‘SNL’ Recap: Justin Timberlake (And Steve Martin, Jay-Z, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Tom Hanks, More)

Senior Pop Culture Editor
03.10.13 104 Comments

The ratings for last night’s Justin Timberlake-hosted episode of SNL aren’t in yet, but if they’re not the season’s highest, Lorne Michaels is going to be a very disappointed dictator. The show brought out the big guns to celebrate JT’s inclusion into the Five Timers Club: the episode began with Timberlake as Elton John singing a parody of the highest selling single of all-time, “Candle in the Wind,” and from there, we were treated to appearances from Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, Martin Short, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Candice Bergen, Paul Simon, Andy Samberg, Jay-Z, and a drink called The Gilly. It was packed together than Aykroyd in his pants, but was it funny?

For the most part: very. There were two notable duds, but knowing the expectations that came with having Timberlake as a host, the writers mainly stuck to premises that had successfully worked for them in the past. Hence, the returns of the Dick in the Box guys, dancing food, Maine Justice, Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong’s porn stars-turned-commercial hawkers, and, of course, Stefon. (Count John Mulaney as a guest star, too.)

It wasn’t one of the season’s most original episodes, but thanks to JT’s welcome charisma, it was one of the best.

It was nice to see “Five Timers,” honorary or otherwise, Steve Martin, Martin Short, wee Munchkin Paul Simon, and Candice Bergen, and sad to look at Chevy Chase and especially Dan Aykroyd, but where was the in-person/portrait love to Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Elliott Gould, and Danny DeVito? Also, Aykroyd’s creepy skull vodka bottles could be seen behind him at the bar, which was actually the first of two instances of product placement for the Ghostbusters star, the other being his stomach for Dan Aykroyd’s Pork Loin Emporium.

I was dreading the return of the “Dick in a Box” guys, right up until they sang, “Both of us railin’ on your butt,” then I was instantly happy they did. The Wild and Crazy Guys? Not so much. Martin doesn’t look like he’s aged a day over the past three decades and his timing is still sharp, but Aykroyd…yeah. Oddly, the sketch MVPs were Bobby Moynihan, who played JT’s “rival” throughout the evening, and Vanessa Bayer, who’s been killing it this season.

An exact reaction to “Nuva Ring.”

(Also, it’s crap “Veganville” isn’t available online.)

This week’s greatest additions to the (Smash writer) Stefon canon:

“Donald Duck waking up from a Vietnam nightmare” was particularly inspired.

The writers were soooooooooo wasted when they wrote “Sober Caligula,” one of two sketches last night to mention getting or giving sexual pleasure to a helpless barnyard animals.

Let’s pretend this never happened (until it’s time for the Worst Sketch of the Season) and move on.

Timberlake couldn’t possibly top Jamie Foxx’s unhinged performance in the original “Maine Justice,” and he didn’t (“CLASSIC JT, doing another black man’s job, just not as well,” says someone on the Internet today), but it was still nice to see the Honorable Marshall T. Boudreaux again, as well as a alligator who so badly wanted to be a judge. “Maine Justice” is the kind of nonsensical, weird, sloppy sketch we always demand SNL do more of, so it’ll never become the next “Californians,” though I’m sure the writers will try.

A+ Not sure the biggest laugh: “Monica and Chandler Champagne,” the jerking off a horse line, “I graduated magnum cum loudly,” Ricky V.I.Penis, “I did this weird shoot in Mexico and two of the girls disappeared but I survived. Thanks champagne,” “One time, I woke up covered in blood. But it wasn’t mine. I was like, ‘Hello?’” Actually, the whole thing was perfect. Kind of like feminist porn.

Would it have killed JT to sing “Here We Go”? He’d only feel dead inside.

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