Will it be third time”s the charm for Jim Carrey and “Saturday Night Live”? We shall see as the show returns from its first hiatus this season. When Carrey last hosted in January 2011, only five current cast members were still around. That offers up a lot of new comedic combinations tonight. Plus, as Carrey looks to plug his upcoming film “Dumb And Dumber To,” don”t be surprised to see Jeff Daniels pop by, hopefully in full Will McAvoy mode. (After all, “The Newsroom” is already plenty funny, and sometimes even intentionally so.)
As per usual, I”ll assign grades to each sketch while liveblogging all the action. As per usual, I urge you not to get bent out of shape should these grades not align with your own. If you did, well, that would be super strange and kind of boring. See you at 11:30 pm EST when things kick off properly.
Ebola Czar: If ever a show was prepared to deal with the public hysteria about ebola, it”s “SNL”. First, Jay Pharoah's Obama notes that ebola isn't so terrible when compared with other issues in his second term. Next, Taran Killam plays Ron Klain, who takes various questions from the press about his lack of medical background in conjunction with the severity of the disease. The best part of the sketch isn”t about the disease itself, but the way Klain tries to use fear of it to help swing some of the midterm elections. Kenan Thompson”s Al Sharpton follows “Ebola Caesar” Klain, who is “immune to all infectious diseases” thanks to his mustache. Sharpton doesn”t get why ebola should be singled out as a threat. “All of New York is contaminated all of the time!” he declares, to the approval of the audience. This was really three mini-sketches connected loosely by ebola, but all in all a perfectly fine if unmemorable opening. [Grade: B-]
Monologue: Carrey appears as…Satanic Elvis? Oh, “Helvis”. Sure, why not. Carrey sings a song about how Elvis Presley…liked to eat food. OK. As an Andy Kaufman anti-comedy act, this is great. However, I”m pretty sure not that”s the point of this, which makes the monologue technically fine (check out the scale of that gospel choir!) but comedically awful. And even that would be OK if this were entertaining, but everyone but Carrey looks like they are just trying to get this over with already. [Grade: C-]
Matthew McConaughey On Lincoln: Never would have picked this as an impression from Carrey, but Lord knows these commercials are ripe for parody, and Carrey nails it. “You do it because you love it…or because you”re an Uber driver!” The sketch focuses too much on snot humor, but I”m still hoping this is a runner throughout the episode. [Grade: B]
Carrey Family Reunion: What works for Christopher Walken works for Jim Carrey! The cast gets to all bust out their best Jim Carrey impressions, with the concept being Carrey stole all of his best characters from family members. Vanessa Bayer gets the Talking Out Of Her Butt Joke, which means she”s the Alpha Dog this week. Everyone's good, but Cecily Strong”s Fire Marshal Bill is AMAZING. And lo, as expected, there”s Jeff Daniels, albeit in full “Dumb And Dumber” mode as Grandpa Lloyd. This was slightly sloppy but a heckuva lot of fun, which is really the important thing. [Grade: B+]
Matthew McConaughey On Lincoln 2: YAY IT”S A RUNNER. This time, McConaghey”s driving five miles hours with kids who aren”t his in the backseat. I will definitely not get sick of these. [Grade: B+]
Haunted Graveyard: Paul and Phil are two spirits who totally ruin a spooky song on Halloween for the rest of the spirits trying to haunt a teenage couple. Carrey and Killam are a fantastic pair, and really sell the “aw shucks” nature of this duo. The sketch never really goes anywhere, but also does not outstay its welcome. I also give it a slight bump up for being a large-cast sketch that utilizes everyone onstage. Nothing groundbreaking, but a fun idea that is well-executed. [Grade: B]
Matthew McConaughey On Lincoln 3: Oh no, McConaughey just hit the President from “24”! Liiiiinnnccccooooooln. [Grade: B+]
Weekend Update: Romantic comedy expert Daisy Rose (Bayer) comments on the recent wave of TV rom-coms. At least, she tries to, but keeps getting distracted by her crush on Michael Che. Bayer nails the slightly psychotic nature that animates characters in some romantic comedies, and Che”s real-life rejoinders to her fantasy world are great. (“OK, you better go!”) Afterwards, Drunk Uncle makes his return to the “Update” desk, and is none too happy about the lack of Seth Meyers. He wheels past Che to talk to Colin Jost in a fantastically awkward move that”s totally appropriate for the character. That being said: can you IMAGINE a Che/Drunk Uncle conversation? That would be Must See TV that might have actually been too raw for the audience to handle. As for Jost/Che aside from the guests: Fine, even if Jost refuses to stop doing Lesser Meyers as his persona. [Grade: B]
Secret Billionaire: Cecily Strong's contestant has to figure out which one of the four men in front of her is actually a billionaire. Carrey plays an elderly man who is into masturbation and Applebee”s. (He apparently also was responsible for the missing Malaysian airplane.) There”s a monologue about 250 men named Dennis and one named Brian that is one of the strangest things outside a ten to one sketch in ages. I have no idea how this sketch made it on air, and especially not in this slot. But it makes me crazy curious about what”s coming next. [Grade: B-]
Ghosts: Fact Or Fiction: Leslie Jones is Rosa, resident “skeptic” in a group of spectral hunters. (“I thought this was about flipping houses!”) It”s a perfect use for Jones, whose energy is so off the charts that it”s just a marvel to watch. As the newest cast member, Jones hasn”t had a lot to do tonight, but she made this one count. There was probably a lot more of this filmed, but wisely “SNL” cut it down to the premise”s essence and left everything else on the floor. [Grade: B]
The Walking Dead: Well, it”s been a nice run of sketches, but here”s the first true clunker since the monologue. The idea of a zombie doing a Brian Williams impression sounds good in theory, but produces crickets in practice. The only fun here comes from Pete Davidson trying not to laugh as Carrey repeatedly hits him with a baseball bat. [Grade: C-]
Office Costume Contest: Well, we made it this long before Carrey dressed up for a dance-off. But if this the price we pay to see Kate McKinnon get some substantial face time this season, I”m OK with this! At one point, the fourth wall is totally broken and the pair dance throughout the audience and into the other sets. Iggy Azalea joins them along the way for good measure. It”s actually too bad that music rights will mean this probably never ends up online, since it”s SO DAMN WEIRD that it”s worth multiple viewings by as many people as possible from a pure anthropological perspective. Breaking the fourth wall isn”t usually a good idea, but there was something go-for-broke about this that won me over. Throw in the great punchline about Aidy Bryant”s character winning the costume contest and you had a great sketch that definitely exceeded my initial fears. [Grade: B+]
Geoff”s Halloween Emporium: Bye bye, ex-porn stars. Hi, two girls scared of spooky sound effects! Carrey is Geoff, who owns the store even though a demon owns his soul. The interplay between Carrey, Strong, and Bayer is fun, and it gives Carrey a chance to show off his rubber face without it being overkill. At five minutes, this would have been slightly unbearable. At two minutes, this was a great ten to one sketch, even if it was still only the fifth weirdest sketch all night.
Best Sketch: “Office Costume Contest”, on sheer bravado alone
Worst Sketch: “The Walking Dead”
Biggest Take Away: This was one of the straight-up oddest episodes in a while, and it paid off. I”m not saying the show should go super weird all the time, but it definitely worked this time around.
How Was Iggy Azalea: She sounds like she”ll one day be a great answer to a Bar Trivia question about pop culture in 2014.
Next Week: Chris Rock returns to Studio 8H.
What did you think of tonight”s episode? Sound off below!