OPENING — G20 Summitt — 6
Since I’ve spent at least two years saying Fred Armisen is a lousy Obama impersonator and that SNL fails miserably at political humor, I don’t have much to add here. This sketch is actually a little bit funnier, with Obama having to answer for repayment of debt, Bill Hader playing a skeptical Chinese president and Nasim Pedrad playing the translator. Sadly, the sketch repeats the same joke several times and having Nasim Pedrad translate makes the sketch’s timing drag.
Monologue — Scarlett Johansson — 6
Scarlett looks rough. Her head looks huge. Her monologue about celebrities needing to act a little classier is funny, with Abby Elliott as Kesha and Kristen Wiig as Dina Lohan sing a selection from Chicago. One of the more amusing monologues this season, which isn’t saying much, but I’ll take it.
Commercial — MTV’s Pregnant Lineup — 7
MTV combines their hit shows with pregnancy and babies to form Maternity Television. The funniest part is their show “Cribs” in which Vanessa Bayer points to an actual crib and says “here it is.” Nice that they didn’t go with another bathroom humor commercial this time.
Millionaire Matchmaker — 8
Scarlett Johansson plays the Millionaire Matchmaker (This is an actual show? Does anyone on SNL watch scripted television anymore?) Vanessa Bayer plays the person she’s trying to help, but the Millionaire Matchmaker wants to simply diss her saying “she looks like an ass Fraggle” and “you have champagne tastes and an ass face”. The insults are very funny and the sketch gets its laughs and is done, the way a funny sketch should.
Manuel Ortiz Show — 1
Fred Armisen with a funny accent in a foreign talk show? I’ll take “crap that’s never been funny on SNL” for $200 Alex. This is a reprise of the sketch that wasn’t funny last year. A Jerry Springer type talk show takes a twist when surprise revelations are greeted by a jaunty tune that everyone stands up and dances to. Sound funny to you? I’ll be in the kitchen looking for something to drink or throw out while it’s on, so let me know how it turns out.
Commercial — Unstoppable — 8
Jay Pharoah and Taran Killam do a very funny trailer for Unstoppable with Pharoah’s excellent Denzel Washington impersonation stealing the show. The trailer does a great job of playing up the standard buddy movie cliches.
Hollywood Dish — Scarlett Johansson — 7
Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig repeat their wide eyed celebrity reporters who gape and make exaggerated faces at every response a celebrity makes. Normally I wouldn’t laugh at this, but Bill Hader’s spit take and follow up is absolutely hysterical. How Scarlett Johansson kept from laughing is beyond me.
Arcade Fire — We Used to Wait — 7
SNL must have had to knock out a wall to house the entire Arcade Fire band. Decent song, but the director must be drunk as the camera seems to have no idea who to focus on.
Weekend Update — 7
Jay Pharoah and Jason Sudekis appear as Kanye West and George W. Bush, with both doing great impersonations. They are now best buddies with a lot in common. According to Bush, Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift and he interrupted how well the country was doing. Funny, but would have been funnier with a meltdown from Kanye. Weekend Update also has two passengers on the ill fated Carnival cruise that lost power. They are played amusingly by Fred Armisen and Vanessa Bayer. As the disinterested older husband does a crossword, the wife complains about the entire cruise, without ever getting to the point that the cruise lost power. The only line from Armisen is priceless.
Funny line: (Regarding the Dallas Cowboys losing record and firing their coach) “Wow, a brand new house, a rapid downward spiral and now unemployment. They really are America’s Team.”
St. Kat’s Middle — 1
Kenan Thompson plays a middle school student in a wheelchair with a broken knee who is talked into trying to walk by his classmates who are told anything is possible by their teachers. This is a perfect example of the rule of threes. Anything that is unfunny once will be three times as unfunny when you repeat it two more times. Absolutely horrid.
Digital Short — Model UN World History Thoughts — 4
Andy Samberg plays a high school student who sings a loud punk song detailing the horrible events of the past 100 years, with Arcade Fire coming in to add vocal support. Catchy song, but one of the weakest digital shorts ever.
Paula Deen’s Kitchen — 7
Paula Deen annoys the hell out of me, so this gets a few points right off the bat. Kristen Wiig plays Paula, who starts off her show plugging her line of 8 ply paper towels for sopping up grease in her cooking. In a funny visual gag, the roll is the size of a small tree stump with sheets about a half an inch thick. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to know where to go from there, and the sketch ends rather quickly.
Arcade Fire — Sprawl II — Mountains Beyond Mountains — 8
A much more engaging performance with better direction from the booth.
Stars of Tomorrow — 8
Two mediocre child actors are given tribute by a casting director, producer, and parents. Vanessa Bayer and Scarlett Johansson play the child actors, who give absolutely horrendous readings of monologues from different movies, ending even the most dramatic part with a big smile. Not laugh out loud funny, but different and different is good.
Mike’s Busteria Commercial — 2
A rehash of the fountains commercial from an earlier episode, this centers on a guy who sells busts, promising ownership of the will make you appear wealthier. Scarlett Johansson appears in the middle to help make the pitch. Pointless end of night sketch.
Overall — 6
There were no classics here, but the show was not as disappointing as the Jon Hamm episode, which was depressingly bad. The only real keeper here is the Unstoppable commercial, which was very funny, but I’d like to see more of the Kanye West and W. pairing and Wiig’s Paula Deen.