obvious choice here and people may complain that he plays these foreign dictators too much, but honestly he does a good job of it.
– I also like how Downey always does the translator’s voice with these types of sketches. He has that dry, witty voice that works perfectly.
***

2. Monologue (4:54)

Tina discusses the upcoming birth of her new baby before bringing out fellow pregnant pal Maya Rudolph. It soon turns into a duet about childbirth before they are also joined by their fetuses in song.

– Tina’s got quite the baby bump now, doesn’t she? Good thing she addressed her famous impression right away.
– I liked her comment about having “the number one book in the country and the number 86 TV show.” It’s a shame more people don’t watch 30 Rock.
– I groaned when Maya came out, but her singing skills were put to good use especially when the two ladies decided to add some funk into their groove.
– The visual of the babies joining in on the song was a little creepy but funny nonetheless. Kristen and Kenan’s facial expressions combined with the microphone umbilical cords were pretty damn funny.
*** 1/2

3. GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate (6:57)

Shepard Smith (Hader) hosts the debate between the GOP candidates Mitt Romney (Sudeikis), Newt Gingrich (Moynihan), Michele Bachmann (Wiig), Sarah Palin (Fey), Jimmy McMillan (Thompson), and of course… Donald Trump (Darrell Hammond!).

– If this is a harbinger of things to come for the debate sketches we’ll see in 2012, it’s a good sign.
– Plenty of highlights here for everyone involved like Newt backing out and leaving early, Bachmann using a Fatal Attraction-style strategy, Mitt Romney using a lot of self-deprecating methods, Sarah Palin lamenting on vanquishing the world’s greatest villain in Katie Couric, McMillan rants about going underwater to find bin Laden, and Donald Trump has his own podium made of gold and being held up by marble columns while he compares himself to Citizen Kane (a movie he’s only seen half of).
– Hader’s Shepard Smith had a bunch of great lines too like when he responds to Bachmann’s rant by saying, “I’m scared AND horny!”
– “In closing, we’d like to congratulate Barack Obama on his re-election.”
****

4. Below The Waves (3:34)

What starts off seemingly as a Little Mermaid spoof devolves into something more than that as Osama bin Laden’s body lands on Crabby (Thompson) and the sea creatures start having an intellectual discussion about the news item.

– Well, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief here when I realized it was NOT going to be a lame spoof of The Little Mermaid.
– The bin Laden twist was funny as it meshed with all of the colourful characters, especially when it came to the conspiracy nut manta ray (Armisen).
– “It’s some sort of body wrapped in a … what’s that called… SHROUD!”
– Lots of things to enjoy here like Brittain using Osama’s death as a reason to get drunk, Crabby suggesting to use the body as a trap for terrorists at GITMO, and the princess (Fey) remaining content throughout the whole ordeal made me chuckle.
*** 1/2

5. Digital Short: Jack Sparrow (3:11)

While recording a new club-banger with Michael Bolton (!!), the Lonely Island is put off by their compadre’s knack for referencing Pirates of the Carribbean and Jack Sparrow in particular, thus ruining the track.

– Another major hit for the Lonely Island. If this is any indication of how the next album’s gonna turn out, sign me up.
– Michael Bolton was an absolutely random choice to be in this video, but he was hilarious, especially how he just stood on the beach and turned the song from a club hit into a ballad about Johnny Depp’s iconic character.
– Bolton had many moments of genius here: I loved him showing up in the club with the pirate hat on but the icing on the cake was Bolton deviating from that even and referencing Scarface, Erin Brockovich, and Forrest Gump.
**** 1/2

6. Ellie Goulding sings “Lights” (3:29)

– This was a really solid performance from this up-and-comer. She is not only gorgeous, but she also has a very nice voice that lends itself to this well-written ballad.
– I also found out that she writes her own music, so kudos to that as well.
– Plus, this may be the smallest back-up band I’ve ever seen someone have on SNL in recent memory, outside of the Ting Tings.

7. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (14:28)
Guests: The Devil (Sudeikis), Kaddafi’s best friends from growing up (Armisen & Bayer), and Stefon (Hader)

Best Jokes: The opening Osama jokes; Conspiracy Theories; Free Black Eyed Peas concert; elderly newlyweds

–  I’ve been really enjoying Sudeikis as the Devil, so whenever he shows up I usually get a huge grin on my face. The costume is simple ala Mephistopheles back in the day. This time, the Dark Lord shows up to complain that now he’s got to live with bin Laden… and they lost him too. I loved little bits from him like admitting that Hell has dial-up internet and his little snide remark about “Outsourced.” Suffice to say, that sums that show up for me. I also loved how the Devil’s mother is the Snapple Lady.
– The two friends of Kaddafi essentially took a one-joke premise and ran with it for a while, but it was still amusing thanks to Armisen and Bayer’s performances. For a second, I was afraid that Fred would drag out his impression of the foreign dictator again, but thankfully that did not happen. I liked the ending with Seth joining in as well and then Vanessa saying, “Seth Meyers, everybody!”
– Finally, Stefon comes out for the final commentary. This character will never get old. This time, he gives advice on where one can go for Mother’s Day and of course, he evolves into a rant involving things like “Jew Diamond Philips,” “Baloney Danza,” and the club “SPICY!” Of course, Hader loses it like always but the character is so damn endearing so he can get away with it. When he suddenly kissed Meyers on the cheek, I lost it. Hilarious.
– Seth – “This woman raised me and changed my diapers.”
Stefon – “Lucky lady…”
– Seth’s jokes were not top-notch as usual this week, but he still had some good ones.
*** 1/2

8. Birthing Seminar (5:05)

A number of expectant mothers and their husbands (Fey, Elliott, Moynihan, & Sudeikis) sit in a birthing seminar room and watch a video to help them all prepare for natural childbirth.

– There’s so much to say here. This may have been my favourite sketch of the night just for the insane things that were going on in the instructional video.
– Hader and Rudolph were fantastic as the couple in question and kudos to them for not cracking up at all during the whole ordeal.
– I was not expecting Maya’s massive pubic wig, so when that showed up I howled in shock.
– Some of the comments from the parents were pretty hilarious (“Oh, that is some murky business”).
– When the other couple (Thompson & Wiig) joins the original one in the video, it gets REALLY insane.
– The twist at the end was fantastic too.
**** 1/2

9. Bedelia’s Sleepover (4:33)

The introverted teenager, Bedelia (Pedrad), makes her third appearance and tricks her mom (Fey) into coming over during a sleepover.

– Bedelia is one of my favourite characters and I was really worried she would never show up again. After her appearance with Fey last season, it must’ve been Tina that asked that the sketch come back.
– The type of humour here is a little different from the typical SNL style too in that it’s more observational and relies less heavily on jokes.
– Killam showing up as a fellow nerd and then saying a very specific thing at the same time as Bedelia was classic.
– Based on the reviews I’ve read so far, this was a very underrated sketch and I only have praise to heap on it.
****

10. Ellie Goulding sings “Your Song” (3:19)

– This is the song that sold me.
– Ellie shows off her vocal talent to the max here with this excellent cover of Elton’s classic tune.
– I am officially in love.

11. Pregnant in Heels (2:06)

A spoof of a series I’ve never seen involving a fashion designer named Rosie Pope (Elliott) helping out a millionaire pregnant girl (Fey).

– I didn’t really get most of this, but there were some funny parts with the bits involving “signature Bravo music and cuts to a dog,” the appearance of Jay Pharoah, and the attempt to put a suit on the baby while still in the womb.
– It was okay overall.
** 1/2

12. Googie Rene’s Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn (3:00)

Googie (Thompson) is back again, this time with a showcase of his damaged prom dresses and with the help of a different assistant (Fey).

– For some reason, I enjoy this character. I really shouldn’t because, I mean, it’s Kenan in a big, loud obnoxious role but… it just works. Googie just looks insane the whole time, almost daring the viewer to look at him, which always makes me chuckle.
– The forced-wooden acting here is the cherry on the cake.
– While this wasn’t as strong as the one on Stone/KOL, it was still very enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed the dress with the grass stains on the back of it, Googie’s constant mispronounciations and awkward way of walking, and Shanelda (Fey) saying that she is ready for her first kiss with a girl.
– Why was Maya in this sketch too? Not complaining, but it was just odd.
*** 1/2

13. Hallmark “Mother” Collection (1:08)

A commercial for the new series of Hallmark cards for Mother’s Day. In a delirious twist, it’s for people who are crazy and are their own mothers.

– This was a twisted delight and a good way to end the Mother’s Day edition of the show.
– Paul gets a rare lead role in this Norman Bates-like part minus the actual killing.
*** 1/2

14. Goodnights

– Is it just me or did Taran and Nasim seem awfully close? If so, good on ’em. They would make a pretty adorable couple.
– Also, did anyone else notice that Tina and Ellie kind of looked at each other for a second and then turned away? Awkward.

OVERALL: This was a fantastic show. I know the first thing that people will say is that I overrated it but to me, this was the best show of the season thus far. This makes me forget all about Elton’s episode and gives hope for the next (and final) two episodes of the season. Tina was relegated to a few background roles, but she still excelled with her reliable Palin impression, her nuanced performance in the Bedelia sketch, and her funny turns in the “Pregnant in Heels” and “Below The Waves.” The writing was pretty top-notch this week too with only an average sketch sticking out, but nothing bad overall.

BREAKDOWN:

HOST: TINA FEY – 7 segments (Monologue; GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate; Below The Waves; Birthing Seminar; Bedelia’s Sleepover; Pregnant in Heels; Googie Rene’s Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn)
CAMEO: MAYA RUDOLPH – 3 segments (Monologue; Birthing Seminar; Googie Rene’s Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn)
FILMED CAMEO: MICHAEL BOLTON – 1 segment (Jack Sparrow)

CAST:

FRED ARMISEN – 3 segments (Osama bin Laden Video Will; Below The Waves; Weekend Update)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 4 segments (Below The Waves; Birthing Seminar; Bedelia’s Sleepover; Pregnant in Heels)
BILL HADER – 3 segments (GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate; Weekend Update; Birthing Seminar)
SETH MEYERS – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 3 segments (GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate; Birthing Seminar; Bedelia’s Sleepover)
ANDY SAMBERG – 3 segments (Jack Sparrow; Bedelia’s Sleepover; Googie Rene’s Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 3 segments (GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate; Weekend Update; Birthing Seminar)
KENAN THOMPSON – 5 segments (Monologue; GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate; Below The Waves; Birthing Seminar; Googie Rene’s Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn)
KRISTEN WIIG – 4 segments (Monologue; GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate; Birthing Seminar; Googie Rene’s Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn)

FEATURING:

VANESSA BAYER – 4 segments (Below The Waves; Weekend Update; Birthing Seminar; Bedelia’s Sleepover)
PAUL BRITTAIN – 3 segments (Below The Waves; Bedelia’s Sleepover; Hallmark “Mother” Collection)
TARAN KILLAM – 3 segments (Monologue; Bedelia’s Sleepover; Pregnant in Heels)
NASIM PEDRAD – 1 segment (Bedelia’s Sleepover)
JAY PHAROAH – 1 segment (Pregnant in Heels)

EPISODE MVP: Kenan Thompson


by Brendan Wahl

John Krasinski as…Burt Farlander

Maya Rudolph as…Verona De Tessant

Allison Janney as…Lily

Maggie Gyllenhaal as…LN Fisher-Herrin

Every now and then I take a chance and grab a couple DVDs that look intriguing to me or that I’ve heard good word of mouth about or even ones that have a solid rating over on IMDB. This one looked mighty interesting to me. It starred the underrated John Krasinski, Saturday Night Live alum Maya Rudolph, and directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition). So about five or six months ago, I picked it up not knowing what to expect. Tonight, I sat down to watch it.

The first thing one should know about this film is that despite the fact that it does not represent The Office or Saturday Night Live in regards to its general tone, it is most certainly still a comedy. Well, let’s call it a dramedy at least. It reminds me somewhat of movies like Lost in Translation or Broken Flowers as those are both dry, witty comedies (that both star Bill Murray, go fig).

The plot is pretty straight-forward. A couple in their early thirties, Bert (Krasinski) and Verona (Rudolph) find out that they will be having a baby and prepare to tell the good news to Bert’s parents since Verona’s are long since deceased. After finding out from his mother (Catherine O’Hara) and father (Jeff Daniels) that they are moving to Belgium, the young couple decide that there is no reason for them to live in Denver anymore and decide to go on the road to find their new home all the while running into various colourful characters along the way.

The film plays out like an ensemble piece, but really the main characters throughout the entire movie are Bert and Verona and the focus lies on their intriguing relationship.

Not many details of the film can be released here without giving too much away, but the acting in the movie is definitely its strongest point. Krasinski gives a layered dramatic performance and even though his comical moments reminded me a lot of a certain employee of Dunder Mifflin, it definitely works for this character and gives him an extra dimension and layer of humanity.

I have never been a fan of Maya Rudolph on Saturday Night Live (I liked when she did Donatella Versace and that’s about it) so she surprised me the most here. She underplays her role for the most part and delivers a solid performance. Her part involves less comedy than Krasinski’s and she manages to hold up her end of the dramatic baggage with aplomb.

The supporting characters are also fun. We get Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels as Bert’s parents, two actors who can always shine in even the smallest of parts. Stand-up comic Jim Gaffigan shows up in a bit role as Verona’s sister’s husband and provides some laughs, but ultimately there are two actresses in this film who stand out among all the bit players. Allison Janney and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

I’m not really familiar with Janney’s work, but she excels here playing an out-of-control mother who is admittedly “a little crazy” and drives her negative husband (Gaffigan) quietly insane. It’s a role that requires a certain madcap energy and for people to like her and yet hate her at the same time. Janney pulls this off wonderfully and despite laughing at pretty much anything she said, I also wanted to strangle her too.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is very different from that character and plays a mother who has taken a more obscure route with her children. Swearing off strollers (because it “pushes the child away”, you see) LN (Gyllenhaal) revolts at the sight of a this object of separation when it is given as a gift to her from Bert and Verona. The entire sequence of our two main characters in LN’s home is probably the best (and funniest) piece of the whole movie, especially when Bert is able to get some sort of comeuppance.

This is not to take away from the writing or directing in any way. Mendes is a tremendously gifted director who knows how to work with ensemble casts quite well and Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida have crafted a wonderful script — full of wit, charm, and most importantly…humanity. Is that so much to ask in a movie like this?

Worth Peepin’.

8/10