HOWARD MEGDAL: I can’t say I was as excited about this SNL as last week’s version. I love Steve Martin- I really didn’t know who Bradley Cooper was. I enjoy Jason Mraz- I couldn’t have told you if TV on the Radio was a music group or that TV sound band they used to have on old radio sets. Still, the episode had plenty to recommend it.
STEVE MURPHY: I also had no idea who Bradley Cooper was, besides the star of The Midnight Meat Train, and was less than excited to find out, especially considering my existing distaste for TV On The Radio. Happily, I found this episode to be interesting, unique and very funny.
C O L D O P E N
HOWARD MEGDAL: So my issue with this skit, frankly, is that neither Harry Reid nor Nancy Pelosi are remotely similar to the characters portrayed. Pelosi is, relatively speaking, the one who is better at speaking about bipartisanship. Reid has been the one to say ludicrously impolitic things, only to cave. So it was okay, I suppose, but didn’t get at the heart of what was funny about the stimulus debate, honestly. This isn’t a partisan critique- there are plenty of ways to make fun of these two individuals. I just don’t think they captured it with the cold open.
STEVE MURPHY: Ugh. This episode is exactly the boredom I was expecting and we’re only 15 seconds into it. Which lines were the jokes, exactly? They might as well have had the real Pelosi and Reid up there just talking, it was that funny. Two bland, boring impersonations of relatively unexciting people. This is sadly what most of SNL’s political sketches have been for a while now.
O P E N I N G M O N O L O G U E
HOWARD MEGDAL: This was fine. Not particularly amusing. At a certain point, James Lipton’s willingness to be made fun of ceased being funny and entered the realm of pity. But at least now I know who Bradley Cooper is- he’s that guy from Wedding Crashers. Got it.
STEVE MURPHY: Monologue: Really funny, surprisingly. “I can’t believe I’m hosting Saturday Night Live!” Yeah… neither can we, whoever you are. (FYI for the readers, Bradley Cooper is apparently starring in “He’s Just Not That Into You”) He was a student at the Actor’s Studio so we got a few very funny shots of Cooper in the front row, just a few feet from James Lipton with this incredibly fake-interested look on his face, and then James Lipton was (surprise!) in the audience! Cooper came off really well.
T H E T O D A Y S H O W
HOWARD MEGDAL: Shut up. Just shut up. So long, and yes, Kathie Lee Gifford is annoying, but Kristen Wiig made her into Kristen Wiig’s stock annoying character. (In fairness, I actually have praise for Wiig later in this review- a first!) Just substitute “Frank” for a trilled “Thomas” and you’ve got the sketch. And yes, I liked the line “I did a three-episode arc of ‘That’s So Raven’- again, Wiig. Not Gifford.
STEVE MURPHY: Maybe it’s just me… but I have no frame of reference for this sketch. Do enough people watch this drek that it deserves a parody? Apparently this Hoda woman tries to do news stories, and Kathie Lee is a horrible bitch to her and makes faces. No thank you. But yet again the ‘special guest’ (Bradley Cooper as Miss B. from Project Runway) gives the sketch its very brief moment of moderate humor. For a minute the sketch is funny, Cooper’s up there on the runway in an absurd outfit/hairdo combo, saying things with a lisp like, “You need to walk like your panties are full of hot grits.” … But then Kathie Lee and Hoda get up there and ruin the sketch yet again. My least favorite Kristin Wiig character by far.
I ‘ M G O N N A H A V E S E X W I T H Y O U R W I F E
HOWARD MEGDAL: Really enjoyed this. This could have been too long, and it wasn’t. Loved the simplicity of it, and the talent really made the sketch work with their non-verbal abilities. Loved the dovetailing of the game show music with each husband’s realization. Very entertaining push of the game show patter to logical extreme.
STEVE MURPHY: Oh, SNL, thank god. This was really just awkward, out-of-the-box humor. The host introduces each contestant, announces he’s gonna have sex with his wife… and then takes her backstage, leaving the camera awkwardly on the husband’s face the whole time they’re banging backstage. It was already funny, but Bill Hader as ‘last week’s winner’ was just too funny. Pretty good idea, SNL, and very well executed.
D I G I T A L S H O R T : I ‘ M O N A B O A T
HOWARD MEGDAL: I laughed a lot. Obviously the writers had a Kathie Lee obsession this week- “If you could see me now!” from her Carnival Cruise commercials figure prominently. So much to enjoy about this
STEVE MURPHY: Lonely Island make another full-group appearance, I assume this is from their new album. Andy takes Akiva and T-Pain on a boat ride, and they sing a song that is just the most superficial set of comments about being on a boat you can possible imagine. These guys are too goddamn funny. An instant classic, and the funniest part of the show so far. Just a song about being on a boat, done in aggressive hip hop style. T-Pain is even hilarious. “Never thought I’d be on a boat… it’s a big blue watery road…”
B I G D A Y : ‘ T H E O N E W H O W A N T S T O B E W I T H Y O U ‘
HOWARD MEGDAL: This seemed to me like four bits from a B-level stand-up comedian tied to a song. Obviously it was his funeral at the start as well, so the punch line at the end didn’t even get to me. Not terrible- could have enjoyed it more with two-drinks, minimum.
STEVE MURPHY: One of my very favorite sketches, but not the best iteration. The meme goes like this: four guys tell incredibly awkward stories while a classic song plays in the background, and at each inappropriate punchline they break into the chorus. This week was “The One Who Wants To Be With You.” Bradley Cooper’s line was the winner for me. Maybe my enjoyment of this sketch was bolstered by my love of previous performances, but I did enjoy it. Really I’m just glad at this point to have seen three funny-to-hilarious sketches in a row.
T V O N T H E R A D I O 1 :
HOWARD MEGDAL: I liked that bass guy’s beard, and when the song ended.
STEVE MURPHY: I’m with Howard on this one. This band gets head from critics pretty regularly, but I deleted their CD and was happy to fast-forward this performance.
W E E K E N D U P D A T E
HOWARD MEGDAL: Not up to last week’s effort, but plenty good. “The last guy broke the world” was a terrific line. Mark Spitz was pretty uneven. I did enjoy the Steelers’ interception guy, even though it was a one-joke bit- still good enough. Really was better with Seth and Amy, but still very enjoyable with Seth- and the Phelps topic was worth pursuing. Also enjoyed: “Not condoms.” And it was all tied together with Bjork- who was played spot-on by Kristen Wiig- just great! She was actually Bjork, and not that annoying person played by Kristen Wiig!
Oh, and I hadn’t seen the video for “It’s Oh So Quiet”, and if you haven’t, go ahead. It’s a lot of fun.
STEVE MURPHY: First, I was totally in the mood for “It’s Oh So Quiet” all day yesterday, love that song. Moving on: SNL is all about the momentum for me, so maybe that’s why I found this Weekend Update to be so funny. Mark Spitz isn’t exactly topical enough for me, but Andy Samberg was still pretty funny. The Steelers’ 100-yard-return-to-end-the-half James Harrison made an appearance (via Keenan), still out of breath and using an oxygen mask. “What was I thinking during that play? I was mostly thinking, ‘Somebody tackle me! End this! Oh my lungs!’” This must have been Keenan’s one funny bit this season, he can relax now. “Really!?!” is as always hilarious, this time on the subject of Michael Phelps smoking pot. “Really, Kelloggs, smoking weed doesn’t fit in with your image? Did you know your website has a recipe for dessert nachos? Every one of your products sounds like a wish a genie granted at a Phish concert!” But the star of this week’s Update was definitely Kristin Wiig as Bjork, great as always. “Greetings, Snarf! How is your skeleton?” I’m nearly positive this is exactly what Bjork is like in real life. “Instead of using paper money, I think we should pay for things with clouds!” And her song about Iceland was perfect. Weekend Update is tied so far with I’m On a Boat for best sketch of the night!
F O R T W A Y N E H O C K E Y
HOWARD MEGDAL: Lazy writing- no build in terms of the excitement from the kid or the players. However, the Mean Joe Greene tribute in the middle almost made up for it.
STEVE MURPHY: Maybe Howard’s right, maybe the writing was lazy, but Bobby Moynihan’s facial expressions are a constant source of amusement for me. His enthusiasm at meeting his two heroes was not that funny, but it made his blatant lack of interest in Bradley Cooper’s character hilarious, at least to this reviewer. Funny little sketch, SNL. I’m beginning to think they replaced all the writers this week.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Yes, Moynihan was great. And these ideas are increasingly popping up all season- what I do think is that different writers are getting their sketches on the air this year. Wish they credited writers by sketch.
B A D G U Y S , G O O D C O N V E R S A T I O N
HOWARD MEGDAL: This was a decent concept- and the bad guy from Karate Kid’s sensei as show director was a nice touch. But this was painfully slow. I don’t know if it was directed that way, or Bradley Cooper slowed it down himself. But it ruined the sketch.
STEVE MURPHY: “Where obscure movie bad guys show they also have interesting things to say.” Another really, really funny idea again, with great impressions we don’t typically see, and very well executed as well. Bill Hader does an amazing Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. Laugh out loud funny. I didn’t find it slow at all, really enjoyed it.
I N T E R V E N T I O N
HOWARD MEGDAL: SNL needs an intervention. Someone needs to sit SNL down and say, “Listen. These sketches where annoying people do the same thing over and over for five minutes need to be exiled from the repertoire forever.” Who is the target here?
STEVE MURPHY: Bradley Cooper and Kristin Wiig repeatedly interrupt an intervention with loud squirting noises from their bottles of lotion and hand sanitizer. Not funny, but at least it was experimental. Moderately funny when they start churning butter, which I’ve now ruined by telling you about it and killing the surprise. You’re welcome. Skip this one. On a good note, funnier than last week’s horrendous “Issues” sketch, but not by a lot.
T V O N T H E R A D I O 2 :
HOWARD MEGDAL: Well, it was a bit less objectionable- but they set a pretty awful baseline. Also, I have no idea what the song was about. I’m pretty sure it involved palindromes- but for or against them? I’ll never know, because I’ll never listen to TV on the Radio again.
STEVE MURPHY: I’ll be honest… I just skipped this.
HOWARD MEGDAL: So you can’t even tell me how they felt about palindromes? Somebody e-mail me with the answer, please.
C H R I S T I A N B A L E ‘ S C E L E B R I T Y T I R A D E S D V D
HOWARD MEGDAL: So I didn’t love the rants, but I loved the people picked for the rants: George Foreman, Joan Cusack, Jim Cramer (the most understated one) and Nathan Lane (Moynihan was spot-on as Lane). Foreman’s rant was also amusing, mostly because the fact that all of his children are named George is always funny.
STEVE MURPHY: Not too funny. But again, not a standard SNL repeat-the-same-joke-three-times sketch, and I am at least appreciative of that. But really not very funny.
N E X T W E E K : Alec Baldwin! The Jonas Brothers!
HOWARD MEGDAL: Alec Baldwin I like. and I’ll finally get to hear of these brothers everyone seems to know already.
STEVE MURPHY: The Alec Baldwin / Steve Martin rivalry continues, so of course they’re scheduled to host within weeks of each other. Baldwin’s hilarious so I expect big things… but that seems to be when SNL lets me down, so we’ll see. High hopes!