SNL #38.11 RECAP: Host Jennifer Lawrence, musical guest The Lumineers

After a few weeks off for Christmas and New Year’s, the kids at Saturday Night Live returned to their weekly comedy school inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza. And just in time? The pop-culture zeitgeist bestowed us all with so many lies and tragicomedy this past week. So. Many. Lies. How do you sort through it all? How did you sort through it all? How would SNL?

Try to take as much of it on in the cold open, they supposed. And so…

We open cold with Taran Killam as Piers Morgan, “or as you know me, the British Mario Lopez.” His guests? Jason Sudeikis as Lance Armstrong (with a joke about being on a channel you can find on your TV — take that OWN, and your local cable or satellite TV provider!). Bobby Moynihan as the naive Notre Dame football player, Manti Te’o. And Kate McKinnon as Jodie Foster, who received the humanitarian award at the Golden Globes last weekend and delivered a long and winding speech about privacy and her sex life, or lack thereof. J-Suds is on point, Moynihan plays up Te’o’s apparent aloofness, and McKinnon already has proven she can nail Jodie Foster. So to speak.

Our host this week: Jennifer Lawrence, winner herself this year of a Golden Globe for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook. For her monologue, she brought Tommy Lee Jones (Bill Hader) with her to sit in the audience and show how much of a ball of fun energy he brings to any show. She also trash-talked her fellow Oscar nominees, but not really. Roast-lite. Heavy on the lite. If you reacted more than Tommy Lee Jones (fake or real) did, then…good on ya?

A fake ad for Starbucks? Yes! For the Starbucks home coffee machine, the Verismo, which brings everything you know and love and love to hate about visiting Starbucks, into your own home. From getting your name and order right, to talking back to you, and all of the comforts of a way-too-busy coffee shop location. With Vanessa Bayer as the customer. And a special vocal appearance from Verquonica?

NBC always does a bang-up job selling real ads during SNL. Tonight: Silver Linings Playbook. Twice in the first ad block. Promoting the film with a song by…The Lumineers. Synergy!

The “Girlfriends Talk Show” returns with another opportunity for first-year cast members Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant as hosts Kyria and Morgan to show how their BFF relationship can be strained with the addition of their guest. This time around, their guest is Jessie (Jennifer Lawrence), who’s in a band called Vaghat. And what’s this? Morgan (Bryant) got her coat at Turlington Coat Barn (in the ad block just before it? Burlington Coat Warehouse competitor Men’s Wearhouse! CONSPIRACY!). The conflict plays out differently from their previous go-around. For better or for worse. Bryant gets off the most laughs this time.

Next week: Adam Levine, with musical guest Kendrick Lamar.

Attention: Hunger Games parody alert is coming in 3, 2, 1…Your post-Games press conference starts now with Bill Hader in the ridiculous facial hair of the guy who runs the system, Katniss as Katniss and Taran Killam as the guy she could have, should have, would have killed, but didn’t because of spoiler alerts. Kenan Thompson, Bobby Moynihan, Tim Robinson, Cecily Strong and Jay Pharoah play the movie’s peripheral character reporters, and in this setting, make fun of the obvious: Peeta’s lack of a contribution to the victory, and the Games guy’s weird beard.

If you thought turning the short book of The Hobbit into a movie trilogy wasn’t stretching it enough, then this is the taped sketch for you! Lots of funny modern-day additions here. Among them, a fourth film that makes use of what use there is to Apple Maps, and a dinner party that goes awry when they split the bill. An even funnier miscue for the East Coast live show happened when the graphic title card pointed to Hobbit 10 when the voiceover referenced Hobbit 8 (they fixed this in post!). Some fully expected jokes. Some random silliness. And did the video buffer for you, too? Or just on my TV and DVR???

Speaking of modern-say scenarios that seem normal to us, despite being abnormal in real life. We go next to Johnny Two Tones Diner, which is one of those joints that’s popular because the service is intentionally rude. Bobby Moynihan and Vannesa Bayer play the customers anticipating “maximum sass!” Nasim Pedrad and Aidy Bryant play the waitresses. Jennifer Lawrence, though, seems a bit too real. On purpose. Hey, she’s a good actress. Bill Hader plays the manager. Who’s side do you expect him to be on? Eggsactly. Moons over my hammy about this one.

Ladies and gentlemen, The Lumineers. At least they didn’t wait too long to get to that song you’ve heard. “Ho Hey.” Hey, ho.

Followed by a Blue Moon beer commercial backed by The Lumineers song. More synergy!

Weekend Update with Seth Meyers.

Second-hand news correspondent Anthony Crispino (Bobby Moynihan) speaks out on the belated success of Fargo, directed by the Aflac duck, and more. I am looking forward to seeing Sly Stallone in Django and Cash, however. And when he sings Lance Armstrong confessing at the opera, well, move over Adam Sandler.

That’s it? That’s it. No more visitors to the Update desk this week.

The final half-hour starts us off auspiciously with The Dog Channel and Top Dog Chef. Rut-ro. Everyone is all dogged up in furry costumes. Nasim Pedrad is hosting as Padma Leash Me. Woof. I mean. Oof. J-Suds is Tom Collie-cio. Are you imagining this sketch was written in the wee hours of the morning and then approved at the table read by a cast and crew so sleepless and punchy that it made sense to put this on the air? No? Just me. Alrighty then. Mario Barktali. Vomit Two Ways. And yet. And. Yet. Even when I’m laughing, I’m confused at why this is happening.

We’re tuned in to Richard and the Buffalo on B108, Minnesota’s morning radio hip-hop station. Taran Killam and Bobby Moynihan are the hosts, up at 5 a.m. which is “mad early.” Jennifer Lawrence is their intern, Busty Rhymes, who drops verses with no rhymes. Vanessa Bayer presents the news as MC Jigglebutt? SNL has enjoyed success with radio parody (think NPR’s Schweddy Balls) and more recently let Jimmy Fallon loose as a morning zoo kind of jock. All Jigglebutts aside, this needed something more. Maybe more jiggle and more butts?

Once again, The Lumineers. This is “Stubborn Love.”

Hold on a second.

Is it possible that SNL hasn’t mined the possibilities of Skinemax for humor completely yet? They give it a try with “Danielle: A Free European Woman.” It’s filmed, not live, with Bill Hader and Fred Armisen intentionally dubbing their own dialogue. And Jennifer Lawrence as Danielle. And brief glimpses of fleshy flashbacks. And Killam and Strong as another couple. But seriously. We all can agree. That’s Higgins dubbing for Kenan Thompson. Can we agree on anything else about this sketch? Probably not. Let’s agree to disagree.

And finally, a dramatic re-enactment of love letters written during the Civil War, with Jennifer Lawrence writing to a private in the Union Army from Vermont, portrayed by Tim Robinson. It’s not what you think, Ken Burns fans. It’s much more like reality TV of the 2010s. You’re welcome?

I mean. I don’t even. As host, Jennifer Lawrence seemed game for whatever the writers gave her, and is professional enough to know her lines without looking like a stiff cardboard cutout trying to follow the cue cards. But did they give her enough to do? Or was this week one of those shaking off the rust of too many weeks off the air?

Get back to me on this one.

Then we can revisit this issue next time, when Adam Levine hosts. Adam Levine. From The Voice. On NBC. Synergy!

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 #38.11 RECAP: Host Jennifer Lawrence, musical guest The Lumineers

  1. I really like Jennifer Lawrence and the Lumineers, so this has been a show that I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I don’t think that the writers did enough to go with her strengths. I was sad that I couldn’t see the show live since I was working late at DISH. I set up my DISH Hopper DVR to automatically record SNL for me, so I was still caught up. I love that I can have the whole season of SNL plus other shows since my DVR will store about 2000 hours worth of my shows and movies.

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