October 30, 2010

SNL Recap: Jon Hamm / Rihanna

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At the end of last week’s blog, I wrote about how this episode would definitely not disappoint, but alas, I jinxed myself and it disappointed.  Whereas last week’s episode all-over-the-place and overall weak, it carried an encompassing wild and eclectic charm which complemented host Emma Stone’s outlandish personality.  However, last night’s episode completely ruined the opportunity to allow Jon Hamm, star of the red-hot AMC series Mad Men, to shine in his third acting stint by juxtaposing his genuine enthusiasm and hidden comedic chops with bland sketches and weak writing.  If not for Rihanna’s glowing purple-red hair, the episode would have lacked any excitement and color.

Cold Open – For me, the cold open always sets the tone for the rest of the episode and seeing Jason Sudiekis play Joe Biden made me groan.  Now, even though I enjoy Sudiekis’ Biden impersonation more than Armisen’s Obama, there just isn’t much about this current White House Administration that is genuinely funny and easy to make fun of as there was with the George W. Bush Administration.  So I wish that SNL would sometimes just stop trying to pump the nonexistent juices out of this political administration.  Joe Biden did have a good line though, alluding to how Americans should be happier: “Don’t be whiners, think about the miners!”

Monologue – It’s so weird seeing Jon Hamm in somewhat casual attire, as he sheds his Don Draper persona in exchange for a relaxed and excited host.  Of course, the monologue focused on Mad Men as Hamm creates advertising slogans for everyday items such as diapers and refrigerators.  Overall, a nice warmup monologue for Hamm who would appear confident the rest of the night.

Digital Short: “Ronnie and Clyde” – Shy Ronnie’s back with his femme fatale, Rihanna!  Rihanna, as always is staunchly confident and somewhat robotic while Shy Ronnie stands in the back, afraid to mutter a word in front of her.  Only when Rihanna leaves does Ronnie reveal his true character as a spit-fire genius.  Best part of the digital short:  Rihanna dragging Jon Hamm and singing without any emotion, “Come one, we’re gonna have sex.”

Vincent Price’s Halloween Special – I’m a huge fan of these sketches, but even this one fell flat for me.  Bill Hader reprises the role of Vincent Price as he welcomes his spazzy friends Judy Garland (Kristen Wiig) and John F. Kennedy (Jon Hamm).  However, it’s his piano accompanist, Liberace (Fred Armisen), who always steals the show with his plethora of homosexual-alluding antics and punchlines, leading to the ultimate scene of JFK inadvertently gripping Liberace in inappropriate areas.

Back to the Future Screen Tests – This sketch would probably be more enjoyable if I’d seen Back to the Future, but the Eddie Murphy (Jay Pharaoh), Al Pacino (Bill Hader), Jennifer Tilly (Kristen Wiig), Robin Williams (Jon Hamm) impersonations were hilarious.

Audition – Because once wasn’t enough with her impersonation of Judy Garland, we get another spastic Kristen Wiig sketch in which she plays Lizette Barnes who goes to an audition only to reveal that she’s literally willing to do anything except,ironically, “wear a costume.”  This was overall, a nice, natural Wiig sketch, but I feel like we’ve been getting too much of her recently; SNL needs to start showcasing Abby Elliot, Nasim Pedrad and Vanessa Bayer more often instead of automatically handing over all female roles to Wiig.

Back to the Future Screen Tests II – More of a platform for hilariously spot-on impressions: Nicholas Cage (Andy Samberg), Prince (Fred Armisen), Bill Cosby (Kenan Thompson), Joan Cusack (Abby Elliot), Pee Wee Herman (Taran Killam)

Weekend Update – I know a lot of people love Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig’s “Garth and Kat” segment in which they play a duo who genuinely improvs their holiday-themed songs, but it’s never been my cup of tea so I fast-forwarded their jumbled-up songs although I have to say that I always enjoy their amazingly appropriate sweater vests and perfectly permed hair.  Bill Hader also reprises his impersonation of James Carville, the CNN political contributor who somehow always manages to skirt the borders of insanity.

I Didn’t Ask for This – A creative idea that again, never really took off.  Bobby Moynihan plays the host of a new talk show that focuses on the unfortunate stars of embarrassing viral videos whose personally tragic moments get autotuned and remixed for the enjoyment of the rest of us.

Highway Cops – Jon Hamm and Jason Sudeikis play police officers circa the 1970′s who instead of getting the job done, hops on their motorcycle to enjoy leisurely rides and homoerotic make-out scenes.

Darleke and Barney – A strangely soothing and funny sketch in which Hamm and Wiig exchange a mixture of banter and song in a cocktail lounge to an audience who’s just as confused as the rest of us.  But this sketch really showcases Hamm’s unexpected natural knack for comedy that’s hidden in lieu of his dramatic role in Mad Men.

Musical Guest – Rihanna seems like she’s actually glowing in her performances of “Only Girl in the World” and “What’s My Name.”

Overall Episode – C… I hate to say this, but last week’s episode, Emma Stone / Kings of Leon, was actually better than this episode as a whole.  Again, it didn’t have to do with the host, per se; it was more so of the content that just did not match the host’s enthusiasm.  Like Emma Stone, Jon Hamm also gets an A for effort.

Next week… a repeat of the Jane Lynch / Bruno Mars episode in case you missed it and two weeks from now, Mrs. Ryan Reynolds, the lovely Scarlett Johannsen hosts with Canadian alt-rockers Arcade Fire taking center stage as music guest.  Side note:  I’m legitimately shocked at how many female hosts they’re bringing on this season.

Original Author: Jonathan Yuan