Paul Rudd / One Direction
December 7, 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 will be at a sketch from the Seann William Scott/Sum41 episode (October 6, 2001). Here's the original review I wrote for the sketch:


- Good lord! Will Ferrell just may be the funniest man alive. Not that that's anything new, but who else but him could make this sketch funny? This was simply hilarious!

- It looked like Ferrell was going to laugh at the beginning.

- Mario Lanza, if you're ever thinking about updating your "Will Ferrell's Greatest Moments" list, this one would be a good one to add.

- RATING: ***** A+



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

**** = Great

*** = Average

** = Meh

* = How'd this get past dress?

THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE & CONDENSED: Oh, don't even get me started on this. Why is it that every time Kristen Wiig comes back to SNL, the show seems to be in a hurry to bring this particular 'baby hands' character (Dooneese) back? It's always THIS character. Even in Kristen's brief cameo as herself in Martin Short's monologue last season, they just HAD to make a reference to this character. Anyway, I could give them credit for putting Dooneese in a different setting tonight for once, but it's not like that automatically made the character funny all of a sudden. This installment was still just as annoying and unfunny as usual, and besides, they ended up reverting back to the old "Lawrence Welk Show" setting by the end anyway, for no good reason other than to drag in an even-more-unnecessary Fred Armisen cameo. *

MONOLOGUE: I was surprised that Paul actually mentioned and openly joked about how he was overshadowed in his first two episodes (though I have to say, it was more than just Beyonce who stole the spotlight from him in his first episode; remember Justin Timberlake made several cameos throughout that episode, Abby Elliott and Michaela Watkins made their debut, there was a distracting recurring theme of homoerotic and violent/bloody material, and there were other strange things going on that night that took attention away from Rudd). Anyway, as for this monologue, we got the expected cameos from the Anchorman guys, which was awesome (and how nice was it to see David Koechner on the SNL stage again?), but I'm not sure how I feel about SNL mixing that with an obligatory One Direction sketch appearance. Considering they had all of the Anchorman guys, SNL could've done something MUCH funnier here, but considering One Direction was involved, this was surprisingly not as bad as it could've been, as One Direction thankfully wasn't allowed to chew up the scenery too much. However, there was so much going on here that I actually forgot who's monologue this was toward the end, before Rudd stepped center stage to wrap things up. Before then, I half-expected FERRELL to be the one to deliver the "We got a great show; stick around we'll be right back" tagline. **½

POLITICS NATION WITH AL SHARPTON: These sketches are always so boring to me, and tonight was no exception. There was nothing noteworthy in this installment at all, and Paul was wasted in a very dull role that anyone could have played. And they don't have to make the "Sharpton weight gain" joke every time they do this sketch now; it was funny last time they did it, whereas tonight, it just came off forced. Tonight's overall installment was thankfully short, but that just made the sketch feel even more pointless.

DAN CHARLES, ONE DIRECTION'S #1 FAN: This was a nice showcase for Paul, and his performance here alone was funnier than anything he did in his first two episodes. The concept of this short wasn't anything new or original, but Paul executed this just fine with his performance and with his funny one-liners throughout. Did anyone notice Jay Pharoah and Brooks Wheelan as two of the security guards in the background when One Direction showed up? What was the point of Jay and Brooks being there when they had no lines, no close-ups, and nothing to do but just stand there in the background? Then again, that describes most of the roles that Brooks Wheelan has gotten in general so far. ***

DIVORCE: Not really sure what to say about this. Kind of a strange sketch and the main joke got too repetitive for my likes. There were some funny twists at the end, though, and I got a good laugh from the "pooh bear/woods" bit. **

WEEKEND UPDATE: Best jokes - Black Friday Sale, Christmas Tinner. The Jacob commentary was mostly the same-old same-old overdone routine, but I did like the ending where this took an interesting different turn with Jacob breaking down crying, and it was a bit surprising that they mentioned Seth's upcoming departure on-air. I was very surprised to see Taran's Jebidiah Atkinson character back ALREADY, then even more surprised when they actually openly acknowledged how soon he returned, with his "It was ONLY three weeks ago; run things into the ground much?" joke. In fact, is it just me, or has SNL been making a lot of self-deprecating meta-jokes lately in general? Anyway, the Jebidiah Atkinson commentary hit a home run once again, although this one wasn't QUITE as strong as his first commentary and didn't have the hilarious ad-libbing the first one did. However, his commentary tonight still had plenty of great comments and this felt like the first time all night that I actually laughed out loud. This is a recurring character that I think I'm going to actually LIKE seeing whenever he appears (which is something that I almost never say about recurring characters nowadays), although they need to space his appearances out more - please don't have him appear every two episodes. **½

MICHELANGELO UNVEILS DAVID: A sophomoric premise, but I admit that this sketch gave me a decent amount of laughs. I especially liked Jay's various one-liners, and the bit with the second statue holding a magnifying glass. ***

WHITE CHRISTMAS: Didn't really care for this, although it was an accurate parody of these types of black holiday movies and Rudd did a surprisingly spot-on Madea imitation. But the premise of doing a white version of black holiday movies wasn't all that funny to me, and this whole thing died halfway through and ran out of steam. By the time they got to the gospel choir part, I was completely bored. I did get a good laugh towards the end, though, with one of the magazine reviews calling this "the Macklemore of movies". **

SANTA MEETING: As soon as they showed a glimpse of this sketch being set-up during the commercial break and I saw a whole bunch of unidentified cast members dressed as elves, I instantly knew we were finally going to see John Milhiser tonight, as he was born to play the role of an elf. And I knew Noel Wells would make a cute elf in this, too. Speaking of which, it was certainly nice seeing some of the new cast members here, considering tonight was yet ANOTHER episode this season where most of the newbies didn't appear until the second half of the show. *sigh* Anyway, I'm spending more time talking about all that than the actual sketch because there isn't much to say about it. The "slimmed-down Santa" premise seemed like it could've been interesting, but the resulting sketch ended up being very boring. The sketch went nowhere and there were little-to-no laughs overall. Very forgettable. I also kept getting distracted, trying to figure out who that was playing the elf on the left end of the screen in the back row and the elf on the right end of the screen in the back. It took me the whole sketch to try guessing which of the new cast members those two were, before giving up and concluding that those two must've just been extras or writers.

MEMORIES: Nothing much to say about this sketch either. The overall sketch wasn't all that bad, but felt like it also could've been a lot better. Paul's character was funny, and I like that they've been giving Paul lots of comedic lead roles tonight after being wasted in forgettable small parts his first two episodes. The semi-serious low-key approach to the non-Paul portions of this sketch were kinda interesting and everything, and the subtle joke at the end with Cecily catching Paul crawling away was okay, I guess, but I dunno; this sketch just kept feeling like it was missing something. **½

BILL BRASKY: Yes!!! The most highly-anticipated event on SNL in quite some time, at least for me. I loved the old Bill Brasky sketches, and I was very excited to hear earlier this week that it would make a return. Tonight's installment did not disappoint, and it's great to see that Ferrell and Koechner haven't lost their touch with these characters and that Adam McKay hasn't lost his touch with writing these. Taran Killam was also a perfect addition as one of the drunk Brasky businessmen. When I heard earlier this week that they were doing a new Bill Brasky sketch, I figured if they included any of the current cast members as one of the Brasky guys, it would be Taran, as he's easily the most Ferrell-esque of today's cast. He fit in this sketch perfectly, and I always like seeing him on camera with Will Ferrell. Though despite all of my praise for Taran's performance, it would've been even cooler if his role was played by Steve Carell, because you KNOW Carell would've been a perfect fit in this and it would've been awesome to see all of the four Anchorman guys as the four drunk Brasky businessmen. Oh, well; what was got was still fantastic. ****


Episode Highlights:

• Bill Brasky

• the Jebidiah Atkinson commentary on Weekend Update

Episode Lowlights:

• The Sound of Music

• Politics Nation with Al Sharpton

• Santa Meeting

Best Performer of the Night:

• Taran Killam


BAYER: 3 sketches (Divorce, Weekend Update, White Christmas)

BRYANT: 2 sketches (White Christmas, Santa Meeting)

KILLAM: 6 sketches (Sound of Music, Weekend Update, Michelangelo, Santa Meeting, Memories, Bill Brasky)

MCKINNON: 2 sketches (Sound of Music, Santa Meeting)

MEYERS: 1 sketch (Weekend Update)

MOYNIHAN: 4 sketches (Sound of Music, Michelangelo, White Christmas, Memories)

PEDRAD: 4 sketches (Sound of Music, Divorce, Michelangelo, Memories)

PHAROAH: 4 sketches (Dan Charles, Michelangelo, White Christmas, Memories)

STRONG: 6 sketches (Sound of Music, Weekend Update, Michelangelo, White Christmas, Memories, Bill Brasky)

THOMPSON: 5 sketches (Politics Nation, Divorce, White Christmas, Santa Meeting, Bill Brasky)

BENNETT: 1 sketch (Sound of Music)

MILHISER: 1 sketch (Santa Meeting)

MOONEY: 2 sketches (White Christmas, Santa Meeting)

O'BRIEN: 2 sketches (White Christmas, Memories)

WELLS: 3 sketches (Sound of Music, White Christmas, Santa Meeting)

WHEELAN: 3 sketches (Dan Charles, White Christmas, Memories)

PAUL RUDD: 9 sketches (Monologue, Politics Nation, Dan Charles, Divorce, Michelangelo, White Christmas, Santa Meeting, Memories, Bill Brasky)

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