Posts Tagged ‘paul simon’


(Season 38, Episode 16)
Bumper

 

WHAT THEY’RE PROMOTING:

 

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE: “The 20/20 Experience” (album)

 

 

COLD OPENING: Hugo Chavez Memorial (3:54)
Hugo Chavez Memorial

–      I enjoyed the fact that someone finally did a bit on Hugo’s death and didn’t present him as a 100% pure great guy… because let’s face it, he was not.

–      Armisen’s opening bit was pretty amusing and I liked Cecily’s voice as the translator. Fred later holding a glass of milk was also funny.

–      Justin’s Elton John impression was pretty funny too and his singing voice was pretty close to the real thing. I especially liked the lines about Hugo being just like a candle in the wind “if a candle could pull out two guns at a press conference,” his parrot wearing the same red beret, and the whole bit about capitalism killing a former civilization that lived on Mars.

RATING: *** ½

 

 

That was definitely still Darrell Hammond doing the introductions rather than Don Pardo.

 

 

MONOLOGUE: Justin Timberlake (7:57)
Monologue

–      This was chock-full with cameos and yes… I loved it. All the cameos were great and there weren’t really any that stood out from any others.

–      Dan Aykroyd being the bartender was hilarious and reminded me of Jon Lovitz having to serve the other five-timers during Tom Hanks’ 1990 monologue.

–      Chevy Chase’s appearance also really surprised me because I expected his portrait and there he was on the phone ordering a Rolls Royce on Steve Martin’s bill. I also liked Chevy telling Steve that they never see each other anymore and “it’s on purpose.”

–      Martin Short’s appearance was great too seeing as how he hosted earlier in the season. He also kinda played the same type of role he did back in the Alec Baldwin show in Season 32.

–      Candice Bergen’s appearance was legitimately the most surprising appearance out of all the cameos. She also cracked up a bit at Martin Short’s line, “I go in the sink.”

–      The Django Unchained reference with Bobby and Taran doing mandingo fighting was great, especially Bobby yelling out, “I KILLED MY FRIEND!”, Hanks saying he loves Drunk Uncle, and Bobby quickly thanking him and walking off.

RATING: *****

 

 

GAMESHOW: It’s a Date (7:58)
It's a Date

–      Awesome sketch.

–      Loved the opening announcer bit: “the only dating gameshow still on TV.”

–      I agree with Stooge that this was the perfect way to utilize Samberg’s cameo and his and Timberlake’s singing characters rather than doing a brand-new digital short with them singing about some other type of their anatomy.

–      Aykroyd and Martin appearing as the Festrunk Brothers was COMPLETELY unexpected and awesome as well. You could tell that the audience knew exactly what was going to happen as soon as Hader mentioned that they were brothers from Czechoslovakia. Them saying they’ve been in America for 37 years was also a great meta-reference.

–      Bobby was an excellent straight man here too like always and I loved his reactions to all the insanity going on around him.

–      Vanessa Bayer was also pretty solid here and I liked her not enjoying Bobby’s decidedly normal answers but rather wanting to go on the date with the singers AND Festrunks.

–      Steve telling the singers he can’t believe they’re not black was also quite funny.

RATING: **** ½

 

 

SKETCH: Veganville (5:35)
Veganville

–      You had to expect this character of Timberlake’s to come back because it’s probably the easiest thing for them to write for him and he has enough charisma and dance moves to carry the whole thing. The Dancing with Myself parody was the best.

–      Moynihan’s appearance here was another great one. He is so good at playing straight roles or slightly-offbeat characters.

–      The Harlem Shake thing at the end was the only real downside but I guess they were going to parody the stupid fad at some point. Hopefully they just leave it alone now to all the shitty internet videos.

RATING: ***

 

 

COMMERCIAL: NuvaBling (1:23)
NuvaBling

–      This reminded me of a commercial parody they would’ve done back in the late 90s with most of the female cast.

–      I really liked the idea of reusing the NuvaBling as earrings as it provided for an amusing visual and Aidy and Cecily’s exchange (“Did you get those earrings Tiffany’s?” “Close, I got them from my vagina!”)

–      I wonder why Taran played that role that any male extra could’ve taken over.

RATING: *** ½

 

 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “Suit & Tie” (5:06)
Justin Timberlake1

–      Love the fact that JT introduced his own performance and merely said, “Make some noise! LET’S GO!”

–      This was a really good performance; Jay-Z coming out and adding to the performance was also unexpected and another fun cameo as well. The man was actually smiling!

 

 

WEEKEND UPDATE with Seth Meyers (7:31)

Guest: Stefon
update1 update2 update3 update4 update5

–      Best Jokes: Chavez funeral; Dennis Rodman/fake bishop; TSA restrictions; Hebrew Playboy jokes; Hooters; Daylight Savings Time

–      Stefon was awesome. This may have been the best edition thus far. The ovation for this character went on for quite a while as he has easily become one of the most popular ones in a long time. I actually noticed Hader making confused looks at the cue cards from time to time at the lines that were clearly written after he was given the final script. I especially loved the Sweet Willie Walker bit, the burned-down Red Lobster, Donald Duck having a Vietnam nightmare, a club being based on the novel Push by Sapphire, and of course… the human fanny pack. I also liked Stefon asking if Seth was taking his girlfriend to Mexico to kill her and then inviting him to join HIS five-timers club.

RATING: ****

 

 

SKETCH: The Tales of Sober Caligula (3:49)
The Tales of Sober Caligula

–      I know most people have been writing this off as the requisite bad sketch of the night but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. At first, I thought it was gonna be a rehash of that sketch where they would make references to things that Caligula did that sounded a lot like things that Timberlake did but I was quite happy when it was not that.

–      Taran was pretty funny here in his brief role; I liked his little moment where he felt up Justin’s golden armour. It also seemed to make Justin come very close to cracking up afterwards.

–      Bobby, once again, was also tremendous here. Tim Robinson also deserves credit though for the moment with his little sex pig.

RATING: *** ½

 

 

SHOW: Maine Justice (5:40)
Maine Justice

–      I never ever expected this to come back and while it definitely couldn’t live up to the original sketch, it was still entertaining. Sudeikis was hilarious as usual and Timberlake was also great in the role replacing Jamie Foxx.

–      I loved Kate McKinnon’s New Orleans accent.

–      Andy Samberg was a good straight man as expected. He would always do these roles really well back in the days when he was a castmember as well.

–      The conversation that Sudeikis had with the big fake alligator was insane and just amped the sketch up in terms of ridiculous-ness. It was definitely my favourite part.

RATING: *** ½

 

 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “Mirrors” (4:57)
Justin Timberlake2

–      Loved the Three Amigos introduction.

–      Another great performance. Timberlake is so great.

 

 

COMMERCIAL: She’s Got a Dick (1:44)
She's Got a Dick

–      This meant well and it seemed to be a good parody of the type of romantic comedy that Timberlake would star in but I believe this was kinda the stinker of the night.

–      I did like Fred as Eugene Levy and Kenan’s lines.

–      I don’t agree with all those stupid GLAAD people believing the sketch is “transphobic” or whatever though. First of all, it’s not. Secondly, change the channel if you don’t like it.

RATING: **

 

 

COMMERCIAL: Moet & Chandon (3:49)
Moet & Chandon

–      Did NOT expect Vanessa and Cecily to bring back these characters but I really enjoyed this just as much as I did the first time back in the Jamie Foxx episode. Timberlake was also a great addition here. I have a feeling this will come back again multiple times.

–      So many great lines here like Bayer talking about her middle parts being just plastic bags, jerking off a horse (“now who’s the horse!”), Cecily being covered in blood that wasn’t hers (“I was like ‘hello!’”), and the final bit with Cecily saying “oral.”

RATING: *****

 

 

Goodnights
goodnights

 

BEST PERFORMER(S) OF THE NIGHT:

–      Justin Timberlake/Bobby Moynihan/Vanessa Bayer

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

What else can I really say? This was an awesome episode chock-full of great performances, another superb job by Justin Timberlake, and some great music as well. All of the cameos were delightful! Only one middling sketch! This was the second-best episode of the season thus far, coming awfully close to the Christmas episode.

 

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 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 3, Episode 4)

Why do we love Saturday Night Live? Is it because every show is different? Is it because every episode has a magical wacky twist that makes each individual sketch entirely original every single night? No, hardly. It’s because every show has the same basic set-up, maybe screws with the format every once in a while, usually tosses in at least a couple of recurring sketches/characters, and tops it off with a couple of musical performances. It’s a tried-and-true formula that has stood the test of time and has proven that people like repetition, as much as we’d like to deny that fact. This episode, however, stands out because it takes the regular formula of the show and jiggles it a bit to get something slightly different.

Charles Grodin did not do well on talk shows. He was always thought of as someone who was easily annoyed, was very fidgety, and always looked like he would have rather been somewhere else. However, this was all an act by Grodin as he was pulling Borat-like stunts on the audience before Borat was even a teenager. Grodin was also known for being in the film Rosemary’s Baby at the time.

Joining Chuck is SNL favourite Paul Simon, making his second appearance as musical guest (he pulled double duty in Season 2 and he was technically just the “host” in Season 1). Simon would appear on the show somewhat frequently during the years (although his next appearance wouldn’t be until Season 5) and was a very good friend of Lorne Michaels, so he was a sort of go-to guest that Lorne could have on the show. Paul would also get to join in on the experiment that is Charles Grodin, but more on that later.

GO!

The Show:

1. Unprepared Host (3:05)
-Grodin, Belushi, Morris, Radner

As John paces around, Gilda tries to calm him down while they await the arrival of their tardy host. When Chuck eventually shows up, he brings some gifts for the cast and is dumbfounded by the announcement by Belushi that he needs to have a monologue prepared. Clearly, Grodin is not at all ready for the show as he is not even aware that the program is live and that there is a studio audience. The fun begins as John is exasperated at Chuck’s unprofessional behaviour and begrudgingly opens the show. B+

2. Monologue (1:21)

Like a deer in headlights, Grodin stumbles through his monologue and admits to having never seen the show, but says he heard it’s “a really cute show.” There’s not much more to this, but it does set up a running theme for the show. B

3. Update Promo (:41)
-Aykroyd

A serious newsman like Dan Aykroyd is ready to constantly be on the lookout for news stories 24 hours a day and 7 days a week whether he has paper in his typewriter or not. B

4. Return Of The Coneheads (5:03)
-Aykroyd, Curtin, Murray, Newman, Radner

The sixth appearance of the Coneheads sees them participating in Halloween festivities including Connie’s (Newman) attempt to convince her parents (Aykroyd & Curtin) to allow her to go apple-bobbing. Before Connie can leave though, the Coneheads’ neighbours/block parents (Murray & Radner) come over to the house to inquire as to why the family from France was giving out beer and eggs to trick-or-treaters. More goofy fun from the pointy-headed family and the sketch was relatively short for a Coneheads piece. A-

5. Chuck’s Film (2:10)
-Grodin

Grodin plans to promote his new heist flick, but takes way too long to introduce it and thus, he only gets to show about five seconds of the film. Grodin asks if he can sing his song, but Lorne Michaels’ voice comes over the PA and he asks Grodin to speed it along and just introduce the musical guest, so he obliges. This is another funny continuation of the Grodin storyline thanks to a very convincingly bad performance from our host. B+

6. Paul Simon sings “Slip Slidin’ Away” (4:27)

The always-reliable Simon strums away on one of his top hits. Simon also gets some accompaniment from The Persuasions, who perform ample support to Paul’s dazzling tune. A

7. Consumer Probe (4:39)
-Aykroyd, Curtin

An absolute classic. Joan Face (Curtin) welcomes sleazeball extraordinaire Irwin Mainway (Aykroyd) to demonstrate his line of unsafe Halloween costumes. Aykroyd is on top of his game here as Mainway, the ultimate unlikeable character, seemingly uncaring of any criticisms he has received but is also quick to defend himself with ridiculous reasons. There are some classic costumes like Invisible Pedestrian and Johnny Combat Action Costume (with a real, working rifle), but the best is Johnny Human Torch (a bag of oily rags and a lighter). Curtin is perfect foil for Danny in this near-perfect sketch that acts as a companion piece to the Irwin Mainway sketch from last year with Candice Bergen. A+

8. Anyone Can Host (1:42)
-Murray

This week, it’s Bill Murray’s turn to hype the Anyone Can Host contest while Mr. Mike tears up some postcards in the background for silly reasons like “uneven margins” and “unattractive stamp.” This week, we get a bit more of a jokey sketch involving the contest and Mr. Mike provides a few funny zingers. B+

9. Samurai Dry Cleaners (2:38)
-Grodin, Belushi, Radner

Chuck finally shows up in a proper sketch as he and Gilda arrive to pick up their dry cleaning from Futaba (Belushi). They run through the usual motions with the character, but the sketch is thrown for a loop when Charles breaks character several times and even reads the wrong lines at one point. Gilda signals for the sketch to end early as she and Charles leave the set and Belushi is visibly upset. A-

10. Weekend Update with Dan Aykroyd & Jane Curtin (8:53)
Also: Garrett Morris and Bill Murray

Another funny exchange with Don Pardo opens up this week’s edition of Weekend Update, followed by a funny piece on a so-called authentic Bigfoot film by Curtin. In fact, there’s lots of good jokes by both anchors this week including a picture of the Mona Lisa appearing during a story about Cher Bono and the FDA changing its name. The Dancing N stops by early on to drop off a bulletin (“No bulletin today. I just felt like dancing.”) Dan & Jane then join in on the fun briefly before Bill Murray stops by to give a negative review of one-man shows, dismissing them as being excuses for an actor’s ego trip. It’s another terrific performance from Murray with his smarmy Update commentaries and it’s a great ironic piece as well in tune with Bill’s delivery. We also get “News for the Silent Movie Buff,” which features Aykroyd telling a story with exaggerated gestures while words float by on the screen. It’s a simple little piece, but entertaining all the same. Also, Special Agent Willard Jackson (Morris) stops by to comment on the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really lead to any real evidence and in fact, all Jackson can provide is a number of bones from people like Amelia Earhart. It’s another terrific edition of Update. A

11. Simon & Garfunkel (5:57)
-Grodin, Simon, Art Garfunkel

Sitting on stage alongside Simon and donning a big orange wig, Charles croons along with the musical guest, singing “The Sounds of Silence.” Of course, Grodin doesn’t even know the words and has to slowly follow behind Simon’s singing. Paul’s deadpan performance here is perfect as he is offput by Charles’ terribly off-kilter performance. Paul eventually leaves Charles on stage, but this only causes our host to attempt to perform a solo, before he is interrupted by Art Garfunkel himself. Another classic segment. A+

12. The Killer Bees (7:51)
-Grodin, Aykroyd, Belushi, Morris, Murray, Radner

This is the straw that breaks Belushi’s back. After earlier ruining his Samurai sketch, Grodin points out the interesting bee costumes and how their antennas are incredibly distracting while he tries to perform. And then Belushi snaps. Donned in his Eli Wallach-like apparel, Belushi delivers an impassioned speech about how Grodin has ruined the scene and that he is the “lamest host we’ve ever had.” It comes to the forefront that the host missed the dress rehearsal and the antennas flopping around makes the “serious” speech that much funnier. A

13. The Judy Miller Show (4:47)
-Curtin (voice), Radner

Gilda debuts her spastic child character Judy Miller, who is so bored by herself that she hosts her own variety show in her room, showcasing a number of different characters and skits, based on her childlike interpretation of various world events and pop culture. This is a highlight reel in itself for Gilda, who finds a balance between cuteness and hilarity that hits the perfect note. This is yet another perfect sketch in a series of them tonight. A+

14. Professional School Of Football (2:03)
-Morris

A spokesperson (Morris) advertises his new book that will help one become a football player so that they can date movie stars and be famous. I enjoyed how Morris kept going back to the constant groin injuries in football. B

15. Paul Simon sings “You’re Kind” (2:39)

More goodness from Paul here, as he sings a slower tune this time with the help of some backup harmonica and some good instrumental work from the Persuasions. It’s no wonder that Simon was a perennial favourite of the show. A

16. Hire The Incompetent (4:15)
-Grodin, Murray, Newman, Radner

Charles introduces a string of testimonies from several “incompetents,” who have lost their jobs because of prejudices against their stupid decisions. From Murray’s stint as a bag boy and putting eggs underneath heavy stuff, Newman not helping her pilot boyfriend as an air traffic controller, and Roseanne Rosannadanna (Radner) explaining that she got in trouble for putting hair in people’s burgers. It’s the debut for Roseanne and it’s a funny one too, as she would make lots of funny upcoming appearances. Charles almost gets suckered into admitting his poor hosting abilities, but catches on and finally gets to perform his song, a quick ode to life. It’s another great sketch to end the show. A

Even continuing the joke into the goodnights, Chuck & the cast seem distanced from each other after Grodin says that it was just a gag. He thanks the cast, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, and awkwardly waves goodnight.

Here’s the thing about this episode. Apparently, the truth is that Charles Grodin truly DIDN’T show up for a lot of the rehearsals. Rather than fighting it and having a mediocre show with an only somewhat-motivated host, the show went a much different, more unique route. Charles was instructed to ad-lib many of his lines and thus create a much more authentic atmosphere of a show gone horribly wrong in a live setting thanks to a completely unprepared host. In that regard, Charles was a very effective ringleader and turned in a very convincing performance as someone that had no business being in this environment.

Paul Simon was a fantastic musical guest and his one sketch with Grodin really showed his ability to do some deadpan acting as well. In fact, that moment with Simon & “Garfunkel” ranks up there as one of my favourite moments in the show’s history. The Persuasions also showed up to back Simon and they provided some ample support as well.

It’s difficult to single out the most effective player this time, but I’m going to narrow it down to two people: John Belushi and Gilda Radner. From Belushi’s performances in the show and his eventual meltdown in the “Killer Bees” piece, he really had a large part in the unique running theme and held it together well. Gilda acted as Grodin’s guide throughout the night, however, and also had a big part in this episode. She managed to debut her Judy Miller character as well and that in itself was probably the best performance of the night.

This episode was, quite frankly, a classic.

Notes:

“Hey Glenda! Hey Blunjy!”

“Invisible Pedestrian. Not for blind kids.”

I wonder how many people in the viewing audience totally bought into this hoax.

Host Rating: A-

Musical Guest Rating: A

Show Rating: A+


by Brendan Wahl

( Season 2, Episode 8 )

How awesome must it have been for Lorne Michaels to be best friends with one of the more popular crooners to ever step foot in a recording studio. Paul Simon was one of a kind and was always willing to make an appearance on Saturday Night Live as evident by this, his second appearance since the previous year.

While Paul was a wonderful singer & songwriter, it still hadn’t really been proven that he could act. His first hosting stint featured a total of ELEVEN musical performances and a bit in which he played himself going up against Connie Hawkins (of Harlem Globetrotters fame) in a one-on-one basketball game. While that piece was funny enough, Simon played himself playing basketball so he didn’t really have much to do in the way of acting.

Joining Paul, although not officially as a musical guest, is George Harrison. Yes, THE George Harrison of the Beatles. Unfortunately, George could not be at the show in a live capacity so any segment with Mr. Harrison, including the musical performances, was taped on a Thursday I believe. It is still impressive to have the first member of the Beatles finally make an appearance on the show after all that faux-offering of $3000 by Lorne in Season One.

So does this stand to be another MusicMania episode like the first one Paul hosted? Let’s find out!

The Show:

1. Monologue Worries (3:20)

Right from the get-go we get our first cameo of the night as Paul enters the studio, passing by a man singing for change who looks suspiciously like Chevy Chase. After inviting him to the after-party, Paul walks in to find George Harrison and Lorne having a discussion about how the $3000 was only if all FOUR of the Beatles showed up. Paul interrupts to say how he is worried about how the monologue is shaping up, but Lorne takes care of everything. Really funny meta opening. A

2. Monologue (2:51)

Paul’s worries come to fruition as he appears in a giant turkey suit and then prepares to sing “Still Crazy After All These Years”. After cutting himself off, Paul and Lorne have some heated words regarding the ridiculous concept. This works wonderfully here too if only for the fact that Simon acted like such a stiff in the turkey outfit. A

3. Quarry (1:57)

It’s the cereal that’s full of minerals and nutrients because, well, it’s a bowl full of rocks with milk added to it. Jane Curtin gets to be the spokesperson in this clever bit where the cereal is so crunchy that we can’t even hear any of the family’s dialogue. B+

4. Paul Simon sings “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” (3:08)

The first of many songs of the night. Paul sings one of my favourite tunes of his and puts his heart and soul into it like he usually does in his live musical performances. A-

5. Baba Wawa At Large (3:09)

This time, Baba (Radner) has Henry Kissinger (Belushi) as her guest and because of their respective speech quirks, they have a lot of trouble understanding each other. There’s some funny chemistry here and I like when Baba gets Henry to try to say a phrase to make him sound funny. It’s an amusing little Baba Wawa piece. B

6. The Twilite Zone (4:29)

Three young actresses (Curtin, Newman, & Radner) all check into a room at the Blaine Motel to meet a producer, but it turns out that they’ve all been given the same room key. It’s an oddball sketch from Aykroyd’s masterful Serling impression to Garrett Morris’ creepy room service attendant. The twist at the end finally brings sense to this sketch. It’s not jam-packed full of laughs or anything, but it was an enjoyable and well-written sketch. B+

7. Weekend Update with Jane Curtin (9:08)

After being interrupted while taking her birth control pills, she makes a cute joke regarding the pills and the diaphragm. Jane shows a picture of Carter “begging for money” and then delivers a pretty nasty attack to Republicans. Some of the jokes are pretty crude/funny this week and one even causes Jane to apologize to her mother. Laraine Newman offers a mildly amusing filmed report about a Nazi war criminal entering the country illegally and settling in Long Island. While Newman discusses his surprising acceptance, one can see a number of Nazis in the cafe in the background. Jane starts off a dark recurring ‘Morris the Cat’ bit and even returns to the Francisco Franco bits from yesteryear. Finally, Garrett Morris joins the desk for a science editorial on a new strain of gonnorhea and his microscopic images are cartoons. It was kind of a lame bit in an otherwise solid edition of Update. B+

8. Paul Simon and George Harrison sing “Here Comes The Sun” and “Homeward Bound” (5:59)

In a little two-song set, Simon and Harrison perform two classics out of each other’s songbook. First up is Paul doing the majority of the vocals on George’s “Here Comes The Sun”, followed by Harrison leading the way for “Homeward Bound”. Much like The Band a few weeks ago, this is one of the finest moments in SNL’s musical history. Two outstanding artists joining to play some fantastic music. A+

9. Music Video: Crackerbox Palace (3:59)

If that two-song slam-dunk wasn’t enough for you, here’s a first on SNL: a music video. George Harrison’s catchy tune, Crackerbox Palace, is put into a really strange music video directed by the great Eric Idle. It’s very amusing and with the added quality of the song, it’s another entertaining piece of music. A-

10. Billy Paul (8:17)

The legend of Billy Paul (Simon) is told as a Native American (Radner) and an African-American (Morris) are refused service in an ice-cream shoppe run by a prejudiced bigot (Aykroyd). A hippie (Newman) tries to settle things between everyone, but it’s Billy himself who finally gets vengeance with his words…and some violence. Pretty funny ensemble piece with Belushi really shining as a stereotypical bully, but Paul holds his own too. B+

11. Paul Simon sings “Something So Right” (4:17)

Paul sings one that I don’t hear too often, but it’s still a good song and one that he performs quite well in this particular instance. Interestingly enough, the camera here shows Paul’s face and his fingers on the guitar at the same time. B+

12. Tomorrow (4:05)

In the second appearance of the show, Tom Snyder (Aykroyd) brings on Paul Simon himself, thinking that he is a trucker. Of course, there is a general confusion and Snyder then thinks he may be Neil Simon, citing “Barefoot in the Park”. The general awkwardness between the two makes for some funny television. I always loved Aykroyd’s Snyder impression and his general cluelessness with his guests. A-

13. Music Video: This Song (3:45)

Another Idle-directed Harrison tune turned into a music video. This time, George is in a courtroom and sings in front of a number of oddball jurors and sometimes uses the sheet music as his background. Even Ron Wood makes a small appearance as one of the jurors. Not quite as catchy as Crackerbox Palace, but I still enjoyed it. B+

14. Paul Simon sings “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (2:53)

Another awesome song. Originally a Simon & Garfunkel hit, Paul goes solo on this one and, to me at least, proves that he definitely had the superior voice out of the two. A-

Paul says goodnight, wishes everyone a happy thanksgiving, apologizes to Michael O’Donoghue for some reason (“he knows why”) and then hugs the cast as well.

The first good thing I can say of this episode is that at least it didn’t turn into the MusicMania episode that was Paul Simon/Phoebe Snow, Randy Newman. Granted, there was a lot more music than you usually see on the show nowadays (or even back then!), but it was interspersed with a healthy dose of sketches and comedy that Paul partook in more often this time too.

As far as the sketches went, nothing went in there and absolutely killed but then again, nothing died either. Everything was hovering around a B/B+, save for maybe the terrific Tomorrow piece that I may have slightly overrated just because my love for that sketch overpowers all. What can I say? This is definitely a better episode than last week’s, so will the ride continue into next week?

Host/Musical Guest Rating: B+

Show Rating: B+