Chris Rock and Prince. Two people whose contributions to pop culture I haven’t avidly consumed since the 1990’s are the feature of SNL this week.
For Rock, it’s coming home to Saturday Night Life. For Prince he’s actually gotten Lorne to put both of his performances together into one supersize performance. It’s a very Prince like thing to do.
So how was the episode?
Our 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
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
The Kelly File Cold Open – Just so we’re clear, this sketch was mainly just an excuse for Bobby Moynihan to dust off his Chris Christie for the upcoming Presidential run, right? Strong’s Megyn Kelly referencing Blacula being white seems to reference a controversy, roughly a year old, so way to stay topical SNL writers. Apart from McKinnon’s enthusiasm, this bit had nothing going for it.
Rating: Jim Breuer
Monologue – While I’m always glad when a standup does standup as the monlogue, I do wish Rock had been a bit more polished with his. He almost immediately lost the audience by implying that terrorists were going to attack the NYC Marathon. Clearly the bit about the Boston Marathon attack was rehearsed, but the segue from the NYC Marathon was awkwardly handled. So while I applaud Rock for tackling terrorism head-on, his bits could have used a little more time in the oven. But at least he wasn’t singing.
Rating: Norm MacDonald
How 2 Dance with Janelle – I guess this sketch got on because Sasheer needed something that could possibly reoccur? But the sketch goes nowhere fast. It’s got too many components and none of them gel; Mooney’s lovelorn friend, Rock’s tech inept father, Zamata’s oblivious lead. I imagine we’ll see this sketch again. I can only hope it’s better the second time.
Rating: David Spade
GoProbe – Extreme colonoscopies? Sure. I liked the build up to the reveal. I saw that the men were all in their 40’s and waited for the other shoe to drop. I enjoyed the recreation of your grandpa’s colonoscopy. This was just fine.
Rating: Tim Meadows
How’s He Doing – I love that this is a sketch that’s exclusive to when there’s a Black host. It makes it a fun little treat. I loved the scenarios posed by Kenan. Three, thick dirty dreadlocks. It wasn’t a hilarious sketch, but it was solid.
Rating: Tim Meadows
Prince Performance – Prince is amazing. I should be mocking a guy in his 50’s, sporting a fro an ridiculous glasses. But Prince pulls it off. Even more impressive is that the medley of songs from his two new releases were pretty awesome. Equally awesome was the actual performance. His band is tight and he sounds as good as ever.
Weekend Update – The actual Update jokes weren’t all that notable. Apart from Che bumbling a joke and breaking, neither anchor was memorable at all. Pete Davidson getting to do stand up, again, while funny is troubling. I seem to recall Brook Whelan doing stand up on Update twice last year and how’d he end up? I have yet to wrap my head around SNL’s fascination with Katt Williams. He pops up entirely too much for a show with a writing staff as white as SNL’s. Also, has SNL completely given up on Colin Jost? He got zero correspondents this week and had to squeeze in to close out Update. Not a good sign.
Shark Tank – Wow. This was an impressively ambitious sketch. Props to SNL for tacking terrorists twice in the same episode. This sketch wasn’t flawless, Rock read a line inside out and ruined a solid joke. But what it lacked in perfection it make up for with sheer intelligence. Impressions that ranged form decent to spot on coupled with actual information on ISIS, this was easily the sketch of the night.
Rating: Chris Farley
Swiftamine – Now, this is topical. It was on target and funny. I think we’ve all had to tell ourselves “shut up this is a perfect song” at least once the past few years. I definitely know people who suffer from Taylor Swift Onset Vertigo. Also, does Dr. David Doctor take referrals?
Rating: Phil Hartman
Happy Anniversary – Even if this sketch was perfectly executed, it still would have been terrible. I’m guessing Jones left the scene too early the first time, which ruined things for this sketch. The timing was off and the tone wasn’t quite right. I imagine the only way it could have been more awkward is if you were in it. Man, it was horrible.
Rating: Janeane Garofalo
Bank Robbery – I liked this sketch. I liked that the bank robbers were all about business and professional, but still courteous and thoughtful. Stealing someone’s wallet to give them a birthday surprise? Showing a child hostage that learning can be fun? I’m also glad to see Mooney and Bennett back in business.
Rating: Norm MacDonald
Women in the Workplace – Props to McKinnon and Strong for really nailing their characters. I dug how weirdly nutty this was, especially Todd’s disappearing act at the end of the recreation. This was a perfectly fine five-to-one sketch.
Rating: Tim Meadows
Final Thoughts: Anyone expecting a Chris Rock hosted episode of SNL to be a hit, must not remember his time on the cast. Chris Rock did fine, in an actor/director hosting SNL kind of way, but not in a returning alum kind of way.
Also the sketches “How 2 Dance with Janelle” and “Happy Anniversary” are sure to be lightning rods for those against diversity on SNL.
Host Rating: Charlize Theron
In Two Weeks: Woody Harrelson & Kendrick Lamar. If there is a Cheers sketch, I’m going to have to do something embarrassing. SNL writers, I don’t have the most faith in you guys, but I have faith you won’t do a parody of a show that’s been off the air for over two decades. Don’t let me down.