Kristen Wiig. Fred Armisen. Bill Hader. Seth Meyers. Maya Rudolph. 2 Chainz. Lil Jon. Pharrell. Tatiana Maslany. Martin Short. There were so many guest stars in the season finale of SNL that you’d hardly realize the old cast, including Andy Samberg, isn’t still on the show. Bobby Moynihan and Nasim Pedrad practically had to fight their way into sketches, to say nothing of Beck Bennett, Sasheer Zamata, and all the other newbies. The entire season has suffered from an overstuffed cast, and bringing in a dozen ringers did this episode no favors. Hader and Samberg’s returns should have felt triumphant, but instead, they were drowned out by the crowd going wild for an unnecessary Fred Armisen cameo.
I’ll have more tomorrow in the annual Best Sketches post, but this was a bloated end to a creaky season.
The first time of many the in-studio audience went apesh*t during the episode: when Maya Rudolph appeared as the Queen himself, Beyoncé. It’s always nice seeing Rudolph, who with the exception of Up All Night can make pretty much anything funny, although this cold open didn’t need saving. Jay Pharoah and Sasheer Zamata were Hova and Solange, with Kenan as his overprotective bodyguard (four black people on stage at once — SNL history?), and they explain what really happened in the infamous elevator video. Turns out, spiders. Not great, but better than many of the other cold opens we’ve suffered through this season.
An odd, uninspiring choice for the post-monologue slot. “Camp Wicawabe” was nearly saved by Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, and John Milhiser’s endearingly childish deliveries, and their striving to understand what cool-kid Andy Samberg has been doing with his Thing, but the material wasn’t there to support their excellent work, he wrote for the 293rd this year.
Confident Hunchback/Legolas at Taco Bell
I’m combining these two because they both suffered from the same problem: an amusing premise stretched way too thin. Imagining “Legolas from Lord of the Rings at a Taco Bell with Gimli, who orders everything from the menu” is much funnier than actually seeing it, especially when the sketch lasts longer than the superior “Andre the Giant Gets an Ice Cream.”