SNL #35.11 with Sir Charles Barkley, Alicia Keys

Would you like to play a game? And I don't mean global thermonuclear war. I mean, how'd you like to guess a few things that happened last night on Saturday Night Live? Such as…how many SNL writers who aren't part of the on-air cast got to appear either live or superimposed on graphics last night? How many sketches either started or ended not when they should have? Or, better yet, how many people in the Eastern and Central time zones missed a half-hour of the show because they weren't home and depended upon their DVRs and/or TiVos to record it? Heck. Why ask all of those questions. How 'bout them Cowboys? Thank goodness their dismantling of the Eagles took so long, because that, plus the late-night news (in NYC, Darlene Rodriguez wore her J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets green, didn't she?) pushed the start of SNL past midnight. But, oh, if that were the only mishap. It was a mess. Sometimes quite a fun mess, though. Just like Sir Charles Barkley himself, who I previously have seen in the wilds of Arizona nightclubs when I was a newspaper reporter there. Let's get to the recap!

We start with one of our colder cold opens, as Wolf Blitzer (Jason Sudeikis) is in CNN's Situation Room, but that's not even what the sketch is about, so why, really, if only to hear Sudeikis mock Blitzer. I guess that's why. But we cut to a press conference in Yemen with Gen. David Petraeus (Will Forte) and Yemen's president/premier (Fred Armisen) with reporters played by Nasim Pedrad and Bill Hader. Can we just skip ahead to the monologue?

So in the monologue, Sir Charles got real with the audience. Good thing the audience consisted of SNL's writing staff, because I'd much rather hear John Lutz, Jessi Klein and Hannibal Buress interact with Barkley! He also forced Kenan Thompson to do his Barkley impersonation, which got that out of the way and let us know that wouldn't be in an actual sketch. He really made good though, by saying that ‚Äúsome of the show is great,‚Äù and ‚Äúsome of the show we‚Äôre going to do anyway‚Äù but at least Alicia Keys will be great. Man. This guy does speak the truth!

We follow with what appears to be a fake ad with Sudeikis, Kristen Wiig, Pedrad and Abby Elliott (voiced by Hader). It's for Thomas Peepers Insurance. Wait. What's this? It's still rolling? Turns out this isn't one of those fake ads at all, but a lengthy clever short. Or not. Hey. What's going on here?

The game show Reel Quotes could be the best thing ever, the worst thing ever, or perhaps both at the same time. Hosted by Hader (Red Farvey?). Contestants video store owner Barkley, housewife Wiig. Is this bit meta? You see we had a failure to communicate, and then the skit is a failure in communication. “You’re going to need a bigger shark bag” is funny. And you can handle my privates, so long as you ask nicely.

MacGruber! He has a black employee now, MacGruber! This isn't going to go well. Which means I laughed inappropriately. Let's just put all three bits together here.

Don’t you like when they show ads for other network late-night programming? Lopez Tonight! OK. Back to the show. Looks like we're having a ski lodge party with Kenan, Forte, Samberg and Slate. Oh, it’s the return of the sexy girl Shannon, played by Wiig as someone who does very unsexy things in a Marilyn Betty Boop Monroe voice. Barkley is the chaperone? Barkley is unfazed, despite wearing the third different afro of the night already! (This part was played earlier, sans afro, by other hosts, with the frowny faced lady played by Casey Wilson) They sure did seem to put a lot of effort into the set-up. If only they did the same for the punchlines. We need more punchlines!

MacGruber had to go to sensitivity training for part TWO. Didn‚Äôt take. 

Inside the NBA on TNT parody! Sudeikis as Kevin Harlan, and Barkley as himself, except instead of halftime, pre-game or post-game, they're somehow for some reason doing play-by-play??? Um, OK. It's a Lakers-Magic game, and Andy Samberg plays a kid getting his wish, Danny Hoover, who wants to grow up to be a sportscaster. Looks like what we have here is a failure to communicate. Did you see what I did right there? It‚Äôs like the same sketch as before, only with basketball. Danny is a baloney head with a serious disease, people.

MacGruber Part Three happened here.

For her first song of the night, Alicia Keys sang about her broken heart in her single that's not about New York City, "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart." I could go for a whole SNL with Alicia Keys. How about you? Yes, you. Sign the petition I haven't created yet and just tell Lorne to make it happen. He lets Jon Bon Jovi and Britney Spears host and play, but not Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys. What up with that???

Time for Weekend Update, with a joke that makes even more or less sense than it would have if SNL started on time, as Seth Meyers tries to tell the audience that the Tonight Show won't be airing tonight if it's on after midnight. Good one? Also, SNL writers John Mulaney and Simon Rich appear in a graphic about the Harlem Globetrotters. Did you see them? OK. Moving on.

James Carville (Bill Hader) rebuts the GOP on the underwear bomber, comparing him to Wile E. Coyote. It’s Looney Tunes! And body scanners.

Nicolas Cage (Andy Samberg) as a global ambassado? Or lets his method acting get the best of him.

New York Gov. David Paterson (Fred Armisen) looks lost. Hello, Yankee Stadium! He knows he is unpopular in Albany, but what about NEW JERSEY?

After the break…The Golf Channel presents The Haney Project, with instructor Hank Haney (Sudeikis) and Barkley as himself. And clips of his real-life golf swing. What about other techniques. Sweep the floor! Brushing his teeth. Putting a magnet on the fridge. Flipping burgers. Terri-ble. T-e-terrible. By which I mean, pretty funny. Just using one of Barkley's favorite words to mock him. Just like this sketch used real Barkley clips. Ha!

An SNL Digital Short has Alicia Keys getting home and deciding to make a booty call. To Samberg, who’s dressed as, and sounds like, um, not sure yet. A kid named Lyle. And a three-way with Lyle’s grandmother (Wiig). Actually. Wait. He’s busy. (At an intervention for his friend to get him off smack (Moynihan) with Elliott) I would never treat Alicia Keys like this. I promise.

Once again, Alicia Keys. With her second take on “Empire State of Mind.” You may not have heard this a jazillion times, but only if you don’t live in New York City. But she’s right. There’s nothing you can’t do. Let’s hear it for New York. New York. New York.

We're almost done, even a half-hour later. And. It’s the return of the street smarts sketch, this late in the show? But also. Did they jump the gun coming back from commercial break, or just cut it reaaaaaal close? Turns out they began the sketch, as Sudeikis the cop is already talking to his usual suspects: Hader, Samberg and Moynihan. Only this time, Kenan’s ex-con is joined by his dad, played by Barkley. Oh, you guessed that part, did you? With more plots pulled from the movies. Sometimes I think the only goal of this sketch is to figure out when Kenan is going to make Hader crack up, and how he’ll do it. This has to be improvised and approved by Lorne, right? Hader almost made it through this time without one flinch. Wet willy! Is this from the dress rehearsal? No. Don't think so. Think they just figured out in
post how to show us the first few seconds of the sketch that didn't actually appear live on NBC. Oh, NBC late-night, doing it and doing it and doing it again.

So the last sketch, a play on Barclays Bank, with Sir Charles promoting his own Barkley's Bank. Boring. He did a lot of sketches as himself, doesn‚Äôt he. Wanna bet on it? Double or nothing. That‚Äôs a promise. Customers played by Armisen, Slate. Whoa. WHOA. What is going on and why is the sketch cutting out before it is done and Barkley is talking in the distance???? How much would you like to bet that NBC puts the dress rehearsal version of this sketch up online instead of what actually happened? I will bet you however much money you can give me, because I need money, and also this:

They came back for goodnights, at least. But no explanation. WHAT UP WITH THAT!

New episode next week with Sigourney Weaver and The Ting Tings. Look out for blue people.

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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3 thoughts on “SNL #35.11 with Sir Charles Barkley, Alicia Keys

  1. If we’re playing the writer game, Michael Patrick O’Brien appeared in both the Peepers Insurance video (as the kisser) and in the Globetrotter photo (2nd from the left).

  2. This episode was really good! So many Easter eggs for the super fans with writers having speaking parts and teeny tiny cameos.
    And any impression of James Carville and Nic Cage with a wonky hairline is a barrel of laughs.

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