SNL: Charles Barkley/Alicia Keys

C O L D   O P E N :

ZOË RICE: I wish this had been funnier. SNL hit the mark earlier this year with the Chinese-translation press conference (“Why do you do sex to me!”), but the Yemen one falls flat.

STEVE MURPHY: I agree with Zoe that the Chinese press conference sketch was way a lot funnier, but I still enjoyed this some.  I even chuckled a couple times, and that’s pretty good for a cold open!

HOWARD MEGDAL: You got the impression throughout this skit that there was a joke you were missing from it.

M O N O L O G U E :

ZOË RICE: I expected little from Charles Barkley’s monologue, and so it surpassed my slim expectations. I give him a B; it picked up with “Pretty, in a kinda Jewish way” but of course then took a dip again with Kenan Thompson (although I like “Well, some of it’s great. And some of it we’re gonna do anyway.”) And it’s true, SNL, where are the black hosts? And also more talented black sketch comics?

STEVE MURPHY: I also loved the “pretty, in a kinda Jewish way” joke, but the rest of this suffered from Barkley’s signature speech impediment.  It’s like he’s trying to talk with a mouthful of marbles.  But agreed, they need some more diversity in this cast.  Let’s get rid of Kenan and replace him with someone funny.  Wait, did that make sense?  Regardless, let’s replace Kenan.

HOWARD MEGDAL: It was really amusing at the end when Kenan Thompson did that voice that sounds like Kenan Thompson.

C O M M E R C I A L :   THOMAS PEEPER’S INSURANCE

ZOË RICE: A nice palate cleanser with Bill Hader doing his best creepy peeper.

STEVE MURPHY: Creepy!  But well done, and a good concept.  Short and it kept just the right pace.

HOWARD MEGDAL: And really, the high point of the show. A touch too long.

R E E L   Q U O T E S :

ZOË RICE: Charles Barkley does respectably in a hit-or-miss sketch. He definitely got me to laugh at “With my privates,” and the speed round was great. I’ve got to give kudos to the host when he gets more laughs from me than Kristen Wiig.

STEVE MURPHY: This was a really funny idea, but I’m really just not a huge Charles Barkley fan, because this felt a little lifeless for me.  Kristen Wiig did well but it wasn’t enough to save it.  The speed round, however, got totally hilarious, with them just standing in silence waiting for the the show to end.  Overall I liked this one.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Idea was not matched by the execution.

M a c G R U B E R :

ZOË RICE: The MacGruber sketches were okay this week, with a few laughs about MacGruber being racist. Darryl vs. Darrell was a decent running joke, but my favorite moment came in the second sketch with “the Chinese pen,” followed by a last minute “I’m a racist.” Boom!

STEVE MURPHY: I was worried.  I’m a little tired of MacGruber, it seems to get less funny every time they do it, and that’s bad news since the MacGruber movie’s on its way pretty soon.  Luckily this was the funniest batch of MacGruber sketches in a long while.  I was dying when he couldn’t ask for the black pen because it was black… the Asian pen joke was incredible, as Zoe said, and then the “He’s got a gun!” joke had me on the floor laughing, twice.  Absolutely loved this.  Best part of the night for me.

HOWARD MEGDAL:
Absolutely with Steve. This was the Resurrection of MacGruber night.

S H A N A :

ZOË RICE: Yay for Wiig-fest! Kristen Wiig’s physical comedy had me genuinely laughing here. I could watch her stoke that fire for ages. And her golem-the-pole-dancer can definitely be my precious.

STEVE MURPHY: This is always a sketch I don’t like when it starts but I’m happy I watched in the end.  The way Shana speaks really, really irritates me.  I hate it.  But by the time the sketch ended with her horrid laugh and talking about pooping her ski pants, I was in stitches.  I’m not sure whether that means I like this sketch or not, but I certainly laughed.

HOWARD MEGDAL: So I don’t like this character, and more to the point, how ridiculously slow does this skit become when we need reactions to Shana from four people every time?!?

N B A   O N   T N T :

ZOË RICE: Meh. The make-a-wish kid who can’t call a game didn’t make me laugh once.

STEVE MURPHY: They did this one time before, and it was really funny, with Andy Samberg constantly shouting about “moving the chains!”  This revised version where they just changed the one joke wasn’t funny at all.

HOWARD MEGDAL: I know, I know- dying kid = comedy. But not this time.

A L I C I A   K E Y S :

ZOË RICE: I love Alicia Keys. She is smooth like leathuh. Although I thought this particular song was fine, it totally felt like it should be at the end of an 80′s adventure-romance movie. Karate Kid maybe? Anything with Elizabeth Shue.

STEVE MURPHY: I have this album, and I deleted this song from it.  And this performance didn’t make me like it any more.  I like Alicia Keys, but this boring track couldn’t be saved, not even by her awesome live vocals.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Clearly talented, but that was awfully pedestrian music.

W E E K E N D   U P D A T E :

ZOË RICE: Overall, I was disappointed with this week’s update. With few exceptions, Seth Meyers’ punchlines weren’t all that punchy, and Bill Hader had a rare off-night as James Carville. Andy Samberg’s Nic Cage had some funny moments, but it was Fred Armisen’s David Patterson that saved it for me. I don’t want to find his impression of the blind governor funny…but it just is. And Fred Armisen, how do you look just like everyone?

STEVE MURPHY: I agree with Zoe, Seth wasn’t all that funny this week on his own.  But the three guests made up for it.  I loved James Carville as I always do.  In fact, I think maybe we should replace the real James Carville with Bill Hader.  Andy Samberg does a spookily good Nic Cage impression, plus he had great material this week.  I absolutely love Armisen’s Governor Paterson every time, and this was no disappointment.  He could really just roll around the stage and it would be enough for me.  I do wish he’d hold the “New Jersey” jokes until further into the sketch so they’d be more out of the blue, the way he did it the very first time.  But it was still hilarious.  A very succesful Update for me overall.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Want to take special note of the one-liners about Avatar, the A-Bomb survivor, Lady Gaga. But all three impressions were winners here, agreed- Carville may be my favorite of the new season.

C H A R L E S   B A R K L E Y   G O L F :

ZOË RICE: Oh, man. This made me laugh. I’ve seen some of the real-life footage before, and Charles Barkley does play one messed up game of golf. I then laughed at every single one of the everyday chores. I was reminded of Melanie Hutsell’s Monica Seles from way back when, grunting as she did kitchen work.

STEVE MURPHY: The funniest part of this sketch was the “nobody watches the Golf Channel” joke.  Otherwise this was alright I guess.  Unlike Zoe I’ve never watched Charles Barkley play golf, but I wish I had if that would have made this sketch connect for me.  Barkley’s kind of in his comedic element when he just has to make awkward motions and doesn’t have to speak or read, so there was some humor here for him.  But every time it was time for him to talk the thing slowed down to a crawl.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Exactly. Barkley’s physical comedy was good to the point I wished they’d used that in every scene- in lieu of lines he failed to memorize or read well.

D I G I T A L   S H O R T :   BOOTY CALL

ZOË RICE: A surprising disappointment. I thought I’d love anything with Alicia Keys–and she plays her part well. Andy Samberg’s character, however, fails to impress.

STEVE MURPHY: I thought this was pretty funny!  I liked Andy Samberg’s character, whatever he was, and Alicia Keys did a good job of not reacting at all… to the point I doubt she knew what was going to be interspersed with her reactions.  Not in my top few Digital Shorts, but amusing.

HOWARD MEGDAL: More with Steve than with Zoë on this. Laughed more than I thought I would.

A L I C I A   K E Y S   2 :

ZOË RICE: I know, I know. Keys’ song about New York is totally overplayed, and everyone’s sick of it. I still like it.

STEVE MURPHY: I missed this, thanks to football and Alicia Keys’ record label not allowing it to be available online.  Thank you, music labels, for making your product unavailable to interested consumers!  I’m sure all our readers are going to rush right out and buy this album now!  Gotta protect that content!

HOWARD MEGDAL: Really, Zoë? It’s a string of cliches about New York set to music.

S C A R E D   S T R A I G H T :

ZOË RICE: This recurring sketch should just be called, “When does Bill Hader crack up?” Because that’s all I look for, and that’s all I enjoy. This episode was better than some past, but I still just don’t find Kenan Thompson funny, whether he’s going crazy on some teenage boys or making puns about anal sex.

STEVE MURPHY: Zoe, that’s exactly what I was going to say!  I hate every last moment of this sketch every single time, except for two moments:  When Bill Hader breaks character, and when Jason Sudeikis hops up onto the desk at the end, which just gets more hilarious every time.  If only they could find a way to do this sketch without Kenan…

HOWARD MEGDAL: And that isn’t nearly enough. the formulaic stuff- well, yeah, it’s formulaic. It’s like the decision was made to ignore the need for surprise in comedy.

B A R K L E Y ‘ S   B A N K :

ZOË RICE: Well here, SNL kind of messed up. I guess they had to cut the show a bit short because of the football, so they just ended the sketch midway through. Without telling Charles Barkley. So he kept on talking over the cutaway image. An awkward moment, and an unfunny sketch, at least what we got to see of it.

STEVE MURPHY: First, I had to watch most of this show online so I didn’t see the meltdown Zoe described… but I almost wish it had because wow this sketch was like the slowest of slowballs.  The whole sketch was only 45 seconds long but the joke was so obvious I was bored by the end of it.  They couldn’t have gone any further with this?  Some other 50/50 games besides roulette?  Maybe coin flipping?  Anything?  Not a good way to end the show, folks.

HOWARD MEGDAL: I record an extra half-hour, and that apparently wasn’t enough. And if it were for baseball, that would be one thing. But this was for football. Fortunately, this is one of the worst of the season, right up there with the vampire boy and Megan Fox.

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