SNL #37.8 RECAP: Host Steve Buscemi, musical guest The Black Keys

Did you know Steve Buscemi was funny? If you’ve watched an Adam Sandler movie any time in the past decade or more, then probably. Or perhaps you just thought his portrayals of mobsters and old-timey gangsters in The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire were funny ha-ha in addition to funny weird. We definitely agree that the Buscemi is funny weird.

On to the recap!

Cold open: Fred Armisen as President Barack Obama talking to Americans after “Black Friday” post-Thanksgiving shopping. Snooze. Even though the audience thinks it’s funny when he talks about allowing the Chinese to touch his afro. Obama has had a tough year dealing with the Republican Congress. So Armisen’s Obama shows us the top 11 of “America’s Most Powerful.” Just seeing this chart reminds me of Wayne’s World. Party time. Excellent. Finally an opportunity for some solid jokes that show how little politics is compared to society’s other hot topics to talk and think about ad nauseum. nauseum?

The monologue: Wait. Buscemi has hosted before? Look it up! This time, Buscemi is humblebragging about making the leap from character actor to lead actor, which leads to a cast-in-the-audience bit with Abby Elliott as the klutzy single gal, Kenan Thompson as the magical black character who gives advice to a white guy, Bill Hader as “Tex,” the guy in a war movie who you know will die, Jay Pharoah as a sassy female judge from legal thrillers, and Andy Samberg as the dude who…wait, he’s “The Baxter” but dressed as a jock?, and Nasim Pedrad as the grandmotherly lady who says naughty hip things, Bobby Moynihan as the drunk who wants to go to Vegas, Kristen Wiig as the woman in horror movies who cannot find her boyfriend. Good way to squeeze what otherwise could have been a throwaway sketch into what otherwise would have been a lackluster monologue.

Fake ad: Paul Brittain (remember him?!) is in the recording studio with the band, but suffering from…wait for it…constipation. Cue the “Frozen Mexican Dinner” ad campaign.

After the first real ad break, it’s the return of “The Miley Cyrus Show” with Vanessa Bayer in her first breakout recurring character/impersonation. Pretty cool. J-Suds is back with the band as daddy Billy Ray (and Moynihan’s on the drums). Miley’s friends bought her a Bob Marley cake for her birthday because she’s a stoner girl now. Smoke on that one. See how she’s got the munchies? Doritos product placement! Buscemi is supposed to be a hippie she met at Burning Man. Just when things start to crawl, out comes Maya Rudolph out of nowhere as Whitney Houston! Funny. Do you think her cameo will help NBC’s new sitcom with Rudolph and friends, Up All Night? Or does it just make you want more Maya on SNL? Discuss.

An SNL Digital Short: Batman. With Buscemi as the police commissioner, Samberg as the bat-man. The premise: Batman’s surprise appearing and disappearing act! Plus: Aquaman. Why are all of the gags so easy, though? After the dick jokes and the proctology jokes, it does get a little weird. But. Um.

Bill Hader’s creepy Dateline NBC “reporter” Keith Morrison is talking to real people about real crimes. Of course, Morrison is always a little too excited to learn the details about these crimes.

School gymnasium. The high school’s head coach (Suds) is addressing the Penn State and Syracuse pedophile scandals, and he wants to let the students know that he suspects another guy, Coach Bert (played by Buscemi), fits the profile of a sex offender. “Is it the mustache?” And yet everyone has an opinion on coach. Including a guy from NAMBLA (!), played, almost too obviously, by Hader. Because Will Forte was not available.

The Black Keys, first song I got a love that keeps me awake?

Weekend Update.

Herman Cain suspended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination because of several allegations that he liked to leer at the ladies and sometimes have the sex with them, despite being married to another lady entirely. Kenan Thompson as Cain defends Cain. But his best defense is to make even more offenses! That’s not going to work out well for him.

Which guy would you rather get your misguided news reports from: The secondhand news guy or Drunk Uncle? Either way, it’s Bobby Moynihan at your service! This time he’s rambling on about the holidays. That is, when he’s not rambling about “Occupy Lame Street” and just about anything else. “Hey, baby Jesus, you wanna do pilates?” That should be the new Merry Christmas, y’all. Should be. Won’t be. But should be.

Oh, you think this Playskool sketch is just another work meeting? Nope. It’s a surprise promotion for another employee who hasn’t shown up yet for the meeting. Which means time for Wiig to turn it loose again, and spoil the surprise for everybody. From a mile away. “Don’t ruin this! You are on the verge of ruining this!” Sometimes I feel like the SNL writers sneak their internal feelings about sketches into the dialogue to see if we’ll notice. Did you notice?

Ed Vincent, one of Paul Brittain’s original characters, is here with a videotaped sketch about sex education and his workshop for couples. Do you think it’s odd that SNL has not one, but two — TWO — quirky sex education characters (Kenan Thompson also has an older odd duck who always has new sex positions to spice up your love life).

Once again, The Black Keys. They’re on the ceiling. But not dancing on it.

Five To One! Five minutes to 1 a.m.! Time to look at this guy’s Christmas tree ornaments. Buscemi seems normal. Wiig seems sedated. Low-key enough to get away with anything. Low-energy enough to put you to sleep. Win some, lose some.

That’s your ballgame, kids! See you next Saturday.

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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