No offense, Saturday Night Live, but you need to get your head in the game a little bit. Your first two episodes of the season were so good that I got my hopes up, and now that it’s in a mini-slump, I’m even more disappointed because I know your true potential. Last night’s musical guest was Bruno Mars, and the host was…also Bruno Mars. Who is well-known for his fine acting and comedic chops, as honed by long years of study at…absolutely nowhere. Which was problematic. Not that Bruno isn’t a super talented musician, because he is. And he didn’t embarrass himself in the sketches, but because he’s never been an actor, he had no point of view to bring to the show, which is what it really needs to be successful.
His monologue at least managed to point out everyone’s concerns, riffing on the fact that all he could see was our ‘judging faces’ waiting to see if he would fail, but SNL also went to their go-to fallback this season, which is having a host sing in their monologue. It seems like any time they’re at all nervous about someone’s skill as a host, they just add singing and/or dancing. I think the only person so far this year who hasn’t done either of those things was Daniel Craig. Christina Applegate, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Seth MacFarlane all did. And now we can add Bruno to that list.
On the plus side, I thought the cold opening was awesome. It was a spoof of the second presidential debate, which was held this past Tuesday at Hofstra University, which also happens to be my alma mater. (Not that I’m biased, but I’m totally biased.) The writing was funny, the impressions were on, and they finally let Aidy Bryant talk for more than a sentence in a scene, as she played Candy Crowley, the moderator. They also inexplicably added Tom Hanks to the mix, and peppered him liberally throughout the rest of the show, anytime the audience’s enthusiasm started to flag.
Another highlight was Taran Killam‘s impression of Brad Pitt for the Chanel No. 5 spoof commercial. They drew on the fact that Brad looked pretty seriously homeless and was strangely incoherent for the original commercial, and inserted the spoof several more times throughout the show, making Brad sell Doritos, , and dog condoms. Not my absolute favorite impression ever, but topical, and definitely similar enough to be funny.
There was also a hilarious sketch where Pandora crashes and the executives have to ask their intern, Bruno Mars, to sing songs live for people while they click through. He has to sing in the styles of Katy Perry, Michael Jackson, and Aerosmith, and I’d love to show it to you, but they didn’t put it up on Hulu so you’ll just have to imagine it. And finally, there was the return of Stefon, giving tips for the hottest Halloween parties, and Bill Hader‘s hilarious, ill-fated attempts to hold it the fuck together. He’s lucky one of his character bits is to cover his mouth, because he was cracking himself up the whole way through. By the end, he’s shaking in laughter with his head in his hands. It’s not like he does it all the time, though, so I kind of loved it.
So yeah. Some good, some bad, mostly neutral. But I know you have it in you, SNL! Bring it home next week with Louis C.K. and musical guest Fun. These are famous last words, but I literally don’t see how that could go wrong.
(Image: NBC via Mary Ellen Matthews)