As Russell Brand said himself last night, “I’m much more famous in England than in America!” And right you are, Mr. Brand. SNL made perhaps two of its most controversial picks ever last night with host former addict-comedian Russell Brand and the domestic-violence-ridden-past R&B singer Chris Brown. Not only did the executives choose these two polarizing men, but they also decided to put them together on the same stage. If you were excited to see if any remnants of a whirlwind of infamy would appear on last night’s SNL, you’d probably be more than a little disappointed. Most of the episode was unmemorable, and both the host and musical guest remained almost entirely uncontroversial.
Best known for his roles in Get Him to the Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Russell Brand has been attempting to make his stamp on the American comedic stage. His reputation skyrocketed following his unexpected marriage to pop-star Katy Perry while his sense of humor remained on the rocks with a large majority of America. I’ve always enjoyed Brand’s sense of humor, secretly appreciating his quick wit and droll responses, but I can certainly understand the disdain that many people have toward Brand and its raunchy, provocative style of comedy. Maybe a hint of that controversy could have done SNL some good last night, as all of the sketches seemed somewhat dull and rehashed with the exception of a brilliant faux movie commercial mocking British accents. Interestingly, as many people online have noticed, the encompassing style of last night’s sketches were almost akin to that of Monty Python – certainly not a coincidence, considering Brand’s involvement. It was very exciting, however, to see the night highlighted by SNL‘s featured players, most notably Taran Killam. Killam, who has been far from the star of the show this season, proved his abilities last night as an impressionist (solid Eminem impersonation) and a possible future-lead man.
Sketches to Watch – Monologue (Brand’s monologue was uncharacteristically lengthy, but it was refreshing to see a seasoned comedian as opposed to, say, Taylor Lauter, perform a comedy routine on the SNL stage), Spider Man Lawsuit, British Movie (perhaps the funniest sketch of the night that involved Bill Hader and Fred Armisen engaging in absolutely incomprehensible yet perfected British accents), Royal Taster, Taran Killam’s Eminem and Bill Hader’s Stefon (Weekend Update)
Sketches to Miss – The O’Reilly Factor (Cold Open), Fred Armisen’s Hosni Mubarak (Weekend Update), Jay Pharaoh’s Lil’ Wayne (Weekend Update), Livin’ Single (Although if you’re interested in seeing Brand groping Vanessa Bayer for five minutes, please help yourself), A Spot of Tea, George Washington.
You Decide – Ultimate Vacation Giveaway: If you like Kristen Wiig, then you’ll definitely again love this recurring spastic character. It you hate Kristen Wiig, this sketch will simply add on to your reasons of disgust. At the end of the sketch, a huge gutter falls on Wiig – surely a crowd-pleaser whether you like Wiig or not.
Overall Episode – B-
This was definitely the weakest episode so far of 2011 (Jim Carrey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jesse Eisenberg, Dana Carvey) but I don’t think it’d be fair to entirely blame Russell Brand. Yes, he did somewhat alter the comedic atmosphere at SNL, shifting more toward (largely unsuccessful) British humor, but it’s undeniable that he remained enthusiastic and upbeat the entire night.
Next two weeks: repeats of Paul Rudd / Paul McCartney and Anne Hathaway / Florence and the Machine and on March 5th, a new episode hosted by Miley Cyrus with musical guest, The Strokes.
Original Author: Jonathan Yuan