The thing to remember about Miley Cyrus is that before she literally destroyed the world (more on that later), what with her twerking and Terry Richardsoning, she was an actress. On a comedy. She grew up learning the finer points of timing, and even if Hannah Montana wasn’t a GOOD show, it still taught her how to work in an ensemble. That’s why Miley didn’t embarrass herself when she hosted SNL in 2011, and she didn’t last night, either.
In fact, she was, dare I say, actually…good. She delivered her lines flawlessly; played both serious, beaten down adults (“Mornin’ Miami”) and versions of herself (“We Don’t Stop,” which certainly won’t raise a fuss among conservatives); and appeared in nearly every sketch, all with a chipmunk energy that SNL so often lacks, especially when the show doesn’t begin until midnight. The episode itself was all over the place, with the worst sketch of the season airing right before the best, but some of the credit and none of the blame goes to Miley.
I feel dirty.
It was smart to get everything Miley out of the way early: the VMAs performance, Vanessa Bayer’s spot-on impression, the public’s response, the twerking, and hey, bonus Jay Pharaoh-as-Will Smith. The framing device was clever, too, allowing the sketch to be more than JUST a series of references to real-life events and impressions, with Kenan’s Papa Joe describing the end of humanity. The apoctwerklypse, it were. The ending was a slight, moralistic cop out, but everything that came before it was, well, pretty cool, especially Bobby Moynihan’s sad bear.
The shortest monologue in recent memory (you have to wonder if Lorne Michaels was afraid that if left to her own devices, Miley would grab the novelty-sized prop foam finger from the crowd and begin to diddle herself while changing the lyrics to every song on Sinéad O’Connor’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got to be about orgies) confirmed what we all suspected: Hannah Montana was murdered. I shudder to think where Bolt is now.
50 Shades of Grey Auditions
Kenan’s Steve Harvey, Jay’s Tracy Morgan, and Kate’s everything were stellar, but it’s already clear impression sketches this season aren’t going to be the same, i.e. as good, without Bill Hader around to provide his Al Pacino or Vincent Price. Also, black women to help expand the impression base. But mostly Bill Hader.
Girlfriends Talk Show
I could have listened to Aidy talk about her mom’s recently divorced friend all night, but instead, Lil’ Tini happened, giving Miley an excuse to white-girl rap. She does an admirable job, as does Cecily Strong, who thankfully hasn’t landed in No Sketch Land since beginning her new gig as Weekend Update’s co-anchor, but “Girlfriends Talk Show” is only as funny as the lines Aidy delivers. And when she wasn’t talking about Donna, the quality dipped.
We Did Stop
Rarely do I stop and appreciate SNL‘s production values, but “We Did Stop,” a parody of Miley’s “We Can’t Stop” music video starring John Boehner (Taran) and Michele Bachmann (Miley), looked fantastic. That’s where the compliments end, though, because once you figured out the premise, “We Did Stop” never really went anywhere else. Think of this way: a parody should be funny even if the viewer hasn’t seen the thing being parodied; the laughs should stand for themselves, and I can’t imagine someone who hasn’t seen “We Can’t Stop” finding much delight in “We Did Stop,” once they’re over Bronzed Boehner and Confusingly Attractive Bachmann (and Sad Obama).
Piers Morgan Reviews the Clinton Biopics
Were it not for Arianna Huffington, Nasim Pedrad would be an endangered species. A decent concept — two Hillary Clinton biographies have been canceled, but there are plenty more still in development — gives SNL a reason to reference Breaking Bad (Obama is Skyler?) and allow a revolving door of Clinton impressions. But the most memorable thing here is Miley ripping open her shirt to reveal a “2016” bra, which long ago stopped being eventful.
Weekend Update: Winners/Losers
“Winners/Losers” was more of a tie (sorry), but Seth Meyers is at his best when he’s able to bounce off someone (like in “Really?!?”), so it’s promising to see that he and Cecily Strong are able to pull off a back-and-forth without missing a beat. Even if EVERYONE on Twitter already made the same Nic Cage joke.
Weekend Update: Pat Lynhart
Kate McKinnon is so skilled at going from normal to insane, possibly SNL‘s most skilled since Will Ferrell. Note the way she transforms from tight sweater-wearing soccer mom to I EAT COCAINE FOR BREAKFAST. Excellent, and it’s all thanks to Grand Theft Auto V. Also in “Weekend Update: the return of Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy (same joke, still sold through Vanessa Bayer’s exaggerated expressions) and Shannon Sharpe, as played by a spitting Jay Pharoah. Good to see him have so much material this week.
Pity the person with a social life who only recorded SNL until 1 a.m. Football running late pushed back the episode by nearly 30 minutes, and its usual end point came during “Cheer Squad,” easily one of the most bizarre, awkward sketches outside of the final sketch slot (technically, it was 10-to-1, I guess?) the show has aired in recent seasons. And not the good “Darrell’s House” kind of bizarre, either; no, we’re talking “Top Dog Chef” levels of terrible absurdity. Even the camera operators had trouble comprehending what the hell was going on — there was a notable technical glitch midway through, where you could see the cast being outfitted with suspension cables. I’m still trying to figure out what Cheer Squad” was, and nope, got nothing. R.I.P. moon.
What seemed like it was going to be a groaner turned into the best sketch of the season. Simple, flawless, and full of instantly quotable non sequiturs, like “Jeff Dunham’s puppets are in studio. Jeff Dunham is not. Let’s see how funny those puppets really are,” “”He’s a helicopter, he’s a machine gun, he’s a bigot. Racist foley artist Bill Space is here to make funny sounds and some awful comments,” and “Get on your camel or significant other,’ cause it’s Hump Day.” (Never forget, or do.) Long live Bitch Fantastic.
Do not give Vanessa Bayer a loud, insufferable, unable-to-see-the-joke character that would have gone to Kristen Wiig if she were still on the show, SNL. Please. Just…no.
Miley Sex Tape
Included as an excuse to write: MILEY SEX TAPE MILEY SEX TAPE MILEY SEX TAPE. Oh, hey, Google pervert.
“Wrecking Ball”/”We Can’t Stop”
OK, WE GET IT, Miley: you’re actually talented. STOP RUBBING IT IN OUR FACES.