So much thrilling college football and playoff baseball went late into the night on Saturday, so much so that I barely noticed anyone talking about or even thinking about a new Saturday Night Live. Would this lack of buzz help or hurt the program? Let's find out!
About the cold open. We're close to midterm elections for Congress, and sure, that's news. But it's weird seeing a kid — excuse me, young man — play an old man from Nevada. It's even weirder seeing Jay Pharoah have to stand behind Fred Armisen for an entire sketch as Armisen does a Barack Obama impersonation that nobody cares about anymore, while Pharoah was hired solely based on his ability to do impersonations such as Obama! I spent so much time watching Pharoah's half-smiling silence for clues. Did you see him clap extra hard that one time? Oh, Vanessa Bayer also was called in for stand-in, clapping/smiling duty. Is there something I missed? Oh, what's that. Comedy. Oh. Right. Comedy. I missed the comedy in this sketch. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid will double-cross Obama for the sake of your votes. There was supposed to be a joke in there somewhere. Fun fact, though: Newbie Paul Brittain got to see "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" So there was that. Now how about the rest of the show?
Emma Stone is 21 years old. Almost 22. She says, "I have wanted to be on this stage since I was a little girl." And now she is, and she is wearing old lady pantaloons. I don't know why. I first remember seeing her on a reality-show competition to find a new version of the Partridge Family. She also played the role of the cute, potentially attainable young girl in a couple of lighthearted comedy movies. I suppose somewhere in there, you can make the case that she could, would and should host a night of live, televised sketch comedy. The monologue posts fun at her fans being nerds who want to make out with her, with Kenan Thompson playing Nerd Audience Member Number One, Bill Hader as Nerd Audience Member Number Two, Andy Samberg as Nerd Audience Member Number Three, Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam as Jonah Hill and Michael Cera (sort of). Voices better than looks.
Fake ad! Hader and Kristen Wiig are parents of a fat baby. Wait. Aren't all babies fat? So that'd mean all babies are in the market for Baby Spanx! Unless you realize that since all babies are fat, that means no babies are fat. Another dilemma solved. Thank you and good night. Also featured: Nasim Pedrad, Bayer, Thompson and Jason Sudeikis as the spokesman. Funny visuals, though. Oh, baby.
The less said about the HGTV spoof, "Dream Home Extreme," the better. Wiig plays an overexcited reporter we've seen before (does she play any other emotion on this show? because it's better when she does), while Emma Stone fails to show emotion. She does a good impersonation of Lindsay Lohan eating potato chips, though. I hope they incorporate that somehow later in the program. Hader, Pedrad and Pharoah play people actually way too excited to win their prizes. But Brittain delivers hard-boiled eggs and she gets eggscited? My bad. I've gone and said too much.
And now, another fake TV segment. Pedrad plays anchor Wanda Ramirez, who introduces a report to "frighten parents" from Hader's correspondent, that creepy Keith Morrison from Dateline NBC. No, no. Hold on. I'm being told Hader was supposed to be some other no-name creepy reporter. Just sounded and felt the same. And really, why not just make him Keith Morrison. Would've been much better, extolling the sinful dangers of kids "souping" each other to get high. Stone plays a teen who hasn't heard of souping and says it wouldn't happen. Same dead fish role she played in the previous sketch. Wiig plays a scared mom. They skim over a curious trait that local TV stations have, which is plugging their own TV station website and nowhere else for information on a story, then back to Hader for another fake teen trend calling "trampolining," which is supposed to explain Silly Bandz.
An SNL Digital Short. That's weird. If the Lonely Island guys have left the building, then why are they still making SNL Digital Shorts? This one features Emma Stone as a student who broke her arm and wants people to sign her cast. Plenty of cast members in the scene, too — even Abby Elliott! She got promoted to the main cast, don't you know. You didn't know? You don't see her? Anyhow. The Lonely Island, you guys!
Cheer up, everybody. This coming week will feature host Jon Hamm, who will be great, a thousand times great, and the whole show will be funnier because of it, and Rihanna will do something crazy awesome and look crazier awesomer while singing whatever craziest awesomest song she sings. So hang in there!
"The View" was back in the news, and so, "The View" parody team is back in action, with Pedrad as Barbara Walters — you know that Pedrad is only a featured cast member? She sure gets a lot of screen time. And knows what to do with it. Thompson is back as Whoopi Goldberg, Armisen is Joy Behar — so what? who cares? — and Wiig is the shrieking Elisabeth Hasselbeck. This sketch seemingly writes itself. So what? Who cares? Their special guest: Lindsay Lohan (Stone). Totally called it! Three days after the fact.
So, this spoof of a Brett Favre Wranglers jeans ad. Yeah. That happened. I mean, it happened already everywhere on the Internet, and has been since the ad came out last year. Does that mean anything if Favre is in the news this past week? Not really. Does that mean Americans have seen a Favre Wranglers spoof already? Yes and no. Not everyone is a comedy nerd who clicks on Funny or Die every day. But it is more than a little weird that one of SNL's new writers used to write with James Adomian in a group that did a Favre Wranglers spoof last year. Maybe she didn't feel comfortable saying something? I don't know. I cannot pretend to know everything. Although I do know everything. This is true. How are we supposed to act in a world which has people living on TV and the Internet in 2010? Do we treat them as the same audience or separate audiences? I'm not sure there's a win-win answer for those questions. Feels like Jason Sudeikis (as Favre) and the rest of the SNL guys got stuck in a pickle. Which is not something that Favre's penis resembles. Or so I heard.
Kings of Leon is a family rock band from Tennessee. I knew all of that without looking it up. I also know that you may be more familiar with them in the past year because of that one song that got played a lot. Their first song was not that song. It was enjoyable. I have enjoyed Kings of Leon since their first record. Does that make me cool? Here's a hint: No. I've never been cool. These guys are cool. This song was called "Radioactive."
Weekend Update showed us another glimpse of the future in the present tense. The whole bit with Ginny Thomas sure sounded like a "Really?!?" but wasn't one. Really. Instead it was a "The More You Know." Old school. Really.
Jimmy McMillan of the "Rent is Too Damn High" Party here in New York was played by Thompson. McMillan is a real guy. Well, as real as any crazy New Yorker with silly facial hair who decides to run for governor under a fictional party and winds up in the televised gubernatorial debate earlier in the week. Here's the thing. In real life, in the reality in which we live in, McMillan sounded so sincerely crazy that he stole many of the media minutes following the debate. Here in New York, we saw the local TV stations doing follow-up interviews with him. Even the national networks interviewed him. He's so crazy, that it's hard to parody him. Is that a problem? Well, if SNL only aired in NYC, then yes. But I suppose there were still many millions of potential viewers across America, and elsewhere, who didn't see highlights from the gubernatorial debate. And so, McMillan's "rent is too damn high" platform would seem new to them. I could be totally rationalizing this right now. Then again, my rent is too damn high.
But back to the future. Here's John Mulaney with a new segment he calls "I Love It." I love it. Fact.
Stefon (Hader) returned with cultural tips for tourists to NYC. Let's play a game. The game is called, How Many Seconds Before Hader Cracks Up? What was your guess? It makes it more fun if you imagine that Mulaney wrote the cue cards after the dress rehearsal, so Hader is reading all of this for the first time. Actually, it'd be fun either way. I think they'll have him back. Seth said so.
And now, in the final half-hour, the newbies take even more control of this episode. First, we have Taran Killam's "Les Jeunes de Paris," which he put on live as part of the Groundlings. It's French kids. Speaking French. Moynihan, Brittan, Stone, Pedrad and Elliott are in it. Hit the jukebox. Let's dance! Zut alors! Sacre bleu! Je t'aime, je t'aime! So weird. I've heard it plays even better live. But you longtime readers know I'd feel about a sketch entirely in a foreign language that involves mostly dancing. Yes, please. More of this. Even sillier next time.
Pedrad is leading another sketch late in an episode, in which she plays an awkward pre-teen. Somebody call typecasting! In this one, she's an 11-year-old named Morgan starring in "My Brother Knows Everything." Do they change her name and gender for each talk show trying to find one to stick with? Or do they really not realize that this is the same thing with a different same character? Pedrad is good at this character, yes, we get it, but why change it every week? Or is this some secret insider game? Oooh. Yes. Samberg plays the titular brother, and Stone plays Pedrad's friend. I don't know if you know this yet, but Nasim Pedrad is the new stand-out, break-out star of SNL. This is happening. I'm onboard with this.
Killam got one of his sketches on tonight, and so, too, did Brittain, with his "Sex" Ed Vincent, a character he had been doing in Chicago. Now with more production values! I know a few people wondered what it'd be like with Will Forte in this role, but this is not, was not, has not been his character. Time for you kids to move on. Time to let Brittain be your new weird friend. Who's to say? Who's to say.
Just so you know, I saw the ad for "The Women of SNL," and I wondered where they women from the 1970s and 1980s were. They weren't in the ad, but they were spoken for in the ad. So let's just hope for the best.
Kings of Leon played a second time, not that you likely heard the intro live, but that doesn't matter much, does it? I like Kings of Leon. I sure hope they don't become the next Dave Matthews Band, in that they become that band that me and my friends used to like, but now we're not allowed to like them, because horrible people also like them. Because I like Kings of Leon. And I could use somebody. The song "Pyro" in this clip is 4:20. Seriously.
Last sketch of the night goes to Kenan Thompson as an old character, Googie Rene, to talk about Halloween costumes for bargain prices. Stone doesn't do much, as she had not done throughout. Brittain has a question. Wiig has a question, too. Bayer has a question, three. I don't know who played Yoda or the Wolf-Man, but that was Elliott in another walk-by.
Good nights went by fast. Roll the credits. No credits? I spy John Mulaney on the floor. That's good enough for me. See you next week!