TV

'SNL' Recap: Edward Norton And Janelle Monáe

Was the Edward Norton-hosted episode of SNL an Almond Joy to watch? Let’s just say that I rarely fell to Reese’s Pieces from laughter, and that if I had to give it a grade, with $0 substituting for an F and $300,000 the A, I’d go with 100 Grand Bar. Norton wasn’t nearly as NutRageous as other hosts have been — and we never got a decent explanation for why he was hosting in the first place — but for a guy best known as the neo-Nazi who Nestlé Crunched a dude’s head on the sidewalk in American History X, he did a Mr. Goodbar job.

Unfortunately, the best sketches were weighed toward the beginning and the end, with too many Milk Duds in the soft, Charleston Chewy middle. Did “12 Years Not a Slave” completely Blow Pop? Yes, but raise a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup to “Halloween Candy,” one of the weirdest, greatest 10-to-1 sketches in recent memory. #rolo

Cold Open

We’ve been here a million times: instead of a political cold open saying anything meaningful about, for instance, the end of the shutdown, something that could be considered “hard-hitting,” we get a series of porno and AOL jokes. Normally, I’m totally fine with that — porno and AOL is my “Starfish and Coffee” — but for some dumb reason, I still hope/pray that someday, SNL will satirize people, rather than inoffensive concepts, more than twice a season.

Monologue

Whenever a member of the Five-Timers Club, or Jon Hamm, drops by without warning, that usually means Lorne Michaels doesn’t have much faith in the actual host. Luckily, though, Alec Baldwin wasn’t a bad safety net for Norton to have — he didn’t steal the punchlines so much as take care of the set-ups. Norton’s Woody Allen impression? Solid. The rest? Not so much. As for Miley: I guess without Norton having anything to promote, they needed someone to hawk their garbage. In came Miley, out came Norton’s tongue, and the world is worse off for it.

School Visit

I’m not familiar with the routine, but apparently “School Visit,” about a bunch of young students who only hear “free candy” and not “don’t go into a creepy van to acquire said free candy,” is very similar to an old Dane Cook bit. I can’t compare the two, mostly because I don’t want to spend my sunny Sunday morning listening to a decade-old Dane Cook routine, but I hope it’s not true because I really liked this one. It had everything: Nasim Pedrad in a lead role, a wealth of good lines for multiple cast members, candy, and, of course, VANS.

Halloween on The Steve Harvey Show

Kenan must spit a lot when he puts on the ol’ bushy nose-scratcher. Anyway, I’m a sucker for all things Steve Harvey, and now I want nothing more than to spend Halloween night with the real Harvey and the fake Harvey, asking for their interpretations of various costumes. “It looks like Drunk Mimes.” “No, that’s French Kiss.”

The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders

In this week’s episode of The Fogelnest Files, Jake Fogelnest’s “professional” podcast for Earwolf, Jake spoke to Will Ferrell’s comedy partner Adam McKay, who worked on SNL for years. One of the sketches they talked at-length about was the great “Bill Brasky,” and how the audience never laughed as loud as they should have. I’m, of course, editorializing, because “should” is an unfair concept when it comes to comedy, but no, everyone in the studio should have pissed their pants from laughter after every “Bill Brasky” personality description. I bring this up because that’s how I felt during “The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders”: I thought it was great, a spot-on, well-timed spoof of the pristine tweeness of Wes Anderson’s films, especially The Royal Tenenbaums, but the in-studio audience barely rose above a chuckle. Also, I wanted to mention Bill Brasky, that son of a bitch, because those sketches are the best.

Critter Control

NOPE.

Drug Deal

OK, I now realize that putting “well-timed” and The Royal Tenenbaums in the same sentence in 2013 might be incorrect, at least until you compare it to “Drug Deal,” a sort-of Rain Man spoof that went nowhere. Presumably, the concept came from the writers asking Norton what impressions he can do, so naturally he went straight to “I do an OK guy from a movie that came out 25 years ago. Wapner, 15 minutes to Wapner. See? You totally just fell for it.”

Weekend Update: Anthony Crispino

The shortest Weekend Update of the season only had one guest: the tired Anthony Crispino, whose voice was hitting unknown peaks of shrillness at the same time Red Sox fans were melting down over the obstruction call that ended game three of the World Series. I’m not sure which was more annoying (sorry, Bobby).

12 Days Not a Slave

Haha, it’s funny because white women love black men. “12 Days Not a Slave” was pretty horrid, and not just because of Miley’s twerking cameo. The pacing was off, it felt like it lasted forever, and the premise never gelled together as well as it could have — anyone who claims they were offended only wants to be; the lack of cohesion made it impossible to understand what we MIGHT have been offended about. (Also, I know this is total coincidence, but Taran Killam, who’s in 12 Years a Slave, was barely in this episode. Now, I’m not blaming Obama, but…)

Ruth’s Chris

We’re all virgins for staying up until 1 a.m. to watch Ed Norton host SNL.

Halloween Candy

YES. Ed Norton is one handsome, nice fella, even (especially) as he gradually morphs into John Cusack, minus 30 pounds. But there’s slightly off in his sincerity, something kind of creepy. If Bill Hader hadn’t put his stamp on the impression, I can imagine Norton doing a damn good Vincent Price. Or maybe John Waters. That’s what made “Halloween Candy” so delightful — and so strange. Norton played Diego’s Dad with an oddness that was both well meaning and weirdly discomforting. Nothing was explained, and “Halloween Candy” was better off for it.

Janelle Monáe

Janelle dances like she has butter on the bottom of her boots. I like that.

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