All those sacrifices to the SNL gods paid off—Maya Rudolph’s long-awaited return to SNL finally happened; and ladies and gentlemen, it was worth the wait.
Cold Open: Linsanity has swept New York and is therefore inescapable as an SNL sketch. First they Lintentionally spoof all the Linsanity puns (lock ’em up, they’re criminally Linsane). But then they turn the parody on the media’s apparent group decision that it’s ok to enforce Asian stereotypes (“He’s sweet but not sour!”) and make Asian jokes (case in point: the New York Post‘s ACTUAL headline “He’s Amasian!”). And it’s all fun and games until Taran Killam’s character makes a black joke, and then Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharaoh’s characters hilarious berate him. Guys, that’s obviously just politically Lincorrect. Overall, a really clever sketch; I Linjoyed it thoroughly.
Monologue: Two of my favorite things for people to do during monologues is to 1) sing, and 2) walk through the backstage set, and Maya did both of this while serenading us with a new song sure to be a romance classic for the ages: “Do You Want to Funk?” (I bet Ava Alexander’s pretty jealous of that one). Also we saw Lorne doing what I picture him doing every week during the show: hanging out backstage with Paul Simon and Stefon.
Bronx Beat: I. LOVE. Bronx Beat, and I almost peed my pants Thursday night when Maya was on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and shared that one Amy Poehler would be visiting 8H on Saturday night, because I knew that meant there had to be a Bronx Beat sketch. Justin Timberlake (!!!) and Andy Samberg play Betty and Jodi’s crew guys who come on as guests. The two gum-smacking guys eventually turn the tables and banter back and forth about how much they love Betty and Jodi. No one banters as well as Amy and Maya, but Justin and Andy come pretty close and makes for a great revamp of an old sketch.
Maya Angelou’s: I Know Why the Caged Bird Laughs: What’s better than Maya Angelou pranking all of her fancy esteemed-citizens-of-soceity friends? Nothing. Don’t worry, it’s not out of malice, but of hwhimsy; and all of her victims are nothing short of honored at being the object of such tomfoolery (or as some might call it, Angelunacy). AND Maya’s Maya Angelou impression is spot-on.
Jay-Z and Beyonce’s Baby: I don’t even know where to start with this sketch, because everything about it was PERFECT. First of all, basically all the impressions were perfect: Jay as Jay-Z, Maya as Beyonce, Fred Armisen as Prince giving a smirk as a present, Kenan as LL Cool J in his formal Kangol, Nasim Pedrad as Nicki Minaj (I was pleasantly surprised to find Nasim in a non-annoying character), Taran and Abby Elliott as Brad and Angelina trying to steal Blue Ivy (I will never understand Taran’s Brad impression, but Abby’s was spot-on), Kristen Wiig as Taylor Swift, and Justin Timberlake as Bon Iver falling asleep to his own song, which features lyrics such as “don’t be a Muggle,” (Jay-Z and Bey weren’t really feeling it, but Andy the White Butler was really into it). Favorite sketch of the night.
Sleigh Bells: I’m gonna be honest, I could hardly hear the vocals of their first song, “Comeback Kid,” over the beat. I’ve never listened to them before, so I don’t know if this was a sound problem or a general style choice. The second song “End of the Line,” seemed a little easier to hear. Either way, they were the more fun, upbeat kind of performers that I think really work best on SNL as musical guests.
Weekend Update: The highlight this week was Amy sitting in for a special Really!?! with Seth & Amy focused on congress’s recent all-male meeting discussing birth control. As Seth points out, they were, after all, meeting in the He-Man Woman Haters clubhouse, and rules are rules. Amy stayed on to read some additional headlines, and it made me realize that as much as I love Seth, I really really miss having her as a cohost.
What Up with That? Presidents’ Day Edition: SNL surprises again in getting the most unlikely guests on this fake BET variety show by having Bill O’Reilly and model Kate Upton (and of course, Bill Hader’s Lindsey Buckingham) sit in on the madness. Bill O’Reilly actually was a great straight man to Kenan’s ever-singing interviewer.
Super $$$ Showcase: Bill (of course) plays the host to this game show, with Maya and Kristen playing showcase models Shonda and Vonda. The sketch was basically the Maya and Kristen Talking in Weird Voices and Doing Ridiculous Things Show, but all the insanity (Linsanity?) going on caused a hilarious breaking fest between Maya, Bill, and even Kristen. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Kristen break, I’m not surprised it was Maya that got her to do it.
The Obama Show: Continuing her efforts to stop childhood obesity, Maya’s Michelle Obama decides to launch a new sitcom: The Obama Show (whose intro is a brilliant frame for frame reenactment of The Cosby Show intro). Fred’s been pretty lax on his Obama accent lately, but in this sketch he does an impressive combination of Barack Obama and Bill Cosby, as he tries to sneak a bite of a potato chip filled hoagie before Michelle gets home. And don’t forget when Hillary Clinton (Amy) stops by for their jam session.
How’s He Doing?: Kenan hosts a talk show in which black voters get together and discuss how President Obama’s doing, with Maya and Jay playing guests. They discuss Obama’s drastic fictional decline to only a 99.2% approval rating among black voters. What’s he doing wrong? They don’t seem to be too worried, as it seems that the only real threat to Obama’s campaign among black voters is if he turns out to be Tupac’s killer.
Overall: Yet another really solid episode. I loved every minute of it, except it making me sad that Maya isn’t still on the show.
MVP: Justin Timberlake. Keep your record deals; if we could somehow get Justin to be a full-time cast member, I would be eternally grateful.
One to Watch: If you only watch one sketch of this episode, make it Jay-Z and Beyonce’s Baby. You won’t regret it.
Watch new episodes of Saturday Night Live on Saturdays on NBC at 11:30/10:30c. Next week’s episode on Feb. 25 is a rerun episode with host Charlie Day and musical guest Maroon 5.
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