Just today I was texting Jay1 about SNL. He was perusing episodes on Netflix and John Goodman came up. Jay1 is a huge Goodman fan. I dig the guy, certainly as an actor. I enjoyed him on Roseanne and his various Los Hermanos de Cohen films. I’m even watching Alpha House. So why can’t I muster up more excitement for him on SNL?
Well, for one reason despite hosting a dozen times, he hasn’t hosted Saturday Night Live in over a decade. I’ve also noticed that Goodman has issues with commitment. He starred in Treme, for the first season, before being written off and I fully expect the same with Alpha House. Will he be able to commit to what SNL’s writers have in store for him?
Before we get into the episode, let’s check out the rating system;
Phil Hartman – Comedic gold
Chris Farley – Definitely funny, but kinda messy
Norm MacDonald – Funny, but not for everyone
Kristen Wiig – So-so premise saved by performer.
Tim Meadows – Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it, dripping with adequatulence
Darrell Hammond – Funny, but overstayed it’s welcome
Jim Breuer- Crowd pleaser, but a bit obvious
Robert Downey Jr – Brilliant performer, not a lot to work with
David Spade – Trying too hard
Janeane Garofalo – Weird weird, not weird funny
Obama Cold Open – This is slightly predictable. You’ve got Mandela’s memorial service which had three things register on the controversy meter. That said, this sketch is woefully underwritten. And it borders on dumb. I imagine the pitch went like this “…and Kenan is the interpreter and he hams it up.” Way to start the show on weak note.
Rating: Jim Breuer
Monologue – This monologue fills me with questions. Is Goodman nervous? Is that why he’s not allowing the applause die down before saying his punchlines? He’s barely leaving any room for applause. Why exactly is this song a duet? Is there a reason why Kenan is out there sweating up a storm? Maybe if 2 Chainz had jumped in at the end it might have redeemed this lame song and monologue. Sadly, that didn’t happen.
Rating: Robert Downey Jr.
Guy Fieri’s Full Throttle Christmas – I loved this sketch! It’s clearly got the same DNA as the Underground Rock Minute sketches. But it was loaded with goodness and technically glitches. I missed Kid Rock’s line about his Key Lime Sangria(?). But Bret Michaels being 10% HPV killed me. While I miss Ass Dan (R.I.P.) I hope Guy Fieri lives forever.
(Bonus points for being in NYC, where an ad for Guy’s new show on Food Network aired after this sketch.)
Rating: Phil Hartman
Dancing Snowflakes – I appreciated this sketch more than I enjoyed it. It didn’t really make me laugh, but I thought it was well put together. I liked that Goodman and Aidy’s characters kept up the façade, while Vanessa and Kenan’s showed cracks. I liked that they kept dancing. Didn’t care for the boner stuff, specifically the ending.
Rating: Tim Meadows
Three Wise Guys – This was dreadful. I seriously hope that the producers and studo of Grudge Match subsidized at least half of the costs for the entire episode of SNL. And the writers didn’t even really try to make it funny. Insert camel toe joke and hump joke. The only thing that came close to being funny was the stuff about Joseph being in construction and Jesus not being his. I can’t recall the last time I saw something this shameless on SNL.
Oh wait, it was last week’s monologue.
Rating: David Spade
Kings of Leon Performance #1 – First off, I’m glad they performed Temple, because it’s one of the albums stronger tracks. I’m also glad that these guys are successful. I remember them being poised to break big with their debut, specifically MTV promoting the hell out of Molly’s Chambers a) back when MTV was still showing videos and b) back when I still cared about videos and MTV. So seeing that they’re still around is dope.
Weekend Update – I’m glad to see Cecily and Seth getting some laughs this week, as opposed to last week when the jokes went over the (young) audience’s head. Santa Claus’ appearance was funny, though it would have been funny had he called out SNL. Whatever. His best line was “a white guy taking credit for something a Black guy did? I’m more used to it than ok with it.” I was done. Glad Cecily got to interact with him. Also nice that Drunk Uncle got to say good-bye to Seth. Though I think I’m pretty much over Drunk Uncle brining out people with him. After Peter Drunklidge, it was pretty much diminished returns.
Too Hot – I saw the court set on the live pop and secretly prayed that it was going to be Maine Justice. Instead we got a sketch built around the idea of Goodman being unattractive in drag. That was it. That’s what the writers came up with. While I’m glad Beck got to be more than just the straight man, this sketch was painful. On the plus side; thanks to music rights people won’t have to suffer through this sketch tomorrow.
Rating: Robert Downey Jr
School Visit – So I totally called Shalon becoming a reoccurring character. And I’m actually glad she’s back. Again, this sketch is plagued by a host lumbering through it (Goodman seems off his game) but everyone else does just fine. I dig how every kid in the class has something to say and has a bit of character. Also, this sketch is funny. The leaps in logic that the kids take are great.
Rating: Chris Farley
Hallmark Channel – This was way funny, though it felt weird because I can’t recall the last time a roll in featured no one from the cast or the host. But the names of the movies were hilarious. Skyping with Santa, My Neighbor’s a Magi, Scrooge Jr., Phylisha Rashad’s Christmas Nap, Yes Virginia There is a Santana, Elf With A Shelf and On Dasher On Danza. Come on; I’m 90% sure half of those movies are either real or in production.
Rating: Phil Hartman
Kinds of Leon Performance #2 – I think this time I’m going to wax at how tight they are as a band. It really shouldn’t be surprising considering they’re all kin and have been playing together for years, but it’s still impressive to see. Again, I’m pleasantly surprised that they’re playing another strong song from Mechanical Bull.
The Christmas Whistle – I liked this sketch. I’m a firm believer that something can go from funny to annoying back around to funny again, which is what the titular whistle does. I also liked how the world was fleshed out, with the downstairs neighbor, Goodman’s mother-in-law and his drinking problem. I was fine with the reveal and the attempt at an ending.
Rating: Kristen Wiig
H&M – First off; is Wale big enough for his appearance to register? Secondly, I’d probably have enjoyed this more had Lonely Island not made songs their specialty. And was the “ninja” necessary? Basically, I wanted to like this more than I actually did.
Rating: Darrell Hammond
Last Call – Another reoccurring sketch! Part of what makes this sketch work is that both performers got at it fully. Unfortunately Goodman did not do that. His “motorboating” was cringe-worthy. Goodman did not want to be in this sketch and it showed. On the plus side, Kenan’s now become an integral component in the sketch, which is a good thing.
Rating: Tim Meadows
Final Thoughts – I thought it was pretty telling that during the good-bye Goodman didn’t thank the cast or the writers. Goodman didn’t seem to be fully invested in things. Unfortunately the writers seemed to relying on Goodman and coasted this week. It was a bad combination and didn’t really produce anything of note.
Next week is the 2013 (and Seth Meyers) finale hosted by Jimmy Fallon with Justin Timberlake as musical guest. Should be interesting.