With all of the talk last week about Betty White anchoring the mother of all Mother's Day editions of Saturday Night Live in May with several former female SNL cast members helping out, it's maybe a good a time as any to talk about the role women play on SNL. Because there are typically so few women in the cast in any year, you'd think that would mean we'd get to see more of them throughout the season. That's not how it tends to work, however. It's almost as if SNL subscribes to a Highlander theory for female cast members: There can be only one. Amy Poehler dominated her final seasons on the show, and when she left, Kristen Wiig soon became seen in multiple scenes with recurring characters. Last night, however, belonged to newcomer Nasim Pedrad. Sign of things to come? Or just a one-off? Something for you to think about, as we get to tonight's recap…
OK. As someone who lives in New York, I've heard more than plenty about newly outed, ahem, Congressman Eric Massa, who left the House because of aggressive tickle fighting? That's a thing? You can get kicked out of Congress for tickling? Well, if it involves your male aides, whom you have live with you, and allegations of sexual harassment, that sounds more serious. Anyhow. I don't think people who live outside of New York and may not be up on the news would need a lot of catching up time — which is why the cold open's voiceover intro from Bill Hader seemed especially lengthy. You could open with the scene. It's an exit interview. They're going to tell us what happened, anyhow. I can only imagine that the voiceover will become more necessary years from now when this season comes out on DVD and viewers go, oh, what is this about again? Oh, right. This guy. Bobby Moynihan plays Massa, getting debriefed, as it were by Wiig's Congressional bureaucrat. With nothing to hide, Massa happily recounts his 50th birthday party, with tickling by and with aides played by Andy Samberg, Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader and Will Forte. And, yeah, "snorkeling." Yes. That's right. We get an act-out of oral sex to open the show, followed by footage of a sailor rubbing his crotch. This beats last week's funny-free political opening, but when you have such a gimme with the real-life material, how could it not be? Wait a second. This looks like the "dress rehearsal" version — in which the opening voiceover appears in an on-screen crawl. Makes more sense? Also: Moynihan's mic did drop out for a couple of seconds in the "live" version. So yes. Makes more sense.
Jude Law is our host again, and quickly reminds us of the last time he hosted, with musical guest Ashlee Simpson and a lip-sync joke. Then he references his starring turn on Broadway playing Hamlet, by boiling down the Shakespearean classic into a quick version — essentially making sure nobody should bother paying to go see the full version. Though he gets in a gag on Jeremy Piven. And a jab about cell phones going off during Hamlet's "to be or not to be" soliloquy. He tells us he's on Twitter during his time offstage? Hmmm.
Our first of a couple of parody ads. Kenan Thompson and Abby Elliott climb into a Toyota Prius. Which immediately speeds out of control. "Did you step on the brakes?" It's…a Ford ad. This felt obligatory.
During the break, two observations. Wow: Comedy Central is putting a ton of money and energy into promoting its new animated series, Ugly Americans. I hope it's good. Also, right before SNL came on my TV, Mercedes aired an ad voiced over by Jon Hamm. Yes. It sounded exactly like Don Draper making an ad campaign pitch to Mercedes. It was so meta, my face melted. What do we think of that? I'll take your answers offline.
And we're back. It's a GSN parody from the 1960s, with fake game show, Secret Word. I felt like I'd seen this before, and we did earlier this year, during #35.7 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Differences this time around: Our host, Lyle Round (Hader) was creeped out by JGL's sexual comment, but now creepily turned on by Jude Law's ballet bulge as Soviet defector Vladimir; Wiig's Broadway starlet, Mindy Grayson, wears the same color-scheme but sleveless. And this time, the scene is all about Wiig's character, taking over the scene. Some of her lines are exactly the same, including referencing a former project in which her character wanted to say the word jazz. Her m.o. is the same, too: Saying the secret word. Last time, however, she kept to her side of the stage; this time, she's ruining the other team's answers, too. Vladimir is focused on vodka. Funny. Kenan Thompson is there for 1960s-racism jokes. Fred Armisen is there to fill out the roundtable. I'm sure comedy nerds have something to say about this.
Where were we? Oh, a second fake ad. This is for Broadview Security. Pedrad's character hosts a houseparty, but when most everyone else leaves, Samberg's character busts through the door to try to invade her. Rape and pillage! Always funny, am I right, ladies. Who wants to bust down Pedrad's door? Her grandfather (eww, gross), Elliott as K.D. Lang (eww, gross, is what we're supposed to say), two boys dressed as a man (ewww, cute?). Hader hosts the ad. Also pictured: Forte.
After the commercials, we have a running theme? Pedrad and Elliott are Danielle and Lisa in a Spanish restaurant, and a Spanish guy, Martine (Law), is checking them out. He wants to seduce them, take them to Sevilla, and murder them. That's right. After an ad in which men want to attack and murder women, we have a sketch about a guy who wants to sex up and murder women. The hook? Elliott's character is still up for the adventure.
This is followed by an SNL Digital Short. Samberg raps. No surprise there. But backing him on vocals for the chorus: Julian Casablancas. Quelle surprise. Hold the boombox high, and things get out of control. Classic three-beat structure, as the third time is more than the charm in an old folks home. "A boombox can change the world. You've got to know your limits with a boombox."
Eddie Vedder is getting acoustic fronting Pearl Jam for their first musical performance. No grunge jokes allowed! If you want to talk about him looking lean, or ask about the time he borrowed my pen, that's acceptable.
Weekend Update with Seth Meyers. Whoopi Goldberg was on new ads promoting pads that let you pee your pants. Or poop them. I don't know. Didn't see the ads. Don't want to see them. And now I don't have to, because Kenan Thompson is here to describe them in detail. Or not.
Let's get to Really?!? With Seth and Amy. Wait. Make that Seth and Jerry. As in Jerry Seinfeld. Yes, the cynics in all of us want to believe that this is Seinfeld's desperation play to get people to tune in next week and thereafter to The Marriage Ref. I'm going to take the other side. Because. Really?!? That's exactly the kind of word Seinfeld would use and has used in his stand-up act for decades. This is right in his wheelhouse for observational comedy. Why wouldn't he do it? And maybe Poehler wasn't available this weekend, so they just asked Seinfeld, and he said yes. He brings a different energy (less) than Poehler would, so Meyers has to adjust. It's funny, too, to watch the interplay between Meyers and Seinfeld, with Meyers watching Seinfeld during his turns, and Seinfeld trying not to laugh during Meyers' turns. At the end, you can see Seinfeld turn to Meyers and say: "That was fun." Yes it was. Really.
Delightfully random: A spoof of a classic Twilight Zone episode — the one in which William Shatner played an airplane passenger who was the only one to see a monster standing on the wing. This time, Law is the Shat, seated with Elliott. And Moynihan plays the monster. Only he's not scary as much as he is mischievious. Smoking. Barbecuing salmon. Each time ending his scene with a quick jump and glare. Pedrad plays the flight attendant. The scene heightens with an elliptical machine, then moving a wedding cake to a judging table, then Pearl Jam. Plot twist at the end FTW? I'll let you watch it. Oh, look, there's Jenny Slate. That's all the hint you get. "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," or dream come true? You decide.
Imagining Jude Law's audition for Hamlet, and his competition, is one of those instant "yes" ideas that allows several cast members to get ridiculous with celebrity impersonations. Personally, I tend to like these types of sketches. We have Moynihan as Nathan Lane, Hader as Al Pacino, Samberg as Nicolas Cage, and most ridiculously, Jason Sudeikis as Sam Elliott, co-opting a Big Lebowski line, pretending he's not really there and slinking out of his seat, but still on camera. But let us not forget that Pedrad also was in this scene, playing the straight woman. Just as she had done in the previous scene. Any of the other SNL ladies could have played that role, but it went to Pedrad. Interest piqued. Comedy nerds also would notice SNL writers in the background.
And then, because Insane Clown Posse recently was in the news for being insane, we get to see the Juggalos parody video for the "kickspit Underground Rock Festival," as sold by DJ Supersoak (Sudeikis) and Lil Blaster (Pedrad). This originally aired during #35.8. Roll it again! For Ass Dan.
Pearl Jam is back for a second song. This one is called, "Unthought Known." Still not the time for grunge jokes. This is 20-10, y'all. I type out my years in Queens address format! Just this once. Just. This. Once.
Fred Armisen's frazzled female courtroom reporter, Elinda Naid?, is back for a second dose of "I can't find my Chapstick," tormenting prosecutor (Jude Law), with Wiig back as a defense attorney, Hader as the judge, and Forte in the background as a pervy witness. It's just a chance for Armisen to vamp. Let him vamp, will you please? She made a Tweety Bird out of X's, just for you.
Almost there, people. And what do you know, after all of these sketches with Pedrad playing it straight and holding scenes together, here she is getting her own starring character, as an Indian kid with a talk show, Ravish. Because her dad (Armisen) realized that talk-show hosts make millions of dollars. Additional fun in the background at the beginning as the wall swings back and forth into frame. Also on set: Slate as Ravish's sister, on the violin, and Moynihan as Ravish's drunk uncle. With "Jay Leno Walking with Ravish" in which Ravish's dad quizzes her. And Jude Law playing himself. I can easily see this becoming a recurring sketch.
Which is my point of this episode. For a rookie, especially one whom arrived with little fanfare (considering she wasn't even in the Groundlings mainstage A-team), Pedrad is making the most of her chances this season. Whereas Wiig has been the star of the past year — often to the point of being too much of one, if you ask comedy nerds — and Elliott has been the female celebrity impersonator, with Slate as a featured player rookie, Pedrad somehow quietly and quickly became every sketches go-to straight woman. She's owning it. Kudos to her! But what does this say about how women are seen on SNL? Can there be only one? Say it ain't so. As much as I may have enjoyed Highlander, I like all of the ladies and want to see them all get their chances.
Considering the show is on a break until April 10, with Tina Fey hosting, I'm sure we'll see plenty of lady comedy then. See you then!