SNL #37.11 RECAP: Host Charles Barkley, musical guest Kelly Clarkson

Every time Charles Barkley hosts Saturday Night Live, an angel gets his wings. No. That’s not right. Every time Barkley hosts SNL, NBC programs a big football game on Saturday that inevitably goes late, thereby ruining East Coast DVRs of viewers who spend their Saturday nights out on the town.

By the looks of the many cast and crew from SNL that I saw Thursday night at IFC’s Portlandia party, nothing to worry about this week. Or was there?

Certainly, the thought of another televised Republican presidential candidate debate that same night — what’s weirder: That these debates keep happening before any primaries have happened, or that all of my liberal comedian friends keep sitting at home to watch them and live-Tweet them? We get it. These candidates stink. And they’re not that bright. Or good. Haha, GOP. You done messed it up real good this time. Of course, SNL wouldn’t even try to capitalize on anything from that night’s debate, but with the Iowa caucus happening on Tuesday, we were sure to see more than a little something political on this episode.

Let’s recap!

Remember way back when, about a month ago, when everyone had written off Pennsylvania Republican Rick Santorum as a loony bird social conservative who didn’t have any chance in h-e-double-hockey-sticks of winning his party’s presidential nomination? Well, of course, that’s exactly who Iowans turned to in the final days before their caucus. Which gave Andy Samberg a chance to open the show all by himself. Was it worth it? Is Rick Santorum worth it? You just answered your own question.

The main thing I remember from the previous time Charles Barkley hosted was that he called out then-writer Hannibal Buress in the audience during his monologue, as well as then-writer Jessi Klein. He did not do this again. He did say some very funny things about his weight loss, Michael Jordan, and Scottie Pippen. He’s a bit of a train wreck on live TV, which is part of the fun of making him appear on live TV. Let’s see if this is more fun than not.

Oh, a fake ad for a real weird drug called Chantix. I remember seeing this drug ad and noticing right away that the side effects listed suicidal tendencies. Nothing like wanting to quit smoking, but also thinking about death. Great drug! This is an odd choice for a “fake” ad, because it’s already so out there. They did manage to squeeze in some Happy Fun Ball notes, at least. Why not just bring back Happy Fun Ball!!

Another fresh sketch before our first commercial! I guess this is what happens when the live show doesn’t start until 11:51 p.m. Eastern. You need to push as much live sketch comedy past the viewers before giving them any chance to break away or go to sleep. And, what’s this? The NBA on TNT, Barkley’s actual job?!? Hmmm. It means we’ve got three black guys on SNL at one time. Ahem. Jay Pharoah draws the Kenny Smith short straw, Kenan Thompson plays Barkley, while Barkley plays Shaq. Oh, and Bill Hader as the white guy. Should be easy enough, with Thompson lampooning Barkley, while Barkley lampoons Shaq. And yet.

Did you leave during the ad break? Come back!

Barkley is hosting some Discovery subsidiary program called White People Problems. Which involves black employees dealing with white customer-service issues, essentially.

And then there’s an ad for ESPN spoofing all of the dumb corporate sponsorships that happen because NCAA football pretends to be pure, even though we all know what b.s. that is. So you cannot see that online yet. Obviously.

Joann’s announcement. Poor Chad. And Lynda Carter!

The Charles Barkley App breaks down post-game interviews with the coaches so you know what they and the players really mean. Felt like a decent premise that could’ve done more with it.

I’m not getting dragged into the Internet commenting about Kelly Clarkson. She’s the first American Idol and still a winner in my book. She can be thick. She can like Ron Paul. She can even be paired with nutjobs in an ad for Toyota that includes a clip from her first song, which was “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger).”

Weekend Update time. Nice Girl Scout cookie joke, Seth!

Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann dropped out of the presidential race after finishing sixth in Iowa, so one last time for Kristen Wiig to kick her around. She really did nail Bachmann, didn’t she? Maybe some idiot like Santorum will ask Bachmann to run with him. Ha. No. Don’t do that.

Fred Armisen not only has a great spin-off series in Portlandia, but also receives more freedom from Lorne Michaels on SNL than perhaps anyone in recent memory. His “political” comedian character, Nicholas Fehn, for example, is one of a couple of characters that allows Armisen to fully improvise his lines live on TV. Who else gets to do that?

Bobby Moynihan’s “Drunk Uncle” isn’t improvised. Nor is he drunk. Or is he? He is stuck in 2007. He makes me long for 2007.

Well, this is unexpected. Lord Wyndemere, Paul Brittain’s twee Olde English character is back with his sidekick Cecil (Bill Hader), still beloved by his girlfriend’s father (Jason Sudeikis), and also now by whomever Barkley is supposed to be. The actual premise isn’t holding up well, but adding the awkwardness with the host does provide a few new giggles.

Uh oh. Coming up on 1 a.m. But they’re still doing 90 full minutes of show.

The Adult Video Awards are on Spike TV now? They’ll be so pleased! Can an In Memorium montage still be sexytime? Your belief system will be tested!

At this point, my DVR quit. But I saw the final minutes of SNL on NBC, so I can piece it together. I think. You think! Shut up! No, you shut up!

I don’t know why they’d place an SNL Digital Short so late in the program, although they must have. Because they did. Just move on already.

For Kelly Clarkson’s second song, “Mr. Know It All,” she had much less energy than she did on the first one. What happened? Did the live studio audience not show you enough love?

This Mayan calendar sketch is such a throwaway that they should have thrown it away before airing it, even at this late hour.

Welcome to 2012! Mayans or no Mayans, we’re doing this again this year. See you back here next time SNL does a new episode.

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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One thought on “SNL #37.11 RECAP: Host Charles Barkley, musical guest Kelly Clarkson

  1. Even though this episode wasn’t one of the funniest from SNL, I still loved it. Thank goodness for the Weekend Update! Since I was at DISH working, I was unable to catch this episode. I wasn’t worried because when I got home, I pulled up DISH Online and started watching the show! I’ve been using DISH Online for the longest time, and I have seen that there are many shows available even if you don’t subscribe, one example being Saturday Night Live. Even though this one wasn’t as good as the last episode, I still enjoyed it a lot. I am looking forward to more from the SNL cast!

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