Season 38, Episode 11
Everybody's nerd-crush, Jennifer Lawrence, stops by to host, and The Lumineers twee it up on the musical stage.
Cold Open – Piers Morgan Tonight: Apparently attempting to take care of a huge chunk of current news in one fell swoop, this Piers Morgan iteration took on Lance Armstrong, Manti Te’o, and (somewhat inexplicably) Jodie Foster. Now, the Morgan sketches tend to work best when they ramp up the craziness in the guests and contrast that with Morgan’s calm demeanor. So while I saw what they were trying to do here by keeping all of the guests along a same theme – in this case, shocking revelations – none of these guest felt crazier than the other, so this sketch lacked any sort of momentum. Top that with the fact that Foster’s Golden Globe speech is nether sports related or all that revelatory, and I was left somewhat underwhelmed.
Monologue: It often feels as if the monologue is one of the least thought-through elements of any SNL episode, filled with some lazy/corny humor. So colored me surprised when said corny humor actually sort of worked for once. Having Lawrence riff on her Golden Globe win, here possible Oscar wins, and (for some reason) Tommy Lee Jones’ stone-faced appearance at the Globes it admittedly pretty lazy, but Lawrence was so charming here that she gave all the corny jokes a sort of winking, knowing air that helped sell them. That’s at least one good sign for the show to come.
Starbucks Verismo: Hey, do look whinging about the service at Starbucks? And do you like that whinging to have a weird, unearned tint of racism? Then this is the sketch just for you! Admittedly, some of the more specific humor of the sketch worked, but most of it was too broad, and the sketch as whole just sunk.
Girlfriends Talk Show: The “Girlfriends Talk Show” isn’t a sketch I have much to say about, because it hits at some tired humor, but the patter between Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong usually helps elevate it to serviceable levels. That being said, this sketch didn’t really reach an actually conclusion more than it just…ended, and that end up hurting the overall quality.
Hunger Games Press Conference: Let’s look past the fact that doing a Hunger Games parody is both fairly expected and lazy considering that the show did another parody last season. Even given those passes, this sketch didn’t really work. It’s not that there weren’t some good ideas here – the reporter who was constantly hungry, the one who normally covers the golf beat, and the continual ragging on Peeta were all good – but this sketch didn’t really have a throughline, and that left the jokes feeling a bit too random to work. Additionally, Lawrence was more or less sidelined for the sketch – the de facto setting for hosts these days – but the fact that she was playing the main character in this universe just made that relegation stand out all the more.
The Hobbit Parts 2-19: Hey, did you know that the Hobbit has been split into 3 parts? Oh, you did? And you’ve made jokes about it? Okay, then maybe you should just pretend that this sketch didn’t happen…
Johnny Two Tones: Given that this sketch gave us the hard sell in beginning about the restaurant having purposely sardonic waiters, it was pretty clear that they would soon introduce a character who was not that. That’s just how these things go. Granted, Lawrence wasn’t bad in selling the crazy, actually mean character that she was playing, but the whole thing was so predictable that it couldn’t really produce any true laughs.
Weekend Update: In addition to Seth Meyer’s usual shtick, we also got…Second-Hand news with Anthony Crispino, which is definitely not my thing. This is the sort of segment where it feels like the punchline (Anthony’s flubbed reading of the news) comes before the set-up (where Seth sets him straight), and it just sucks all the air out of the joke…And that was it. One guest segment. I’m sorry, didn’t the SNL writers have a month off? Weren’t they supposed to come back refreshed, bursting with ideas?
Top Dog Chef: I wanted to like this one, I really did. I like dogs, and I tend to be a sucker for dog-related humor. And the sketch came out early with a killer gag about doorbells, one that seemed to be set up as a throughline for the sketch (or at least pointed to a set of good, specific dog jokes). Instead, the rest of the sketch was filled with some of the easiest/laziest dog-related gags, and at least 3 groan-worth puns. (I kind of blacked-out after the third one, so I may have lost count.)
Mad Early Morning Radio Show: The first time this sketch aired, I wrote “this sketch shouldn't really work, since making fun of early morning talk shows is another thing that's pretty old hat in sketch comedy. However, Killam and Moynihan were absolutely charming douche-bag DJ's, to the extent that I was lightly snickering throughout the whole thing.” I second that emotion for Lawrence’s poorly-skilled rapper character, which allowed her to be charming for the first time since her monologue. (Last time, I also wrote that “lightly snickering throughout the whole thing [is] more than I can say for most SNL sketches tonight,” which also still hold true.)
Danielle: This is a prime example of the sort of anti-comedy that SNL is just not capable of pulling off. While I get that the sketch was supposed to be satirizing the terrible writing (and dubbing) of foreign language, late night soft-core porn, the actual result was way too stilted to actually engender any laughs. Maybe it should have been goofier, maybe it shouldn’t have been as true to the source material, but it just didn’t work.
Civil War Correspondence: Ah, a simple crass-meats-high-class juxtaposition humor sketch. It’s not a bad way to do a sketch, but it’s also not a recipe for top-notch hilarity, and at this point of the night, it just comes off as too little, too late. And considering this is the last sketch of the night, I had kind of hoped it would go a little weirder. But of course, weird is probably what the writers were going for with the “Danielle” sketch, so maybe it’s a good thing that they didn’t.
I…oh, just fuck it. Lawrence was good, but the writing was terrible. The end.
Next Week: Adam Levine continues his attempt at acting domination that he started over on American Horror Story, and white people finally discover Kendrick Lamar.
“Good evening, I’m Piers Morgan, or as you may know me, the British Mario Lopez.”
“Man, Lennay is going to be pissed…”
“Oh, and I’m obsessed with girls…the show. I just love that show.”
“Up next, we will have a heated debate on gun control with who else, Liam from One Direction.”
“Yesterday, he made me stand behind a portrait for five hours while he stared at me and ate Caesar salad.”
“You don’t even have David any more. He bit a baby and you guys had to put him to sleep.”
“So let me get this straight: In Spain, porn is just on TV?”
“Many were eliminated, some ran away, and one had to be put down.”
“And I’ll say this again: Nobody who rings the doorbell is there to kill you.”