The big news leading up to this week’s show was that featured player Paul Brittain is leaving SNL, effective immediately. The reports state it was Paul’s decision so that he could pursue other projects, but the suddenness of the announcement makes me wonder if there’s more to it than that. Paul hasn’t made much of an impact on SNL, and, I’ll be honest, I can’t say I’m all that sad to see him go. Whether you liked Paul or not, tonight was our first show of the season without him.
Cold Open/Newt Gingrich: Moon President: The year is 2014 and in spite of losing the 2012 election, Newt Gingrich has taken up residency as the moon’s president. I thought this was a really fun sketch that felt very old school, classic SNL. Newt’s “admoonistration” is filled with other GOP hopefuls as their space alter egos—Mitt Romney mistaken for a robot, Herman Cain “investigating craters,” (innuendo intended) etc.
Monologue: Channing Tatum reminisced on his past as a male stripper, only to find some frequent former customers (Kristen Wiig, Vanessa Bayer, Fred Armisen, and Andy Samberg) out in the audience. I didn’t have high hopes for his monologue, but this was surprisingly funny and we got to see his abs, so it was a win/win. Also, I’m pretty much a sucker for any monologue that has the cast out in the audience.
It’s Getting Freaky with Cee Lo Green!: Kenan Thompson was great as Cee Lo, Channing was great as Matthew McConaughey, and Bill was hilarious as always as a creepy Colonel Sanders look-alike, all giving advice on how to keep it freaky. And of course, two hilarious and accurate descriptions of Cee Lo: “I’m Cee Lo Green, and I’m a little bald chocolate gummy bear.” “I look like someone put pimp clothes on a koala bear!”
Downton Abbey on Spike TV: This was a hilarious dead-on macho man commentary of Downton Abbey, or as they like to call it, Fancy Entourage. My favorite line: “Like eavesdropping? Then this show is for you. Anytime anyone says anything, a third person hears it in the doorway.” The only weird part was that it didn’t feature any of the cast, except for Andy’s voiceover. Regardless, I think this was my favorite bit of the night.
NBC Football Crew: For this parody of the comically intense NFL on NBC promos, we watched behind the scenes as the sports commentators shot the promo. I felt like their comments in between shots could’ve been a bit zanier and more off-the-wall, but it was still pretty funny.
Secret Word: They pretty much make the same jokes every time they do this sketch, and I have to admit…I love it. I don’t blame you if you’re completely sick of this sketch by now, but Old Hollywood Kristen always makes me laugh.
Bon Iver: Soft indie artists can sometimes get swallowed up by SNL’s musical platform and the largeness of a live TV show, but I think Bon Iver did great in his performances. He sang “Holocene” and “Beth/Rest,” both of which were done so sweetly and genuinely. Hee did a great job of making it feel very warm and intimate, even for viewers at home.
Weekend Update: Well, this was a top-notch Weekend Update. First there was Bobby Moynihan as Guy Fieri giving viewers tips for Super Bowl snacks. “If your grill is out of gas, just cook [hot dogs] over your shirt flames!” Then, Kristen came on as Lana Del Rey to respond to the backlash about her SNL performance (and nailed the impression, of course). At first I thought they were going to just straight up make fun of her, and I felt super uncomfortable; but instead they turned the joke on the critics and satirized their overly negative feedback, which I thought was great. “Based on the public’s response, I must have instead clubbed baby seals while singing the Taliban national anthem.”
Rebekah’s Bat Mitzvah: Nasim Pedrad and Channing perform a Little-Miss-Sunshine-esque awesomely inappropriate dance at Nasim’s bat mitzvah. The sketch was okay; mostly I enjoyed seeing the contrast of Nasim’s typical cutesy, girly character morphing into a gyrating dirty dancer.
Tom Brady at Ruby Tuesday’s: Ehh, I wasn’t a fan of this sketch. Bobby was dressed as “basically a flesh cube” of a woman hitting on Channing’s Tom Brady at a bar, and romantic sparks fly. The only clever part of the sketch was Bobby saying, “I’m not gonna ruin another perfectly good marriage, not after what I did to Russell Brand and Katy Perry,”—a reference to the sketch he did with Katy Perry when she hosted earlier in the season, where the two acted as lovers, implying he was the one that broke up the marriage.
Go-Techs Flex with ThumbPulse: This was a pre-taped fitness commercial parody featuring Channing and the queen of fitness comedy, Kristen. Again, it was just okay. I wasn’t really into it. Mostly I was distracted with Channing always looking slightly to the left of the camera.
Bongo’s Clown Room: Channing and the male cast members acted as male strippers while Jason Sudeikis acted as DJ. They were all predictably weird; it was overall pretty boring.
Overall: In general, I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t have high hopes for Channing (even if he was in one of my favorite movies—She’s the Man), but I think he did fairly well. It wasn’t a fantastic episode, but there were still some pretty funny moments.
Watch new episodes of Saturday Night Live on Saturdays on NBC at 11:30/10:30c. Next week’s episode on Feb. 11 is a new episode with host Zooey Deschanel and musical guest Karmin.
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