January 9, 2011

SNL Recap: Jim Carrey / The Black Keys

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Jim Carrey was, at one point, on top of the world.  The last time he hosted SNL, all the way back in 1996, he was riding a wave of success thanks to hits, like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber.  More recently, however, Carrey’s fame has been arguably more sporadic, most recently appearing in an eclectic mix of movies that ranged from the critically acclaimed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to the not-so-loved The Number 23.  Regardless, Jim Carrey is still a modern-day master of physical humor, known particularly for his exaggerated facial expressions.  He returned to the sketch comedy stage (the arena which kicked off his career – he was a cast-member of In Living Color for four years), and SNL eagerly played his style of humor for the night, resulting in an inexplicable blend of offbeat, physical sketches.

Cold Open – New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Fred Armisen) addressed the recent snowstorm in New York City, and depicted New Yorkers as creatures that had never seen snow before.  He tackled some of his fellow New Yorkers’ burning questions relating to the snowstorm, such as, “what happens if snow touches suede.”  Overall, it was a nice, albeit, underwhelming political cold opening, but I do have to say, I’m getting a little tired of seeing Fred Armisen opening every single episode.

Monologue – There’s always something a little maniacal about Jim Carrey’s face, which makes me a little unsettled, and his monologue was no different.  Carrey talked about his excitement for the upcoming new year, which he also called, “the last year before the Apocalypse!”  But no worries, Carrey’s an optimistic guys, stating that he’ll kayak in a river of blood – but of course, with a condom on… you don’t know what kind of diseases you can find in blood.  In SNL monologues, I love the interaction of the host with the audience members, and Carrey took advantage of his opportunity by asking an unsuspecting – and already married – woman sitting in the front row whether she’d marry him.

Bosley Hair Transplant Commercial – Okay SNL, as funny as it is to transplant pubic hair onto bald spots, this is the third time I’ve seen this … in half a season so far.  Moving on …

The Black Swan – My friends have pushed me to see this movie, and I’m sure I would have appreciated this sketch more if I had.  And yet, it was still funny to see Carrey returning to his well-known physical humor.  Within one sketch, Carrey – playing the Black Swan – alongside Nasim Pedrad’s White Swan, stuck his whole fist in his mouth and exposed his nipples to the audience.

Finding Your Power – SNL frequently takes witty ideas and executes them weakly and halfheartedly.  They can now add this sketch to their long roster of half-baked sketches.  Jason Sudeikis played the host of a talk-show, where he talked to guests (Andy Samberg, Vanessa Bayer, Jim Carrey) about their own confrontations.  He then exposed their confrontations to be nothing more than pathetic breakdowns.

Grady Wilson’s Tantric ‘N Tasty – A recurring sketch (funny for around the first two times), Grady Wilson (Kenan Thompson) videotapes his well thought-up and thematic sexual positions.  With the help of Lee Liscious (Jim Carrey), Grady brought a mix of South Asian positions, which included the “Sneaky Baboon” and the “Slum-dog Millionaire.”

Soul Train Collection – I’m always a fan of these sketches, where the whole premise revolves around the cast-members’ subpar dance moves and singing voices – but something about this sketch just did not resonate with me.  Fictitious acts that were considered to be the “Worst of Soul Train” were all found in this one collection with performances from almost every single cast member of SNL (Moynihan, Pharaoh, Samberg, Thompson, Wiig, Pedrad, Carrey, Brittain, Killam, Sudeikis).

Weekend Update – A somewhat blasé week for Seth’s Weekend Update was uplifted by his always interesting array of guests, which started with Nancy Pelosi (Kristen Wiig) and the new Speaker of the House, John Boehner (Bill Hader).  First of all, I just have to say, Hader bore absolutely no resemblance to Representative Boehner, only making this up with the copious amounts of tanned makeup.  However, his banter with Pelosi was definitely the highlight of the night for me.  The cast made fun of the new House Speaker’s excessive crying at Pelosi’s mere mention of a “little American flag” and reruns of “Touched by an Angel,” but immediately stopping at the mention of “millions without health care.”  Pelosi referencing Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” was also a personal highlight for me.  Bobby Moynihan’s second news correspondent, Anthony Crispino, also made another appearance, having heard that Brett Favre is “retarded” and that Oprah has a new television set.  In what was possibly the strangest guest segment ever on Weekend Update, Cameron the Winged Blackbird (Andy Samberg) and Everett the Fish (Taran Killam) joined Seth to explain the mysterious sudden deaths of blackbirds and fish in the midwest.  And yes, Samberg and Killam did come in a full body bird and fish costume, respectively.

Amusement Park Ride – Kenan Thompson and Kristen Wiig appeared in this sketch as carnival-goers on a ride, in which they meet electronic dancers (Taran Killam, Jim Carrey, Bill Hader), who seem too real to actually be animatronic.  Again, Carrey’s specific degree of creepiness meshed perfectly with the premise and execution of this sketch.

Psychic Medium – Carrey played a supposedly psychic medium, who ended up being nothing more than a retired impressionist.  This sketch basically became a canvass for all of Carrey’s great, albeit obscure, impressions, which included Jimmy Stewart, Billie Holiday, Miss Piggy, Kermit and the Growing Pains father, Michael Seaver.  Talk about a flashback …

A Taste of New York – A very weak ten-to-one sketch that featured Kristen Wiig, Jim Carrey and Fred Armisen as a trashy, and most likely, homeless New York street corner band.

Musical Guest – The Black Keys performed “Howlin’ for You” and “Tighten Up” on the SNL stage in what seemed like a folk-rock-electronica blend of genres.  I’ve heard so many good things about this band, who really found mainstream success in 2010.  Their performances made me feel like they’re going to have an even more successful 2011.

Overall Episode – B

This was definitely not the worst episode of the season so far, by any means, but there was just something that felt really odd about every single sketch tonight.  That feeling could easily be attributed to my personal mixed feelings toward Jim Carrey.  However, I give props to SNL for providing Jim Carrey material, in which he could excel at, instead of using him as a supporting role the whole night.  On a different note, I’ve come to the conclusion that Abby Elliott and Paul Brittain are probably making out backstage every single episode, considering they have literally been missing in action this whole season.

Next week, a new episode with host Gwyneth Paltrow, who stars in the new movie, Country Strong, and musical guest, Cee-Lo Green.  Interestingly enough, Paltrow did a rendition of Cee-Lo, “F*** You” on Glee this past season.

Original Author: Jonathan Yuan