SNL #37.19 RECAP: Host Josh Brolin, musical guest Gotye

The most remarkable thing about this week’s Saturday Night Live, with Josh Brolin returning to host, was how unremarkable the sketches were. I mean. Trust me. I’ve got remarks. You’ve got remarks. But if there’s anything to say about SNL in mid-April 2012, it’s this: You know that feeling seniors in high school or college sense when it’s only a month until they graduate, and they decide to throw their books in the air and just have fun with their remaining time on campus? That’s exactly how much of this episode felt. Any correlation between what I just remarked and the growing speculation that several long-time SNL cast members will declare themselves ready-for-primetime in May is real.

So. Let’s recap.

Also, before we begin, note that several sketches featured real music that requires licensing fees so you’re not going to see them online the legit way anytime soon, unless NBC decides to pay up.

Which leads us to the cold open. Oh no. Mitt Romney (Jason Sudeikis) and Rick Santorum (Andy Samberg) sitting together and making peace now that the GOP presidential nomination race seems to be over. Well, at least for Santorum. And they’re singing “This Campaign Was the Time of My Life,” a variation on the Green Day song. If you didn’t see this, you don’t need to see this. Except Rick Perry (Bill Hader) shows up, too, to reminisce about when he was briefly the front-runner. Will they trot out all of the former GOP nominees? What do you think. Michele Bachmann (Kristen Wiig), ladies and germs. Hermain Cain (Kenan Thompson). Newt Gingrich (Bobby Moynihan) walks past but doesn’t join in the chorus because he hasn’t quit yet. I’m missing Ron Paul here, because Paul Brittain did a great job with him. This really feels more like a bunch of long-timers from SNL singing about how they loved being on SNL, but now, it’s almost over. Frowny-face emoticon.

Josh Brolin is back as host. “It’s just refreshing to come here and be stupid.” He makes fun of his goatee for being too 90s. Because he’s also in the third Men in Black film this summer (is it MIB3? I prefer MIBII, as in, maybe I’ll see it in the cinema, but maybe I won’t), Jay Pharoah got to break out his Will Smith again. No heavy lifting for Brolin here, though. Foreshadowing!

Making fun of Game of Thrones! With behind-the-scenes HBO footage featuring Taran Killam as a real character in the show, Kate McKinnon as a brothel girl, Moynihan as writer George R.R. Martin, and then the twist — Martin has a co-writer, and it’s a 13-year-old boy Adam Friedberg (Samberg), who is responsible for adding all of the naked ladies! Boobs! Bathroom break! Sadly, using so much HBO footage means it’s not online until NBC realizes that the folks at HBO have a sense of humor about this. But it’s on Gawker. Also, Kumail Nanjiani helped write this! Fun fact.

After the first break. SOAP Net shows us scenes from “The Californians,” which is funny because yes, the people of Southern California do seem to care a lot about driving and which directions beat the traffic best, but more importantly, because Fred Armisen’s accent is all over the map in the first few lines, which has Hader already losing it and that makes Wiig smile, and eventually, she can’t even look at Armisen without cracking. Everyone goes blond. So SoCal. Am I right? Brolin plays a doctor, Kenan Thompson goes full surfer dude in look and attitude, as an escaped convict. Ahem. Vanessa Bayer is the lone non-blond because she’s the Hispanic maid. McKinnon plays a party guest. This all kind of peters out near the end (as if that’s ever happened on this show). But it’s fun to see them having fun, goofing around on live TV.

Hey. Quick question. Whom do you think has cracked more on SNL: Jimmy Fallon or Bill Hader? Uncle Grambo, please deliver the stats. Stat!

Will Eli Manning do as well when he hosts May 5 as his big brother Peyton did years ago, or will he just make that dumb face while we wait for Rhianna and Shy Ronny?

It’s “America’s Next Top Empire State of Mind Parody Artist,” hosted by Weird Al (Samberg). Licensing fees. Ugh. Tell me about it. With YouTube’s “Chocolate Rain” Tay Zonday (Thompson), Ke$ha (Abby Elliott) “my songs aren’t parodies,” and Pharoah as Jay-Z judging. First up, Amanda and Chad (Bayer, Moynihan), as sixth-year college seniors who like to get high and feed their munchies. Their song is essentially an ad for their local burrito hang. People love Bobby’s dance moves. Next, formerly obese Paul (Armisen) explaining his weight loss with Gold’s Gym State of Mind. His workout routine isn’t impressive. But Jay-Z loves it all. Lynette (Wiig) and Todd (Brolin) work at UPS and he’s now a New Uncle. The studio audience really digged the guys who danced, but the sketch itself, well, um, let’s just move on.

SNL Digital Short. How about a new version of Laser Cats, Lorne? Directed by the Steven Spielberg. His Laser Cats 7 (have there been that many installments already?). Brolin is “the Space Nazi,” while Fred is “Horn Head.” Oh, and Spielberg brought in elements of his classic work. E.T. phone cats! And Spielberg’s “Hitcockian cameo.” It’s too low-concept to be this much of a recurring sketch video series.

No, it’s not Gotcha. Gotye, pronounced go-t-a. Are they all forced to play only the twee instruments?

North Korea: What are you doing? That’s Seth Meyers asking. Not me. S’up NoKo. Apparently not enough of a new segment to receive separate segment treatment in video. Or any video evidence that it happened. Good to know.

Another improvised performance by Garth and Kat. Armisen and Wiig get to break the fundamental rule of SNL, which is, stick to the cue cards, even if you must stare right at them. More fake ad-libbed songs, with Wiig following Armisen’s lead. I know they love it. But do we love it still? Debatable.

Huh. No other guests at the Update desk.

Want to know SNL’s take on the Trayvon Martin case? Well, let’s let Piers Morgan (Killam) try to continue fooling Americans. Sudeikis plays a guy from Florida Travel Board. Armisen is Ice-T to a golf tee. The sketch/show goes off on a tangent (as the sketch/show is wont to do), with Brolin as Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen, asked about his Fidel Castro remarks. Nasim Pedrad breaks out her Kim K with her new “relationship business decision,” Kanye West (Pharoah). Best and truest line: “I’m a zero threat!”  Cue random appearance by the guy bouncing on a wire during the Super Bowl halftime show (Samberg).

Next, Bayer plays the new girl at Woodridge High School — another Cali-based premise?!? Yep. It seemed to be that way this night. Pedrad and Killam play the popular kids who walk the slo-mo hallway. Turns out, it works for anyone who walks it, from the non-popular kids (Elliott, Thompson, Moynihan), to the chem teacher (Brolin) trying to figure out the science behind it, to the nerd kid (Samberg, playing yet another nerdy type). Fun premise. But it might have benefited from going the extra mile, or at least going extra weird.

Another SNL Digital Short? Even they know that’s much by saying so in the title card. Samberg and Killan go meet the Gotye guy backstage and express they’re big fans, as they say, of his music video. How big? That big. Blur the pixels!

Gotye’s second song. “Eyes Wide Open.”

The Booker T. Washington High prom, introduced by Bayer to introduce Principal Frye (Pharoah, in his first recurring character that’s not based on a celebrity). Brolin is a teacher on the prom committee who’s drunk on spiked punch. Thompson is the gym teacher who reveals they’re dancing in the nice part of town. Pedrad plays the student who Brolin has been sexing up on the side. Everybody was OK enough in this. If you’re going to feature Pharoah’s character, though, really feature him.

Time to say good nights! We’re almost there, people. Almost there.

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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