Louis C.K. / Sam Smith
March 29, 2014

*** 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 two-part sketch from the Zach Galifianakis/Of Monsters And Men episode (May 4, 2013). Here's the original review I wrote for the two sketches:

Sketch - Darrell's House

• This was very creative and interesting, and something that seemed tailor-made for Zach, much like the preceding M&M Store sketch.

• I was laughing out loud right from the start with the bizarre opening credits sequence & theme song featuring Zach's bouncing head.

• I was surprised some parts didn't get a bigger reaction from the audience, but I personally found this whole sketch hilarious, even before we saw Part 2 of this. Zach constantly stopping the filming to tell the director all the strange edits he wants done was really funny to me (especially him randomly requesting a shot of the Showtime at the Apollo audience), and I loved his outburst at Vanessa at the beginning, then saying afterwards "no rage... no rage..."

Stars: ****

Mini-Sketch - Darrell's House: The Finished Cut

• While watching the first Darrell's House sketch earlier, I was wondering if it was going to show what the finished edited version looked like, but then the sketch ended and I figured we unfortunately wouldn't be seeing the finished version. Glad to see I was wrong.

• A brilliant idea to have a continuation of the first sketch by showing the edited cut as a separate sketch later in the night. This segment had me laughing my ass off! The sloppy edits were funny as hell, especially Vanessa's voice being partially left in, Zach being seen in the background during one of Jon Hamm's shots, and how Al Jolson was the only singer they could get cleared.

Stars: ****



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

**** = Great

*** = Average

** = Meh

* = How'd this get past dress?

Cold Opening - HealthCare.Gov Meeting

• That awkward applause miscue at the beginning was strange and just proved how pointless it is having the audience applaud at the start of every cold opening in recent years. The worst was in that VMAs Backstage cold opening earlier this season: Kenan had to actually stop in the middle of his first line due to the audience's delayed applause, and when the applause finally died down, Kenan awkwardly had to repeat his whole line all over again.

• An okay cold opening featuring a few fun walk-ons. I also liked Taran's various sob stories about unfortunate kids throughout the sketch.

• Pooooooorrr John Milhiser. Dude is starting to reach Dan Vitale/Yvonne Hudson-levels of underused. It's getting sad.

• Loved Kyle Mooney as the Pope, in a rare comedic role for him in a live sketch. There's still a little bit of green-ness there in Kyle's live performances, but he's getting better.

Stars: ***

Monologue - Louis C.K.

• The part of tonight's episode that I was looking forward to the most. This monologue got off to a slightly slow start at first, but when it took off, I found myself laughing consistently for the rest of the monologue. This was even better than Louis' monologue from last season. I wonder if he'll be like Zach Galifianakis where his stand-up monologues get even stronger and stronger each subsequent time he hosts.

• My favorite parts were the shot/murdered bit, the "greedy dicks" line, the egg-chicken bit, and the wife-beater/"child murder shorts" comment.

• This was not only this season's first stand-up monologue, but was surprisingly also this season's first "real" monologue that featured only the host and nobody else. It doesn't usually take SNL this long into a season to do a solo monologue.

Stars: ****½

Sketch - Black Jeopardy!

• Blah. I'm usually not a fan of whenever SNL does stereotypical, cliched "ghetto" humor nowadays (i.e. that awful "Haters" sketch from last season's Bruno Mars episode). There have been some exceptions, of course, but this Jeopardy sketch wasn't one of them. I found most of this sketch to be pretty bad with lots of easy, cheap "black" jokes that weren't funny to me, and a premise that felt too dated and worn-out.

• One or two of Louis' answers were okay, though, and I admit that I had the same thought as him about Michael Vick when they asked the "dogs" question.

• For some reason, I kinda laughed at the part showcasing the prizes (flat-screen TV, antiques), only because hearing Steve Higgins talk in a "smooth" urban-sounding voice sounded funny to me.

Stars: **

Sketch - Baby Boss

• Not surprised they brought this back, but I was hoping they wouldn't, because 1) the original installment stood well enough on its own as a strong one-off sketch, and 2) I was worried they would reuse the whole office/businessman setting, which is exactly what they ended up doing tonight. I wish SNL took my suggestion from my review of the first installment where I said that if they make Beck's "adult in the body of a baby" routine recurring, they should change his character's occupation in each installment instead of having him be an office boss every time. For example, in one installment, he can be a restaurant waiter. In another installment, he can be a police chief at the scene of a crime. In the next, he can be a school teacher, etc. That's really the only way to keep this character from getting old fast. How many different things can you do with him as an office boss in every single installment?

• Despite all of that, tonight's installment wasn't bad. Nowhere near as funny as the first one, but this still had enough laughs and Beck's baby routine still had some steam left for now. Some of the stuff he did here cracked me up, and it's always a nice novelty seeing a usually-straight-laced, low-key performer like him busting out a crazy, physical performance like this.

• I said this in my review of the first installment, but in that wig, Beck looks like Chris Parnell. In fact, when this sketch was shown being set-up during the preceding commercial break, I saw Beck standing to the side in that wig with his arms crossed and I almost thought it really was Parnell at first glance.

Stars: ***

Commercial - Jos. A. Bank

• Odd idea for a fake ad. This had some okay moments here and there, and Vanessa wasn't bad as the spokesperson.

• I almost mistook Noel for Nasim at first. This has happened to me several times earlier this season, too. There's just something about the way Noel and Nasim look in certain wigs that make them resemble each other.

Stars: **½

Weekend Update - Strong & Jost, featuring Stephen A. Smith

• Best joke (by default): Eau De Death perfume

• I was hoping that SNL had retired the Stephen A. Smith commentaries, but I see they're continuing to beat this dead horse with the beyond-tired, predictable "Stephen talks about how so-and-so is a dear close friend to him, then suddenly goes into a loud, heated rant against that person" routine. How is that still supposed to be funny? And his rants tonight weren't even as heated or as long as they usually are. This whole commentary felt really half-assed. Plus, maybe it's just me, but Jay's impression seemed a little off tonight. And why did he look like he was on the verge of busting out laughing the whole time? Anyway, if they HAD to have Jay do a sports commentary tonight, I'd rather have seen his Shannon Sharpe impression again; at least the voice he uses in that one is funny. Speaking of which, Jay sure seems to play a lot of sports commentators on Update, doesn't he? Stephen A. Smith, Shannon Sharpe, Shaq... and strangely, all of their names start with 's'.

• Shortest Update in a long time, and unfortunately, it was also one of the worst Updates in a long time. It had a very ho-hum, uninspired feel and the whole thing just came and went with nothing noteworthy happening at all. I know he already appeared in the last three Updates in a row, but couldn't they have thrown Killam out there to save this Update with another commentary? He could've used the airtime anyway; aside from the cold opening (in which he just played a straight role), he strangely did almost nothing in tonight's episode.

• Are we EVER going to see any interaction pieces between Cecily & Colin? You know, like the type of mini-segments they used to do with Jimmy & Tina, Tina & Amy, and Amy & Seth? Hell, even Seth & Cecily had one in their first Update together. If SNL expects Cecily & Colin to develop any kind of on-camera chemistry together, then you HAVE to give them interaction pieces. If the show has no plans on doing that, then what exactly is the point of having two anchors? SNL seems to have forgotten the whole purpose of the dual anchor format.

• Does it bug anybody else how Cecily & Colin's signature handshake at the end of every Update is the EXACT SAME as the one that Seth & Amy used to always do? Way to be original, guys...


Sketch - Mr. Big Stuff

• I usually don't like to pre-judge entire sketches only 1 minute into it, but as soon as the background music kicked in and the singing started, something told me I wasn't going to like where this sketch was going. And I'm not one to automatically dislike sketches that involves singing a classic song (I liked the Outfield "Your Love" sketch from earlier this season, and I loved the "Baby, It's Cold Outside" piece from the Jimmy Fallon episode). But the majority of this sketch just had me waiting for it to end, until Louis brought a little bit of humor into this towards the end with his "Who do I think I am?" speech. Still wasn't enough to really salvage the sketch, though.

• I'm not crazy about the way the show has been using Louis in tonight's episode so far, by the way. Are we ever going to see him in any actual, you know, COMEDIC roles? He's played the straight man in every sketch so far tonight. That would be understandable if you were working with a boring non-comedic host like Josh Hutcherson or whatever, and I know Louis isn't exactly known for being a versatile "characters"-type of guy, but you don't waste a hilarious comedian like him in straight parts for a majority of the night. Then again, maybe it was some kind of compromise for letting him do a 9+ minute-long monologue.


Short - Physical

• Considering that this was a short film starring Louis C.K. (and in a COMEDIC role finally!), my expectations were high at first, but I was pretty let down by where this ended up going.

• There were a few laughs from the awkwardness of Louis' request to the doctor, and I liked the brief gag with Kenan "mopping" the carpet, but by the time they had Beck coming in asking the same question about the Darth Vader action figure, the joke had gotten worn-out, and I wasn't too crazy about anything else that followed, including the random "The More You Know"-type ending. Aidy's "General Grievous" line was okay, though.

• Someone on another SNL board made a joke a few weeks ago about how Kenan always seems to play janitor roles this season, and I'm now starting to see what that person meant.

Stars: **

Sketch - Pajama Party

• Remember that infamous Mountain Pass sketch from Louis' episode last season, where he said in interviews before the show that he was going to push hard to get that sketch on the air despite the fact that he was embarrassed having to perform it? I think he must've done the same thing with this Pajama sketch, because there's no other explanation I can come up with for a sketch like THIS ever getting on the air. Apparently, it's going to be a tradition each time Louis hosts where he pushes hard to get one really bad, slow-paced, drawn-out, virtually-laughless sketch on the air that requires him to stretch his acting chops. As for WHY exactly Louis would want to do that, well, your guess is as good as mine.

• Another reason this reminded me of the Mountain Pass sketch is because of the strange way this Pajama sketch ended with Louis saying "I love you, no." then looking off-camera at the cue-card and asking "What???" out-of-character and starting to laugh. I have no idea what the hell that was all about, but it was very similar to that one moment in the Mountain Pass sketch where he had trouble pronouncing one of the words off the cue-cards, so he just mumbled "something" in place of it and then started cracking up.

• I usually always like when Bobby has a walk-on role as a silly character, but not even he could save this dreadful sketch. His walk-on here felt almost forced, and it just came off weird and confusing rather than funny. And strangely, this was the first we've seen of Bobby all night.

Stars: *

Mini-Sketch - Dyke & Fats

• This was interesting just for the fact that despite being SNL's first out-lesbian/plus-sized female (respectively), Kate and Aidy have rarely played any roles on the show that revolved around their sexual orientation/weight.

• This reminded me of Astronaut Jones, both in how the theme song was longer than the actual sketch, and in how the cast member(s) that starred in the sketch was the only person listed in the ending "Produced By, Directed By, etc." credits. This wasn't anywhere near as funny as Astronaut Jones, though, and I certainly hope they don't make this recurring, because there's no way the punchline can work in multiple installments the way Astronaut Jones (sometimes) worked.

Stars: **½

Short - Chris Fitzpatrick for ASB President

• Fucking awesome! Before this season of SNL began, I was hoping Kyle would find some way to work his "Chris" character from YouTube into SNL somehow, and this short film was a perfect way of doing it. I did notice, though, that his Chris voice sounded different here than it usually does. It actually sounded more like his Inside SoCal character (which itself sounded like his Sigma character).

• I loved just about everything in this whole short, and there were so many funny quick little jokes all throughout that I can't even single out the highlights. I will say, though, that I particularly loved how the scene transitions showed random car crashes, fires, and other dark, disturbing images. I also loved listening to how the audience reacted during those shots; they kinda laughed nervously as if they were unsure whether those disturbing shots were supposed to be funny or not. Like I said in a previous review, Kyle is great at Andy Kaufman-esque humor that gets nervous/uncomfortable reactions out of audiences.

• And speaking of the car crash footage, I love how they had a Getty Images watermark over them if you looked closely.

Stars: ****

Sketch - Apology

• Not a bad closing sketch, and Louis did a good job playing a silly character. Aidy was also a fine straight man and played off of Louis well.

• This sketch featured the type of strange random humor that I like (as opposed to the Pajama sketch, which featured the "bad" type of strange random humor). That being said, not every joke here worked (i.e. Louis' repeated pronunciation of "man" as "mang" was just stupid) and the whole thing was hit-and-miss. The sketch as a whole worked out okay, though, and I got a good amount of laughs overall.

• Strange how Bobby's only two appearances of the whole night were both just walk-on roles as weird characters. Is that all they're using him for anymore? Anyway, his big-bellied character in this sketch was just okay; a little funnier than his character in the Pajama sketch, but honestly, we've seen better from Bobby.

Stars: ***


Episode Highlights:

• Monologue

• Chris Fitzpatrick for ASB President

Episode Lowlights:

• Pajama Party

• Weekend Update

• Mr. Big Stuff

Best Performer of the Night:

• Aidy Bryant


BAYER: 2 sketches (Jos. A. Bank, Pajama)

BRYANT: 6 sketches (HealthCare.Gov, Baby Boss, Mr. Big Stuff, Physical, Dyke & Fats, Apology)

KILLAM: 2 sketches (HealthCare.Gov, Jos. A. Bank)

MCKINNON: 3 sketches (HealthCare.Gov, Mr. Big Stuff, Dyke & Fats)

MOYNIHAN: 2 sketches (Pajama, Apology)

PEDRAD: 2 sketches (HealthCare.Gov, Dyke & Fats)

PHAROAH: 3 sketches (HealthCare.Gov, Black Jeopardy, Update)

STRONG: 2 sketches (Update, Mr. Big Stuff)

THOMPSON: 2 sketches (Black Jeopardy, Physical)

BENNETT: 2 sketches (Baby Boss, Physical)

JOST: 1 sketch (Update)

MILHISER: 1 sketch (HealthCare.Gov)

MOONEY: 3 sketches (HealthCare.Gov, Jos. A. Bank, Chris Fitzpatrick)

O'BRIEN: 1 sketch (Physical)

WELLS: 2 sketches (HealthCare.Gov, Jos. A. Bank)

WHEELAN: 2 sketches (HealthCare.Gov, Baby Boss)

ZAMATA: 2 sketches (Black Jeopardy, Mr. Big Stuff)

LOUIS C.K.: 8 sketches (Monologue, Black Jeopardy, Baby Boss, Mr. Big Stuff, Physical, Pajama, Dyke & Fats, Apology)

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