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SNL #37.6 RECAP: Host Emma Stone, musical guest Coldplay

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Who knows why Saturday Night Live was so quick to bring Emma Stone back for a second round of hosting duties, when the young actress had nothing to plug and didn't exactly tear the roof off the place last fall. Hmmm. Must be trying to connect with the kids.

Let's recap!

We open cold with yet another Republican presidential candidate debate, because they keep on forcing them upon us in real life -- two televised forums this past week, in fact! And, well, Texas Gov. Rick Perry endured his instant debate classic "oops" moment during the actual debate with CNBC, so how could they not confront it head-on. Everyone else has. So we're going to have another mostly full cast in the opening, with Fred Armisen and Nasim Pedrad also checking in as CNBC's John Harwood and Maria Bartiromo, respectively. Do they still refer to Bartiromo as the "money honey," as if that's a thing? Anyhow, I watch Bloomberg TV whilst dayblogging, because where are the really smart and hot ladies keep me informed on things I know little about. Anyhow. What about the actual sketch, you say! Don't worry. They get right to it with a question first for Herman Cain (Kenan Thompson) about allegations of sexual harassment against him, then a prolonged moment with Perry (Bill Hader) about his oopsy daisy. Romney: "I want to be president, but not like this." I just want them to start narrowing the field so we can see what the SNL writers do with more time to write their own riffs on the candidates instead of just having these meaty softballs handed to them.

Host Emma Stone's monologue is about her role in next year's Spider-Man movie reboot?!? With a cameo from her co-star in that, Andrew Garfield? Is it July 2012 already? Where am I? How did I get here? So. Many. Questions.

Uh oh. Secret Word is back. As per usual, Hader plays the host of this fictional game show set in 1964, and somehow they keep inviting Broadway's Mindy Elise Grayson (Kristen Wiig) back time and time again, despite the fact that she still hasn't learned the essential object of the game. She even wears the same outfit each time? Then again, Grayson also never receives favorable reviews for her theatrical roles, and yet they keep on hiring her for that, too. Stone plays Miss Georgia, who endured a scandal during the swimsuit portion. Puns! Dummies! Miss Georgia decides to play her rounds with her ventriloquist instead of her human counterpart (Taran Killam). I'm much more interested in the actual backstory of Mindy Elise Grayson than in her performances on "Secret Word." What does she have on everyone to keep getting work? Next time, flashback please? Thank you.

Let's pause for some ads. OK. That's enough pausing.

Hader's old, cranky microphone-wielding maniac reporter Herb Welch remains back from the dead, ready for another report for WXPD-TV in his 71st year with the local news station. Hader tries to get Wiig to crack out of character with his mic of destruction, but he smiles first. Spoiler alert! It is always fun to watch SNL characters try to crack each other up on purpose, isn't it? Part of the beauty of live television.

An SNL Digital Short, unfortunately, is a "music" video starring Andy Samberg as some sort of "rapper" or "stream-of-consciousness" crooner with a party-in-the-back hairdo who wants it to rain in the music video. Most interesting part of this? Seeing Funny or Die guy Jake Szymanski sitting next to Vanessa Bayer in the director's chairs for the video. Will have to look to see where he is in the credits.

Oh, yeah. Right. Coldplay is here, too. I think we've all gone through a phase where we liked Coldplay, then loved Coldplay, then tried to forget about Coldplay. There's more color on their stage than in their first song. So there.

On Weekend Update, the Devil (Jason Sudeikis) weighs in on Penn State's child sexual abuse scandal. Ugh. "What in my Hometown are you talking about?" Good one, devil. Good one. OK. But. I have to acknowledge that my parents both went to Penn State, so without that university, I wouldn't exist. The revelations about who did what, and who didn't do what, have been deeply disturbing to comprehend. Which makes watching a comedy bit about it also disturbing. Did enjoy that they managed to fit in an Ashton Kutcher joke early on, plus the tangent about the devil's role in creating the Internet was a nice distraction.

If you're an infrequent viewer of SNL, then I'm sure the improvised gameplay of Garth and Kat (Armisen and Wiig) comes as a delightful surprise. What is going on here, you may ask that first time you see it? But if you see this shtick enough times, then eventually you'll start to imagine a smug look on their faces as they see themselves getting away with something no other SNL performers are allowed to do. Yes. We get it. Armisen can make up a song as he goes and force Wiig to follow along on the spot. Adding Coldplay's Chris Martin as a backup singer is supposed to make this bit fresh. Let me ask you simply this: If they put Garth and Kat's songs on iTunes, would you buy any of them? Even as a joke?

Taran Killam's "Les Jeunes de Paris" sketch debuted last fall when Emma Stone hosted, so it's not all that surprising to see it return with her. It's an odd duck of a setpiece pretending to be a French soap opera with music and dancing. Mostly dancing. And some "What Up With That" absurd moments thrown in for good measure.

Good golly, when oh when is that "Call of Duty MW3" movie with Jonah Hill and Sam Worthington coming out already????

Hey, look a lot of ladies onscreen all at once for a bridal shower sketch. So many ladies, they called in the writing staff. There's Sarah Schneider and Shelly Gossman standing behind the sofa. And is that Christine Nangle sitting on the floor next to Nasim Pedrad as an old lady? Methinks so. It's Emma Stone's Wallace character, however, who steals the scene as the co-worker of the bride-to-be who has a different attitude toward the kinky and erotic labels than everyone else in the room. Also, anal sex is discussed. And twinks. And human toilets. I wonder if the people who go to sleep after Weekend Update ever find out about this stuff later. You know. From the Internet.

Once again, Coldplay.

This office sketch in which Karen (Nasim Pedrad) lip synchs and cries to Adele's "Someone Like You" after not earning a promotion. Because everybody hurts, sometimes. (And of course, music licensing issues is holding this back for now)

"We're Going to Make Technology Hump." Now this is more like it, digital shorts people. And is that the voice of Jay Pharoah I hear? One of the better end-of-the-night oddball sketches in quite some time.

Nice bumper! That's Emma Stone as the late Gilda Radner's SNL character, Roseanne Rosanadana.

Stone seemed a lot more comfortable her second time around the set. The show, though? I found the post-Update sketches held much more comedic promise than anything in the supposedly "stronger" pre-Update portion. Heard on Sunday via an SNL writers panel at the Paley Center for Media that the Saturday night dress rehearsal was rough and required lots of changes. Maybe that explains whatever you took away from this episode.

Good night, everybody! See you next weekend with host Jason Segel (and Muppets? probably Muppets).

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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