Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Morning Quarterback - Jonah Hill & Bastille

Jonah Hill is quietly one of the best hosts in the current crop of SNL hosts.  His last episode contained some amazing sketches, so I know what he’s capable of as a performer. 

Still, that was nearly two years ago and Saturday Night Live has undergone some changes.  Should I really have my expectations so high?  I guess only time will tell. 

Before we dive into the actual episode, how’s about we check out the trusty 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

U.S. Men’s Heterosexual Men’s Championship – On one hand, I applaud this sketch for mocking heterosexuals.  It’s a nice turn about for homosexuals who’ve been the butt of jokes for decades.  That said the sketch isn’t all that funny.  Bobby Moynihan’s skater is the funniest and it’s much downhill from there.  There’s almost a spark with Bennett and McKinnon’s couple, but it doesn’t quite catch.  The sketch seems to drag because it’s so unfunny. Also, this as topically funny as the writers could come up with?

Rating: Robert Downey Jr

Monologue – This monologue has two things going for it.  First off, it’s the Q&A monologue, which is one of my favorite types of SNL monologue.  Also Killam’s Brad Pitt is always welcome.  Leo’s appearance was predictable, but I dug the relationship between Leo and Jonah.  I liked how Leo was disappointed to Jonah, they both sold it so well. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

Adam Grossman – I love this character.  To say that I was happy to see him would be the understatement of the year (so far.)  Hill totally sells the character and the references he makes are great, even if he doesn’t get them.  My only problem; why didn’t they cover up Hill’s tattoo?  That was distracting. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

The Hit – Again, a SNL hit that brings almost equal parts funny and heart.  Tapestry is my jam, so I dug the Carole King sing along.  I also dug Kenan’s introspective thug.  And real talk; doesn’t the snow bring out the best in pretty much everyone? 

Rating: Kristen Wiig

Couples Quiz – This sketch was all build up to a disappointing finish.  The interrogation of Hill was pretty funny, especially how he reacted to it.  His letting the truth slip out in drips and drabs really worked.  But the end felt like such an abrupt stop, like the writers didn’t know where to go and just decided to pull the plug. 

Rating: Tim Meadows

Bastille Performance #1 – This was interesting.  I dug the use of harmonies throughout the song.  I will say that I didn’t get much lyrically from the song.  I don’t know it was designed that way or it if was a lack of enunciation, but I’d be hard-pressed to tell you what the song was about or even string two lyrics together.   I do like that the lead singer seemed excited to be on SNL, which gave the performance a boost.  As for the song, I could totally see it being used in commercials and movie trailers. 

Weekend Update – Anytime you start off with a Dairy Queen joke, I’m pretty much going to on your side.  Cecily and Seth seemed to be having a ton of fun this week.  It was great seeing Cecily and Kenan interact at the desk.  I was less pleased with McKinnon’s Russian woman, she was shticky and predictably so.  But I’d totally read the Flurdah Son Tims. 

Sweetland Ranch – Props to this sketch for devoting so much time to set up.  It felt like almost a minute passed before the joke hit, as it were.  I loved the absurdity of the sketch and how forgiving Hill and Strong were with everything that happened.  It was predictable and goofy, but I loved it. 

Rating: Chris Farley

Me – At first I wondered if this would’ve worked better had I seen Her (I’m still about a month away from AMC’s Best Picture Showcase), but I realized that this is probably just a spot on parody that hews close to the source material.  Of course Michael Cera’s appearance was solid. 

Rating: Kristen Wiig

Dinner Party – The premise for this was funny, but the execution, particularly what Hill was screaming while in the bathroom, felt seriously flawed.  Everything at the table was funny and worked really well  But as soon as he went into the bathroom it felt like the sketch would go off the rails.  Tonally speaking, what he was screaming didn’t seem to work with the rest of the sketch. 

Rating: Robert Downey Jr

Inside So Cal – Man, that didn’t so much feel “funny” as an solid impression of the So Cal lifestyle.  Hill’s lines about his relationship with his dad were the only bits of this short that were funny.  On the plus side we got to see Whelan and O’Brien in their sole sketch appearance of the night.  On the bad side Bennett and Mooney’s stock is dropping after two clunkers in a row. 

Rating: David Spade

Bastille Performance #2 – I can’t front; I keep waiting for the performance to burst open like when Gaga did her performance on the piano.  Props on bringing in a string section.  Again, I got zilch lyrically and the lead singer seemed to lose his voice towards the end of the song, which glaringly stood out. 

Lamborghini – I’m kicking myself for not predicting this sketch tonight.  If you’ve sen it once, you’ve seen it every time.  Cecily’s stories always kill.  They did seem to be pushing the envelope this week and the audience seemed shocked at some of the lines, which made it slightly more enjoyable to watch. 

Rating: Jim Breuer

Final Thoughts: Jonah Hill is a solid host, who seemed to be game for what the writers threw at him. Some of it landed and some didn’t.  Still he did his thing.  I am slightly worried about how little screen time the new members of the cast are getting.  Hopefully they start utilizing them before the season is up. 

Melissa McCarthy is up next week with Imagine Dragons.  Looking forward to it, because McCarthy is an equally strong host. 

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