After returning from their long winter’s nap, the writers of SNL brought their A game backed by a terrific host in Kevin Hart, and musical guest Sia. I’ve always been a big fan of Hart’s stand up, but not necessarily because he’s the funniest guy around. What makes him so good is his tremendous storytelling ability and energy make him a lot of fun to watch. Hart’s first hosting gig didn’t go too well, but that was more because of weak material. This time around, without the safety net of any recurring sketches, the writers flexed their creativity and took risks that killed for the most part. Hart delivered a committed, lively performance and created some great sketches because of it. Let’s take a look at them now:
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It’s not easy being Justin Bieber. For every childhood star, they go through a phase of cuteness and innocence, but eventually they grow out of it and everyone moves on. But no matter how tattoos he gets, the Biebs will always be a stupid child in the eyes of the public. It’s kinda like how Jonah Hill will always be fat no matter how much weight he loses. Sad really, but I guess that’s life. That being said, Kate McKinnon did a perfect job with her disturbingly accurate impression of him, and her one liners made these one of the best sketches of the night.
On the eve of MLK Eve, it was only fitting for SNL to give a hat tip to Dr. King in the Cold Opening. Assisting a young Pete Davidson on his homework, Kenan Thompson brought a tremendous energy to the sketch, per usual, as he became more and more befuddled hearing about the modern world. It was a solid opening that set the tone for the entire show, reminding us that despite our differences, in the end, #We’reAllBlack.
In one of his standup bits, Kevin Hart that he’d make a terrible rapper. After watching this sketch however, it’s safe to say he was completely wrong. Hart spat liquid fire as he ran through stories of all his friends, always falling back on the hook: “Pew pew pew pew! Pop pop! Pop pop! Gunshot sounds!” You could feel the energy from Hart as he waved his arms around revealing his friends’ secrets. Also in case you were wondering, that fact about gummy bears was true and after doing some Googling, it’s safe to say I’ll never look at Jell-O the same way again.
These sketches where a cast member impersonates the host are tricky. They can either work out really well, in the case of Jimmy Fallon and Andy Samberg, or they could fall terribly flat, like with Justin Bieber and the entire cast. Luckily in this instance, Jay Pharoah did a terrific impression of Kevin Hart, nailing his weird sounds, hand clapping and other mannerisms. Although it did seem to run a little too long, it was a fun sketch to watch and gave Pharoah a chance to thrive in a role that wasn’t Barack Obama.
This short was just brilliant. Misdirection at every turn, just escalating and leading up to the twist at the end. It perfectly portrayed the new world that Kenan, Jay and Kevin joined with the gentrification of their neighborhood. Their cool, laid back attitude perfectly complemented the absurdities going on around them, none more perfect than Kenan exclaiming, “You actin’ like somebody put gluten in your muffin.” And just when you think it can’t get any better, there goes Kareem and his life partner rolling by on their tandem bicycle. Just terrific.
A Few More Thoughts
For those of you keeping score at home, Kevin Hart is 5’4” making him the shortest person ever to host SNL. Just kidding, that’s a complete lie, but he really looked tiny. Standing next to Jay Pharoah, it looks like he got shrunk in the wash.
Leslie Jones still hasn’t found her comfort zone as a cast member. While she does a terrific job as herself on Update, she just seems kinda nervous doing sketches. It was especially noticeable during the Kevin’s Son sketch where she flubbed a couple of her lines. Hopefully she works it out because she brings a huge energy boost to the cast.
Next week, we have Blake Shelton doing double duty. See you then!