SNL: Charles Barkley/Kelly Clarkson

COLD OPEN
ZOË RICE: Santorum has been largely ignored by SNL, so to see him get his spoof due was welcome. Unfortunately the open was slowly paced and not really funny until the last moments.

HOWARD MEGDAL: There’s some kind of value-added for me, though, having one of the Jewier people you’ll ever see playing Santorum. You’re hyper-aware at every moment that this isn’t Santorum, in a Chevy Chase-as-Ford kind of way.

MONOLOGUE
ZOË RICE: Charles Barkley is a hilarious man. Just not necessarily when scripted. But he has a likable charm, and I found the monologue very enjoyable. Well-written and funny, some good NBA jabs, and a great visual gag. I dug it.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Barkley was one of these guys you knew would be in the public eye following his playing days. Thankfully, mostly to the good so far.

CHANTIX
ZOË RICE: Spoofing the warnings on pharmaceutical commercials is nothing new, but this was still funny. It worked as a commercial, and best of all it wasn’t a repeat. Nice work from Wiig here.

HOWARD MEGDAL:
Good enough. Not as much of a payoff as I’d hoped for, though.

INSIDE THE NBA
ZOË RICE: I’ve never watched this program and know none of the people, so I’m not sure I’m the target audience. I will say this is the one time when Kenan’s signature “impression” voice didn’t seem too far off the mark. Um, is that really what Shaq is like?

HOWARD MEGDAL: It’s what he’s been like so far. Hearing faux-Barkley mock Barkley-as-Shaq was epic. This worked very well for me, and I am the target audience, an NBA junkie.

WHITE PEOPLE PROBLEMS
ZOË RICE: Heh. Nice one, SNL. An excellent concept, with Killam, Wiig, and Barkley the highlight at the end.

HOWARD MEGDAL:
Particularly well-executed Charles Barkley humor.

ESPN BOWL MADNESS
ZOË RICE: Yep, corporate sponsorships are excessive. I didn’t laugh out loud nor did I hate it.

HOWARD MEGDAL:
Not just corporate sponsorships, though. So many goddamn bowl games. I experienced this as a satirical ad for college basketball.

JOANNE
ZOË RICE: Charles Barkley looks oddly pretty in a dress and makeup. But the premise, “I’m a lesbian,” was pretty darn lame. This sketch seemed pointless, except to see that Paul Brittain is a teeny tiny man.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Wow, SNL goes back to the “saying I’m gay is funny” well. Whichever writer does this should get stuck in that well, Baby Jessica-style.

CHARLES BARKLEY POST-GAME TRANSLATOR
ZOË RICE: My favorite sketch of the night, and I’d like the real app please. (Though hoping it would have more mercy on the Mets). Why couldn’t the Santorum political material have been this biting and clever?

HOWARD MEGDAL:
Topical and effective. Well done.

KELLY CLARKSON
ZOË RICE: Who doesn’t like Kelly Clarkson? Even just a little? Even secretly? This song isn’t my fave, but I’ve got a few others on my ipod.

HOWARD MEGDAL:
Eh, not even a little. Not her fault, though. I’m watching the NBA while you listen to her.

UPDATE
ZOË RICE: Wiig’s Michele Bachmann is a great impression, but the material didn’t live up to it. Seth was adorable as usual, with honorable mention to the Girl Scout cookie joke, and always to a Star Wars joke. Once again it’s reinforced that Seth is the only “celebrity” on my laminated card. Nicholas Fehn is always the same one-note joke, and I’ve never liked it, but this iteration became actually painful. Drunk Uncle, however, took the cake. He got in some great drunk lines, and I will look forward to his next drunk stream of consciousness.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Yes, yes, yes. SNL, you never got Michele Bachmann down. What a missed opportunity. Thankfully, looking like Sudeikis has all year to create Mitt Romney moments, and I am optimistic he will. Fehn is always, always boring, while Drunk Uncle is another Moynihan hit. Seth is not on my laminated card. Realistically, only SNL cast member who ever had a chance of making my card was Jane Curtain.

LORD CECIL
ZOË RICE: Again? I think this was the only appearance by Sudeikis all episode, which is such a shame because he’s least funny when yelling. Brittain still has not found his successful niche within SNL, and I admit I wouldn’t miss him if he left. The only thing funny here is big Charles holding little Brittain – but their size difference was also the only thing remotely funny in the Joanne sketch. Really, SNL? That’s all ya got? Big man, Little man?

HOWARD MEGDAL: Target? Anachronisms. Hmm. Doesn’t work for me.

ADULT VIDEO AWARDS
ZOË RICE: Really great concept – the Adult version of In Memoriam, behind the scenes folk and all. Clever and funny.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Yes, really amusing.

DIGITAL SHORT: CONVOLUTED JERRY
ZOË RICE: Maybe it was the outfit that threw me? In general, Samberg usually gets silly right. This time he seemed to be trying too hard.

HOWARD MEGDAL:
No accident this is further back in the show than most Digital Shorts. Not up to the usual standard.

KELLY CLARKSON
ZOË RICE: If I ever drove, I’d listen to this song on the radio and sing along. But neither of the Kelly selections in this episode will send me to iTunes.

HOWARD MEGDAL:
And I drive, but won’t listen! Crazy, right?

MAYAN CALENDAR
ZOË RICE: I had high hopes when I saw the opening text. How the Mayan calendar came to predict destruction in 2012 seems like rich fodder for a sketch. But from the start, Barkley was slow and the jokes just not up to par. Then the ending was strange strange, not quirkily funny strange.

HOWARD MEGDAL:
Yes, I really wonder if this sketch would have worked if the pace got picked up considerably. But Charles was ready to call it a night.

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