Kerry Washington / Eminem
November 2, 2013

*** Stooge's Look-Back Sketch Review of the Week ***

Since this is my final year of doing SNL reviews after 14 long consecutive seasons, I'll be starting each of my reviews this season with a special "look back" on one of my all-time favorite sketches from the seasons that I've reviewed, by re-posting the original review I wrote for the selected sketch back when it originally aired.

Tonight's look back is a bit of a double-feature; we'll be looking at two related sketches from the Jon Hamm/Michael Buble episode (January 30, 2010). Here's the original review I wrote for the two sketches:

Commercial - Closet Organizer

• A terrific commercial parody. This kinda felt like an actual funny version of that Jar Glove ad from last season (it had a similar black-and-white beginning with Kristen and the announcer, and both commercials used the exact same text-style/graphics at the end).

• Forte in that blue costume already had me laughing out loud from the start, and this just kept getting funnier and funnier with all the various bizarre stuff they would throw at him. The two meals-a-day and the bucket for him to “do his business in” just capped it off perfectly.

• Another great part was Hamm's testimonial talking about having sex with a black girl who had a moustache, and I loved how that had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this ad. That had me laughing so much. He also looked funny in that goatee and wig.

Stars: ****½

and then, later that same night...

Sketch - Tarkie Fenzington, the Closet Organizer Guy, At a Bar

• This started out as a funny little oddball sketch with a lot of good random non-sequitur lines between Forte and Hamm, like Will's “I'm not gay” and Hamm saying he graduated from a high school in Israel. Then the sudden callback to the Closet Organizer commercial from earlier in this same episode came completely out of nowhere and had me laughing a lot.

• This was a great idea for a sketch, and it worked out perfectly. Connecting one sketch to a seemingly-unrelated sketch later in the same night as a running gag is something that SNL doesn't do nearly as often as they should.

• I'm betting Will himself probably wrote this whole thing since this certainly seems like his type of humor. The show always benefits from a trademark “Bizarre Will Forte Sketch of the Night”.

Stars: ****



***** = Excellent, a possible future classic

**** = Great

*** = Average

** = Meh

* = How'd this get past dress?

Cold Opening - Michelle Obama at the White House

• At first, when Kerry made her entrance as Michelle Obama, I couldn't help but laugh because a lot of people predicted that SNL wouldn't resist the urge to do a Michelle Obama sketch now that they have a black female host. But then when we got to the part with Taran's character asking Kerry to get changed because Oprah has arrived and Kerry said "And Kenan won't...?", I got where this was going and I suddenly became very interested in this opening.

• This ended up being a very fun and clever meta-piece, and one of the best cold openings in the last few years. The part with the scrolling disclaimer was especially great and really surprised me that SNL would address and poke fun at their own "black female" issue.

• Kerry having to rush off-set to quickly change into Oprah & Beyonce had nice shades of that Twin Peaks sketch from 1990 where Jan Hooks had to play two different roles because, as Kevin Nealon said in the sketch, "there's only two women left on Saturday Night Live and we've already used them both up".

• Loved the part with the "6 different Matthew McConaugheys" played by the five new males plus Bobby.

• Al Sharpton's cameo at the end was okay, I guess, although his segue to LFNY was awkward.

Stars: ****

Monologue - Kerry Washington

• This was pretty straightforward and had a predictable premise, but it was pulled off well with several funny parts. Even Kenan's portion was good.

• Loved Kerry bluntly asking Vanessa "Haven't you played Miley ENOUGH lately?" Between that joke and the cold opening, tonight's episode is giving us a nice dose of self-deprecating meta humor.

Stars: ***

Sketch - Career Week Speaker

• When I saw the set for this sketch during the commercial break, I mistakenly thought it was going to be a Principal Frye sketch, which is funny since they actually ended up doing one later in the night.

• Were we supposed to see that "Career Week" banner being raised up as Aidy started speaking at the beginning?

• Second week in a row where the lead-off sketch surprisingly stars Nasim. It's nice that her airtime has been improving lately, and she gave a funny performance in this sketch as the motivational speaker; her sound effect gestures & thrusting kept cracking me up throughout.

• Kerry was very good in this as well and had something funny to do & say each time she walked out.

• Despite the strong performances, the sketch itself was pretty forgettable. Nasim didn't have any memorable dialogue, and I'm hoping this won't be yet another potential recurring character for her.

Stars: **½

Miscellaneous - My Girl

• A well-done, clever, and funny parody of "What Does the Fox Say". While I don't think this was as strong as SNL's previous two music videos this season ("We Did Stop" and "Boy Dance Party"), this still made me laugh a lot.

• My favorite parts were Kerry finding out that Jay's cloud is "full of butts", and Kate's appearance as the horse-looking ho.

Stars: ***½

Sketch - How's He Doing?

• The way this sketch opened seemed a bit abrupt, almost as if they weren't fully prepared yet. And did anyone else keep noticing a moving shadow in the background at the very beginning and end?

• I was surprised to see this sketch back, and in such an early time slot. When they last did this in the Maya Rudolph episode, wasn't it the final sketch of the night?

• The previous installment, from what I remember, was okay but kinda forgettable. Tonight's installment, on the other hand, was actually a bit of an improvement and had funnier lines, even though I couldn't help but feel that some of the jokes seemed like something you'd see in a stand-up act.

• Like last time, Jay had the best lines in this, especially what he had to say about white people's mail and his comment about how Obama would look like he was in Run DMC if he converted to Orthodox Judaism.

• Another good part was the discussion about how white people love The Wire.

Stars: ***

Sketch - Miss Universe Moscow 2013

• A pretty good sketch, and a nice showcase for the whole female cast, although Cecily's part wasn't all that funny.

• Kerry's character was my favorite, and Aidy's accent was so bizarre that it had me cracking up a lot.

• The Kate/Nasim kiss was certainly... unexpected. I believe that's only the second girl-on-girl kiss in SNL history (the first being a few years ago in the Helen Mirren episode when Mirren made out with Abby Elliott, who was playing Marilyn Monroe).

• The voice Vanessa used sounded like her Miley voice with a foreign accent.

Stars: ***

Weekend Update - Meyers & Strong, featuring Chancellor Angela Merkel, Shaquille O'Neal & Charles Barkley

• Best jokes: World series, Kanye West

• How come it seems like the only time Cecily ever introduces a guest commentator, it's when Kate is doing a commentary?

• Kate's commentary was okay but, despite a few amusing lines early on, it didn't start taking off until towards the end with the Google search history bit. The commentary ended on kind of a strange note, however.

• The Charles Barkley & Shaq commentary had a lot of good laughs. Kenan's Barkley is always reliable for funny lines (I especially liked the bit about Toni Braxton) and Jay's Shaq, while not the most dead-on impression of him that I've seen, was still hilarious and he had me laughing out loud. I loved when he started ad-libbing(?) with his wandering off-set and then saying "This floor is crooked".

Stars: **½

Sketch - Cartoon Catchphrase

• A surprisingly creative approach to a gameshow sketch that took an unexpected turn. This featured good writing and was a strong showcase for Aidy, who gave an excellent performance. Between tonight and last week's episode, Aidy's really been stepping it up lately and standing out.

• Taran's sleazy character cracked me up as well.

• Kerry's character being named Melanie Griffish seems to be a continuation of this weird running gag SNL does in some of their gameshow sketches nowadays where the host has a similar name to a celebrity.

• The camera doing a Looney Tunes-style iris-out on Aidy at the end was a nice touch.

Stars: ****

Sketch - Principal Frye

• I'm completely bored with these Principal Frye sketches now and tonight's installment felt particularly unnecessary. There was nothing really noteworthy at all here.

• Even Kenan's usually-funny gym teacher character wasn't as good as usual, although he was still the best thing in this installment by default.

• At least Jay finally managed to get through a Principal Frye sketch without laughing or messing up.


Sketch - Date or Diss

• Does MTV actually still show programming like this? This seemed more like the type of shows they had back in the early 2000s.

• Dated premise aside, this sketch still ended up being decent. The three girls each had their share of funny disturbing lines, Kerry especially; I liked her lines about her IQ being too low for her to be legally executed, and how her bush goes "all the way around".

• Taran made a good straight man, and he had some great reactions to the girls' bizarre answers.

• The "Bitch Apartment" photo at the end was also funny.

Stars: ***

Film - Ice Cream

• I like how the Good Neighbor shorts all seem to open with a black title card stating the name of the short. I find that to be a good way to differentiate the Good Neighbor shorts from other typical SNL shorts.

• It's certainly nice to see some of the new cast members here, considering how non-existent they were tonight. They were so underused in this episode that I had almost forgotten about them until this short. I don't like how SNL has been scaling back the newbies' airtime these past two weeks.

• I enjoyed this Good Neighbor short a lot. Although not quite as strong as their Sigma short, this had a clever and creative premise and the execution was well-done with some good laughs. I especially like how increasingly-bizarre and complicated Kyle and Taran's "thought sequences" became as the short went along.

Stars: ***½


Episode Highlights:

• Cold Opening

• Cartoon Catchphrase

• Ice Cream

• My Girl

Episode Lowlights:

• Principal Frye

Best Performer of the Night:

• Kerry Washington / Jay Pharoah


BAYER: 5 sketches (Monologue, Miss Universe, Cartoon Catchphrase, Principal Frye, Ice Cream)

BRYANT: 4 sketches (Career Week, Miss Universe, Cartoon Catchphrase, Date or Diss)

KILLAM: 5 sketches (White House, Miss Universe, Cartoon Catchphrase, Date or Diss, Ice Cream)

MCKINNON: 4 sketches (My Girl, Miss Universe, Update, Ice Cream)

MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)

MOYNIHAN: 2 sketches (White House, Monologue)

PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Career Week, Miss Universe, Ice Cream)

PHAROAH: 5 sketches (White House, My Girl, How's He Doing, Update, Principal Frye)

STRONG: 3 sketches (Miss Universe, Update, Date or Diss)

THOMPSON: 5 sketches (Monologue, How's He Doing, Update, Principal Frye, Ice Cream)

BENNETT: 3 sketches (White House, Miss Universe, Ice Cream)

MILHISER: 1 sketch (White House)

MOONEY: 2 sketches (White House, Ice Cream)

O'BRIEN: 3 sketches (White House, Career Week, Cartoon Catchphrase)

WELLS: 1 sketch (Miss Universe)

WHEELAN: 3 sketches (White House, Miss Universe, Ice Cream)

KERRY WASHINGTON: 9 sketches (White House, Monologue, Career Week, My Girl, How's He Doing, Miss Universe, Cartoon Catchphrase, Principal Frye, Date or Diss)

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