SNL #35.14 with Ashton Kutcher, Them Crooked Vultures
If Ashton Kutcher hosts SNL one more time, then the "Five-Timers Club" will need to be abolished and replaced with the "Ten-Timers Club," because, really?!? Who let the dogs out and made Lorne Michaels chase them down the street, thereby letting Kutcher inside 30 Rock on four separate occasions to host?
Twas a night of oddities, and some of the oddest involved Kutcher in a bad way, and some of the best odd moments didn't involve Kutcher at all. Ready for my recap?
The cold open went with FOX News scare tactics as a premise, and I don't know how many times I have to remind you that when SNL goes political, it's usually more about getting their message across than landing any jokes. Oh. I guess I did have to remind you one more time, then. Kristen Wiig played Greta Van Susteren in Greta's post-Botox era, Bobby Moynihan played Karl Rove for laughs (watch out for the cracks in his forehead, though!), and which audience member thought it'd be a good idea to inject additional politics by clapping at the mention of "Don't ask, don't tell"? Will Forte as Col. Oliver North and Bill Hader as Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs were there, as was Abby Elliott as "Attractive Blond Lady," who was funny because it's true about FOX News, with their cast of hot ladies who are on TV because they're hot ladies willing to agree with FOX News to be on TV. But this was all just a set up to Jason Sudeikis choking up as Glenn Beck, wasn't it? He promised himself he wouldn't cry, because there's no "i" in crying. Oh, and Rove loving lesbians was a good line. Otherwise. Say it, already, Greta! Say the words. Live from New York!
Our monologue from Kutcher was equally hit and miss. For a miss, I'm going to have to go with everything that came out of Kutcher's mouth. And for a hit, I'll go with every non-sequitur bit happening to the side of the stage, from the dog on a surfboard who almost jumped into the audience, to Superman (Forte) ordering a drink from a Stormtrooper bartender before Mark Twain showed up on a mini-motorcycle, and almost even the kid swinging a bat with Jason Sudeikis, and definitely the old lady dance-off. I'd watch almost all of those as actual sketches instead of Kutcher. You want to leave a comment saying SNL hasn't been funny since 197X, and I'll see your comment and raise you a comment saying why are millions of people following Kutcher on Twitter?
What comes next is a bit of a short switcheroo sketch, as a family gathers to hear the last will and testament of a 110-year-old billionaire matriarch. Hader reads the will, and son Moynihan, grandchildren Jenny Slate and Sudeikis get $200 million, a museum gets $600 million, and for the pool boy "Angel" (Kutcher) who had sex with her for her last decade? Full pool privileges, except during the summer and weekends. Did you see where the switcheroo happened? The most important thing I learned during this sketch is that "Stage 5 Chlamydia" is by far the deadliest of the chlamydias. That, and there are racist STDs, including one that Hader didn't want to say, even though Chevy Chase could say it to Richard Pryor's face on SNL 35 years earlier. Progress?
The title card with Don Pardo saying SNL will return Feb. 27, 2010, with Jennifer Lopez as host and musical guest makes me want to say I told you so, but I would never stoop to something like that. So far, I'm chuckling at a few asides, but not the main themes of any sketches. Hmmm.
Another look at The View, in which our panel tackles "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" for a second time, and this makes me want to remind you that SNL loves going gay as a theme. Loves it so much that you wonder why SNL loves gay jokes. They don't love making their characters stretch, though, as Kenan Thompson's Whoopi Goldberg, Armisen's Joy Behar, Wiig's Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Nasim Pedrad's Baba Wawa tread their familiar grounds. I guess the motto is, give the fans what they know, and try not to surprise them. Because when you try surprising them with something like Kutcher as Mel Gibson, it's not going to end well. Did the cat get his tongue trying to eat the frog in his throat? I did enjoy hearing Pedrad's Baba Wawa describe going to the movies with Deepak Chopra. Moving on. Please. Let's.
A Cialis commercial with the separate bathtubs. No. That's not the joke. The joke is a third bathtub. Kutcher gets it on with fictional wife (Wiig) and crazy yoga instructor (Slate), and then even with another third partner in the doctor (Pedrad). Oh, and also a joke thrown in about how you wouldn't want a guy in your three-way.
That leads into a joke from Roman times in which the emperor (Forte) has a slave boy (that's slave BOY) feeding him grapes. Oh, and the slave boy Antonius (Kutcher) has a horse penis. Samberg and Hader are there for speaking lines, but this is about Forte's emperor cooing, and Kutcher acting like his gay slave boy. Did I mention SNL likes gay jokes yet? Kutcher tries to stop himself from cracking up. Grape attack? I imagine at the table read that the SNL staff is replaced by 10-year-old boys who giggle anytime Lorne Michaels says the word "penis" or "gay," and that pleases the Lorne so much that he approves them all for broadcast. Or they imagine that their best viewers are those 10-year-old boys. Must find the market research study that says this to be true.
Them Crooked Vultures is one of them thar "supergroups" that includes the singer from Queens of the Stone Age, the drummer from Nirvana who went on to become the Foo Fighters frontman, the bassist from Led Zeppelin (wait, really?), and another guitarist whom I don't know at all, which means he must be really famous. But I can't hear anything the guy is singing. Am I supposed to? I think I'd like this music on the record when I can hear the words, too. Someone just erased my minds. "Mind Eraser":
What comes next? Weekend Update, of course. Seth Meyers had a funny bit in which they scrolled through all of the highlights of the Democratic Senate's "supermajority" of 60 seats, which says as much about how ineffective the Democrats have been as it says about how much the Republicans really want to make sure nothing gets done. That's our government, people!
It's as if government was run by Liam, the teenager who just woke up. Only Liam is a real Andy Samberg character who goes nowhere. Anyway, what?
Compared to that, you'll be excited to see Bill Hader's disgraced New York former Gov. Eliot Spitzer read his own Valentine's Day cards, now with updates for Tiger Woods and John Edwards, who makes his disgrace seem somehow less disgraceful. Who would have guessed that two years ago? Also. Hader likes to laugh a lot.
Jean K. Jean (Thompson) returned? Did something happen in France this week? Zut alors! "Most definite-oui!"
They saved the best Weekend Update guests for laughs, however, because the musical stylings of Garth and Kat (Armisen and Wiig) were pure genius. Actually, it is kind of genius that for such a tightly-run ship as SNL, that Lorne allows these two to improvise songs for a few minutes on SNL. It'd be nice to see the show take some more risks, wouldn't it?
OK. So we start the final half-hour, which is where the "risks" in any SNL usually show up, and I just have to say, I was so prepared not to enjoy the game show spoof, "What is Burn Notice?" But the way host Jason Sudeikis sold it had be in stitches the entire time. Contestants played by Wiig, Forte and Kutcher. And this is a show on USA, which is a sister station to NBC in the NBC-Universal umbrella. Tell me anything. It's highly rated! "It's the eighth highest-rated show on cable." Wink and nudge FTW.ss="asset asset-video" style="display: block; margin: 0 auto;">
And then there was an "Access Hollywood" bit about the Oscar nominations, which had Kutcher playing Billy Bush (but not really), and Pedrad milking the distinguishable laugh of Maria Menounos for laughs, and that was really the only thing this sketch had going for it. For you completists, Elliott played Anne Hathaway and Armisen as Tom Sherak reading the noms, and the premise played off of the fact that the Academy Awards really have expanded the list of Best Picture candidates.
Next up, a message from Rahm Emanuel (Samberg) going off on the "retarded" Democrats, calling out Sarah Palin as a dumb teenaged girl for using Facebook to criticize him. Crude, funny, even though at one point, I thought he might turn into an angry Mark Wahlberg.
More music from Them Crooked Vultures, and it's still a little light on the microphone, so I'll just have to take their word for it that this new thang was called "New Fang."
Almost done, and it feels like there's something missing from this episode. Is it the lack of a wedding reception sketch? Well no, because Armisen got the old band back together (Kutcher, Dave Grohl and Hader) for the young couple (Forte and Elliot) and guests (including Sudeikis, Pedrad) and waiter (Thompson). Punk rock never gets old! Fist fights in the parking lot, however...
Goodnight, everybody! Enjoy the Winter Olympics!
Wait. Something was missing. It's not that they didn't return to the well of "Cougar Den" or Jack Johnson again that surprised me. It was the fact that they didn't find anything funny to say about how Ashton Kutcher made Twitter famous and also got CNN to treat him seriously about it. Except they did have something to say about it. They even had Kutcher make a fake ad for his new social networking service, Tooter. You know, to keep up with what's coming out of his ass. Why didn't this make the show? Too much time and money spent on "Grapes"? Roll it!