And we”re back for episode two! This week”s host is Amy Schumer, a solid choice that should lead to an interesting show. Inside Amy Schumer just beat SNL for the “Outstanding Variety Sketch Series” Emmy, indicating that perhaps Comedy Central“s more cinematic sketch shows are beginning to take over a spot in American comedy long held primarily by SNL. It”ll be interesting to see how Schumer”s typically more polished comedy mixes with the loveably spotty “let”s put on a show” variety at Saturday Night Live. I”m hoping for the best on this one; Schumer is an incredibly game performer, and it”s always nice to have a host that can bring sketch ideas to the table in addition to performing. Let”s dig in!
Cold Open: The gang at Fox and Friends discuss the search for a new Speaker of the House and the Planned Parenthood video controversy. Fox and Friends is a decently dependable recurring sketch, but there wasn”t much to write home about with this one. It was fun to see Pete Davidson do an impersonation (even if that impersonation was basically just himself with even more of an overbite) and Kate McKinnon was dependably loony as Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but both of their bits felt pretty incomplete. As usual, the best part of the Fox and Friends sketch was the final scroll of corrections from the previous episode, including “There is no emoji for ‘illegal immigrant”” and “Jewish people do exist.” (C+)
Monologue: It”s always nice when stand ups who host the show get to just do their thing during the monologue, and Schumer was dependably hilarious. Opening with her answer to “Is it a great time for women in Hollywood?” (“No!”), she went on to discuss everything from the unfortunate influence of the Kardashians (“a whole group of women who take the faces they were born with as, like, a light suggestion”) to changing her Facebook relationship status after talking to Bradley Cooper for thirty minutes at an event (I was like, ‘It”s not complicated; I am engaged to Bradley Cooper”). Definitely a promising start to the show. (A)
Airplane: After being sucked out of the emergency exit door, two traumatized flight attendants try to continue their in-flight performance of a Spice Girls song parody. Funniest sketch of the night goes to the first sketch of the night, which is a good thing in that it established a high energy from the get go, and a bad thing in that nothing to follow could quite live up to its precedent. This felt like a throwback to classic SNL, before talk show parodies and impersonations began to take over; instead we just got one weird, random joke that was allowed to escalate throughout the scene. Schumer and Bayer made great use of the chemistry they established in Trainwreck, with their characters building off of each other”s panic until they reached peak meltdown with terrified lines like “I swallowed so much air!” This was an excellent showcase for Schumer”s high-energy performance skills, and made great use of Bayer, as well as Taran Killam as fellow flight attendant Mark (who, Schumer”s character will remind us, did NOTHING). (A)
Hot for Teacher: A porno in which a teacher seduces her bad boy student keeps getting interrupted by a young female student seeking advice for her upcoming math test. I love Kyle Mooney talking in an off-putting monotone almost as much as I love Amy Schumer doing an exaggerated vocal fry, so this was an easy win for me. Bryant”s continual misunderstanding of the situation (“I wasn”t all the way gone yet, and I heard you mention an oral exam?”) was a perfect match for Schumer”s insistence on making everything Bryant said into an innuendo (“But that”s still a D+, Ms. Dayworth” “I love D”s”). (B+)
Gun PSA: An advertisement for firearms touts the power of guns to bring people together. The first of several bits that highlighted Schumer”s recent commitment to anti-gun legislation was also the best. Highlights included a father presenting a handgun to his newborn baby and a young couple coming together over a game of spin the gun, all highlighting the horrifying ridiculousness of a world in which guns are far too common and taken far too lightly. Obviously the spot dealt in exaggerations, but the final tagline “Guns. We”re here to stay” was a perfect capper, emphasizing the absurdity of that statement by displaying what happens when it gets taken too far. (A-).
Weekend Update: Overall a fairly mediocre outing for the Weekend Update team. The idea of Che and Jost facing off in a debate about guns was a good one, but despite a few decent moments (a list of things harder to get than a gun includes “a purple belt in karate”), it mostly fell flat, primarily due to neither party”s willingness to get particularly defensive of their side of the argument. As for the special guests, Jay Pharaoh and Kate McKinnon both made entertaining outings as travel correspondent Solomon and Jost”s neighbor Mrs. Santini, respectively. If I”m not mistaken, it was the first time we saw Solomon, a character funny enough that I could see him making a reappearance to work out the kinks, but not funny enough that he demanded it. As for Mrs. Santini, I believe we”ve seen her sparingly before, but this outing made a pretty good argument for her to become a more-often recurring Update character, I thought, with laugh-out-loud lines like “Dear cast of the movie Friday, I”m so sorry that your apartment is Bonnaroo” and the use of a repetitive but escalating joke structure, similar to those used by classic Update characters like Stefon. (C+)
Ford”s Theatre: A newly hired actress plays Mary Todd Lincoln in a reenactment of President Lincoln”s assassination at Ford”s Theatre, but she insists on rewriting history with ad libs. While it was definitely a better sketch overall, this one reminded me a bit of last week”s Katz”s Deli sketch, in that both hinged on one joke that was supposed to get crazier over time but mostly just repeated itself. This sketch was slightly more successful though, and that”s really all thanks to Schumer”s enthusiastic performance, dramatically shouting lines like “But I only plow one man! And that”s Abraham Lincoln!” Still, this one felt a bit incomplete, and it couldn”t quite figure out a note to end on. (B-)
Hands-Free Selfie Stick: An advertisement suggests a surprising way to operate a hands-free selfie stick. I don”t know, America, maybe I”m just not as into placing-items-up-your-butt humor as everybody else? I did appreciate that they took a more absurdist turn than the “those crazy millennials sure love pictures of themselves!” theme I was afraid they”d go with when I saw the sketch would be selfie stick-centric; still, this one doesn”t place as one of my favorites of the night. Props to Schumer, though, for her perfect delivery of “It takes pictures?” (C+)
Community Forum: A town”s community forum meeting features a cast of wacky characters making ridiculous demands of their local government. I kept waiting for this one to reach its punchline, and then it just ended. There were some funny moments, particularly the reappearance of one of Inside Amy Schumer“s best characters, tiny pageant queen Amy Merriweather Sherman. But rather than make young Sherman, or any other characters, the centerpiece of the sketch, each performer was given just a few lines before shuttling off to have a new person come in and make somewhat similar jokes. Schumer included yet another bit about gun rights in America by having six-year-old Sherman ask if she could bring her gun to school, but just as her character was starting to gain traction, she left for someone new to fill in. By not focusing on any particular character enough to get going, this sketch ultimately fell flat, and left me longing for the similar but more pitch-perfect town hall scenes from Parks and Rec. (C-)
Baby Shower: A baby shower goes off the rails when an uninvited friend of one of the guests accuses everyone of stealing her friend”s purse. In the notoriously hit-or-miss 12:55 am slot, this sketch proved to be a really solid closing note. In her Comedy Central show and her stand up, Amy Schumer has shown an ability to zero in on the kind of characters you recognize from daily life but maybe haven”t seen portrayed before, and her dramatic bartender was a perfect example of that. The way her and Cecily Strong”s characters fed off of each other”s increasingly dramatic reactions was a perfect recreation of many real-life toxic friendships, and Schumer”s delivery was consistently golden with theatrical lines like “You don”t move a purse, you take it.” Plus, it felt nice, especially with Schumer hosting, to end the night on a sketch featuring exclusively female cast members. (A-)
Quotes, Extras, and Final Thoughts:
- Other top Fox and Friends corrections: “Sneezing is not an effective form of birth control,” “Kokomo is a Beach Boys song; Guantanamo is a U.S. detention camp,” “Muslims are allowed to be girls”
- “Under this, you can”t really tell, but it just looks like a lava lamp. Like, things are moving around and not really finding a home.”
- “I wanna be a teacher just like you– how”d you get this job?” “I moved to Hollywood when I was fourteen and got tricked.”
- Colin Jost”s description of American Apparel as a company that makes flyers for missing people is a callback to a stand up bit that Amy Schumer did on her Comedy Central show; I wonder if she helped with the writing of that joke.
- If Weeknd Update were to become a part of every week”s Weekend Update, I honestly don”t think I”d mind.
- Michael Che on Chuck E. Cheese”s plan to start selling alcohol: “It”s all part of their plan to help loosen up pedophiles.”
- Thoughts on the musical guest: Hey! Nicki Minaj! Cool! Hey! The Weeknd has crazy hair! Okay! This has been thoughts on the musical guest.
- Schumer was rightfully the true star of most of the sketches tonight, but cast member of the week goes to Vanessa Bayer for her hilarious performance in the airplane sketch and her delivery of “We don”t really know how it works and we don”t believe in doctors. We”re just kinda wingin” it!” at the baby shower.
That”s it for episode two! Next week: Tracy Morgan”s triumphant return!