• A hit-and-miss cold opening, despite Kenan doing fine as a laid-back MLK.
• The Beyonce discussion at the beginning was just tired, clichéd urban humor. There were a few funny moments afterwards, though - I liked the bit about Michelle Obama's bangs and Kenan's line at the end about going to tell Cornell West to take it down about 30 notches.
• The segue to LFNY was fairly clever and a welcome change from the typical dull "Oh, and one more thing..." segue they use for LFNY nowadays.
Monologue - Adam Levine
• Nice to see an actual GOOD non-musical monologue. Jennifer Lawrence's weak monologue proves that just because a monologue involves no singing doesn't automatically make it good, and Martin Short's great monologue proves that just because a monologue DOES involve singing doesn't automatically make it bad.
• A very interesting and creative way to approach the obligatory The Voice reference of the night. The cameos in this were fun, especially Andy Samberg. Andy was excellent in this and he had great lines & moments all throughout. Some of my favorites were him saying he appeared in only 3 live sketches during his SNL tenure, his line about how he and Levine have both slept with "between 2 and 500 women", and him with the lotion when Levine was about to take off his shirt.
• When Andy was questioned on when he put Ben Stiller's "splooge" in his hair, it would've been kinda funny if he said it was when Stiller hosted last season, because I always like it when SNL makes meta-references to their own episodes.
Commercial - Rosetta Stone
• A pretty amusing commercial, as I always get a kick out of the male cast playing shady, creepy sex offenders. This brought back some memories of that great Myspace Seminar sketch from 05-06.
• Was Bill reprising his John Mark Karr impression? I swear, he had on the exact same shirt & wig and used the same accent.
• Something about Taran's creepy deadpan delivery of the line "...so that I can pretend I'm German while in Thailand" was very Will Ferrell-esque.
• I also got some laughs from the blurred-out vocally-modified guy (whoever that was).
Sketch - Circle Work
• Okay, usually I'm not one to judge a sketch just a few seconds into it, but man, I could ALREADY tell I was gonna hate this sketch 5 seconds after it started.
• This was lazy stereotypical gay humor at its worst, and Kenan and Levine were both basically just playing a variation of Kenan's annoying character from Deep House Dish, which I wasn't exactly asking for a reminder of.
• Vanessa's flirty character was okay; the only decent thing in this mess. Though at first, there was something about Vanessa's mannerisms in this that reminded me of Kristen Wiig.
Commercial - Sopranos Diaries
• A very interesting idea and this was executed well, although I felt it could've been a little stronger. This commercial was still fine overall.
• Bobby was great in his performance as a teen Tony Soprano, and I got a big laugh from his freaking out over the Rubik's Cube, as well as his beating the hell out of the principal.
• The psychologist scene with Cecily and Bobby was boring, went nowhere, and should've had more effort put into it.
• Strangely, this is the second pre-taped commercial in the last three episodes that had Kate playing Edie Falco.
• Tim's facial expressions as the hapless principal were kinda funny. Too bad this pre-taped commercial ended up being the only thing we saw of Tim in this whole episode, which makes tonight the FOURTH episode this season where he made no live appearances. That's just sad. After last week's episode where Tim finally received a decent amount of airtime, I see they've ALREADY put him back on the backburner.
• Tim wasn't the only one shut out of the live show tonight, however; Fred and Kate also made no live appearances. It's one thing for newbies like Tim and Kate to be completely cut out of the live show, but it's a rarity for that to happen to a long-time veteran like Fred. This just further proves that Fred has been absolutely useless this season and has no place on the show anymore.
• Kate's airtime has really been scaled back lately in general; she hasn't gotten a big role in months. I think the Ellen sketch from the Anne Hathaway episode was her last meaty role, and that was all the way back in November.
• Getting back on-topic, the critic reviews in this commercial were pretty funny, especially the one pointing out how logically impossible it is for these Sopranos characters to have been in high school in the 80s.
Sketch - Firehouse Incident
• Material-wise, this would easily have to be one of the worst sketches of the entire season. But I'm not gonna lie, Bill's performance as a screaming flamboyant fireman actually had me cracking up for most of this, and I don't even know why.
• You can tell Bill knew the material in this sketch was absolute shit, so he just went all-out and did his best to enhance the sketch by channeling his inner Jim Carrey and giving a jokey over-the-top insane performance that the script didn't really call for, and you know what? He made me laugh. I can definitely see why many people were very annoyed by him in this, but personally, his performance had me laughing my ass off at times, especially during the part where he tried to throw the fake dog out the window but got attacked by it.
• For those saying Bill's performance was no better than any of Kristen Wiig's infamously annoying over-the-top characters, I don't think that's a fair comparison. You see, Wiig routinely did shit like that every damn week, whereas Hader had never done anything like that before tonight. As long as this remains a one-time thing for Bill, I think it's okay. And, what can I say, I just generally find Bill Hader a lot funnier than I ever found Kristen Wiig. So sue me if I laughed at him in this sketch.
• However, I do have to point out that between Bill's seemingly-gay character here and the gay-themed Circle Work sketch just minutes ago, I'm starting to get some very unpleasant 04-05 vibes from tonight's episode. The 04-05 season seemed OBSESSED with hacky gay-themed humor (Gays in Space, Gay Frankenstein, Gay Jeff Foxworthy, that sketch with Seth playing Robert DeNiro's gay son at a wedding, half of the Johnny Knoxville episode, etc.)
• While I appreciate the fact that they ended this sketch with an actual punchline (something that the current writers need to do more often), I didn't like the punchline used here. Nasim saying "I got the reaction I wanted!" was a lame, corny way to end the sketch.
Stars: I don't know what the heck to give this...
Material-wise, this gets a measly: *
But Bill's performance bumps the rating up to: **½
Digital Short - YOLO
• Well, so much for Lazy Sunday 2 being the last Digital Short ever...
• Honestly, was this really necessary? The Lonely Island Digital Shorts weren't exactly missed this season in my eyes. This season's more-experimental short films have been a breath of fresh air from the Lonely Island shorts, which used to be consistently awesome but had gotten way too stale and formulaic during Andy's final 2 seasons. The short films this season come off more refreshing partly because they're each made by a different writer/director, which gives the shorts more variety.
• All that being said, this YOLO short was okay, so I can't complain too much. The song was very catchy and while there was nothing really laugh-out-loud funny here, this still had its fair share of amusing moments throughout, such as Andy being choked by a flying blanket, the guys having lead on their teeth, and of course Danny McBride's cameo.
• The segment with Kendrick Lamar was absolutely pointless, and you could barely even hear him; the audio seemed too low during his part.
• This is slightly off-topic, but I've been thinking about the Lonely Island recently and I'm kinda surprised they aren't starring together in a Lonely Island TV series now that they're off of SNL. I know they attempted their own TV show years ago during their pre-SNL days, with the "Awesometown" pilot that was made for FOX(?) but never got aired. Nowadays, the Lonely Island is obviously much more well-known and popular than they were back then, so I can see them starring in a successful TV series on FOX or Comedy Central. And honestly, why not? What exactly have Jorma and Akiva been doing since they left SNL? I know Andy is supposedly filming some kind of sitcom pilot he's starring in, but I honestly think he'd have better success with a Lonely Island series.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Arianna Huffington, Ray Lewis
• Best jokes: New Taco/Philadelphia
• Nasim's Arianna Huffington commentaries are usually always very good, but tonight's fell short. There weren't really any clever comments that stood out and I can barely even remember anything she said in this. Disappointing.
• Kenan's Ray Lewis commentary could've been okay if it had, you know, a POINT, which was nowhere to be found here. It felt like there was no real material at all in this. And was I really supposed to laugh at him thinking the Rockefeller skating rink used to be a lake??? That was a very lazy joke. Only things I kinda chuckled in this were Kenan's eye-twitching when talking about his detached retina and him getting up out of his chair to do The Ray Lewis Dance. And it was a nice touch having him return at the end of Update to continue doing the dance as the camera faded to black.
• Is it just me, or did Kenan look thinner than usual during his commentary?
Sketch - Band Rumble
• A promising idea for a sketch that was let down by subpar execution. This had its moments, but the overall sketch didn't come off anywhere near as strong as it seemed like it was going to be, and the pacing was too awkward at times. The camerawork was also a mess towards the end.
• I wanted to like Jay's straight man character, but his performance felt half-assed.
• My biggest laugh easily came from Sudeikis as Jason Mraz. He was hilarious! The expression on his face, the tiny guitar, the scatting, the small jeans, the sandals, the foppish demeanor - his whole appearance just had me cracking the hell up.
• Kenan was pretty funny as Darius "Hootie" Rucker.
• Bill's John Mayer impression was completely wasted in this. He didn't even get to really do anything.
• Taran's chicken-dancing at the very end was amusing. It's always funny any time Taran Killam dances in a sketch.
Sketch - Catfish the TV Show
• This is a sketch that would've benefited from being pre-taped. Not just so it would feel like a more-accurate parody of the real show, but because this came off too awkward as a live sketch. The timing in this sketch seemed sluggish, and it didn't help that the writing was mediocre.
• I did get a laugh from the picture of Brian Williams' head pasted on a model's body, as well as the picture of Beethoven the dog standing in front of the Jetson house.
• Interesting seeing Jay play a role like this. We've never really seen him do this type of character/voice before.
Sketch - Janet's Apartment
• Oh, I was afraid this Janet Peckinpaugh character would eventually come back. And Bobby had been doing so well this season, too...
• To be fair, Bobby did what he could with the material in this installment, but these Janet Peckinpaugh sketches just don't do it for me and I find them grating to sit through.
• I do give them credit for at least putting this character in a new setting, and the random Law & Order bit at the beginning was unexpected. And I kinda liked how she referenced her encounter with Tom Brady (Channing Tatum) from last season's installment, which is a nice display of continuity.
• What was with Levine's performance? I can overlook his blatant cue card-staring considering he's not an actor, but his performance in this sketch seemed odd. He kept throwing in weird unnecessary ad-libs throughout his interaction with Bobby. There was a particularly strange moment from Levine at the very end where after saying "Or maybe I'll just go home instead...", he awkwardly ad-libbed "...of helping you", which was stupid and ended the sketch on an odd note.
Commercial - Biden Bash
• Jason's Biden impression is usually always reliable for lots of laughs, but this commercial was a real bore and most of the scenes fell flat.
• Only two things I laughed at were the Macho Man Randy Savage bit and how the "What happens in Delaware............." motto had no ending.