SNL #35.4 with Gerard Butler, Shakira

Who's ready for a two-week vacation? Raise your hands, everybody! Some critics expect the SNL staff to have all of their funny material ready to go after a vacation because they've rested up, but that's not how it works in real life. You get back from vacation and the first day you're loaded up with junk, emails, phone calls and just getting your bearings, and before you know it, you're behind the rest of the week, playing catch up. Whereas the week heading into a vacation, you're looking forward to it and sometimes you do things you wouldn't normally do, just because, well, vacation is coming!

The Rock Obama. Whomever had the bright idea to bring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson back for a cameo to enliven SNL's Barack Obama sketches, thank you. Fred Armisen is immensely talented and funny, but his Obama sketches have mostly fallen flat (generating news is not the same as generating actual laughs). And when you have someone who, like Obama, actually is half-black and spent part of his childhood in Hawaii, along with ability to make Obama campy (thank his background from pro rassling for that). Nasim Pedrad played the president's assistant. Bill Hader, Will Forte and Jenny Slate played his Senate foils, while Jason Sudeikis as VP Joe Biden arrived just in time to save Slate's Olympia Snowe from The Rock's Hulk tantrum.

Gerard Butler is the host? Oh, right. Butler began with a nod to last week's monologue from Drew Barrymore, saying that he's the first Scotsman to host SNL, then reminded us that he sang in the film version of Phantom of the Opera — all the while fighting off ancient attackers, a la 300. The studio audience seemed to enjoy it more when Kristen Wiig showed up at the end to sing with Butler.

Fake ad! Kenan Thompson plays Fuquay Satin, maker of fine urban champagnes, such as his newest creation, Grand Hoochie Skank Rose, especially designed to pour down a woman's ass. Because that's what hip-hoppers do, and they must be mocked for it.

Budweiser paid to be the sole sponsor, as Sudeikis tells us to open the first commercial break, but on the upside, he says we'll also get to see rare footage from dress rehearsals past, such as "Riding My Donkey Political Talk Show" from Feb. 14, 1998 — with Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, Darrell Hammond and Tim Meadows cracking up on donkeys.

It's the return of Game Time with Randy and Greg, a parody of ESPN sports-talk with Thompson as a retired NFL running back and Hader as an alien who's not an alien. But is clearly an alien. Where are his eyebrows? Because that's how you can spot an alien, right? That and his massive tail. And the clicking noises. Butler finally arrives on the show in a character (or an American accent) as a baseball player.

The second commercial break offered a look at the dress rehearsal of a talk-show called "Perspectives" from Nov. 2, 1996 with Tim Meadows and Chris Rock. Cracking up. I smell a theme.

Remember when you saw Butler and Wiig singing in the monologue? How'd you like to see them in a silly version of Beauty of the Beast? Well, here that is. Because what if they flipped it and reversed it. Hader plays Lumiere, who only has eyes for other candles (and menorahs!). Bobby Moynihan plays the clock. Slate is the teapot who plays the field. "Have fun in your ass castle!"

The third commercial break offered a look at the dress for Casino, on Jan. 16, 1993, with Rob Schneider, Kevin Nealon and Harvey Keitel playing Native Americans. This time, Keitel lost it. Then Shakira made this a Sabado Gigante, if you know what I mean. Do you know what I mean? Howl at the wolf moon if you do. The fourth commercial break brings us a version of Scared Straight from 2008, where Thompson made Hader lose it.

Weekend Update with Seth Meyers. Guests included: Two gays guys from New Jersey who are in the military (Hader and Armisen). Not that they're ready to come out just yet. But they are ready to crack plenty of gay dick jokes. Fort Dix!

The balloon from Colorado?

Gerard Butler as himself, speaking to his fellow Scotsman, with Meyers providing translation of his Scottish brogue and slang.

Tamara Parks (Wiig) as a sufferer of P.G.A.D., which makes her have hundreds of orgasms a day, for all sorts of reasons. More sex jokes!

Fifth break. This time, it's Weekend Update bloopers with Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers, including one I saw live. Can you guess which one that was?

And we're back with a 300 parody. A little late, but since Butler is the host, it makes sense. Sudeikis, Armisen, Hader, Forte and Moynihan are among his soldiers, wondering about the "don't ask, don't tell" policy about gays in his military, and also making Butler's Spartan king more Obama-like. It all felt a bit shoehorned in there. Yes, the movie seemed gay, but didn't we just have a gays in the military routine in the Update block?

Sixth break. Jeffrey's is a store with Will Ferrell, guest host Sean Hayes, and Jimmy Fallon, from Feb. 17, 2001. Wherever did they find a sketch in which Fallon cracks up?

We're into the third half-hour, and it's the whitest BET talk-show ever, "What Up With That?" Forte announces. Slate and Pedrad are backup singers. Panelists are Abby Elliott, cameo by James Franco and Hader as Fleetwood Mac's Lindsay Buckingham. Sudeikis shows up to dance in the background, while Armisen pretends to play the sax. Thompson is your host with soul, who is willing to go into the audience when he breaks into song. And there's Butler as "White Pete" with a soul patch? Forte comes on and does the robot in 80s sunglasses. Wiig sidesteps across the stage as skiier Picabo Street? I think I speak for everyone when I say to this sketch: What up with that? Franco didn't even say a word. Nice work if you can get it. And I do believe that Andy Samberg has gone missing. That has to be the explanation, right? What up with that? I see what you've done here, SNL. BTW, this show would never air on BET, and it only reminds people how "white" SNL is.

Seventh break. Robot Dinner from Nov. 18, 1995, with Cheri Oteri as the waitress, and who was the robot? It makes more sense if you know this was the episode in which Sam Waterston endorsed "Old Glory Insurance" to protect the elderly from attacks by robots!

Sudeikis is interviewing Butler about making cottage cheese sexy, but Butler's assistant, Trina, wants our attention. She's played by who else? Wiig. "Oh, Thomas!" We've seen this act before.

Eighth break. I feel like I'm seeing commercials for things other than Bud Light. Was that part of the deal? Why are you tricking me? And I guess we're done with the dress rehearsals. Maybe I'm merely griping because I didn't get to see Shakira in a second outfit.

End of the night sketch goes to "Daveheart," Braveheart's lesser-known brother, played by Butler. It's like another 300 sketch up in this house! Only Dave is Scotland's biggest coward. His troops include Sudeikis, Moynihan, Forte, Hader. When Dave is imprisoned, his lady lass is Slate.

Hmm. No Digital Short. Samberg isn't even there for the good-nights. Did he and Lonely Island have to be somewhere? Did he get the swine flu? Oooh! Conspiracies and conjecture are fun, aren't they? Actually, if Samberg did get the swine flu (and I'm not saying that he did), it'd be ironic since he played a college student last month on Weekend Update Thursday who was the only one on his campus not to catch the bug? Roll that clip, just so you have some Samberg in this recap!

Sean L. McCarthy

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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5 thoughts on “SNL #35.4 with Gerard Butler, Shakira

  1. “What Up With That?” was actually my favorite sketch from the episode. I felt it finally had the pacing that sketch comedy needs instead of people reading of cards at each other. Jason danced super funny and having Franco never talk was kinda great. I even liked White Pete.
    And as always Weekend Update needs more jokes and less guests. Seth is funny, give him more time.

  2. I’m a huge fan of Wiig, but the “Oh Thomas” lady has to be the most useless character I’ve seen on the show. Why oh why did they bring her back? And good call on the 300 sketch. We had a 300 reference already; we had a “don’t ask don’t tell” reference already; I guess they need to be brought together to hammer that point home.
    The “What’s Up With That” show grew on me. Anyone notice how super sweat Sudeikis ended up for the Trina sketch?

  3. Whoa – did TheComicsComic kinda almost sorta come close to nearly saying he enjoyed this week’s episode?
    I swear, I thought I’d see a recap of the 2009 Montreal Comedy Festival before I’d see the day.

  4. That is TBS Very Funny, Mike.
    So you’re saying you still want to know what I really thought about Montreal, lo these many months later? If so. then you’re in luck? Maybe.

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