The great thing about having a brand new star as the host of Saturday Night Live is the sense of anticipation for what is ultimately completely unpredictable.
The opening monologue, a sassy musical number to the tune of Betty Everett’s “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss),” found Gabourey Sidibe explaining, with a fabulous smile and a fierce swagger, why she’s nothing like the Precious character that shot her to stardom.
Less funny and more (forgive me) preciously sweet, the Gabourey cabaret didn’t seem to hint at what was to come. Now, in hindsight, it’s clear that the content was meant to be non-thematic. It was the tone – light-heartedness – that really created a thread for the evening. This could be why some of the cast fell victim to a sporadic case of the giggles.
It started with Gabourey flubbing a line and breaking face as she played a “crazy” lady yelling from a window. But Mrs. Johnson isn’t as off as she seems.
A special editorial about Girl Scout cookies from show writer/stand-up comedian John Mulaney was more than a tasty Weekend Update treat – with his direct appeal to the cookies themselves and a young Andy Rooney-esque delivery. It, at one point, even cracked John up.
But the giggles really took over on when Bill Hader had a hard time playing subculture club-obsessed Stefon straight, causing Seth Meyers to nearly lose it, too.
One Update guest that didn’t lose her cool, but brought more than her fair share of laughs from the audience was Kristen Wiig as travel correspondent Judy Grimes. Like a coked-up version of Kevin Nealon doing Mr. Subliminal, Wiig always delivers brilliantly when it comes to this character. The nervous run-on sentences only get longer and more astonishingly funny. Not just kidding.
But back to the fantastic Gabourey and back to the beginning!
Wiig’s portrayal of quirky femme fiscal Suze Orman is another of her strongest performances. In this episode, Gabourey appears as a Jamaican accented nurse who’s written a money-saving DIY medical book, giving Wiig lots of room for some graphic laughs.
This week’s digital short positioned the host in a bizarre and beautifully shot slo-mo face-off with Andy Samberg. It’s hard to describe how one cherry can take it from surreal to hilarious. See for yourself.
And, with a few weaklings in between, the show ended strong, with the host appearing as herself, confronted by Will Forte’s creepy, off-kilter ladies’ man Hamilton.
The show is on break now until May 8, when it comes back with a vengeance. Betty White hosts (FINALLY!) and the musical guest is Jay-Z.