Chris Hemsworth hosted SNL for the first time in seven months last night and he’s kind of turned into the new Jon Hamm. You know, the actor who we didn’t think was that funny, but turns out to be really funny when he hosts SNL twice in the span of a few months. (Hamm hosted in 2008, then twice in 2010. Kind of crazily, he’s not hosted since.) This show wasn’t quite as good as Hemsworth’s first (there was no live chicken this time, sadly) but, at this pace, Hemsworth will be part of the Five Timers Club sometime in 2017. Here is today’s Scorecard:
Sketch of the Night
“Star Wars Toy Commercial” (Killam, Moynihan, Mooney) I love watching the old Kenner Star Wars commercials: mainly because the plot of these commercials has so little to do with anything that happened in the actual movies. This does a pretty good job of recreating those old commercials, only now with adults added in who want to keep these figures for display. I identify strongly with this commercial and it’s true. It’s all true.
“Time to Bleed” (Hemsworth, Zamata, Mooney) This was great. What a great premise: taking an often used action movie line about not having time to bleed, then taking that line to the extreme. And both Hemsworth and Zamata were really great in this. Plus, Mooney does kind of look like a ‘90s movie villain.
“Christmas Sing-a-long” (Hemsworth, Strong, Killam, McKinnon, Thompson, Zamata) I don’t know why, but the premise of a group singing a song that (a) nobody knows but (b) the singer thinks everyone knows, always makes me laugh. It reminds of Steve Martin in Planes, Trains & Automobiles trying to get everyone to sing “Three Coins in a Fountain.” Hemsworth and Strong really sell “Deborah’s Time.” And congratulations for getting this on the air – it all seems like a minor miracle.
“Weekend Update” (Jost, Che, McKinnon, Jones) I’m happy they brought Leslie Jones back out to flirt with Colin Jost, just to get the stink off of the last time they did this the week Trump hosted. (Seriously, what a bad show and bad thing that was – it really did ruin everything.) Che’s monologue about Trump was good, but, again: SNL trying to be some sort of moral authority about Trump after letting him host just does not work. I’m sorry, SNL, but you blew it. That ship has sailed. I guess you can keep trying? But that’s some serious damage to repair, even all these weeks later. (I digress, but it still bothers me that they put themselves in this position. What a waste.) We all knew we’d be seeing Kate McKinnon’s Angela Merkel after Merkel won Time’s Person of the Year, and she did not disappoint. McKinnon should win a Person of the Year for realizing so early that Angela Merkel would be such a good recurring “Update” character.
“Chris Hemsworth Monologue” (Hemsworth, Ensemble) As of late, SNL is doing a pretty good job painting Colin Jost as “the nerd.” This persona is working and it was fun to see it even in the monologue. I hope they keep doing this. I always kind of like it when hosts go backstage during the monologue and I enjoyed the “Chris Hemsworth as a roughhouser who likes to wrastle” persona. It’s fun! Beck Bennett being hit on the head with an apple was great. (Also: Poor Kyle Mooney.)
“Brunch” (Bayer, McKinnon, Hemsworth, Bryant, Strong) Hemsworth embedding himself with his fans to find out if they still like him is simple and clever. If nothing else, Hemsworth seems like a good egg and is willing to make fun of himself.
“Cold Open: George W. Bush” (Ferrell) This almost felt like an answer to last week’s limp Trump cold open. In that it’s become impossible to lampoon Trump (having Trump host is obviously part of this), so the answer becomes: We will use the character we’ve lampooned more than anyone over the last 15 years to say, “compared to me, this guy is an idiot.” It sort of worked, especially compared to last week. But there was also something kind of stale about it. Seeing SNL characters a decade later is always a weird thing.
“Brother 2 Brother: Wrestling Meet” (Hemsworth, Killam, Bennett, Mooney, Davidson, Rudnitsky) I’m not so sure this really works as a recurring sketch. It was funny the first time, but maybe it loses a little because we know the joke? Hemsworth and Killam as identical twins is a funny joke, but we already know this joke.
“Male Strippers” (Thompson, Killam, Hemsworth, Pharoah, Bennett, McKinnon, Bryant, Jones, Strong, Rudnitsky) This seems to be in the “funny premise, but didn’t really go anywhere” category. Though, it was really funny when Hemsworth is given a one-dollar bill and he takes out his wallet to put it away.
“On the Record” (McKinnon, Killam, Moynihan, Pharoah) Good gracious, Jay Pharoah’s Ben Carson is just the funniest thing. This was a good premise, how Republicans completely denounce Trump’s comments, but it was just lacking some life.
“Pirate Ship” (Rudnitsky, Strong, Hemsworth, Killam, Thompson) In the eighth episode of the season, Jon Rudnitsky got his first starring sketch on the air. Anyway, the set looked really nice.
[Note: “Aron’s List” aired on a previous show and is not a part of this ranking.]
Average Score for this Show: 6.35
Mike Ryan lives in New York City and has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.