SNL #35.7 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, DMB, Al Gore and a Mindy Kaling cameo

And we're back. When you have a show that most everyone agrees is a bit of a bummer, it's good to have another crack at it right away. So let's get to it, SNL! But first. Let's play a game. Here's a sketch from dress rehearsal that didn't make it into the actual broadcast — watch host Joseph Gordon-Levitt with country music legends Clancy T. Bachleratt (Will Forte) and Jackie Snad (Kristen Wiig), then try to figure out where and when this should've aired instead of something that did. Spaceships, toddler, model T cars and jars of beer! Ready, set, watch!

I would've cut it by a minute and found room for it. How about you?

We open cold with a C-SPAN broadcast from China of President Barack Obama (Fred Armisen) with Chinese President Hu Jintao (Will Forte?!?), and Nasim Pedrad is standing by as the translator. OK, this is weird. Did you know that we owe China $800 billion? Suddenly I feel less worrisome about being in debt myself. This is more funny scary than funny funny. Look at us, we're learning about the world through comedy! Plus, if you thought SNL liked to use gay sex as an easy joke, this at least gave it a bit of a twist. Right? Don't worry. I'm told the show gets much better after this.

And now a word from our host, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who started out in TV comedy as a kid on 3rd Rock From The Sun. I'm not sure why he's hosting now, but you and I might expect he'll be up to the task tonight. He sings "Make 'Em Laugh" for his monologue, and gets a slapstick assist from Bobby Moynihan. He's working hard early for you people! If nothing else, he and the show are out to prove that they mean business this week. Sorry about last week. We're back, people! We'll flip over backward for you.

SNL gets into the parody movie trailer mashup business with Palin 2012. It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. Palin/Beck 2012!?

Ah, the Game Show Network. GSN. It's "Secret Word," hosted by Bill Hader during the Vietnam war in 1965? I watch GSN from time to time. They don't go back that far. But they could. I see Jenny Slate and Will Forte as contestants. JGL is a celebrity singing sensation from South America (working hard with song, again!), while Kristen Wiig plays a Broadway star you've never heard of — she's also not that good at this game. Nobody's good at this game. Apparently.

This week's SNL Digital Short has Reba McEntire (Kenan Thompson?!) doing a duet with Andy Samberg. Um, OK. Gay. Still funny, though? UPDATE: According to several people I know, this is much funnier than I originally claimed it was — "hanging like my nuts" is a funny line, sure, but still. I dunno. Maybe I have become older and more cantankerous in my old age.

The return of "The Mellow Show" with Jack Johnson (Samberg). Dave Matthews is the musical guest. Can you guess what's coming? Hader plays guest Dave Matthews (the real DMB has played this SNL sketch before during his concert, so he gets the joke). Thompson shows up to play the fiddle. JGL plays Jason Mraz, making music for girls and scatting. This JGL sure does like to sing, don't he? "Foot five to that." Samberg sure liked it, didn't he? Oh, look. Here's the twist. It's Dave Matthews as a mellowed Ozzy Osbourne, making fun of Dave Matthews. "His voice makes me want to throw up in my hands."

Note to self: Must find way to get out of previous commitment for Dec. 5 and see that show in person. Hint: Host Blake Lively, musical guest Rihanna.

SNL got a lot of absurdist fans with the fake BET show, "What Up With That?" and here it is again. Wait. Do I see Al Gore and Mindy Kaling in the seats? Yes, I do, you do, we all do. Forte, meanwhile, is the announcer, Pedrad and Slate the sexy backup singers, Hader returns as Lindsay Buckingham, and Thompson is the singing host. This time they got a full choir for Thompson. Oh, don't worry. Jason Sudeikis is dancing. Armisen is fake-playing the sax. But wait. What's this. We're going to actually get to the sketch itself this time? Oh, phew. More silliness, including a visit from a future JGL, Samberg in a clown wig, Moynihan as a pro rassler tap dancer. "If you've ever had egg burp, you know it's funky!" Indeed.

Weekend Update brings us more Al Gore, who realizes that the only way to fight crazy is with crazy. Gore has a good sense of humor. I have seen this firsthand and know this to be true. Nice jab at the network, too. This was a short update!

Looks like we have ourselves an awkward Thanksgiving dinner, with Abby Elliott, Forte, Sudeikis, Wiig and JGL. That's all you need to know.

Now it's time for "Woman to Woman," with host Pedrad, who's out sick, so Armisen sits in because he's the producer. JGL provides an assist for audience questions. First up: Wiig. Next: Slate. So here's a man's advice for the ladies.

One more DMB song, and then it's TBS rebroadcasting "Say Anything" with JGL in the John Cusack role, only this time, Sudeikis is outside, too, wondering why JGL is standing out in the street with a boombox. Sudeikis and Wiig play the curious neighbors who you might think might have had something to say, if that scene were in real life and not in the movies. Delightfully random. Please get Peter Gabriel to release the musical rights for this. Or not. You could just leave this as one of those end-of-show randomnesses (it's a word if I say it is!) that you just had to see.

And we're done. Have a happy Thanksgiving. Gobble gobble!

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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