Need I say more?
Take Jorma Taccone, Saturday Night Live writer and member of The Lonely Island, have him dance naked to Lady Gaga's music, then make sure Lady Gaga is watching this happen right in front of her in an SNL dressing room, while Bill Hader smiles and laughs.
Roll the clip.
In this Saturday Night Live sketch that didn't make it past dress rehearsal this weekend, host Justin Timberlake played Mozart -- but really played himself, in a sketch reminiscent of the "Immigrant Tale" sketch from episode #34.22 -- as Mozart declared he was leaving music for acting.
Only to have his friends remind him of how his upcoming movie (hey, there was a plug!) was suspiciously just like Ashton Kutcher's friends with benefits plot of 2011, and how he didn't get nominated for major awards for his role in The Social Network, the Mickey Mouse Club, and even the Saturday Night Farce. Parts for Abby Elliott, Bill Hader, Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam. Plus a reference to the collaborations between Timberlake and Andy Samberg (who plays Mozart's foil, Salieri), and the fact that they had a third music video planned for the show. And Jason Sudeikis plays J.S. Bach.
To make it fit, though, they would have had to play this early in the show and cut something else (Secret Word?).
Justin Timberlake has become an undeniably reliably strong host for Saturday Night Live, so much so that some would like to coax him into becoming a full-time member of the cast. Timberlake himself has even teased as much when answering questions from the entertainment tabloid media. But having him on once a year to host (and occasionally pop in for a surprise cameo here and there) plays much better, reminding us how well JT works with the cast, without overstaying his welcome.
So penciling him in as host for the 36th season finale was a no-brainer. As was booking Lady Gaga as the musical guest. Not only does she have a new album to promote this week, but the first time she performed on SNL, she fared admirably well in both her musical slots as well as multiple sketches.
Ready to go out big and go home? Let's recap!
We open with the big news of the week in the world. No. Not Arnold Schwarzenegger. We're talking about the IMF head, Dominique Strauss-Khan, accused of sexually assaulting his hotel maid before skipping out of NYC and America.
Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg won an Emmy Award the first time they dressed up as Color Me Badd rejects for the music video, "Dick in a Box," which also (fun fact) finally convinced NBC to get onboard with the idea of promoting Saturday Night Live sketches and other videos online for people to view and share again and again. They reunited a second time in character for "Motherlover" with Susan Sarandon and Patricia Clarkson, who make cameos in the third video, "3-Way," which debuted last night as part of SNL's 36th season finale.
Of course, what really made "3-Way" memorable was the addition of musical guest Lady Gaga. Oh, and the "Golden Rule" that's this song's subtitle? "It's not gay, when it's in a three-way. With a lady in the middle, there's some leeway."
Roll the clip! (I'll have more to say about this memorable season finale later)
This was the big weekend openings for the lady movie comedy, Bridesmaids, and I know this because every single comedian with ladyparts who I follow on Twitter couldn't stop Tweeting about it. Which is why, certainly, Kristen Wiig would be hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend! Right?
Oh, wait. That's right. Wiig is still a regular cast member. Let's think ahead, then, to The Hangover sequel on Memorial Day weekend, or The Office finale this coming Thursday, or how about both, and get Ed Helms to host the show! Done deal. If last week's episode was focused mainly on the two tracks of bin Laden's death and Tina Fey's baby belly, then what would this week hold?
Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney clued us in today that a sketch he'd written with Simon Rich and Marika Sawyer got "cut for time" last weekend with host Tina Fey.
But I recall being in the audience for the dress rehearsal of last season's SNL that Tina Fey hosted (with Justin Bieber) and distinctly remember seeing a sketch very much like this one done there, too. Unless I'm just having clairvoyant visions again. That could be true, too. I'm Nostradamus, y'all!
Either way, roll the clip in which great women writers throughout history get roasted.
A full recap on Saturday Night Live is to come, but for now, for Mother's Day, it's important to take a look at last night's most popular sketch -- at least the sketch most applauded by the live studio audience -- as Bill Hader's Stefon character re-emerged during Weekend Update to deliver some timely suggestions on the hottest places in New York City to celebrate Mother's Day.
Did writer John Mulaney and head writer Seth Meyers do something different last night to ensure that Hader would crack even more than usual? Is Stefon the most popular thing going on SNL because it's so crazy? Or is it popular because audiences enjoy seeing an actor break character by laughing? Should we ask Jimmy Fallon? Should we ask Harvey Korman? Another question? And another question? OK. We get it. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
Roll the clip!
The Hollywood Reporter makes Lorne Michaels its cover story this week, and since it's Easter, they also asked illustrator Edel Rodriguez to depict Lorne and the SNL gang as the Last Supper. Which makes Lorne essentially Jesus Christ SNL Superstar, right?
From left to right: Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Chevy Chase, Tina Fey, Lorne Michaels, Will Ferrell, Conan O'Brien, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock, Dan Aykroyd.
Two quick thoughts: 1) Conan is the only writer to make the table, but he was Lorne's chosen one for the Late Night gig back in 1993; and 2) the man at the far right (Lorne's far left) is supposed to be Aykroyd, but it's even more believable as a depiction of Steve Higgins, who has long been a behind-the-scenes force as a head producer on SNL (as well as voiceovers for SNL and Fallon, Lorne's second chosen one for Late Night).
Related reading: Edel Rodriguez describes his artistic process on this piece.
This weekend's episode of Saturday Night Live had a couple of things going for it, and I'm not talking about those things. Not that SNL could avoid the temptation of sexually-charged humor at the expense of host Helen Mirren's breasts. Although I suppose it's the smallest of victories that the show went that route and didn't point out Mirren's age? Like I said. Small victories. Take 'em where you can get 'em.
So. How many small victories did we win as audience members this time around? Let's recap!
We began auspiciously, then, when Fred Armisen opened the show cold once again as President Barack Obama. Sure. The government shutdown was supposed to take effect Saturday, and Congress reached an agreement with Obama just before the deadline. It's topical. It's unavoidable. And yet. I know, I know. They probably had to rewrite this at the last minute, too. And yet. The joke is that everybody is unhappy? Around halfway through, it just loses steam. Maybe it was the joke about the Congressman unhappy about being in a loveless marriage? If not then, then definitely with the penultimate dig at SNL. Yikes.
Helen Mirren's monologue went straight from a Queen joke to her sexy photos, to a musical number featuring all of the men in the cast in sailor suits. Light, upbeat, costume changes. All-around nice. But I guess they couldn't get the licensing figured out for South Pacific's "There's Nothing Like A Dame" to get this clip up online.
The streak of no fake ad continued.
This was the final SNL of the season before the federal tax deadline, so yeah, we get the return of Andy Samberg's Mort Mort Feingold, accountant to the stars. Lots of quick-hit celebrity impersonations, with jingles for Feingold separating them. Paul Brittain as James Franco: He laughed more at his fake jobs than the audience did. Oh. The Kardashian sisters are back (Nasim Pedrad as Kim, Vanessa Bayer as the other one and Abby Elliott as the other other one): Joke's on us. Taran Killam as Ricky Martin. Jay Pharoah as Will Smith. Both solid impersonations. Bill Hader as Tim Burton with Helen Mirren as Helena Bonham Carter, with a dream spider? OK. Bonus points for Brittain hustling back into the scene as Johnny Depp! And Armisen continues a streak of Gaddafi impersonations. Won't that guy ever leave? I'm talking about Gaddafi. What were you talking about?
The SNL Digital Short: Well. Um. Nasim Pedrad touches Helen Mirren's bosom and it's magic. And Kristen Wiig makes her first appearance of the night memorable, too.
Remember last spring, when not-quite spring chicken Betty White was going to host Saturday Night Live, and some people loved seeing the elderly actress do it, while others thought, isn't she a bit old to be hosting a 90-minute live TV show? Well, SNL figured out how to ease Betty White's burden by surrounding her with additional talent.
Now remember last week, when aging queen Elton John was going to host SNL and be its musical guest, and some people loved the idea, while others thought What Up With That? Well, SNL used the same formula for Sir Elton John, bringing in veteran SNL host Tom Hanks, bringing back Will Forte, and bringing in new New York Knick Carmelo Anthony just because, and also Jake Gyllenhaal because he had a new movie to promote, but that wasn't enough to give him the hosting gig. So. How did that all work out?
About as well as you might have expected. Meaning: Sort of. Sir Elton John did a really great job of standing in one spot and looking at his cue cards. The show made use of his personal and professional life to find plenty of jokes about gay people, rich people, the Royal Family, and Broadway. Yay?
But any good recap begins at the beginning, so let's get to it.
We open with The Lawrence Welk Show, or rather, the Judice show, in which Kristen Wiig plays the fourth sister (other three sisters may vary due to cast changes) with tiny hands, a big forehead, and an isolated personality. Fred Armisen as Welk does much better in this cold open than he ever does as President Barack Obama. Elton John is on the piano. Abby Elliott, Vanessa Bayer and Nasim Pedrad are the "normal" singers. And as Judice...wait a second. Hold on now. What's this? I'm just receiving word from the NBC.com description of the video that Wiig's character name is Dooneesee? When did this happen? Nevermind. Because it's not really all that important. All that matters is that Wiig's fourth sister is supposed to be a freak we laugh at. Got it? Good. Now forget about it.
Elton John's monologue. He's rich. He's gay. He's chubby. He has gay sex! And he made that same crack about getting rich off of royalties earlier last week when he was a guest on Fallon. I do wonder, though, who he keeps glancing over at during the monologue.
It's been awhile since they did a fake ad after the monologue, and they skipped it here, too.
Hey, they brought back ESPN Classic team of Twinkle and Stink! You know what that means...Will Forte is back alongside Jason Sudeikis! And the audience reaction was...nothing? Nada. Zip. Not enough a recognition laugh. It's like they didn't know that Forte had left the cast this season. What gives, audience? Don't you realize that this season of SNL has been missing Will Forte? But there was more, much more, in this sketch. The audience did clap and hoot for Carmela St. Knix, aka Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks as Wiig's shot-put competition. This week's ESPN Classic sponsor, K-Y Jelly, gives Suds and Forte plenty of chances to make sex jokes, and lookie here, it's Tom Hanks as Forte's brother, Greg Stink. The sex jokes are easy, of course. But it was something to watch as Suds and Hanx held that pause after Suds went for the taco rhyme. And then the audience applauded before the end of the sketch when Hanks exited offstage (an exit unseen on camera)!?! You've got to work on your live audience skills, live audience.
Wasn't anywhere near a TV when Saturday Night Live brought Zach Galifianakis back to host for his second time on the March 12, 2011, episode, so I'm just catching up with it now in full. Well, then, let's get started!
The cold open is not overtly political, playing off of that week's "Selection Sunday" for the NCAA men's basketball tournament on CBS, with Kenan Thompson as Greg Gumbel and Jason Sudeikis playing Jim Nantz. But wait. They've taken basketball's March Madness and combined it with the world's "Actual Madness." Good call. Interestingly, when they reveal the brackets, they substitute Fred Armisen's face for Libya's Gaddafi, but keep the real faces for Egypt's Mubarak and the others in North Africa. I guess it's so as not to confuse the dummies watching on TV when they cut to Armisen as Gaddafi on set, being interviewed by Nasim Pedrad as CBS sports correspondent Tracy Wolfson. The D.C. bracket gets in both politicians and TV anchors, then cuts to Andy Samberg as Dick Vitale. Um, OK. You know that everybody who has ever watched college hoops has a Dick Vitale impersonation (and in the past few years, developed a Gus Johnson voice, TOO!!!!). The Hollywood bracket fits in all of the wacked-out celebs. Kristen Wiig keeps delivering Melissa Leo's Oscar speech. And Bill Hader is back as Charlie Sheen broadcasting live online. They fit a lot in the first five minutes, didn't they? Hoping these leaves room for plenty of absurdist stuff with Galifianakis.
For his second stint as host, Galifianakis already seems a little bit more comfortable at the top of his monologue as he took in the audience cheers and applause. What's so great about Zach, among many things, is knowing that he writes his own monologues. And that he's willing to take risks with it on live network television. He took at least three here. Can you spot them? Yes. Yes you can. And that was before he broke out into lip-sync song.
In great moments in odd timing, the first TV ad break during SNL on this night begins with AFLAC, otherwise known as the company that fired Gilbert Gottfried as its talking-duck spokesduck because he made jokes at the expense of Japan's ongoing catastrophe in the wake of earthquakes, a tsunami and nuclear meltdowns. Was this his last ad for them?
With the week that Charlie Sheen had in all of the media, you'd have to be an idiot not to know that Saturday Night Live would capitalize on it from the get-go. And despite the efforts of some to push Jimmy Fallon back into SNL as Sheen's doppleganger, the show looked within its own cast to find Bill Hader as a Sheen impersonator for the cold opening, which imagined Sheen hosting his own show, Duh! Winning!, even though Sheen himself had just hosted his own show an hour earlier in real time online via Ustream. Which sucked, by the way.
Let's examine the evidence. At least the SNL version offered an opportunity to burn through everyone else who was having a bad PR week in the world. As far as Hader vs. Fallon as Sheens, I'm not sure I liked one that much better than the other. Mostly because I'm sick of seeing anyone (even Charlie Sheen) being on Charlie Sheen. Enough already. So an entire sketch devoted to similar train wrecks? Egad. Abby Elliott played the sidekick role as Christina Aguilera, while Sheen's guests included Nazi sympathizer John Galliano (Taran Killam), Libyan dictator Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi (Fred Armisen) and Lindsay Lohan (Miley Cyrus).
Look. I know some people were wondering how a young woman would do hosting SNL, when all she has to her credit is several years working on TV comedy programs and singing in front of large audiences. Turns out...she's going to be OK doing TV comedy and singing on TV!
At 18, Miley Cyrus had the chance to show her "adult" side, as Lohan herself did when she hosted a few years back. This wasn't that. But in her monologue, Cyrus took aim at all of her accusers in song by declaring "I'm Not Perfect." It's all relative, right? Wiig and Moynihan helped out in costume. In its own way, this is perfect for her and the show. Because for everyone who accuses SNL of being off or not quite right, maybe we need to be reminded that SNL isn't perfect, either. Really?!? That was Seth and Amy asking. Not me.
For the first ad spoof, they brought back "Baby Spanx."
And before the first real ads, we had a nice conceptual talk-show sketch hosted by apl.de.ap and Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas. You know. The two people in the quartet known as the Black Eyed Peas that you never hear about. I feel like it would've been stronger without the reminders from Fergie (Cyrus) and Will.I.Am (Jay Pharoah). They kept the concept strong by having as their guest the least of the Kardashians with Khloe (Abby Elliott).
Any episode of Saturday Night Live that opens with Jason Sudeikis supposedly playing Bill O'Reilly (when Suds was so good at Glenn Beck, who is completely different), well, that's going to be problematic.
Fred Armisen also still is pretending to be President Barack Obama, and there's that. Nasim Pedrad is super hot as O'Reilly's assistant, though, so there's that, too, right?
Oh, so Russell Brand is the host of this week's episode, and far be it for me to be the only person to think that his outsized personality and size might be problematic for fitting in with the cast (and also, he's British, so he speaks that way). Brand played off of his stand-up act here, in which he acknowledges that he's still more famous in the United Kingdom than he is in the United States.
Since NBC has gotten so much better at putting buzzworthy clips from SNL online, it's made me less eager to recap the full episodes. Or perhaps it's just ennui from this season in transition. Either way, it's given me a chance to catch up with the past few episodes later, and see if I have a fresh perspective on them.
With Dana Carvey hosting, you knew he'd bring back some of his classic characters, because he had done so before. What you didn't expect was that he'd do so right off the bat in the cold open with Mike Myers returning for a "Wayne's World" reunion. Wayne's World! Excellent! Party time! They even wrote the script to include a callback to their other reunion, which happened not on SNL or even NBC, but at the MTV Movie Awards in 2008. You can see the clip and my first impressions of the Wayne's World reunion on SNL.
The monologue was a little different, because Carvey gave a shoutout to his two teen-aged sons in the audience, who he said had never seen him when he actually was on SNL as a cast member. A mini moment of poignancy. And then he got funny sincere by talking with pride about his cast (1986-1993) being the best SNL cast, because as everyone knows, when it comes to SNL, people have their favorite seasons and casts and say the show hasn't been funny since then. The crowd applauded for Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, more for Andy Samberg, and then even more when Jon Lovitz stepped onstage. "What are you doing here?" That was Carvey asking, for the record.
For the first ad spoof, they went back to the "black noise" well voiced by Jay Pharoah as Kenan Thompson slept, which first aired in episode #36.2 with Bryan Cranston. Just seems "edgy" for the sake of being "edgy."
After the break, we saw the return of Carvey's "Church Lady," who also had a surprise guest in Justin Bieber. He was there without warning, but he had his own movie to promote, and the kids (well, the girls) seem to love him, so why not, right? And oh yeah, Nasim Pedrad as Kim Kardashian (with her sisters) and Bobby Moynihan as Snooki. Sometimes, it doesn't really matter if it's perfect, because these two are perfect in their own ways.
After another break, we're treated to a Vh1 spoof called Celebrity Teen Crisis Center, with celebs answering phone banks for teens. First up, Hader as Alan Alda. Next is Carvey as Mickey Rooney (another of his SNL callbacks), giving bad advice to Paul Brittain. Of course, when this episode aired last month, did we know Rooney would come out publicly to admit that he'd been mistreated in elder care? Fred Armisen gives Ice-T a try. Man, they love having Armisen pretend to be black, don't they? Abby Elliott is Anna Faris giving bad advice to Taran Killam. Of course, this all feels like it was just a build-up to seeing Pharoah do Eddie Murphy. But do you think he botched that last line, or do you think it was written like that? Debate it or don't.
OK. That film trailer spoof of Single White Female which was The Roommate, but with Samberg and Bieber? Still felt phoned in. The fact that Samberg says the name of the movie in the trailer and then declares himself to be a famous actor? I. Don't. Know. Let's move on.
In a press release this morning, NBC confirmed that Zach Galifianakis would return to host Saturday Night Live on March 12, with musical guest Jessie J. Galifianakis hosted last season, performing stand-up for his monologue and also shaving his beard for a sketch.
Lorne Michaels also revealed overnight that Elton John would be both host and musical guest on April 2, offering a chance to attend the show and after-party as an auction item at Elton John's Oscars party.
This week's host is Miley Cyrus, who will perform alongside Cyrus impersonator Vanessa Bayer, but will not be the musical guest. That'll be left up to The Strokes.
There's so much news going on in the world, you guys, and a cable news network that's on 24/7 can only cover so much of it. Especially when you carve out three minutes at midday for an awkward live interview from MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer, featuring Saturday Night Live's Kenan Thompson and Fred Armisen in a separate studio within 30 Rock.
Between trying to sneak in her own quips, Brewer asked Armisen about his impersonations of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak and U.S. President Barack Obama, and who Thompson and Armisen hope will run in 2012 just for the impersonations. Hmmm. OK. I suppose. Tuesday Noon Live isn't quite SNL, but for a few minutes, if you've got nothing better to report on the news, why not, right?
For the first time in almost two decades, Mike Myers joined Dana Carvey on the Saturday Night Live stage to reunite for a Wayne's World sketch. Wayne's World! Party time! Excellent!
But first: A special note. SNL's cold open began with a voiceover from the late Phil Hartman. While the live studio audience already was cheering knowing they'd get to see Wayne's World again, hearing Hartman's voice reminded me how sad it is that he's not with us. A subtle tribute.
Wayne and Garth had gone on to star in two films together, and met up as recently as the 2008 MTV Movie Awards. On last night's SNL, they picked up where that conversation left off, as Garth noted he'd acquired pubes, and Wayne revealed that a monkey finally had flown out of his butt. Since they've been doing this for more than 20 years, they also acknowledged that weirdness of still broadcasting a public access show from the basement of Wayne's parents home. Well, they didn't acknowledge that, but Wayne did ask of Garth: "How old are you?" Garth's reply: "It was never determined."
These two old boys talked about the Oscars, but really just wanted to talk about Winter's Bone. Paging Beavis and Butt-head, also returning to TV: 1993 called, and they want you back.
Remember when Wayne went schwing! over Madonna, and then later Tia Carrere? Cut to 2011, and suddenly he's fixated more on Mark Wahlberg? Seems like someone's having a mid-life revelation. Sphincter says what?
Watch the whole thing unfold now:
How do you think this reunion compares to their 2008 MTV Movie Awards appearance?
For those nostalgic for early 1990s SNL, the return of Dana Carvey as host would bring back memories, but Justin Bieber wasn't even alive during those years -- which makes it that much more awkward to hear Carvey as the Church Lady get all hot and bothered over him.
Then again, Church Lady herself did start this scene by noting how much evil is on our TVs, and also welcoming the Kardashian sisters (Nasim Pedrad, Vanessa Bayer, Abby Elliott), and Snooki (Bobby Moynihan) first to her panel. "Well, isn't that special?" After casting out those demons, Church Lady seemed herself to be cast under the spell of the Biebs. "I want a taste of that sweet Bieber," she says? Could she be influenced...by Satan?!?
Of course, the Biebs has his own 3-D movie to promote (out next week), so SNL had no problems including him in the show in more than just that cameo. More Biebs = more ratings, right?
So he showed up in this video spoof trailer for Single White Female. Er. I meant The Roommate. Bieber shows up early to college to find Andy Samberg as Declan, his obsessively creepy roomie. I'll have more to say about this in the recap. For now, though. Roll the clip!
Having already posted two big SNL sketches from last weekend on Saturday night, I wanted to step back from the show and come back to it later. So here we are. Later.
Within a few seconds of watching Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's alternate response to President Obama's State of the Union address last week, I knew immediately that Saturday Night Live would be putting Kristen Wiig in the cold open to ice this crazy lady and then some. And there she was. But how would SNL play it? They decided to try giving Bachmann (Wiig) a second shot at her response. Oops, she's doing it again. It gets a little absurd at the end, but I came away from it wishing it had gone for an even weirder, less, well, straight-ahead take. The original already was ridiculous enough. Still, this is much better than most of the show's previous political cold opens. So. Good start.
Our host, Jesse Eisenberg, is bustling with energy, isn't he? My thoughts on the Eisenberg monologue, with Andy Samberg as Mark Zuckerberg, and Mark Zuckerberg as Mark Zuckerberg.
More and more, SNL is relying on cheap sexual visuals, and this ad for Estro-maxx is no exception. Look at the man-boobs on Bill Hader and Fred Armisen. Look at Paul Brittain and Bobby Moynihan in drag. I get it. We all get it. First, pubic hair for wigs. Now it's man-boobs. Aren't men with lady parts funny? That's the premise, set-up and punchline here. The only real variation came in the reading of the small print by Wiig, but I don't think many people were paying attention, because they normally don't.
If they're going to continue to do sex jokes, then it's better when there's a sense of playfulness to the affair, which is what we saw in the peek inside Nickelodeon's vault of old "Mr. Wizard's World" episodes. Hader plays Mr. Wizard, and his students (Nasim Pedrad, Eisenberg, Kenan Thompson, Abby Elliott) learn about static electricity by rubbing balloons on themselves and each other. The way Chris and Claudette (Eisenberg and Pedrad) learn the new excitement of rubbing each other, as it were, while the other students and Mr. Wizard are stunned and shocked, is amusing. Things escalate from there. "I want to learn science in the shower."
Next we see an episode of the game show, Don't Forget The Lyrics, with Jason Sudeikis as host Mark McGrath. Eisenberg plays 22-year-old contest Kenny from Rhode Island, a part-time student who got in trouble at his job at Domino's. First up: "I Love Rock N Roll," by Joan Jett. He's jumpy but did, indeed, forget the lyrics. Sudeikis as McGrath cracks about being on a 2 p.m. show on Vh1. "It's all happening." Kenny doesn't remember McGrath's band's song, "Fly." Instead, he blurts out the fact that he has an extra testicle? Or that he gets a boner at the movies? Somebody's writing staff has sex on the brains, y'all.