Let’s see what noted shrew Nikki Finke thought about last night’s SNL: “Lena Dunham may be one of worst ever hosts of one of worst ever SNL shows…She demonstrates she can’t act, can’t mimic, can’t hold a live audience. That’s why she may be one of worst hosts of one of worst SNL shows.”
Well, THAT’S harsh, less an opinion of Lena, the actress as Lena, the person. Did Lena do a great job? No. She relied too heavily on the cue cards, and almost always played a variation of “Lena Dunham,” whether it be Excited Lena Dunham (the Scandal parody) or Teenage Lena Dunham (“What Are You Even Doing?”). But the first half of her episode was fairly strong, before, as is custom, everything fell apart in the second. Lena didn’t single-handedly save any sketches, nor did she kill them. She was perfectly fine in a equally fine(-ish) episode.
Also, Jon Hamm showed up and made everything better.
Is that LIAM NEESONS? OH THAT’S LIAM NEESONS. Neeson’s tough-guy shtick will never get old (until it does when Taken 12 the Streets gets made), and his presence alone made this one of the more memorable cold opens of the season. That, and shirtless Obama on a horse.
Well, at least she didn’t sing? Lena had. Problems. Talking like. A. Human. Due to Her. Cue. Card. Dependence. The idea behind the monologue was a good, if expected one — the cast, and a horny grandmother, talk to Lena about their sex lives — but she was oddly nervous for someone who once got naked during the Emmys.
Excellent, just excellent. “Ooh Child” could have ended with the GPS lady continually cutting off Lena and it still would have been fine, but then came the kicker of the four passengers in the car actually being five, and a fine sketch became great. Dark, funny, and a clever misdirect — the best sketch of the night.
I’ve never actually seen an entire episode of Scandal, but even I caught on to what was happening here: the Scandal folk do insane things they think are totally normal, like travel to-and-from Mexico in the time it takes Lena to scream, “WHAT.” About that: her performance was more loud than nuanced. The specificity of what Lena was commenting worked beautifully (Olivia’s President romantic problems vs. her drinking swamp water), but she could have fixed her performance slightly, and the sketch would have been better off for it.
It’s hard to hate on something hosted by LeGod Williams and Lil’ Taint Anthony, but “What’s Poppin'” got stuck on the rhythmic speech patterns of “That’s a Rap,” which weren’t as funny as the writers thought they were, and never went any further. But some of the smaller touches, like the band’s habit for drinking Sprite and the drummer’s rap name Tim, nicely filled out an otherwise fine distraction.
What Are You Even Doing? You’re Being Crazy
It’s like Girlfriends Talk Show…but slightly better! And not just because Jon Hamm wanted his damn pizza, though that helped. No, “What Are You Even Doing?” didn’t sink because of Nasim and Lena’s gleeful misplaced sexual enthusiasm, thought it was a little weird doing ANOTHER sketch this season about the raging hormones of teen girls.
Weekend Update: Matthew McConaughey
How was Taran Killam as Matthew McConaughey? Alright, alright, alright.
Weekend Update: Vladmir Putin’s Childhood Best Friends
Cool story, bro time: I attended the Late Night with Seth Meyers party at SXSW last night, and I was surpised that Fred Armisen wasn’t there. Apparently that’s because he was in New York, doing his annoying “quiet friends” bit with Vanessa Bayer, but really, the only reason I bring this up is because Rosa from Brooklyn Nine-Nine was there, wearing her glasses, and it was DEVASTATING. Also, Eugene Mirman. It is OK!
The second Cecily Strong started speaking in an exaggerated fake accent (so the first second of the sketch), it was impossible to take “Jewelry Party” seriously, and that’s a shame because it could have been the rare SNL sketch with a sliver of edge. Or at least a message. Doing something on men’s rights activists? Great. But doing something on men’s rights activists…while Cecily acts like the Chiquita banana lady after a speech lesson from Gloria on Modern Family, and also something about jewelry? Terrible.
Pimpin’ Pimpin’ Pimpin’ with Katt Williams
Hey Noël Wells, good for her! It took until the penultimate sketch of the night for the female Brooks Whelan to show up, which was a bit of a surprise, considering her killer Lena impression. She dusted it off again for Katt Williams, but it felt hollow, like the writers felt bad for not using her last week and gave her something quick to do. She’s a talented, likable comedian, but I can’t imagine her lasting another season.
The National, “Graceless”
The National, “I Need My Girl”
I wear glasses, lived in Brooklyn for years, and the only thing I love more than wine and whiskey is brooding, so naturally, I’m a huge National fan, and loved everything about both of these performances.