SNL with Ben Stiller follows terrible episode with slightly less terrible episode

By | October 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm | 6 comments | feature slider, Opinion, TV/Movies | Tags: , , , ,

After last week’s mostly-terrible effort from Saturday Night Live, I was confident this one, hosted by Ben Stiller, would prove to be a clear comeback for the show. The best I can say about last night’s episode was that it wasn’t worse than its previous week. And because it did have a handful of great moments, I wouldn’t call it a loss. But it wasn’t a win, either. Let’s call it a tie. That makes SNL 1-1-1 this season. Let’s get to the specifics, shall we?

Last night’s show opened with Jason Sudeikis’ Mitt Romney at a question and answer session with Republican fundraisers; Romney desperately tries to deflect the audience’s thinly veiled swipes at the politician’s staid personality and earnest pleas to get New Jersey governor Chris Christie (played competently by Bobby Moynihan) to take Romney’s place in the run for President.

This is what I love to see in parody commercials: a great target (those guilt-inducing save-for-your-future investment company ads) and an amazingly hilarious – and absurd – punch line. Check it out, and be sure to stick all your money into Lincoln Financial. That’s my plan.

Though this spoof on Fox and Friends is a bit scattered, I think it pretty much captures the idiocy behind the Hank Williams Jr. controversy. In the end the message is clear: Fox was stupid to have Hank on to talk about politics; people were stupid to take anything Hank said seriously and Fox and Friends is simply pretty much stupid.

Our second Lincoln Financial commercial doesn’t disappoint. This time Bill Hader is confronted with his future self. And it’s even more frightening than Jason Sudeikis’ future self we saw in the first ad.

In this week’s Digital Short, host Ben Stiller gets a little Zoolander-ish with Andy Samberg. Thank you, SNL, for pointing out the slippery slope that is the male v-neck T-shirt.

And now, let’s get to some Weekend Update highlights, shall we? There’s surely nothing groundbreaking here, but the writers make a few good points.

Later during Weekend Update, SNL audience favorite – for reasons, I will never understand – Stefon sits in to once again give tourists tips on where to go in New York. This time, however, he’s joined by Derek Zoolander (Stiller, reprising his role from his 2001 flick). This bit was one big pile of slop: Stilted cue card reciting, inability to stay in character and just pure lazy writing.

When I hear people say that Kristen Wiig can do no wrong on SNL, I tend to believe them. Any time she’s onscreen, you can safely assume you won’t be wasting your time by watching the next few minutes of the show. Every once in a while, however, Wiig doesn’t live up to her hype. And that’s fine. No one’s perfect and she’s still one of the best parts of SNL week after week. Allow me to submit this character, her party planner Nan Washington as evidence of her not being perfect. Seriously, what a waste. This would’ve been a perfect time to get Jay Pharoah or even Taran Killam some extra face time.

Holy shit. Really, SNL? Did you guys challenge yourself this week to prove that pieces starring Wiig can be more awful that what a high school sketch club could come up with in five minutes? Everything about this bit stinks.

And another Lincoln Financial commercial— this one starring Stiller.

I loved this send-up of those extended online videos that pop up each year promoting the annual Gathering of the Juggalos, the music festival founded by shitty rap group Insane Clown Posse. The folks at SNL call their version the Columbus Day Assblast; and they get it all right. I just wonder how many people watching at home got the full extent of the joke.

In this, Stiller does the very best Bruce Springsteen impersonation he can muster up. It seems The Boss is selling another box set, but this time it’s not about the music. Can you imagine a collection of Springsteen’s inane stories he tells in between the songs he plays live? SNL can.

If there’s one thing I learned from watching this week’s SNL it’s that Taran Killam can do an excellent Brad Pitt. Check out this movie trailer from the makers of Moneyball.

So, what did you think? Am I wrong about this episode? Was it light years better than last week’s show? Am I being too hard on SNL or not hard enough? Sound off in the comments section.

About the Author

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor in chief of Laughspin. He launched Punchline Magazine in 2005 (which became Laughspin in the summer of 2011) with childhood friend Bill Bergmann. Dylan lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. He hopes the Shire is real.

  • MarkCFerg

    I appreciate the article in the assessment. What I don’t appreciate, is the stupidity of another idiot liberal that has to inject his raw nerves into everything he writes. Thanks.

  • Jim Pharr

    and no, this wasn’t a good SNL episode, but YOU be the one to cancel that show.

  • Jim Pharr

    it couldn’t be that a bunch of old comedians are too jilted to understand that things are funny anymore? yeah… that thing. we DO understand that they have, essentially, 6 days to put on a Broadway-style performance? it’s not you, coming up with shitty cat jokes at you desktop computer and complaining that, “kids these days don’t get Steven Wright… they just don’t understand what comedy is.” if you’re going to be a stickler for comedy get off SNL’s nuts and get pissed off about The Big Bang Theory. please. now THAT show is garbage.

    • Dylan

      our readers don’t care about the big bang theory. that’s why we barely mention it. you’re correct. that show is terrible. i can’t watch it for more than three minutes without wanting to stab myself in the eyes.

      like i said in the SNL review, not every sketch on the show was horrible. but SNL is the sketch show that launches more comedy careers than any other show throughout history. it’s been the comedy standard for decades. so, it deserves to be examined as such.

      and pointing out that they have six days to put this show together is kind of silly. yes, they have six days to put it together. and that’s not a lot of time. but that’s what they do every week. that’s not really an excuse for trotting out sketches that go nowhere and just hope that people won’t notice because “we’re SNL and we can do no wrong.”

      also, i don’t understand your first sentence about “old comedians.” who are you referring to? regardless, i appreciate you taking the time to comment. (not being sarcastic. i said that once, and the person thought i was being a jerk…. truly, i’m glad people have opinions about this stuff).

      • Jim Pharr

        Yeah man! I’m just trying to figure out what comedy as of late. and i wasn’t necessarily referring to “old” comedians, but “old-minded” or “the old way is the only way” type of thinking comedians. Good comedy now a days is extremely personal, i.e. Louie, and SNL needs to get that. Character-based shit. Give it time. Jason Sudeikis. And, WEEKEND UPDATE?? C’mon… weekend update.

  • Jimi Mack

    Well worded review Dylan, and I heartily agree. The few bright spots each week aren’t enough to justify this show’s continuance. If it weren’t for it’s impressive legacy, if it were a new show, it would surely be cancelled. In fact, the history of this program is what gives me any loyalty to it at all, not the acting or writing of the last few years. You can actually tell where the cue cards are for each sketch! Even MadTV was more consistently funny. SNL is a shell of its former self, and has been circling the drain for a long time. As hard as it is to believe that there aren’t good, quality comedic actors and writers out there who could put together a reliably funny ensemble/variety show once a week, this one has run its course. Time for the musical guest to be the singing fat lady.

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