'SNL' Recap: Justin Bieber

A thought occurred to me right before last night’s SNL began: if Justin Bieber was a good host, would we even know? Our prejudice against Canada’s answer to Rachel Maddow is so high that if he (and the writers) managed to pull off the unthinkable, something even best-person-ever Jennifer Lawrence couldn’t do, and produce a very funny 90 minutes of comedy, would we, the haters, have been able to accept and admit it?

Well, luckily, that wasn’t a problem, because last night’s episode was not good. Worse, it was in that ambiguous middle ground, whether it was neither hilariously great nor entertainingly awful — it was the kind of episode that will be spoken about with a shrug and an “I guess” tagged at the end of every sentence. Bieber has the charisma of a plain doughnut from Tim Hortons, but he wasn’t awful, at least compared to Adam Levine. (I’ll give him credit for allowing the writers to make fun of how badly he wants to be black.) He was…*shrug*, I guess.

Save us Christoph Waltz, you’re our only hope. #glice

Nice of the SNL makeup department to make Tim Robinson look like Bill Cowher’s thawed-out corpse. Anyway, the cold open started slowly before delivering some solid lines in the final two minutes. JB (the black JB, not the wannabe-black JB) admitting he’s never actually seen 2 Broke Girls was a nice touch, and making Jay Pharaoh’s Shannon Sharpe reveal, “Ray Lewis knows who killed those people, because it was him!” was what was missing from last episode’s Weekend Update Ray-Ray appearance. Not a great opener, but not bad, either.

Mmm, Whoopi Goldberg, you can tie me up with your dreads anytime. I wanna howl like a hyena for you. I would…where was I? That’s right, SNL. Making the monologue be about Valentine’s Day and Black History Month was clever enough, I guess, and I appreciate the writers (including, for two weeks only, the fabulous Chelsea Peretti) restraint in not making one of the teenage flower-receivers Bobby Moynihan in a dress.

My favorite sketch of the night, the one where Jason Sudeiki introduced Bieber to his army of Bieber clones, isn’t available online, but THANK GOD, this one is. In case the joke hasn’t worn off after six times, Fred Armisen and Vanessa Bayer loudly love someone, but quietly hate them. It’s the Californians of Weekend Update bits.

Much better was Corey, the One Black Guy in Every Commercial, who was apparently modeled after Tommy from Ben & Kate.

The distracting Beliebers in the audience were at peak shriek during this “Summer Nights” parody, which had a few decent laughs, but still felt like an excuse to get Bieber to sing, no matter how briefly. The twist at the end was amusing — that Bieber’s only 11 years old — but for a supposed cool guy, he fumbled his way through most of his lines, unlike Aidy Bryant, as great as ever.

No matter your thoughts on “The Miley Cyrus Show” as an entire sketch, you gotta give Vanessa Bayer credit for going all-out in her performance. She IS that sexy cupcake, and her Pam-esque tattoo was pretty cool. What wasn’t pretty cool: Bieber dropping that “I’m so sorry for smoking weed, I’ll never do it again” apology. F*ck that.

Taran Killam: seems like an awesome dude, very funny individual, one of my favorite current castmembers, he’s seen Robin Sparkles nude. But he’s not Will Ferrell, and only Will Ferrell could have pulled off the all-yell everything Eddie. That’s not knocking Killam; no one could have made #glice hilarious, except Ferrell.

More Taco, please. This is from a different sketch, but it’s too creepy not to mention: