SNL #38.14 RECAP: Host Christoph Waltz, musical guest Alabama Shakes

Christoph Waltz is a 56-year-old Oscar-winning actor from Austria who likely could win his second Academy Award in a week.

So why not have him host Saturday Night Live?

Before you try to tell us no, we made it happen. Last night. Last Saturday night. They did best with an inspired pre-taped fake ad based on real life. But before we get to that: Let’s go to the recap!

‘Twas another week for real headlines that made us shake our heads so much, that by the time Saturday rolled around, we knew both that SNL had to do something about all of it, and thankfully the show tried to address a lot of it in the cold open without getting political. Instead of another Congressional hearing or President Obama, or even the Marco Rubio water bottle, we opened on the Carnival Cruise ship Triumph, which made the slow-tow-by-tugboat into Alabama on Thursday. Cecily Strong and Jason Sudeikis played Carnival cruise directors onboard trying to keep their passengers from rioting on that final day. First option? #CarnivalCruiseComedian! Jay Pharoah plays the comic Reggie Davis stuck alongside the crew and passengers, and he tries busting out his best Chris Rock. No matter what they try doing — reading the newspaper headlines (oops!), bringing back the magician (Bill Hader), who turns passenger Tim Robinson briefly into a chicken, Dan “The Animal Man” (Bobby Moynihan) and letting us know which areas of the ship are now toilets, it only makes the passengers that much more depressed. Get us off this ship! God is not one of us. He has abandoned us!

Host Christoph Waltz is quick to let us know that he is Austrian, not German. So don’t worry: He has a sense of humor. He’s not German. Although he is the first German-speaking host. So there’s that to look forward to. And we get the German-based stereotypes out of the way right quick, thanks to Kate McKinnon and Bobby Moynihan. And Taran Killam as “casual Hitler.” Nice.

No fake ad in the fake ad slot.

When we come back, it’s a game-show sketch set in the Game Show Network. What’s the game? “What Have You Become?’ That’s the game. In a nutshell. Waltz is our host. Our contestants: A self-employed guy (Kenan Thompson) who wanted to become an astronaut and instead has the high score in Space Invaders; a man who is a Katy Perry fan (Bill Hader) and follows her on tour; and a woman and mom who likes to knit (Aidy Bryant) but isn’t good at it. This is a game-show sketch, but it could have easily been a stock SNL talk-show sketch as well. Even when they heighten the premise for round two, with surprise guests to ask the question once more. Stick around for the end, in which Christoph Waltz puts the Waltz in Christoph Waltz. If you define waltzing as tap dancing.

Now there’s a fake ad? Sort of. It’s a look at papal retirement with “Papal Securities,” because it’s been hundreds of years since a Catholic Pope actually retired. Waltz plays Pope Benedict. J-Suds brings the financial advice. “No other testimonials available.” Give Waltz another Academy Award for this one!


Wait. What? What what, what, what? Kevin Hart hosts March 2, with musical guests Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Alright alright alright!

We return to a housewarming party for Waltz’s character, and Nasim Pedrad is back with another outsider. Tippy isn’t a child, but doesn’t fit into the conversation, no matter how soon after the joke she arrives. “Or something?” She’s often guessing in poor taste. And yet, her neighbors still let her walk their dogs. Or treats her like a dog or something? With a dildo? Was it racial or something?

Up next: Another video. Not a Digital Short. It’s the movie trailer for…If you like Inglourious Bastards and Django Unchained, here’s DJesus Uncrossed back from the dead, also starring Christoph Waltz. Actually, this time starring Christoph Waltz. “Jesus H. Christ!” “The H is silent.” Featuring Taran Killam’s Brad Pitt impersonation. Kenan Thompson as Ving Rhames as Pontius Pilate. Jay Pharoah as Samuel L. Jackson as Judas. It’s not quite up to the level of Louis C.K.’s Lincoln parody. But the effort was there.

Strong start for the most part. Can the show keep it up for the second half? What do you think?

Straight back to live action. More Cecily, paired with Taran as a couple on a polar bear-skin rug, looking for romance. Cue the JaMarcus Brothers, “here to make your body tingle-tangle” with their R&B brand of booty music. “Hey, who was that other guy?” “That was the other JaMarcus Brother, Engelbert.” Waltz. Which one of these soul brothers is an adopted white virgin. Can you tell? You can tell.

This Microsoft Outlook ad sounds like a really bad SNL sketch. Scroogled? Screally?

Ladies and gentlemen, Alabama Shakes. No, they’re not responsible for the Harlem Shake videos that took over the Internet this week. Nor the Harlem “Shuffle.” Especially not the Harlem Shake Shack, and definitely not the Harlem Globetrotters. It’s Alabama! You’ve got to “Hold On”…

Weekend Update

This is where we see the Marco Rubio response, via Taran Killam on the Update desk. Why bother doing its take on the video since everyone else did that joke already, and most of them poorly. Instead, come up with an explanation. And yet. Apparently he isn’t the Wicked Witch of the West. Or of the Florida. He needs water. Water! Agua!

Kate McKinnon plays Olya Povlatsky, who witnessed the meteorite that landed in Russia the other night, morning. Kate is so funny she makes any writing work. Even. Uh oh. A “bear with me” joke? Bear with me while I overlook what my brain is making me think. Which is someone at NBC writing Jon Friedman a check for $20. Just enjoy Kate McKinnon because she is joy!

Jay Pharoah dissects the Los Angeles Lakers as Stephen A. Smith, ESPN mouthpiece. Mostly mouth. Sometimes a piece. Don’t tell Stephen A. Smith. He’ll just hear that you said his name and not the rest.

Fred Armisen is Regine again, the new girlfriend in drag, this time dragging Christoph Waltz into a meeting with friends. “Watch what happens when I kiss her neck.” We’ve seen this all before. Why are we seeing it again, though? You know what’s a good comedy premise? The main character is an a-hole, and the main character’s friend doesn’t seem to notice. But Armisen’s antics are designed to make Bill Hader crack. And Vanessa Bayer. And almost Aidy Bryant and Tim Robinson. REGINE. This reminds me of the kind of lazy short-form improv games that stand-up comedians mock for being so lazy and easy because it gets a laugh without really trying or proving anything. Arms scene! FTW or WTF? All how you look at it.

Hey, nice reminder that Django Unchained is still playing in cinemas.

FOX & Friends mockery. Taran Killam, Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan are back as these three morning stooges. Bill Hader shows up on a separate screen by remote as Ted Nugent. Describing himself in lots of one words. Armisen plays British to defend the use of horse meat in burgers in Britain.

And here were this week’s “FOX & Friends” corrections from SNL!

Say hi again to Sara Jo Allocco in that Dunkin Donuts commercial for the new brownie-filled donuts!

Once again, Alabama Shakes. “Always Alright.”

Oh. Five to One. Secret Valentine’s Day letter. For Cecily’s office desk character. From the security guard (Waltz)? Which everyone else has figured out. “Oh no. So many mistakes.” This sucks. C’mon man. C’mon. Wait. They didn’t waste all of that time, just, for, that?

You know what? Don’t let a couple of duds spoil the whole batch. When you give it more than a moment’s thought and look past those duds, turned out this was a fairly funny episode. You didn’t expect Christoph Waltz to bust your gut with laughs, and the show didn’t raise those expectations by forcing his humor hand.

Good night!

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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