Sarah Silverman returning to Saturday Night Live has me kind of excited. Sarah is known for being outspoken and no blushing violet, so I’m curious to see what she’ll do with the live audience at her former workplace.
And of course since it’s early in the season SNL’s writers are still optimistic and haven’t been beaten down by the grueling pace of the show. They’ve still got energy, which means this week’s episode should be an improvement over last week’s debut.
I mean it’ can’t get worse, right?
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
And introducing our new Host Rating Scale;
Drake – Outstanding
Edward Norton – Impressive
Josh Hutcherson – Fine Enough
Charlize Theron – Essentially an Extra
Seth Rogen – Expectation, Unmet
Jim Parsons - Awful
60 Minutes Cold Open – Beck does a great job at playing the straight man and he plays an important role on this show in that capacity. His Steve Croft is appropriately stiff. Jay’s President Obama is solid as always. But the sketch doesn’t have that many laughs. The social media savvy of Isis is a funny bit, but the jokes just aren’t there.
Rating: Robert Downey Jr.
Monologue – This monologue really has three parts. The first part is the beginning of the monologue, where Sarah is riffing slightly and not really connecting with the audience. She gets polite laughs in the beginning. But once she heads into the audience the monologue comes alive. There is that electric vibe that, yes, this is actually a live television show. Her unscripted talk with the audience member is both vibrant and hilarious. Then, when she returns to the stage to recount her brief tenure on SNL the monologue becomes brilliant. And what makes this monologue so great is that it’s something that only Sarah Silverman could do.
Rating: Phil Hartman
The Fault in Our Stars 2: The Ebola Is In Our Everything – Funny premise and spot on parody of the current crop of romantic dramas based on best sellers. Killam’s apprehension and Silverman’s obliviousness are played perfectly. And the review quotes were just the icing on the cake. “Plausible” indeed.
Rating: Norm MacDonald
Joan Rivers in Heaven – Equal parts funny sketch and fitting tribute to Joan Rivers. The impressions were all pretty adequate, though some were clearly reaching. Sadly, Sarah flubbed way too many lines, which really hurt the sketch. It felt like she was rushing through her lines, which caused the errors. Still, the sketch was undeniably funny.
Rating: Chris Farley
Whites – This was more accurate than funny. If they had pushed things a bit farther or had a bit more bite, this could have been the sketch everyone was talking about. But it was pretty tame. Hiking and Camping are funny but some jabs at white privilege would have been equally appreciated.
Rating: Tim Meadows
Forgotten TV Gems – Let’s just get this out in the open; Reece De’What is an underrated characters. His being seemingly completely out of place is perfect and really helps this sketch out. Supportive Women is a well-played critique on soaps and their tropes of women fighting. The switch off of the dramatic soap opera line delivery into casual delivery was a nice touch. But the camera light reflecting in the lamp behind Sarah Silverman was distracting.
Rating: Norm MacDonald
Maroon 5 Performance #1 – I genuinely don’t understand how Maroon 5 is still around. Like, I don’t know anyone who proclaims to love them, but they apparently still have legions of fans. But to me they’re like an alligator or crocodile; they’re a relic from another time that somehow survived despite the odds. Also I don’t care for this song.
Weekend Update – Update can best be summed up in pros and cons. Pro: Michael Che doing a stand up bit about ebola and Texas, because it was funny. Con: Micheal Che doing a stand up bit about ebola and Texas, because Jost had to follow it. Pro: Kenan’s Al Sharpton, who is always welcome. Con: Garage and Her, and not only because it took a huge leap to get from the new Thor to their bit. Pro: the bit between Che and Jost because it’s keeping Update fresh. Con: the bit between Che and Jost because SNL shouldn’t touch race unless it has a point and Jost doesn’t need anyone’s help reinforcing the notion that he’s a milquetoast white guy. But overall it was a pretty solid Update.
Proud Mary – I appreciated the remixing of this well-worn formula sketch. That said, it was slightly light on laughs. The reason previous iterations of this sketch worked was because the stories were absurd or outlandish. This time out the stories just didn’t go big enough. But it was nice having Kenan provide an actual ending to the sketch.
Rating: Kristen Wiig
Airport Pickup – I genuinely enjoyed this sketch. I loved the awkwardness in the beginning, which the audience was stone silent, until Moynihan popped up. The escalation from there was really good. Even Adam Levine’s appearance was solid, until he kept talking and took away some of the momentum the sketch had. And personally I loved the paused traffic gridlock.
Rating: Darrell Hammond
Sayonara Sucker – This was so well done. From the finishing each other sentences, to the montages, it was just great. Using rom-com tropes in this manner was genius. Bennet and Mooney have hit home runs two weeks in a row.
Rating: Norm MacDonald
Maroon 5 Performance #2 – What a weird song. It’s got a sort of The Police vibe to it, until the chorus comes in. Granted, Maroon 5 have never been a band who have done anything other than wear their influences on their sleeves, but it’s still surprising. Most surprising; the brevity of this song, which earns it high marks.
Vitamix – Vanessa Bayer’s sole apperance this week? I dig the turn this sketch takes, where Bayer’s character feels threatened and then slights Silverman. That said, the sketch doesn’t really go anywhere from there and certainly doesn’t try for laughs. It just gets weird.
Rating: Janeane Garofalo
Final Thoughts: After a mildly disappointing episode last week, SNL bounces back with a very strong episode. There were more moments of ambition and trying new things out, which is always a plus.
And Sarah Silverman did a great job. She played well with others and, for the most part, held her own.
Host Grade: Edward Norton
Next Week: Bill Hader returns. Two alums in a row? And which of his friend will he bring with him. Is it too early to predict the return of What’s Up With That?