Once again, Eli Manning’s got a lot to live up to based on older brother Peyton Manning, who I’d consider to be the best athlete host yet (I mean, remember the United Way digital short?). Let’s see if Eli lives up to his brother’s standard.
Cold Open: Fox and Friends provides another great ode to inaccuracy with this sketch (“Hakuna matata” is an Australian phrase, right?). Fred Armisen stops by as a guest as Rupert Murdoch, but of course the best part of the sketch is the rolling corrections at the end of the segment (Miss America is not third in the order of succession for the Presidency, nor is Miss Teen USA fourth). (Bonus! for the full list of corrections, check out the SNL Backstage Blog).
Monologue: Eli spends most of the monologue giving some not so great New York tips, like recommending eating “classic New York pasta” at Olive Garden (he jokes you’ll have to go to New Jersey to get it, but don’t you worry, I’m pretty sure there’s one in Times Square now) or seeing the musical Cats (which hasn’t been on Broadway since 2000). He’s a little stiff and seems nervous, but that’s to be expected of a non-actor host (especially a first time host).
Amazon Mother’s Day: Don’t know what to get Mom for Mother’s Day? All she needs is a Kindle…and a little privacy while reading 50 Shades of Grey.
Motion Capture: This was a perfect sketch for Eli—what exactly is Eli Manning’s signature football move? While doing some motion capture work for the new John Madden video game, Eli answers that question with a variety of options that had me cackling out loud (like when he was brushing his imaginary Rapunzel-like hair—”That’s your signature football move??”).
Text Message Evidence: Basically, Eli’s on trial for murder with Jason Sudeikis as his lawyer proving Eli’s (embarrassing) text messages from the night before give him an alibi. Looking at it overall I feel like it was just an alright sketch; but at the same time…I couldn’t stop laughing at the thought of Eli sending constant late night “U out?” texts and making this emoticon face: ;P
Little Brothers: Ah, so we finally arrive at the inevitable attempt at recreating the magic of the United Way commercial parody. As another gallant leader for kids behaving badly, Eli heads the Little Brothers program—helping little brothers everywhere get back at their jerk older brothers. Eli even attacks a teenage-looking Andy Samberg, calling him Peyton, and shoving him into a trunk—”I’m not Peyton!” “Whatever!” *trunk slam*. I’m not sure it quite beat Peyton teaching young children how to steal a car, but it came pretty close.
Herb Welch: Occupy Movement: Ever-grouchy reporter Herb Welch is at it again making racist comments (“I’m trying to press 2 for English,”) and refusing to interview hippies, this time at the scene of Occupy Wall Street. Honestly, Bill Hader just owns this sketch. No matter how many times he smacks some unshaven teenager in the mouth with the mic, or how many times he fakes his own death, it’s still funny.
Rihanna: Rihanna did a great job, but what really stood out to me were her sets. First she sang “Talk That Talk” with a dark, hip hop underground kind of set; and then for “Where Have You Been,” the whole set had been completely redone into a decadent Arabian set (complete with back-up dancers wearing burkas). Even with the elaborate sets aside, she danced and sounded great. No wonder she sells out concerts everywhere.
Weekend Update: Kristen Wiig came on as a hilarious, literally smoking Patricia Krentcil—the
cigar store Indian over-tanned New Jersey mom that’s been everywhere in the news lately. This was the funniest moment of the night for me so far, and Seth couldn’t stop laughing the entire time she described her baseball mitt-inspired beauty routine to achieve the look every woman dreams of—Wile E. Coyote right after something blows up in his face. Later, Sacha Baron Cohen dropped by as The Dictator to promote his new movie, and brought along Martin Scorsese as a Dictator-praising hostage. Really, my favorite part was Sacha referring to Seth as Rabbi Meyers. Best news joke of the segment: “A spokesperson for Al Qaeda said that Fox News lacks neutrality. I’m not usually one to defend Fox News, but right back atchya, Al Qaeda.”
What Is This?: In a rare turn of events, Bill actually does not play a game show host; instead, Abby Elliott plays host and has tricked her boyfriend (Eli) into coming onto the show so she can demand some serious DTR answers. I liked the premise well enough, but I felt like Abby needed to be a little more frenzied, a little more unhinged. I just kept thinking how Kristen would’ve done a better job.
Helga Lately: It’s the Swedish version of Chelsea Lately, get it? Congrats to Kate McKinnon for another starring sketch role, this time exploring what a Chelsea Lately talk show would look like in Sweden—basically, platinum blonde floogen-flahgen gibberish thrown in with typical Lately panelists and catchphrases (the gay guy, the girl that always talks about being single and makes constant vagina jokes, and the black guy). It seemed to rely on too few repeated jokes to make the sketch really work; and if it was really going to be a straightforward Chelsea Lately parody, I wish Kate had played into using Chelsea’s trademark dry, caustic tone more. Also, all of it reminded me a lot of the Finnish talk show from Katy Perry’s episode earlier this season.
Miss Drag World: What do you do when your host isn’t intrinsically funny? You make him look as outrageous as possible; cue: Eli Manning in drag. Sadly, even playing Miss Chicken Fried Steak, Eli wasn’t quite committed enough. The sketch was made worthwhile with Fred and Bobby’s brief banter and Kristen as a Christian Siriano-esque lone fan of Miss Chicken Fried Steak.
TCM Comedy: Cheech and Chong: Surprise! Cheech and Chong used to have a straigh-laced third wheel named Richard that tagged along in their adventures. As you can imagine, his character didn’t last long. Nor did my laughs.
Cute Goodnight Moments: Rihanna tackling Kristen.
Overall: Mehhh. I think they did the best with what they could work with, and there were a couple roles that were perfect for him (himself doing motion capture, straight-laced Richard); but maybe there were too many starring roles for a first time host to handle.
MVP: I think I could rewatch Kristen’s Patricia Krentcil segment over and over, so I’m giving it to Kristen Wiig.
One to Watch: If you only watch one sketch from this episode, make it Little Brothers.
Tell me, readers—who is your favorite athlete SNL host?
Watch new episodes of Saturday Night Live on Saturdays on NBC at 11:30/10:30c. Next week’s episode on May 12 is a new episode with host Will Ferrell and musical guest Usher.
All images property of NBC.