While officially recognized as a variety show, SNL has become so much more than that over the years. One cannot deny the impact that it has had on our culture for the past 45 years. When things happen in the news, people look to SNL for their take on the issue. And this week, there was certainly a lot to talk about. With the Eric Garner decision and the looming issue of racial inequality, one would think SNL would be armed with the biting political satire that we have grown so accustomed to through the years. And they certainly had the man to do to it too, with James Franco: America’s favorite actor, artist, scholar, poet, kinda gay guy. But unfortunately, the show just kinda fell flat. Franco did a great job blending with the cast, but overall, there were way too many sketches that left me saying “what?” Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
This political attack ad was the best sketch of the night. After losing the mayoral election to a four-year-old boy, Franco goes off on a rant just eviscerating the kid in pretty much every aspect of his life. It was ridiculous yet hilarious, which even Franco realized when he broke character recounting the time he pooped his pants at work. As I said earlier Franco was a terrific host, and when he had material to work with, he killed it.
This is the sixth time that the porn stars have come out in support of the newest hot product on the market. But despite its predictability, it still manages to be funny every time thanks to their outrageous stories, sexual puns and stupidity. And although Cecily and Vanessa’s monologue was not as strong as their previous go’s, what really shined in this sketch was Seth Rogen and James Franco playing the two male porn stars, Captain Jack Swallow, and James Franco. You can feel the chemistry between the two best friends and it really elevates the entire sketch.
This week’s Update featured SNL’s attempted redemption for their terrible first attempt at addressing the Eric Garner decision, with Jost and Che expressing their disbelief over the blatant injustice. And while it was certainly an improvement, it still felt somewhat uncomfortable thanks to their awkward delivery which made their jokes feel forced and misplaced. After addressing that situation, the Update Desk got a visit from Second Hand News Correspondent Anthony Crispino, Leslie Jones, and Nicki Minaj as Kim Kardashian. Leslie Jones did a good job explaining why black people should never do shrooms, but other than that, all the visits did was confirm my hunch that Nicki Minaj shouldn’t ever act or do comedy, no matter how much the audience freaks out.
This was the best sketch of the night that never was. Depicting life after the Ferguson decision, this hilarious sketch was “cut for time”, aka NBC was too scared to air the sketch. Although it did get a few nervous “ooo’s” from the audience, it was nice to see SNL taking a stand on anything. It was edgy, and funny which is what made it so great. As Jon Stewart said, one thing that makes comedy so powerful is that it can be used as a “catharsis, a way of processing emotion that might otherwise be undigested.” This sketch does exactly that and it’s a shame it wasn’t put on air.
This sketch gave off a sense of relief for the audience, who had to wait until almost halfway through the show before seeing a solid sketch. Despite struggling last year as a cast member, Mike O’Brien has been killing it lately with his quirky, yet charming shorts. Not to mention Beck Bennett is the perfect character to play Flint the bully. His passive aggressive nature was almost too spot on when he complained about the Grow-a-Guy eating all his marshmallows at his family’s “nice ass lakehouse.”
A Few More Thoughts
I know I said it before but it needs repeating. Nicki Minaj did not do a good job. Was the live audience comprised of 13 year old girls? Everyone lost their minds every time she moved. Makes no sense. There’s talk that she locked up a hosting spot next year after her performance, which would not be good. All I can say is let’s hope Lorne Michaels reads The Rock.
Next week we have Martin Freeman (aka the Hobbit) hosting with Charli XCX as musical guest. See you then, and if you need some more comedy to hold you over til then, check out this roundup of SNL’s best holiday sketches!