SNL #38.12 RECAP: Host Adam Levine, musical guest Kendrick Lamar

Um, what now? We’re on a recent run with musical guests thinking they’re full-on hosts of Saturday Night Live. Wasn’t giving the singers one cameo in a sketch enough of a comedic boost? Now everybody’s got to be Justin Timberlake up in this here 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Well. Adam Levine. I think you know and we know that you know that you are no Justin Timberlake. But who are you, Adam Levine?

Let’s recap.

It’s President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, which officially took place on Sunday but formally and ceremonially took place on Monday — and it being the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday (for some) — the ghost of MLK visited Obama. And loved Beyonce. And knew about hashtags, and Michelle’s bangs. It’s all about MLK (Kenan Thompson) and not at all about Jay Pharoah’s Obama. It’s just absurd enough to be funny.

Our host this week is Maroon 5 singer/frontman Adam Levine. In NBC Universal’s Universe, however, Levine is known and celebrated as one of the star judges of The Voice. Levine “joked” about “overreaching” by being an actor. But he’s quickly saved by Andy Samberg in the monologue, returning to SNL for the first time since leaving last summer — remember that Samberg had enlisted Levine in an SNL Digital Short for “Iran So Far” back in 2007. Samberg swivels around in a “Voice” throne chair. Before picking Team Samberg to coach him in comedy, Cameron Diaz makes another unannounced cameo to the show, and suggests Levine take off his shirt. Samberg seems to approve of this. Make a note of this. And look: Here’s Jerry Seinfeld! “Hello, Adam.” “I get you. Appealing. Not as Jewish as your nameeeee.” More Jew jokes ensue. From the cue cards to Seinfeld’s eyes to Seinfeld’s mouth! Whose advice do you think Adam Levine took? You see the evidence above you and all around you.

Fake ad for Rosetta Stone! Learn a new language. Or learn Thai if you’re a creepy guy. Because, you know. Creepy guys visit Thailand for the teen boys pretending to be girls.

We come back from the first real ad break with The Gay Network show, “Circle Work,” hosted by Tracy Allstar and Todd Anthony. Kenan Thompson and Adam Levine offer advice to straight people. Vanessa Bayer plays the stage manager who has been in love with Tracy since college because, wait, seriously? She works for a gay guy on The Gay Network. Nasim Pedrad plays the first guest, whose husband is horny all the time. The problem? He’s gay, say the gays….rinse, repeat this when Jason Sudeikis thinks there are “no available” women for him. Turns out there aren’t. If you’re keeping track at home, after the cold open, we saw a monologue that suggested Andy Samberg was gay for Adam Levine, followed by a fake ad for guys wanting to learn Thai to sleep with Thai boys, followed by a gay talk show with gays who think every guy is gay. Are you keeping track now? Back to the gay sketch that keeps reminding you it is, in fact, gay. Having Kenan do the lengthy spelling bit did work, though.

To the films!

The CW’s The Carrie Diaries, meet The Sopranos Diaries. As teens in the 1980s in high school, Moynihan is young Tony, with Armisen and Hader as Paulie and Silvio, respectively. Tim Robinson is the teacher or principal, must be principal based on the Yello “Oh Yeah” song sampling from Ferris Bueller. Cecily Strong is his guidance counselor. Adam gets to play Big Pussy little. Aidy Bryant is sister Janice. Kate McKinnon plays Carmela. In one scene, they’re talking about Return of the Jedi and playing with a Rubik’s Cube, so you really know it’s the 1980s, even though in voiceovers, they clue us into their self-knowing with TV critics bashing the premise. Interesting choice to film this sketch rather than play it live. For one thing, allows for multiple settings. For another, it helps elevate this to one of the funniest bits of the night.

Feb. 9, 2013: Host and musical guest Justin Beiber. Lock up your daughters. Only the pre-teens. The older ones have caught on, right? Right?

And we’re back.

The New Haven Fire Department is hosting a fund-raiser. And Hader plays Bryce, an effeminate firefighter whose supposed ex-girlfriend (Pedrad) is talking to one of his fellow firefighters, Jerry (Levine). “I tried to kiss you and you threw hot tea in my face,” is what Pedrad’s character tells Bryce. Drama queen. About that, and about ABC canceling Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23. And he leaves after putting on a fur coat and a scarf. But the ending has the one woman in the sketch say: “You know what? I got the reaction I wanted.”

Did she? Did you?

SNL DIGITAL SHORT. Which means Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island boys (Akiva and Jorma) are fully back. Oh no. YOLO. Oh. You see. They’re full of sound advice, because, you only live once. Levine shows up for the chorus. Looks like they mostly filmed this in Los Angeles. They did get Kendrick Lamar dropping a verse. You Oughta Look Out. YOLO.

Ladies and gentlemen, Kendrick Lamar. “Swimming Pools (Drank).”

Weekend Update with Seth Meyers.

Arianna Huffington (Nasim Pedrad) has opinions about Hillary Clinton’s testimony this week in front of the U.S. Senate. But how will the Huffington Post turn this into a slideshow tomorrow? I made that quip on Twitter and my friends at HuffPostComedy immediately replied. Because we’re friends, you see. I don’t know how to make slideshows anyhow. Obviously I’m mad jealous.

Wait. Hold up. They just had Arianna make a joke about there being enough “wives with knives” that there’s a show with that title. Which I heard John Mulaney talk about earlier this week during his stand-up set at UCB. Which means Mulaney guest-wrote this part??? Must stay tuned for the closing credits. Mulaney earned an NBC sitcom pilot of his own this past week with Lorne Michaels producing, and if you haven’t been watching the end credits closely this season, you might not have noticed Mulaney had left the show months ago. Which he had. So. Hmmm.

Ray Lewis (Kenan Thompson) is here. “Only a higher power can tell Ray Lewis what to do.” Interesting. Do you want Ray Lewis to ascend into Heaven? Well, do you?

Guy Fieri is opening a wine tasting room. But we don’t get Moynihan’s take on that? Teases! I feel cheated, don’t you?

We’re in a bar where Adam Levine is himself as a bar patron, but uh oh, Train shows up, with Taran Killam playing that band’s front man. A dance-off to the beats of “Moves Like Jagger.” J-Suds intervenes as Jason Mraz to lay down some rules. Bill Hader then shows up as John Mayer. Adam calls for “Hootie,” which is a weirdly funny lazy racism thing, since Darius Rucker is and never was Hootie in Hootie and the Blowfish. No ending! And for now, no video online. Stay tuned.

A hybrid sketch is up now. Part live, part taped? It’s a Catfish sketch based on that MTV show based on that movie that that guy Nev and his friends filmed when he supposedly got duped into falling in love with a woman on Facebook who was pretending to be a different woman. And yet. Somehow this doesn’t even mention Manti Te’o, whom they skewered in too little time in last week’s cold open. Aidy Bryant and Jay Pharaoh play the victim and culprit in this sketch’s sting. The real hero of this sketch, however, are the cue cards seen in the reflection of the set’s window. Cue cards: You’ve been Catfished!

Once again, Kendrick Lamar. How many viewers do you think saw the first song and, not understanding the point, drank way too much and got faded before his second song? Nice Janet Jackson beat. I recognize that anywhere from my car’s CD player in 1994. And the song is called “Poetic Justice.” Which, I suppose, is poetic justice for ripping her beat. I sit corrected. Janet Jackson is credited as one of the songwriters. Now that’s poetic justice. Of course we’ll enjoy this song. Any time. Any place.

10 minutes to 1. Janet (Moynihan) tells a Law and Order story about meeting Adam Levine after a Maroon 5 concert and taking him home to her apartment, only it doesn’t turn into an L&O episode. Misdirect! “I will sit on that face if it kills me.” Mouth farts! First use of the phrase “flicking my bean” in a sketch that you know of. The almost end of that sketch should have been the end. One beat too long. Mouth farts in the Murphy bed. You end it there. You end it with the sound of mouth farts coming from behind a Murphy bed. Everyone knows this.

We’re bookending with the inaugural. VP Joe Biden (J-Suds) at the Dover Moter Speedway for Biden Bash. Sudeikis also plays the guy in the SNL taped sketches selling us on the non-Insane Insane Clown Posse bashes, so this is his parallel universe of that. The “Macho Man” Randy Savage impersonation, though? Too soon, for rassling fans of a certain age. “Nuts! Face! Biden Time!” OK, you saved it.

What’s that Seinfeld says as the camera light turns on for goodnights? “Don’t screw this up, Adam.” That’s what Seinfeld said. At 1 a.m. Eastern. A little late to get in his head, don’t you think, Jerry? Not that there’s anything wrong with a cliche sentence in this review this late.

By the way, Mulaney’s name in the writing credits. So that clears that up. For this week.

See you next week for a whole lot of Bieber Fever.

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 #38.12 RECAP: Host Adam Levine, musical guest Kendrick Lamar

  1. I found this episode pretty funny. It was no surprise that Adam took his shirt off on SNL. I was surprised at Cameron Diaz and Jerry Seinfeld being in the opening monologue. I didn’t get to see the show live on Saturday since I was working late at DISH. I programmed my DISH Hopper DVR to automatically record SNL for me so I could see it the next morning. I don’t have to worry about erasing any of my shows since my DVR will hold about 2000 hours of shows and movies.

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