This week, country star Blake Shelton did double duty, serving as both the host and the musical guest. This marked the first time this season that a musician hosted, with SNL leaning on high-powered comics and actors so far. Shelton demonstrated his range as an actor throughout the night, playing a farmer or musician in five of the seven sketches that he was in. Unlike past musicians such as Justin Timberlake or Bruno Mars, Shelton didn’t really put himself out there or blend with the cast. Ultimately, this episode was just Synergy 101, with Shelton being a judge on the other popular NBC show, The Voice. He gave it his best shot, but didn’t particularly shine in any sketch. But hey, that’s SNL, so let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
With the Patriots being the talk of the planet right now, SNL was obviously under a lot of pressure to come out with a killer Deflategate sketch. Sadly, in what had the potential to be the next Schweddy Balls, the sketch fell flat. The impressions for Brady and Belichick were both poorly executed. The only saving grace of the sketch was Bobby Moynihan, who played Dougie Spoons, the Patriots assistant equipment co-manager. Not only did he bring a solid A Few Good Men reference, but also a much needed energy boost to this sputtering sketch. Luckily, Brady will get a to redeem himself when he hosts SNL later this season after he beats the Seahawks by fifty.
Blake Shelton opened up with a strong monologue, bringing out his guitar to pay tribute to one of his favorite shows, Hee Haw. It was a pretty basic premise, country boys can’t hang with the big mean city folk, but either way it was high energy, and a lot of fun to watch. Pete Davidson and Vanessa Bayer’s attempts at Southern humor quickly delved into vicious insults, attacking Shelton’s mom and sister. Plus we got to see Leslie Jones dressed up as an angry cowgirl so it was a win win.
Once again, Blake Shelton kept it safe, playing himself in a weird, but kinda catchy country song about a magical boot. This sketch falls into the “so weird that it was funny” category and reminds us that the SNL writers are very, very sleep deprived. What should also be recognized is the terrific quality of the music video. It should be baffling that the directors only had a few days to create something of this quality, but as we’ve seen throughout the season it’s just par for the course.
This was a strong Update, featuring three segments rather than the usual two, which worked out for the most part. The top headlines were strong, despite one hiccup in which one of Che’s jokes was met with complete silence. Jost had the best delivery of the night with this joke: “This Wednesday was National Hug Day… Dad…” After the headlines, Che was visited by his old high school friend Riblet, played by Bobby Moynihan, who did a great job. In reality, Moynihan would actually a pretty solid Update host. After Riblet, Pete Davidson visited the desk, giving a hilarious recount of his dabblings in gay porn through the years. Although it wasn’t his strongest monologue, Davidson’s nonchalant attitude and detailed storytelling still made it a terrific bit. Finally, Sasheer Zamata played Che’s ex-girlfriend, which would have been a dud had Riblet not come in at the end to save the day.
This was one of the better sketches of the night, with Blake Shelton basically playing himself on a Bachelor-type show. However, Shelton’s potential dates really stole the show, playing polished Hollywood porn veterans who fought for a chance to live out their days in Iowa, where they could shuck corn or do whatever else Iowa people do. Aidy Bryant particularly shined with her breakdowns, recounting her dad’s death and her tragic kidnapping as a child.
A Few More Thoughts
For what I believe is the first time this season, Bobby Moynihan wins MVP of the night, along with the most screentime. After saving the cold opening, Moynihan went on to land a joke in the monologue, along with killing as Riblet (who will most definitely return to the Desk soon). It was great to see him step up and hopefully he keeps this streak rolling into the next episode.
TWICE in this episode Blake Shelton got into some off-screen sexual stuff. First when he and Adam Levine went under the Family Feud booth and again when he tried going down on himself in the magician sketch. I didn’t quite understand it, seeing as he played the country boy straight role for the entire show, but to each his own.
Enjoy the rest of your snow day! See you next week: JK Simmons hosts with musical guest D’Angelo.