Saturday Night Live has been… a bit off this season (in my humble opinion), but because I’m either a glutton for punishment, or a dedicated fan of the show (both), I will continue to tune in weekly, waiting for that glorious Saturday evening where I can laugh again. Was this week the show to break this season’s slump? Is Lady Gaga as talented an actor as she is a musician (pretty loaded, dependent on your Gaga stance)? Was it funny? The answers to these questions and more, in this week’s Saturday Night Live recap, you little monster, you.
Cold Open – Rob Ford:
The show starts this week with a CBC newscast (hosted by Taran Killam) about disgraced Toronto mayor Rob Ford (played hilariously by Bobby Moynihan). It’s a topical news piece, so you know what to expect if you’re familiar with the story, but one that’s appropriate for parody, and while I may be a big Moynihan fan and be biased, I think this is a decent way to start this week’s show. This is a pretty one note sketch, but luckily that note is super funny. I dug it.
Highlight: Bobby’s faces/”Whoa, that’s a lot of crack!!!”
I’m not the world’s biggest Lady Gaga fan, but I certainly don’t dislike her, and am interested in how her first hosting gig will turn out. A musical number about “cheap applause vs. “not-cheap” applause. Gaga has a great voice, as is evidenced in this monologue. What’s not in evidence is any comedy. They tend to do that with musical hosts though, so no shock on this.
Highlight: Ummmm, the singing part?
A pretty funny commercial parody for “Presidential Depression,” “Paxil: For Second Term Strength”, starring Jay Pharoah as the Pres. The show has been solid with its commercial parodies this year, and while this one is a bit too political for my taste, it’s far from bad.
Highlight: “Yes we can, with Paxil”
Kimye Talk Show:
Kim Kardashian (Nasim Pedrad) and Kanye (Jay Pharoah) host their their very own talk show, and I’m happy to report it’s a funny one. These are impressions that both these cast members absolutely nail (particularly Nasim as Kim K.), and an appearance by our hero Kate McKinnon as Kris Jenner certainly doesn’t hurt. A thanksgiving themed celebrity impression sketch that totally works, and is the first in what I hope will be a recurring segment. Gaga does her first character of the night as an Apple store employee, and honestly isn’t that bad. Is this the best episode of the season? Only one way to find out.
Highlight: “Mark Zuckerberg is a genius!”
Worst Cover Songs
Another parody, this one of a late-night “Music Compilation Commercial,” starring Killam as Adam Duritz, front man of Counting Crows, pitching the “Worst Cover Songs of all time”. It’s another “celeb impression medley”, but thankfully, another funny one. Britney Spears, Rick Ross, Lana Del Ray, Nathan Lane, Adele, Gaga; the gangs al here. Kudos to Gaga for a very funny “Express Yourself” dig, at her own expense.
Highlight: Rick Ross on the cups.
Seth Myers and Cecily Strong get to what is usually the strongest portion of the show, on what is (so far) the funniest episode of the season, so high hopes on this Update. A funny news rundown, followed by an appearance from Kenan Thompson as “Mr. Senior,” a curmudgeonly old man with an interesting way of pronouncing Cecily and a hatred of celebrating Christmas early. We also get Killam as a speech critic from the 1800s, which is amazing.
Highlight: “115 West Boring Street”
Vanessa Bayer and new cast member Brooks Whelan are interviewed by a very strange co-op board. The current crop of writers LOVES weird characters (way more than I do), and this is another “rotating cast of freaks” sketch. Some funny moments, but overall a miss.
Highlight: KATE MCKINNON!!!
A commercial for a kids acting camp that is more difficult to describe than your usual SNL fare, but also way funnier. It’s basically teenagers doing reenactments of famous films, and it made me laugh harder than anything in the episode. Vanessa Bayer crushes this type of character (over-acting teen), and Kyle Mooney is definitely my favorite new cast member. Great sketch in a really good episode (so far.)
Highlight: Vanessa Bayer’s child actor.
The gang at Blockbuster finds out they’re closing, and is upset to hear the news; they’re forced to enter the real world for the first time in a long time. Sort of Being There meets a digital short, and while not guffaw heavy, a very funny and extremely well executed sketch.
Highlight: Croods viking funeral
Second to last slot of the night gets the weird sketches, and tonight is no different. We see a children’s talent show from the perspective of their off-stage and VERY involved parents. Whiff.
Highlight: Kenan’s reactions.
Lady Gaga plays an elderly version of herself as a denizen of future Manhattan, and Kenan Thompson plays her futuristic super. Pretty one note (Gaga is old), but still funny nonetheless.
Highlight: Gaga’s piano playing
Final Thoughts: The funniest episode of the season and a real surprise. Gaga was pretty good as a host (surprise number 1) and almost ALL the sketches worked (BIG surprise number 2). I am now excited for next week’s episode for the first time this season. Well done, SNL. I knew you wouldn’t let me down.