SNL #35.18 with Tina Fey, Justin Bieber

If you're lucky, every once in a while, you get to experience one of your favorite TV shows as an audience member, from inside the belly of the beast — or if you're talking about last night's SNL, inside the belly of the Bieber. Now. I was teased for using that phrase on Twitter last night, but when it turns out that my wordplay is nowhere nearly as creepy as how SNL itself turned out, well, jeepers creepers Biebers, I'm fairly sure all of the tween girls who tuned in were shocked and amazed by all of the aggressively sexual material. Not that it wasn't all funny. Much of it was. Just thinking maybe it was a bit more mature than its audience. Heck. Maybe not. Kids these days, right? I don't know.

But I can tell you that as an audience member at the dress rehearsal, they made some great decisions about where to trim, and what to cut entirely for the live show. If only you could have seen the other ad spoof they had ready…not going to say anything more lest they decide to air it next week (or during the Betty White episode). Recap, shall we?

Considering what a poor track record the show has had recently with its political cold opens, this one with President Obama (Fred Armisen) leading viewers through the Census form was surprisingly good. And, ahem, aggressively sexual. A question asking if you fantasize about sex with individuals living in your house — as in incest, in every case except for the foreign exchange student? There's also the first of multiple jokes about Obama's health-care reform, and some fun with stereotypes and getting you to reveal things that should be left confidential. At this point, it's not even worth debating Armisen's Obama. It has become, like SNL's original presidential caricatures, something that doesn't bother worrying about precision.

OK, so Tina Fey walks out for her monologue, and immediately I recall a recent interview in which Fey described how she knows what dresses work for and which do not, and this dress is designed to show off as much cleavage as possible without getting an FCC fine. I mean. Just. What? Anyhow. The audience already seems less of a teen scream crowd than the dress rehearsal crowd. Good nanny joke. Will Forte as a creepy personal trainer. Fun fact: In dress, Fey had Andy Samberg playing her husband. At air, she had Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Upgrade! At both dress and air, she also had Steve Martin playing her tax lawyer. An early Justin Bieber appearance, and Kenan Thompson as Chaka Khan. All that, plus a tease that she'll play Sarah Palin later in the show. (Guessing that the Chaka Khan song is what's holding this off of the legal Internet for now)

Brownie Husband is not an actual Duncan Hines product, but let's talk about it. No. Let's not talk about it. Just watch Tina Fey get down and dirty with a giant brownie shaped like a man. Her commitment sells the bit, but if you want to keep track of the types of women Fey plays tonight, and how important sex is thematically to the sketches, this would be a good time to get out your notepads.

No real commercials yet. We need to get to CBS coverage of the Masters golf tournament with Jim Nantz (Jason Sudeikis), Nick Faldo (Bill Hader) and special commentary from slutty Las Vegas model and party gal Ashlyn St. Cloud (Fey), who naturally, has had sex with Tiger Woods. Nice getting Michael Jordan's name into it, as well as making fun of golf as a sport, and golf's own heritage (even though I admittedly love playing golf). They also manage to get their parody of Tiger's new Nike ad within the broader context of the golfing sketch. And a "that's what Tiger said," to boot? I'd have suggested they get in a dig at Faldo, but only actual golfing fans would have gotten that joke.

Ads, ads, ads. Anyone noticing how even the SNL bumpers show Tina Fey in sexy poses and outfits? Just me? No, not just me. Carry on.

I enjoyed how the voiceover lingers on a big "O" before revealing that the new TV network in question is for Oprah, oh, wait, I mean Sarah Palin. It's a nice trick to slyly re-introduce Fey's Palin impersonation. Of course she's in the black leather jacket. Using the device of an entire TV network also gives the writers the chance to poke fun at everything Palin has been doing since she "received the silver medal" in the presidential election. So her TV shows include a poke at Obamacare's non-existent "death panels," a Tea Party "Wheel of Fortune," complete with misspellings, "Are You Smarter Than A Half-Term Governor?," replacing the voices of smart people with the teacher from "Peanuts," trying to turn the tables on journalists, and her husband (Sudeikis) as a renegade snowmobile cop in "Todd!" They even recognize the power of the Internet with a show called "Fat Cats," a play on Bob Ross painting with socialist Hitler mustaches, "30 Main Street" parodying Fey, so much more, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. That's right. Fey and SNL just lumped in Leno with Palin. Guess who's on Team Coco! (Too bad you missed seeing Nasim Pedrad in a Palin leather outfit, but it's probably for the best they trimmed that potential Palin TV show after dress, because it didn't quite get laughs)

Hey, look, there's Fey in cleavage and jorts rolling around in the hay.

Fey plays a high-school physics teacher who is sick of the attitude of her students, except for Jason Deeps (Bieber alert!). Abby Elliott, Bobby Moynihan and Fred Armisen are other students. Fey daydreams about Bieber, and he seduces her in song and rap. Statutory rape for comedy!? It does seem to both acknowledge it and also mine it for laughs, as she eventually rolls him around in a stroller as his ladybaby. And the sketch even has an ending!

Time for Justin Bieber to sing while four of his older brothers from another mother dance behind him to give him the illusion of a traditional boy band. Sometimes, when you're a young girl, all you need is for a boy to sing "Baby" over and over and over again. I know way too much about what it's like to be a young girl, apparently. Not as much as Bieber, though! Why is he 13 and in love and going to Starbucks, again?

Weekend Update's Seth Meyers ditched a Tiger Woods 69 joke, but got to keep another one he said he'd fight for (guess which one!), and also kept the Devil (Sudeikis) who took on the topic of Catholic priests molesting kids, which the Devil vowed he'd never do. Interesting choice for a topic that's not easy to get people in a studio audience to laugh about. At dress, they went even further with it, suggesting the Devil knew Pope Benedict from their time together in Germany in the 1940s. They did still call "the TMZ guy" the son of Satan, though, and worked in MTV's Jersey Shore as a satanic production.

Aunt Linda (Kristen Wiig) returned after almost a year to provide her auntie movie reviews of Clash of the Titans, Alice in Wonderland and others.

Oh, yeah, here's the Devil giving his dues.

And Fey, as she did last time she hosted, delivered "Women's News" and managed to joke about NBC employee Tiki Barber and "Bombshell McGee," among others, in discussing cheating husbands and the whores they cheat with on their wives. She also mentioned getting her pubic hair waxed for a sketch that wouldn't even make it to air! True story! At dress, she played Pamela Anderson as a guest on The View (which, really, actually, yes, it's again for the best that they cut it).

The only thing missing from Update, it seemed, was Amy Poehler, who was in the building a couple of times this week for Jimmy Fallon — which made me think she'd be here, too. Oh well.

Here's a sketch I didn't think I'd see this week. It's TV One's "Al Roker's Ruff, Rugged and Roker," introduced by Samberg from the lounge at Club Butter, with Kenan Thompson as a hard-partying Roker who has to rock his new show while still delivering early-morning weather. Fey plays Dina Lohan. Moynihan plays an assistant helping Roker switch jackets back-and-forth so he can wonder "what's happening in your neck of the woods." Of course, there's a vodka sponsor for this. Nasim Pedrad trots out her Kim Kardashian to tease Roker (and her sister, Khloe). At dress, Sudeikis was there, too, as Tom Sizemore, but nobody could really figure that out, and by trimming it out, they managed to make it ready for air last night, and I'm sure get plenty of attention for Monday morning by Today.

The school dance sketch, meanwhile. Pedrad plays a high-schooler who thinks her mom (Fey) is so great that she's her only friend. Attempts to talk to Jenny Slate and Abby Elliott go awry, and the boys (Samberg and Moynihan) want nothing to do with her or her mom. Not a lot of laughs. But it does have another Bieber appearance, so that's why it's in? It just plays a bit slow and numb, much like the background music for the sketch. Hm

Hey, there's Fey in the hay again!

Did you know that if a young boy looks into a camera and sings "you smile, I smile" over and over while smiling, that young girls will love said young boy? Facts. Bieber Facts. Remember when it seemed so unique on the first season of American Idol when Justin Guarini looked longingly into the camera as he sang? Well, everybody knows how to do this now. Progress?

The final sketch of the night is a classically odd duck of a sketch. Dive bar. Blue-collar customers Sudeikis and Thompson buying brews from tender Moynihan. And there's Lolene (Fey), a hooker who's only nine inches tall, and needs only $200 to reach her dream of seeing Paris. It's all played as if it's a movie from the 1940s. Will Forte plays a creep, while Hader plays a kindly priest. By the way, pulling off this sketch requires dueling sets and a green screen. And magic. TV magic!

Goodnight, everybody!

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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