While James Franco has some trouble holding it together by the end of the sketch, he still delivers a performance that might make this one of the best SNL bits of the season. He seems to take to playing a very vindictive and nasty spelling bee judge, almost like he was born to do it. He’s about as nasty as can be, feels no sympathy for the kids taking part in the contest, and seems to be bringing some of his own word choices into the mix.
Alex Moffat is great as the clueless commentator playing off of Kate McKinnon’s increasingly disgusted co-host. And while the entire sketch is pretty funny throughout, it reaches great territory once Pete Davidson shows up to tackle “Little Pig Boy.” Both struggle their way through the bit, delivering lines that would be funny enough without their laughter.
I would disagree that the kids did not have fun. This might be the most exciting spelling bee we’ve seen in a long time — or at least the most entertaining. They have to face the reality of life at some point and what better place than on the spelling stage? They are all in competition and it should be a nasty mud fight from all sides. James Franco did them a favor.