I prepared for this week’s episode of Saturday Night Live by watching Fargo twice, hoping that the show would present even a quick reference to the classic Steve Buscemi movie. Alas, it was not to be. But still, Buscemi did a competent job as host, although it feels like he was underused. And despite his monologue, which addresses the idea that Buscemi has made a career out of playing creeps but is now a leading actor, the gang was all-too happy to play to his character actor status. So, let’s get to it.
If there was any question lingering as to whether Fred Armisen does a good Barack Obama impression, this week’s cold open should’ve confirmed the answer for you. The answer is no. But sometimes, as Frank Caliendo one told me, even a really dead-on impression is entertaining for only so long. Once you nail an impression, you have to do something with it. And that’s what Armisen does here. This is a wholly satisfying, well-written bit that exposes the real power players in American government. It’s a long list. And as you’d imagine, Obama is not near the top.
Thanks to Kenan Thompson, Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, Abby Elliott, Bobby Moynihan, Nasim Pedrad and Jay Pharoah, Buscemi didn’t have to do much during his monologue. Playing off the fact that longtime character actor Buscemi is now a leading actor on HBO’s hit Boardwalk Empire, each cast member pops up from the audience to play a role we’re all familiar with. Well done.
Placed in the right hands even an old, tired, hackey joke can breathe new life as something funny. And that’s what happens here as Fred Armisen and Paul Brittain star in ad for the all-new fix for constipation– Frozen Mexican Dinner.
If Vanessa Bayer stays on for another season at Saturday Night Live, her work as Miley Cyrus will no doubt be a big reason. It’s easily her biggest contribution to the show. And thankfully, the real-life Miley did enough this past week for her to land in a sketch. In case you didn’t hear, a video surfaced of Miley’s 19th birthday celebration, wherein she’s presented with a Bob Marley cake and she says something like, “You have to be a pretty big pot head for your friends to get you a Bob Marley cake.” And so goes on the Miley Cyrus-smokes-a-lot-of pot story. If that’s the only drug she’s doing, she’s light years ahead of most past and present pop stars. Anyway, the Miley Cyrus Show sketch below is pretty solid throughout. Buscemi pops in as a dude you’d expect him to play and — what’s that? — a Maya Rudolph cameo as Whitney Houston. Do it.
This week’s Digital Short finds Andy Samberg playing Batman– but not the Batman we all know. This one pops up at the most inopportune times, only to unload the most inane pieces of information on the city’s police chief, played by Buscemi. Totally absurd and funny throughout. Check it.
SNL brought back Bill Hader’s version of Dateline host Keith Morrison this week. And it didn’t disappoint. If you haven’t seen a Morrison sketch before, the premise is simple. Morrison travels the world to cover the most disturbing crimes ever committed (that happens in real life on the real Dateline), and maintains an sociopathic love for each gruesome detail he uncovers. And if you’ve seen Morrison on Dateline, Hader’s character is barely stretching the truth. Simply hilarious.
Because of Thanksgiving, we didn’t get an updated sketch on the Penn State scandal from SNL. This week, they made up for it. We find Jason Sudeikis addressing the media about a possible student sex scandal at a fictitious school. Naturally, Buscemi plays the possible molester. But did he do it? And are his hands clean?
Why would Herman Cain schedule a press conference to announce he’s suspending his run for president of the United States on a Saturday morning instead of waiting until Monday when the news cycle is more robust? I’ll tell you why. So that Saturday Night Live could have time to write a sketch about said press conference. You couldn’t convince me otherwise. There’s no way Cain wasn’t sitting home that night praying that Kenan Thompson would bring himself back. And he did. Thankfully.
My main complaint about SNL‘s recurring Weekend Update guest characters is that too often, the joke is already given by the time Seth Meyers introduces them. And they’re always people that would never be a guest on a news show. One of the things that makes the Daily Show so funny is its correspondents and reporters play straight and then say horrible things. On Weekend Update, the guests are horrible people and then say horrible things. It doesn’t really make sense that these people are guests on a news broadcast. That all said, Bobby Moynihan is a funny Drunk Uncle.
And now some Weekend Update highlights.
Is there a name for the type of comedy where it’s supposed to be as funny as it is unnerving? If someone knows it, please tell me, because that’s what I think is supposed to be happening here. To me, it’s not at all funny; it just makes me want to stab myself in the eyes.
Second season SNL‘r Paul Brittain does an excellent job headlining this parody infomercial promoting the world’s most horrible couples sex education retreat. Still, don’t try to tell me “bumps on a log” is a bad idea in the bedroom. Buscemi adds some extra overtness as an erotic chef.
To get us in the Christmas spirit, SNL unleashed this short sketch featuring Buscemi as Sheila and Kristen Wiig as Sheila. Right, I know. It makes no sense. And neither does the sketch. But it made me laugh, nonetheless.
So, there you have it, folks. Another pretty solid effort from the folks at Saturday Night Live. But let me know what you guys think. Sound off in the comments section.