Zach Galifianakis is hosting SNL for the second time in two years and last year, he was excellent. He gave one of the best monologues I can remember, which was basically part of his great stand-up act, and he’s adept embodying oddball characters. He’s promoting The Hangover 2, which I’m strangely excited about, and I wonder if we’ll see a reference to that movie or if any of his co-stars will show up. Either way, I’m excited about the return of Galifianakis. I wonder if he’ll shave his beard again.
I apologize to the legion of Jessie J fans out there – if they exist – but I have no idea who she is or what kind of music she makes. But I’ll give it a shot and see if it’s any good. It’ll be fun to come to a music artist without any prejudices or preconceptions.
Okay, let’s get to it.
Cold Open – Kenan Thompson and Jason Sudeikis as Greg Gumbel and Jim Nantz in a “selection Sunday” parody, where instead of showing the brackets for March Madness, they’re doing brackets for the craziest people. On Moammar Gadhafi: “He looks like Tony Shalhoub had a baby with ET.” Pretty clever idea and the writing already seems sharper this week. Armisen is on, doing his great Gadhafi. Another Gadhafi joke: “A fat sleepy baby in a ton of blankets.” Samberg is doing Dick Vitale, the most annoying sportscaster who has ever lived. which is actually pretty spot-on. “He’s like Stanley Tucci snorted an aderrall.” Kristen Wiig as Melissa Leo…wow, I guess Leo did a good job making herself known outside the indie world by being crazy at the Oscars. “Nicolas Cage, who always looks like he just witnessed a murder.” And of course we have Bill Hader as Charlie Sheen on his live webcast, saying that the pyramids were built by the Wayans brothers. This was easiest the most enjoyable and consistently funny cold open in months. Great concept, delivered well. 8.5/10
Monologue – “All week I was thinking to myself: don’t screw this up, fatty. Actually that was a text from my mother.” Zach actually looks pretty good, like he’s shed a couple pounds. “I wear a lot of Axe bodyspray. But I live in a black neighborhood and it’s called ‘Ask’ bodyspray. And if you don’t get that joke, you’re not racist.” “The only time it’s good to yell out ‘I’ve got diarrhea’ is when you’re playing Scrabble.” Wow, Zach is just crushing this monologue right now. I really think SNL should always let comedians do their routines. If they’re gonna hire a comedian to host, they might as well let them do what they’re best at and Galifianakis does one of the greatest droll and matter-of-fact deliverers ever, almost on a par with Steven Wright. Zach takes off his clothes and he’s dressed as Annie and singing “Tomorrow” while doing his big board shtick, ripping off the pages that saying things like, “I was bullied as a teenager.” Then the next one says: “By first graders.” So much energy, so much commitment, great jokes…folks, this is how you do an SNL monologue. Best of the year so far, easy. 9.5/10
The Talk – Abby Elliott, Vanessa Bayer, Kristen Wiig, and Nasim Pedrad as Leah Remini, Sara Gilbert, Julia Chen, and Sharon Osbourne respectively on the View rip-off morning talk show. Pedrad’s Sharon Osbourne and Elliott’s Remini are my favorite impressions, they’re really good. Everyone is reverential of Osbourne and everything she does, with Remini calling her “a human Albert Einstein.” Elliott tripped over a couple of lines, whoops. This skit is pretty funny, but it’s already a bit long and we haven’t even had Galifianakis yet. There he is, as a man wearing a “View” t-shirt and asking when Barbara Walters is coming out. Bill Hader comes on the show as Steven Tyler. I haven’t seen American Idol this year and I don’t plan on it, but Hader’s Steven Tyler is pretty good, not one of his best impressions. Galifianakis is being massively under-utilized in this skit, which is its biggest weakness. It started strong, but wound up being pretty mediocre. 5.5/10
The Original Kings of Catchphrase Comedy – I never know what to call it when it’s a film, but it’s not called a digital short. Either way, this is one of those, which is about four comedians that all have their own catchphrases and sign-off lines. Glad to see Paul Brittain as Goran, the Croatian comedian. Kenan doing the “eatin’ dookie’ bit is hilarious and I wonder if Kenan has found the best character for him: a bad comedian. Bobby Moynihan wonders why he can’t get a McDonald’s breakfast and Zach Galifianakis just plays his airhorn over and over again. Love seeing Seth Meyers in a skit, as “Boston Powers.” I love it when they have skits where almost every castmember participates and gets a chance to create a character. This was not the greatest short film ever, but it was pretty good and I enjoyed myself. 7/10
Next Week – Elton John is hosting and is the musical guest. on April 2nd Wow, that’s a lot of Elton. Good thing he’s an amazing singer/pianist. Don’t know how he’ll do with the rest of his duties, but I’m sure it’ll be memorable.
Scared Straight – Ugh, one of my least favorite recurring sketches. This and the Target lady are the two skits that make me roll my eyes and cringe. This is the skit where Kenan Thompson yells in peoples’ faces for six minutes. Hilarious. This time Galifianakis comes on with him, dressed as Hannibal Lecter, as a guy who used to be an accountant for Nabisco before he started eating people. Galifianakis is trying his best, but he can only do so much with a skit that’s just not a strong one. If I wasn’t doing this recap, I would just fast forward right past this. Couldn’t we have more Paul Brittain and Jay Pharoah instead of this? The audience seems to be enjoying this, at least. To be fair, this is one of the better installments of this skit. 3/10
Digital Short – Zach Looks For a New Assistant. Galifianakis is interviewing children for the position of his assistant. It looks like the kids have no idea that this is a joke. One kid says he like’s Usher and Galifianakis goes, “Usher is Justin Bieber’s dad, right?” Galifianakis picks up a stapler and uses it as a telephone until the girl informs him that it’s not a telephone. Then he uses a fart machine, trying to get one kid to laugh, but the kid just keeps shaking his head and going, “not funny.” This was a quick, clever, and very Galiafanakis-ish short. 7.5/10
Jessie J – Well, she’s attractive even though she’s dressed like an idiot and wearing so much make-up that she looks like she’s trying to emulate Jocelyn Wildenstein’s style. She has a nice voice, but this song is not good. It’s so disposable. It seems like she was cynically designed by record execs. “We want Amy Winehouse, but a with a little bit more of a hip hop bent.” Or like they said, “We want Lily Allen part two.” This is silly. 3/10
Weekend Update – I could use some Stefon in my life, especially since the show won’t come back until April 2nd, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen. Seth Meyers starts off with a couple of weak jokes about Obama’s bullying and the NFL lockout, then a pretty solid joke combining the Pope, Jesus, and Watson the computer. Kristen Wiig comes out as Julie Taymor to talk about getting fired from the Spider-man musical and she’s singing the opening of The Lion King. I feel bad for Julie Taymor, sort of. I’d probably feel worse if she didn’t come across as being incredibly pretentious. Or if I liked a single one of her movies. Wiig isn’t doing anything outrageous here, which is fitting because Taymor isn’t an easy person to impersonate. Meyers says there are claims that she doesn’t know anything about the source material, which she refutes. “I know everything there is to know about the Spider-man.” “I know Spider-man’s secret identity is Peter Jessica Parker.” Then she sings a song called “Rise Above,” which is pretty funny. Wiig is always on point when she’s singing. Moving on. “According to a new study, men with deeper voices are more likely to be suspected of a cheating in a relationship. Also suspected? Men with suddenly high voices.” This is a good one: “Police in Alaska are warning visitors to not approach any wild moose after a woman who tried to pet one was kicked in the chest. ‘No, yeah, we know,’ said absolutely everybody else.” Andy Samberg comes on as “Liam, the teenager who just woke up.” The weird thing is that Samberg looks just like me when I would wake up in the middle of the night ten years ago. He’s supposed to talk about Obama’s energy policy, but instead he talks about the dreams he just had. This is not the best Update guest or the best Samberg character. While singing about Peter Falk and wet dreams to the tune of “Oops I Did it Again,” Samberg almost loses it, which is enjoyable because Samberg almost never breaks character. He’s got one of the strongest constitutions on the show, but he almost broke for a second. Seth Meyers ends Weekend Update on a serious note, with a plea to donate money to the Earthquake-relief efforts in Japan. Classy move. Not the strongest update of the season, but certainly pretty good and fairly short. 6.5/10
Noodles – Galifianakis and Wiig play parents who have to inform their kids that Noodles, the dog, has died. They tell their three kids – played by Pedrad, Moynihan and Elliott – that he’s on a farm somewhere upstate eating avocados fresh from the tree. Pedrad picks up on the lie and says that unless there’s been a drastic climate tree, there’s no way there are avocado trees upstate. The parents keep changing their story, trying to get the kids to believe that Noodles died. “Noodles was killed by the Latin Kings.” “The Latin Kings haven’t been active in this area for years.” “Okay, Noodles hung himself.” Galifianakis and Wiig then tell the truth: Noodles died from auto-erotic asphyxiation and then explain the practice to their children, complete with a copy of his dog porn magazine. Then Hader brings the dog back, informing everyone that the dog isn’t dead, but was merely in a coma. Then it gets even weirder, with Kenan as the voice of Noodles, singing “Luck Be a Lady.” This skit definitely gets bonus points for being so bizarre, but it was slow going for a while and there weren’t that many laughs. 6/10
Celebrity Scoop – Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen play the hosts of a Winnipeg-based Entertainment Tonight type show. Zach Galifianakis is one of their reporters. They don’t show pictures of people canoodling because that’s the “Canadian way.” Galifianakis elongates every “o” and all of them, as the skit goes on, are starting to sound more and more Irish rather than Canadian. Bill Hader comes on as the fashion correspondent. Basically the skit is based on the stereotype that Canadians are really nice. This skit is going on really long considering there is only one joke and it was beaten into my head within the first thirty seconds. This might have been an interesting concept, but there’s not a whole lot to do with it. This is getting painful. 2/10
Jessie J Again – Wow, that’s some outfit. What is with modern female singers dressing in underwear? What hath Lady Gaga wrought? Not that I’m complaining. Anyway, once again Jessie J has a really nice voice, even if she’s intent on proving that point a little too much with lots of flashy singing flourishes. This song is really terrible, though. As a pop song, it has no hook and it’s difficult to get into a rhythm with it. Sorry, Jessie J, you’re just not for me. 2/10
Corn Syrup Producers of America – It’s another short film. This one is at a birthday party, where Kristen Wiig tries to explain to Pedrad that corn syrup is bad, but then gets rocked by Pedrad. “Should I trust scientists or stay-at-home mom Sheila who drinks wine at 10am?” This was actually pretty funny and succinct. I liked it. 7.5/10
The Titanic’s Women and Children – Zach Galifianakis dressed as a woman so he can get into the lifeboat that is reserved solely for women and children and isn’t fooling anybody. Galifianakis then beats away a man who tries to get into the boat. It turns out that Galifianakis is the captain. They read from his journal: “Iceberg straight ahead, I think I’ll blast through that sucker.” This is just not a good sketch. But it ends with a pretty bizarre epilogue that I enjoyed. 3/10
Goodbyes – Whoa! Galifianakis shaved the sides of his head, apologizing for the fact that they didn’t have time for the “Mr. T” sketch. It’s becoming a recurring thing for Galifinakis to shave parts of his body on SNL…what’s next? 10/10 for shaving his head to look like Mr. T.
Zach Galifianakis – He was excellent, but he was let down by some of the material. The Digital Short could have been stronger and I think that was probably mostly his idea, but the monologue was the best I’ve seen all year. Next time they need to find some sketches where he can embody some more specific characters rather than shoe-horning him into skits that could have been written weeks, months or years ago. Either way, I’d be happy to see him come back once again. 9/10
Jessie J – Sorry, not a fan. She was too derivative of other, better artists despite her nice voice. 2.5/10
The rest of the cast – Got to see Paul Brittain, which was a plus, but there was an absence of Jay Pharoah. The MVP would probably be Nasim Pedrad, who was in a lot of the sketches and made the most of her time. Wiig is a close second. Kenan and Hader are tied for third. Let’s get Stefon back next time, guys!
As for myself, I whipped through this pretty well, so I give myself a 7/10.
What’d you guys think?