Well, at least Kevin Hart became the third actor from Party Down to host SNL? Hart doesn't really do it for me (my feelings on him are similar to Danger's), but in many ways, he's the perfect SNL host. He's high energy, a professional stand-up comedian, and game for anything, as clearly seen in the unfortunate "Quvenzhané Wallis as Pope" sketch. He's also ridiculously popular — Hart's most recent comedy album, Laugh at My Pain, has sold over five million copies, and his last movie, Think like a Man, brought in $33 million during its first week of release.
And honestly, he was good last night. A few tripped-over lines here and there, but that's to be expected when you're lapping Donkey from Shrek in the "words per minute" race. He blended into the cast seamlessly and by 12:37 a.m. on a Sunday, sometimes you need someone as overexcited as him to keep you awake. But as is the case time and time again, the writing was just, well, it was as if the writers took Hart's advice seriously. Sketches ended without going anywhere, especially in the first half of the episode, and the long-awaited Walking Dead parody was pointless (/refuses to make zombie pun). Things got better in the last half-hour, but...now I want some exotic soups.
Where was I? I dunno, let's get to the clips...and SCENE.
One of the better cold opens in recent memory (meaning, it's a C+, not a C-). Jay Pharoah's Obama isn't charismatic enough to carry an entire sketch by himself (JUST LIKE NOBAMA IN REAL LIFE), so it helps when he's surrounded by a navy man, cop, construction worker, and Native American, or as you know them, the Beatles.
I'm not that familiar with Kevin Hart's stand-up material, but apparently the Panera story is a routine he's done before, including on Leno. That's totally fine (Louis C.K. told a pre-existing bit when he hosted last year, although that was its first TV debut), but I wish the joke was stronger; it just kind of...ended, without making a point about anything. And the "trying out for SNL" anecdote went nowhere. Good Denzel, though.
Speaking of just ending. No clue why this was the first post-monologue sketch, nor am I sure why the whole wasn't just dedicated to "Dogglegangers." Do that for 90 minutes next time, SNL.
Yeah, no. This was not a way to combine two huge news stories. It felt like an idea pitched by someone who had just started taking improv classes, although they did leave off the "...on the MOON" part of the premise.
Bitch? Bitch. Bitch! Bitch?!? #bitch
(That's another way of saying despite myself, I liked this sketch and think Bobby and Cecily killed. Bitch.)
I miss this Rodman.
Pretty funny ("Really?!?" works so much better when Seth has a partner to bounce off of), though Hart's flubs at the beginning took away some of its impact, and possibly elicited some FCC attention, which, goddammit.
For a much better "Walking Dead black people" bit, see Key & Peele. The problem with this sketch, other than most everything, is that outside of the character's names and references to Carl's mental state (which, OK, was pretty funny), it had nothing to do with The Walking Dead. It used the show's name to grab viewers' attention, but then never did anything with it, unlike SNL's Homeland parody from a few months ago. That one worked because it was clear the writers are fans of the show; this one could have been Generic Zombie Movie #48, and end up no different.
Except Maggie. R.I.P. Maggie.
It was late, I was tired, and really needed something with energy to spare, like cocaine or Y SHIRT?!?! Nope. Like Z Shirt?!?!?!!??##?@!?!%#@$%&&*!? Yup. Lasted for just the right amount of time, even (especially) with the callback at the funeral later on in the episode. Where IS Brooklyn at?
I'm not going to embed the horrific Shark Tank "parody," because I don't want to divert any attention away from "Recording Session," easily my favorite sketch of the episode. Expect "black guy does voice-over work for white people things" to be the plot of a Eddie Murphy film in 2017.
For more on smushed-face Win Butler, yo.