ZOË RICE: I wasn’t happy to see “The Lawrence Welk Show,” on the screen, but this (likely final, given Wiig’s exit?) installment was better than most. I chalk it up to 1) Jon Hamm, and 2) Changing the joke – take note SNL, that the key lies in reversing expectations, in this case that no one will want Eunice. To keep recurring sketches fresh, the repeated conventions need to be turned on their heads. And also get Jon Hamm.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Exactly. This one ought to be retired, but you can obviously maximize any concept by introducing a new twist and Jon Hamm. It reminds me of the point I repeatedly make about SNL: how exactly is Lawrence Welk a reasonable humor target for a 2012 show?
ZOË RICE: Wow, they really didn’t give Mick Jagger anything to work with. The only highlight was hearing him say “Jalapeno poppers.”
HOWARD MEGDAL: Seriously. Poor Mick. He made the best of it.
ZOË RICE: And here’s where my Wiig-last-hurrah enthusiasm ends. Why send her off with her worst recurring sketch?? As opposed to the cold open, here’s how to make it seem as stale as ever. Mick did fine with the material, but I thought this was a real waste of time and talent for the season finale. What about Jason Sudeikis? Why not give him some kind of last hurrah?
HOWARD MEGDAL: I believe Wiig is a huge talent. And this is an example of why, with other writers, she’ll excel after SNL. But her Carol Burnett-like talent should have been perfect for a variety show because of her versatility, and she kept getting plugged into the same spots. Incidentally, this isn’t the worst repeat offender: that is clearly Gilly.
ZOË RICE: Fred Armisen does a fun Mick Jagger impression, but the premise of the sketch was thin and built toward…nothing. The tenor was strangely self-conscious without being self-conscious enough to be funny.
HOWARD MEGDAL: I liked this, actually, enjoyed seeing Mick play against type, and both Armisen and Moynihan made me laugh.
ZOË RICE: Lazy Sunday 2 had to happen before Samberg left. Or, as he said, “That’s how it began and that’s how I’ma finish it.” Samberg was the coolest nerd of all. I will miss him.
HOWARD MEGDAL: It’s a little scary that the most consistent purveyor of original humor is leaving the show. That’s a big, big hole to fill.
POLITICS NATION WITH AL SHARPTON
ZOË RICE: Sharpton’s buffoonery had its moments, and Armisen’s Bloomberg is usually enjoyable. So…on the Kenan scale, this was pretty good. Even if I didn’t exactly laugh.
HOWARD MEGDAL: This probably works better with a show that people watch. But Thompson does a solid Sharpton. And at least the show is on the air, not off for 50 years. Progress!
ZOË RICE: I wanted more of the gospel a cappella. This repetitive song seems like it’s best for the Stones fans.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Thought this worked well.
ZOË RICE: Seth was sharp and biting, which is his strength. Kudos to the Bloomberg joke. As for Stefon, people love Stefon. If Hader is leaving, then I can see Stefon needing his swan song. But it really does seem as if Hader’s never seen the script before. I know that’s part of their thing, him and the writer John Mulaney, but Hader’s breaking has gotten too predictable. I did love the Jewish fireworks.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Yes, won’t miss Stefon, will miss Hader, who is tremendously talented, and doesn’t have a natural landing spot that I can see.
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE AT AN OUTDOOR MUSIC FESTIVAL
ZOË RICE: A great concept, and an awesome idea to have Jagger as Steven Tyler. Why wasn’t this sketch featured earlier? Elliott’s Jewel is a miss, alas, and Hader’s Dave Matthews not quite there. But Killam’s dance rocked, and I look forward to seeing him get more opportunities next season. Wiig is a great outdoor music festival dancer.
HOWARD MEGDAL: This is a zeitgeist piece, with summer around the corner. Solid.
MICK JAGGER/FOO FIGHTERS
ZOË RICE: Not my music, but certainly rock n rolly. A good collaboration.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Not exactly my music, but I sure appreciated it.
ZOË RICE: I liked this sketch’s first installment more than Howard did, and it still makes me giggle. Mick Jagger’s struggle with the accent was cute, and this was my favorite thing he did all episode. Steve Martin was almost unrecognizable. But funny.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Look, it’s like Lawrence Welk. Dressed up a repetitive skit with the same joke, add Mick Jagger and a little Steve Martin. Fine. But they need to do better next year.
ZOË RICE: I like the blues. As a musical number, this is great. But is it also supposed to be comedy? If so, there was an opportunity for funnier lyrics.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Stick to music, fella.
ZOË RICE: Quite a sweet way to say goodbye to Kristen Wiig. The hugs were memorable, emotional goodbye moments. But my focus strangely went to Jason Sudeikis. He’d barely been in the episode, and he looked miserable here, breathing heavily, standing in the back as far away from the cameras as he could, and refraining from singing. Was he upset? Angry? Just emotional? I’m curious. Fare thee well, Kristen Wiig. I will watch your movies. (Especially if Jon Hamm is in them.)
HOWARD MEGDAL: Great, great point. Wiig was underutilized, which is an odd thing to say about someone who was on camera constantly. But I never felt like she got proper material to work with. Sudeikis? He maxed out what he was given. He made an iconic Biden and a tremendous Romney. Who will be the Wiig character we remember as fondly as either? I am as excited for Sudeikis’ next chapter as Wiig’s. And I worry about both of their replacements, though I know that worry is nearly as old as the show itself.
Here’s hoping the show takes this analysis of its targets to heart. I remain deeply committed to watching what SNL does next.