SNL #40.15 RECAP: Host Chris Hemsworth, musical guest Zac Brown Band

First-timers Chris Hemsworth and Zac Brown Band took the stage at Studio 8H to host and perform music on Saturday Night Live. Without his hammer, how would “Thor” bring the funny? Would he show a softer side, or would it be all muscle and brawn? Perhaps a bit of both, as it turned out.

To the recap!

Hillary Cold Open: Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon) says she has nothing to hide in her emails and that this scandal won’t stop her from becoming president, if she decides to run. McKinnon’s Hillary almost makes everyone forget that Amy Poehler had been running the Hillary impersonation train for years. The way McKinnon’s take shifts dramatically between offense and defense is wonderful. A confident funny approach to one of this week’s hot political topics of conversation.

Chris Hemsworth Monologue: Chris Hemsworth celebrates hosting SNL with his brothers, Liam, Luke and Callum (Kenan Thompson), and fields questions from the audience. Guess the monologue writers couldn’t come up with a funny idea for Hemsworth? Inviting his real brothers onstage was cute enough, but they didn’t do anything with that, instead bringing Thompson on as the magical fourth brother, and then steering cast members as audience to question Thompson the whole time. Total hijack cockblock. It’s not as if Chris Hemsworth hasn’t been oafishly funny as Thor. Let him have some fun. It’s supposed to be his monologue!

Fake ad in the fake ad slot!

American Express Ad: They said Chris Hemsworth was too tall and too blonde to be an actor but if a jacked Australian with a perfect face can make it, anyone can. In earlier generations of SNL, the most classic fake ads took the idea of a popular commercial campaign and applied it to a fake product — Colon Blow cereal, Bad Idea Jeans, Schmitts Gay beer. Even the Red Flag perfume ad starring Kristen Wiig from season 37. But the past year or two, SNL has gone after actual ads with straight parodies — whether it’s Jim Carrey channelling Matthew McConaughey’s Lincoln ads, last week’s ISIS parody of a real ad, and this week, it’s Chris Hemsworth for American Express.

What does it say about satire when it’s paired with corporate synergy? An actual American Express ad featuring Mindy Kaling aired almost immediately after the fake SNL American Express ad!?!?!

Brother 2 Brother: Matty (Chris Hemsworth) and Marky (Taran Killam) are twin brothers but they’re far from identical. And so Killam’s Marky is the poor mark in this sketch, forced to endure endless comparisons to his twin who’s superior in every way, from his teacher and classmates. Cecily Strong delivered her zingers without need of cue cards, while Killam’s facial expressions were priceless as everyone kept piling on him. But did you have to end with a dick joke?

Empire Promo: New hire Chip (Chris Hemsworth) learns it’s not easy working alongside Lucious (Kenan Thompson), Cookie (Sasheer Zamata), Jamal (Jay Pharoah), Hakeem (Michael Che) and Porsha (Leslie Jones) at Empire. Another healthy reminder that SNL picked a fine time to add some racial diversity to its cast, so it can have a go at the most popular show in primetime! And they gave Che something to do in character outside of Update, too! Not that they’re making fun of Empire, so much as the idea of introducing a white character who’s the proverbial fish out of water.

Spaceship: To save themselves, the crew of a spaceship (Chris Hemsworth, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson, Sasheer Zamata) must sacrifice their chicken captain. Staging a live comedy sketch where the characters act and react to a live chicken is something else?! “I knew he was dating that chicken. I just knew it!” It also includes an intentional homage to Leonard Nimoy’s Spock sacrifice tied up in neat twist? KAAAAAAAAAAHN! Only thing missing was a sweep edit flashback to that chicken finishing off a whole pizza.

The Iggy Azalea Show: Iggy Azalea (Kate McKinnon) welcomes Azealia Banks (Sasheer Zamata) to the show and shares hip-hop tips with the help of her cousin Rafty (Chris Hemsworth). Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy! Short. Sweet. Didn’t overstay its welcome. Right on, rap on!

Ladies and gentlemen, Zac Brown Band. This is “Homegrown.”

Weekend Update 3-7-15: Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week’s biggest news, including the percentage of African American arrests in Ferguson, Hillary Clinton’s decision to release her emails from her time as Secretary of State, the Delta plane that skid off the runway at LaGuardia Airport and Justin Bieber’s 21st birthday. Delta’s reputation among comedians is so bad that even a safe crash landing results in jokes about the pilot and the airline’s unwieldy fees! The only thing worse for Delta Airlines? Hiring Republican hopeful Dr. Ben Carson as a spokesman! I vote for more bits like the one in which Jost asked to read one of Che’s jokes, only to have it backfire on him. Even if it were a set-up, it worked brilliantly thanks to the execution.

Weekend Update: Leslie Jones on Dating in New York: Relationship expert Leslie Jones explains it’s not just dating in New York that’s hard; the winter and long avenue blocks are no picnic either. Jones may be becoming a star in front of our eyes this year, but she is not having it with the move to NYC. And yet. It’s still all about the subtext between Jones and Jost. “Don’t get cute with me, you frosty ass snowman!” Jost’s retort a minute later: “Nice transition.”

Weekend Update: Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party on Boko Haram: The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party (Cecily Strong) shares her thoughts on Boko Haram and ISIS joining forces. “Open your eyes, Michael!” “For every 10 people, there are 20 people.” One of these nights, there will be a face off between Strong’s “Girl You Wish…” and Bobby Moynihan’s “Drunk Uncle” in a sketch or on Update, and then we’ll finally know who has the answers to life.

Avengers News Report: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Taran Killam), Bruce Banner (Pete Davidson), Nick Fury (Jay Pharoah) and Captain America (Beck Bennett) celebrate defeating Ultron on live TV. Who’s more surprised that the SNL Avengers sketch aired AFTER Update instead of before: You, me or everybody?! Worst Gatorade dump ever, though. And somehow, this celebration doesn’t measure up to the previous celebration at the end of the first Avengers movie. Where is that shawarma place, anyhow?

Movie Set: A former director (Kenan Thompson) of Family Matters keeps giving his actors (Kate McKinnon, Chris Hemsworth) sitcom-style direction. Family Matters? What happened to The Jefferersonsons? That’ll ensure I give this sketch a proper double take!

Reality House: Things get tense in the house when Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Chase (Beck Bennett) decide to order dinner together but Brian (Kyle Mooney) wants to cook. I know what this is supposed to be mocking, or at least I thought I knew, but then they pull a couple of switcheroos so you’re not quite sure what reality pastiche they’re after here, and Mooney’s delivery is so reminiscent of so much previous Good Neighbor work…then again, I recoil from “reality” shows at this point, so have to recognize this is just not for me. Perhaps you loved it?

Once again, Zac Brown Band. This is “Heavy Is the Head” with guest Chris Cornell turning it up to 11!

Porn Stars: Dolce & Gabbana: The former porn stars (Vanessa Bayer, Cecily Strong) advertise a new fragrance from Dolce & Gabbana alongside Dong Juan De Dark Hole (Chris Hemsworth). The former porn stars are back in the five-to-one slot! Enjoyed the various ways they manhandle the pronunciation of the product. Dolky and Gababba. Douche and Go Bananas.

That’s our show. Thank your brothers. Thank Chris Cornell. It’s 1:01 a.m. and we’re outta here!

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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