SNL #40.17 RECAP: Host Michael Keaton, musical guest Carly Rae Jepsen

How long has it really been since Michael Keaton last hosted Saturday Night Live? Keaton hosted in 1982 when he first broke big with Night Shift (a year before Mr. Mom, even!), then again in 1992 when he was a two-time Batman hero, and then not again for another 23 years.

Would we go down Nostalgia Lane? Would SNL be able to react to that very night’s exciting Final Four action in men’s college basketball? Yes and yes. But would it all be funny?

Let’s go to the recap!

NCAA Tournament Cold Open: Ernie Johnson (Beck Bennett), Kenny Smith (Jay Pharoah) and Charles Barkley (Kenan Thompson) discuss Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s (Taran Killam) surprising announcement. Impressive bit of hustle and prognostication by the writers responding in almost real-time, as the Wisconsin upset of Kentucky happened about 15 minutes before airtime. Not to mention focusing the entire sketch on Duke being in the finals. Pharoah’s attention to detail works better if you’ve also been paying close attention to basketball analysis on TV, while Thompson merely just has fun playing oafish with Sir Charles. The rest almost doesn’t matter?

Michael Keaton Tribute Monologue: Taran Killam and Bobby Moynihan interrupt Michael Keaton’s monologue to try and convince him to play Batman and Beetlejuice with them. Starting to seriously wonder if someone made a bet in the writers’ room that they couldn’t shoehorn an original song into each monologue for the remainder of the season. Why does there have to be a song? Or is the bet to make the monologue seem as though it’s straight out of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip?! I’ll take that bet. That said, how about a wow for Moynihan and Killam’s makeup jobs as Penguin and The Joker. And Keaton’s an amiable sport at the end to play along.

No fake ad in the fake ad slot!

CNN Newsroom: Brooke Baldwin (Cecily Strong) breaks down the Germanwings plane crash, the Iran nuclear weapons deal and Indiana’s religious freedom law with animated graphics, puppet stand-ins and a performance art group (Michael Keaton, Kenan Thompson, Aidy Bryant). The good news for CNN is that people are starting to pay more attention to you again. The bad news is it’s because your over-the-top overkill in breaking news that’s didn’t need to be broken is almost as ridiculous as playing fast and loose with the facts over on FOX News. Almost as ridiculous. Actually, pretending you need these re-enactments is pretty stupendously stupid. Nice Dire Straits reference for the olds! (Hint: We’re all olds!)

Prom Queen: A popular student (Mike O’Brien) bets that whomever he brings to prom as his date will be named prom queen, even a teacher (Michael Keaton). Mike O’Brien has carved out this Albert Brooks role for himself on the show, and even if you’re not on board with the She’s All That tribute turned gay, you have to admire O’Brien’s commitment to an idea. He also provides a nice counterpoint to Good Neighbor videos, proving SNL has room for multiple voices and points of view.

Easter Hotline: If you’re feeling lonely and need someone to talk to this Easter, pick up the phone and call… your grandparents. Cute. Topical. On point. But I’m not calling my grandparents. Because they’re dead. And they’re not rising again this Sunday. Happy Easter!

Ad Agency: The CEO of an ad agency (Michael Keaton) joins his staff’s (Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson, Leslie Jones, Beck Bennett) brainstorming session and changes all of their ideas for the worse. We get it, Mad Man is returning for its final season, and the womanizing alcoholics in advertising didn’t quite go away with the 1960s, so here’s a sketch that illustrates that. Whuuuuuuuut?

Neurotology Music Video: Followers of Neurotology star in a music video that sings the religion’s praises in this Scientology parody. Before you watch this video, please, whatever else you do, look up the HBO documentary Going Clear, then you’ll truly enjoy what they’ve accomplished here.

Ladies and gentlemen, Carly Rae Jepsen. This is her new hit song that’ll form an earworm into your heart, “I Really Like You.” Does it make me one of Men of a Certain Age that I develop an instant crush on the backup singer? I really really really really really like her.

Weekend Update 4-4-15: Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week’s biggest news, including the Iran nuclear deal, a woman who gave birth in the back of an Uber car, rumors The View will replace Rosie O’Donnell with Monica Lewinsky and Chinese researchers creating a shape-shifting metal. OK, so. Kudos for finding a way to tie the Iranian nuclear deal into a Lethal Weapon metaphor, even if Jost wouldn’t say shit about it. But that Lewinsky joke? Um. Er. I see what you did there. We all see what you did there.

Weekend Update: Pete Davidson on The Walking Dead Season Finale: Weekend Update’s resident young person shares his fears about the zombie apocalypse, mainly that he’ll be mistaken for a zombie. The Norman Reedus cameo felt late, somehow, even if Davidson threw in a Boondock Saints reference to make it all just the right amount of outdated.

Weekend Update: Jebidiah Atkinson Reviews Television Shows: Jebidiah Atkinson (Taran Killam) is not impressed with the new seasons of Mad Men and Game of Thrones and he’s not a fan of classic comedies like Seinfeld and I Love Lucy either. Look, the audience clearly loves this character almost as much as the show itself does. Is there some reason why they also clearly were treating each of his jokes so seriously, though? Also, his self-referencing jab at himself and SNL didn’t land as surely as it should have. Especially since the audience was that responsive. Hmmm.

Smart Home: An inventor (Michael Keaton) and his wife (Cecily Strong) frighten their neighbors (Kate McKinnon, Kyle Mooney, Vanessa Bayer, Beck Bennett) when they start showing off their invasive “smart” products. We’re in the final half-hour, or time for SNL to start really indulging its weird side. Which means an odd sexually perverse premise such as a couch that sticks a tube up your butt to figure out who’s sitting on the sofa. Chris Hardwick still would shout POINTS! at all of the characters for managing to deliver their lines in monotone as if this whole sketch were an infomercial.

Once again, Carly Rae Jepsen. This is her new song, “All That.”

What happened to throw off the timing of the show? Lots of ads thrown in here after the second and final musical segment, so instead of two sketches, they’re only going to leave us with one.

Easter Candy: Michael Keaton shares what’s inside his Easter basket, including a plush bunny, a DVD of the movie Friday and Jordan almonds. Mixed messages aplenty happening here at the 5-to-1 slot, with Kate McKinnon and Bobby Moynihan going all-out weirdo, which is the wont for a closing sketch on SNL, but what’s with Keaton playing overly effeminate with a wig, yet in the end it turns out he was playing himself? Was that supposed to be the joke? Or was this sketch just a clearinghouse for bizarre punchlines and ideas?

Well, that’s one way to end the show.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend. See you back here next Saturday night with host Taraji P. Henson and musical guest Mumford and Sons!

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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