Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Morning Quarterback – Maya Rudolph & Sleigh Bells

It’s so funny that Maya Rudolph is hosting Saturday Night Live this week because just under a week ago Jay1 and I were discussing how Maya Rudolph lost one of the bits in her repertoire with the passing of Whitney Houston. And boom, Maya’s back on SNL.

I know it’s been awhile since I did a Sunday Morning Quarterback (or even really posted anything on the blog) but I’m back. And baby, I promise, I’ve changed. Things will be different now.

(As usual, here’s our rating system)

Phil Hartman – Comedic gold
Chris Farley – Definitely funny, but kinda messy
Norm MacDonald – Funny, but not for everyone
Tim Meadows – Solid Bit
Andy Samberg – Funny, but overstayed it’s welcome
Jim Breuer- Crowd pleaser, but a bit obvious
David Spade – Trying too hard
Chris Elliot – Didn’t click at all, how did it get on

New York Sports Now – Jeremy Lin is topical and there have been plenty of comments about him that border on being offensive. The playing up of the double standard about racism was funny, but got kinda old. The bit about Jackie Robinson making sports “tolerant” was pretty spot on. The opening ended on a high note with the mention of Don Rickles and a crotchety old WWII vet. Nice.

Rating: Andy Samberg, Jim Breuer

Monologue – The monologue was unique because it went on a minute before any jokes appeared. The monologue might have been more entertaining if fellow SNL alum Jimmy Fallon hadn’t also done a singing, traveling monologue just two months back. Rudolph salvages it with her lack of vanity. The fact that she’s not afraid to look goofy is one of the aspects that I love about her the most.

Rating: Jim Breuer

Bronx Beat – I honestly can’t say I was clamoring for this bit to return. Initially I was skeptical about this sketch, but the more it went on the more I enjoyed the interplay between Amy Pohler and Rudolph. And when Samberg and Justin Timberlake got involved, things got better. Plus I love when performers almost break.

Rating: Chris Farley, Tim Meadows

I Know Why The Caged Bird Laughs – The juxtaposition of pranking and Maya Angelou, Morgan Freeman and Cornel West was pretty funny, but honestly the bit was sort of soured by the lack of Black cast members. Instead of getting a third Black victim we get Bill Hader’s Stephen King. Visually it’s on point, but King isn’t distinct enough a personality, and there goes the sketch.

Rating: David Spade

Jay-Z and Beyonce – I loved Prince Show, so getting to see Rudolph’s Beyonce and Fred Armisen’s Prince again was delightful. Keenan did a decent LL…from the neck up. Nasim Pedran’s Nicki Minaj was actually pretty acceptable. I’ve said it before, but I’m a huge fan of Taran Killam’s Brad Pitt. And then you toss in Timberlake’s Bon Iver and you’ve got a decent sketch built around adequate impressions.

Ratings: Tim Meadows

Sleigh Bells – Performance #1 – The sound was horrible. It sounded like Nick from Boogie Nights was working the boards. Seriously, unless the vocals were supposed to be overpowered by the guitars, I’d be pissed. This is my first taste of Sleigh Bells, and I’m not impressed.

Weekend Update – The space robot “Phase One” joke really slayed me. As did Ralph the winner of “worst in show.” It was dope seeing Seth and Amy together again. And while I feel like I should feel cheated since we only got one guest, Seth and Amy tag-teaming the news was awesome.

What Up With That? – First off, Killam messing up the intro was almost a disaster. I’m genuinely glad to see that this sketch hasn’t been retired. I still find it funny. Lindsay Buckingham kills me every time. Seriously, every time. Bill O’Reilly’s timing was almost as bad as Killam’s in this sketch. And I’m pretty sure there’s a 50% that Bill didn’t know he was on a fake talk show.

Rating: Chris Farley, Tim Meadows

Super Showcase – This bit is not that funny and it’s clearly one that the writers just tossed to Wiig and Rudolph to make funny. That said, they really did. The fact that they were having fun and breaking would have been good enough, but seeing Hader look like he was pissing his pants was golden. While the premise was weak, the laughter was infectious.

Rating: Chris Farley

The Obama Show – Huge props to Armisen on his Obama/Cosby mash-up. The Obama Show title sequence was so perfect, as were the sitcom clichés. And the end with Amy Pohler’s Clinton popping up as Rudy, genius. Funny idea with brilliant execution.

Rating: Phil Hartman

Sleigh Bells Performance #2 – Unless part of the Sleigh Bells aesthetic is overpowered vocals, their performances have sucked. Did they not go to sound check? Is she not aware that her voice is so slight that I haven’t been able to make out a lyric the entire night? Wackness.

How’s He Doing – I know it’s a “five to one” sketch and they’re usually odd, but a sketch that borders on touching upon the Black perspective about anything feels out of place. I found the poking of fun at the allegiance to Obama to be pretty hilarious, especially the scenarios for “What Would It Take.”

Rating: Tim Meadows (see what I did there?)

Final Thoughts: This was a really strong episode. I liked how Pohler and Timberlake didn’t show up in too many sketches, nor did the writers throw weak sketches at Wiig to save. Rudolph did a pretty great job hosting. It’s easily one of the strongest episodes I’ve seen in quite awhile. I will say that I missed Paul Brittain this week.

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