Cold open: This featured Jason Sudeikis’s Mitt Romney hanging out in a down-home American diner in South Carolina, and really enjoying things. I really like these Mitt Romney sketches (Mitt Romney Raw & Unleashed, anyone?). I feel like they’re on-the-nose, and funny without being hurtful. This one focused on Romney assuring us that he was normal, and does things like watch football, “I’ll be watching that game with my five human sons…The fact is, the whole family and I love to watch sporting events on television on the weekend, so normal are we,” then switched focus to parodying Romney’s quote about how he likes to be able to fire people.
Monologue: Daniel’s monologue really proved his prowess for interacting with a live audience that he’s acquired from his time on Broadway. Daniel listed some tossed-out Harry Potter sketches the cast members demonstrated in the background such as Dumbledore at Harry Pottery Barn, Harry Pothead, and my favorite, Jersey Shore Hogwarts (with a lightning bolt scar on Harry’s abs). Overall, he didn’t seem nervous at all and delivered his jokes effortlessly.
Ricky Gervais Hosting Gigs: This was a pre-taped parody commercial for Ricky Gervais hosting the Golden Globes (Gervais played by Jason Sudeikis). The clip shows Gervais saying pretty much exactly the kind of jokes the real Gervais will probably be telling at the Golden Globes, and then switches to clips of Ricky’s (fake) future hosting jobs at the Kids’ Choice Awards, Westminster Dog Show, Philadelphia Flower Show (which is a thing?), and the BET Awards. Mostly I just keep laughing at Jason’s perfect impression of Ricky biting his lip.
Target Lady: They haven’t done this sketch in a long time, and personally, I was glad to see Kristen Wiig’s manically cheerful character back. Daniel played the basic burnt-out loser role that others such as Justin Timberlake has played in the past, but this time with an added twist of being in love with the Target Lady. Oh, and Bill Hader plays a creepy manager that shows up eating a hot dog when Daniel’s shirtless. This was also our first taste of Daniel’s flawless American accent. The sketch was creepy, it was funny, I enjoyed it.
You Can Do Anything!: You Can Do Anything! is “The only talk show that celebrates the incredibly high self esteem of the YouTube generation!” The guests on the show are basically untalented, but have disproportionately high self-esteem, because they can do anything! The jokes of the sketch were fairly funny, most of the humor lies in the overall social commentary–EXCEPT for Daniel’s character’s talent: combining Irish dancing with Chinese calligraphy, which was fantastic and hilarious. “I tried, and therefore no one should criticize me.”
Spin the Bottle: Another pre-taped sketch, with Daniel’s character playing spin the bottle at a party in hopes of kissing Abby Elliott’s character, Mindy. Well, as luck would have it, Daniel’s bottle keeps landing on various male hobos that appear out of nowhere in the gang’s circle. Don’t you hate when that happens? But he has to kiss them, because it’s The Rules. For me, the best part was Fred Armisen’s hobo character “freshening up” by putting deodorant on his tongue.
Delaware Fellas: Why see Jersey Boys when you can see…Delaware Fellas?? Kenan Thompson, Kristen, Daniel, and Taran Killam make up this wonderful Jersey Boys knockoff that features “all the excitement of Delaware and vaguely Italian accents!” Daniel shows off another flawless accent as frontman of Freddie Two-Shoes & The Good Guy Pals, and Kristen nearly breaks when giving her overly cliched Italian catchphrases. It was definitely one of the best of the night. Sketches like this are typically ones they would do as a pre-taped sketch, but I’m glad they did it live; I think it was funnier that way.
Hogwarts 2020: Where to even begin with this amazing sketch. The sketch is set at Hogwarts in the year 2020 where Professor McGonagall (played AMAZINGLY by Kristen) is giving a tour to some Gryffindor first-years; when, what’s that? Did someone say “legend?” Harry Potter pops up as that guy that hangs around his high school because his life peaked at age 18. He did, after all, eliminate all evil all over the world. You’re welcome. Ron (Taran) and Hermione (Abby) stop by, but they’re there because they’re teachers, so it’s not weird. Then, *DUN DUN DUN* Draco Malfoy (played AMAZINGLY by Paul Brittain) shows up claiming his wife saw Harry playing quidditch by himself in the front lawn and making cheering sounds…for himself. Then Hagrid (played AMAZINGLY by Bobby Moynihan) shows up and, surprise! is married to Luna Lovegood (played AMAZINGLY by Vanessa Bayer). But we are missing someone…enter: Bill Hader’s AMAZING (what? everyone was just really well cast, ok?) Professor Snape in the form of a painting. It was all just the absolute best. It’s funnier for Harry Potter fans, but I’d say still funny for non-Harry Potter fans.
Lana Del Rey: I’ll go ahead and comment on both of her performances now. Personally, I’ve never listened to Lana Del Rey before, so I don’t know what she sounds like on her albums, but I wasn’t super impressed with her live performances. I did think her first performance (“Video Games”) was better than her second (“Blue Jeans”). I’ll chalk it up to another artist that’s just not well suited to SNL’s broadcast. It happens.
Weekend Update: It was a pretty standardly good Weekend Update, this time featuring the ever-whispering Kim Jong-Un’s Two Best Friends From Growing Up (Vanessa and Fred). The best part was definitely Daniel as Casey Anthony’s newly adopted (and paranoid) Yorkshire terrier; after all, “Dogs can be sarcastic too, it’s not just for cats.”
X27B Theater: Set 100 years in the future, the theater is featuring a play looking at how different life was for a family living 100 years ago (i.e., the present). Naturally, “Hey Ya” is the theme song, and Daniel is wearing a Rugrats t-shirt. There’s a space-age audience that rolls with laughter at such archaic references as 91 being considered old, wolverines not yet being domesticated, staying Caucasian while you sleep (even after midnight), and Taylor Swift still being a musician and having definitely not assassinated anyone.
Glenda Okones: Played by Kristen, Glenda is running for mayor of made-up Glen Falls and features a bizarre accent that’s a cross between Minnesota and Texas. Basically, she’s kind of a sour-looking, fairly masculine nut-job, that keeps listing her flaws in her campaign ad. They aired THREE of these commercials throughout the broadcast…it was my least favorite bit of the night. I think I might have liked it better if she’d been one of her more perky overly optimistic characters for some contrast while listing all these ridiculous flaws.
The Jay Pharaoh Show: Ok, I love Jay Pharaoh. It irks me to no end that he is barely ever used in sketches, and that when he is used in sketches, they’re just for impressions. His impressions are wonderful, but I just feel like he has so much more potential than that. This sketch was basically a parody on SNL itself, in that Jay is only used for impressions–Jay interviews Daniel and keeps slipping into impressions of other people instead of just being himself. It was funny, but it’s still not helping to pull him out of The Impression Zone.
Voting Survey: Kristen’s character snag’s Daniel’s character as he’s leaving a voting station to ask some survey questions that get increasingly, hilariously bizarre and random (and unrelated to politics). I think Kristen can sometimes get pegged only doing wildly outrageous characters, but this sketch shows she’s just as funny when she plays a “normal” person saying hilarious things.
Headz Up: The last sketch is a repeat of the fake commercial for Headz Up, an app that texts you to tell you about things right in front of your face so you never have to look up from your cell phone.
Cute Goodnights Moments: Taran swinging Kristen around; Bill hugging Daniel and saying, “You did it!”
Overall: I thought this was a GREAT episode, and even greater for it being Daniel’s first hosting job. I have a feeling he will be asked back.
Watch new episodes of Saturday Night Live on Saturdays on NBC at 11:30/10:30c. Next week’s episode on Jan. 21 is a rerun of Emma Stone’s episode with musical guest Coldplay.