SNL #39.3 RECAP: Host Bruce Willis, musical guest Katy Perry

Last week, NBC carried college football past 11:30 p.m., delaying the live start of Saturday Night Live in the Eastern and Central time zones (you Mountain and Pacific people, and people everywhere else, well, you saw SNL whenever you saw it, so you know who you were when you were where you were).

This weekend, sports on my brain delayed my enjoyment of SNL. But enough about me. Let’s get to the recap!

Am I getting older or are the audiences in the studio to watch the live SNL live in person getting younger? Probably both. Either way, there seems like there’s more inordinate and unnecessary screaming by teen girls during scenes…how does that influence what sketches get on air, and what’s played up in those sketches, I’ll continue to insist you wonder along with me.

Gravity is #1 at the box office and #1 in cold opens this week on SNL. Far out! But wait. Turns out this is a political sketch after all, as the writers made it even more topical, having our dashing duo of astronauts (Taran Killam and Cecily Strong) stranded in outer space, with nobody at NASA available to help guide them home, thanks but no thanks to the government shutdown. Clarification: Carl the janitor (Kenan Thompson) was still deemed essential. And a Ukranian cleaning lady played by Kate McKinnon. You know what would have made this sketch THAT much better, though? MACGRUBER!

Bruce Willis is hosting this week. His monologue notes early on that he is returning to host, having done so previously in 1989. 1989?! That’s soooo long ago. Four daughters from two baby mamas. Bobby Moynihan feels like he has grown up as the son Willis never had but always did. In case you weren’t around 24 years ago, Willis went through a period of playing the harmonica in public because he wanted to be known as a rock star, too, and now that’s a thing again, but in a duet, so that’s better than nothing?

Fake ad in the fake ad slot. This one is for the fellas! And the lesbians, too, yo! Help for those of us who are exhausted from dating actresses. Here is “24-Hour Energy For Dating Actresses.” Oh, snappity snap snap. Kicker spins it around for the ladies who date comedians, too. There’d be a 24-Hour Energy For Dating People Who Recap SNL, but nobody dates those people. Who’s with me? Oh, right.

We cut straight the scene of an Navy Seals Black Ops Command Center, and finally the moment we’ve all been waiting for, as SNL newbie Beck Bennett finally starts looking and sounding like the guy in the AT&T ads, but as the operations commander. Does everyone know their roles? Willis has other ideas. Sounds like he has watched a lot of action movies.

This Samsung Galaxy future phone ad is not a joke. At least not an intentional one. You’ll see.

Ed’s Barber Shop is talking about the Red Sox game. Not that night’s game, I tells ya that much! Tell me more about Pork Chop Day at the ballpark, though. Is that supposed to be Jay Pharoah channeling Eddie Murphy’s idea of an old barber, or is that just my imagination, running away with me? Either way, Willis is the third barber next to Pharoah and Thompson, trying to keep up with a story about Wade Boggs. You know what’s even more fascinating than these barbershop stories? The idea that their pretend haircutting looks awful similar to half of the things I see actual barbers do when they’re supposedly cutting hair. Time for more storytelling, I imagine.

I don’t imagine any of you were imagining a Boy Dance Party, were you?

Nor were you ever imagining a world in which the same SNL cast member would play both Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga, and yet you and I both live in that world right now. Vanessa Bayer, ladies and gentlemen. Applause. Applause. Applause. Killam plays her sidekick, DJ Sebastian. And first up on the Lady Gaga Show, Michael Kors (Willis). Then: Penelope Cruz (McKinnon). Aidy Bryant shows up as a 45-year-old audience member who receives the Gaga Makeover Treatment.

Ladies and gentlemen, Katy Perry! “Roar!” No tricks, all treats with this one.

Weekend Update enjoyed a series of jokes at the expense of the impending divorce between Bruce Jenner and the Kardashian gold-digger matriarch.

Chaplain Barry Black (Thompson) asking us to “let us pray” over the government shutdown, but why is his name Barry Black? Let’s pray on that not being the reason we immediately jump to first.

Brooks Whelan got some facetime as himself at the Update desk, which shouldn’t surprise you since I’m telling you now that he already was a stand-up comedian when he auditioned this summer. Here he provides us with some advice on tattoos, based on his own life experience. Note to selves: Don’t get tattoos.

An Armageddon sketch seems outdated, but remember, Willis hadn’t hosted the show since 1989?! But that is what they’re going for here, as they’ve even gone so far as to put a Capt. Harry Stamper badge on Willis’s space uniform (note: his crew mates here aren’t the guys from the 1998 movie that won Willis the Razzie for Worst Actor, but replaced by “Stone Dog,” “Moose” and “Chance”). All of these years later, we have the chance to see how he and his crew would handle Moynihan’s kitty-kat lover, Kirby, as one of their own…again, no MACGRUBER. You’re really missing Will Forte as much as I imagine you are, aren’t you.

Fun fact: Kirby’s full name is Kirby J. Buttercream.

Moving on.

Centauri Vodka launch party: Strong premise; execution, almost. I know there’s not a hard and fast rule that we have to wait until 12:30 a.m. to see Mike O’Brien and the careless whisper of a John Milhiser sighting, let alone Nasim Pedrad in a sketch, but here we are. “The actor who’s playing my back legs…really sweet guy. I’m a little worried about him.” So are we. Something about the pacing, the timing…just…missing it…by…this……….much.

That one with the 31-year-old guy, Eddie (Killam), still living with his family and making a lot of nonsense noise about the one word that’s mispronounced by a visitor. Glice? Whatevs. When the main character in a scene says “I’m messing with you!” early in the proceedings, it’s best to read that as a sign you can tune out the rest of the scene, because it’s really all just messing with us. Unless it were funny. Nope. Just messing with you. Or maybe it’s just Lorne Michaels missing Gilly. Who knows. We’ll never know.

Good Neighbor’s fraternity beer pong sketch video gone awry, “Sigma,” lets John Milhiser play the straight man, while Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney play the centaur’s asses, so to speak. If you want to play by the rules, you have to pay attention.

Has Robyn always been one of Katy Perry’s backup dancers, and we’re only noticing this now? Discuss.

E-Meth repeat (lest you forget some classic SNL fake ads have repeated) reminds us of that classic turn of phrase: Those of us who are doomed to forget the past, but lest us not forget that Breaking Bad was on, bitch. Or something like that.

Thank you and goodnight. See you in 24 years! Or in two weeks. Whichever comes first. Be careful going home! Or walking home. Fun inside jokes, people!

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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