This was Larry David’s first time hosting Saturday Night Live, which somehow sounds right and wrong at the same time. (It’s also the first time anyone named Larry has hosted. Poor Larry Storch and Larry Hagman never got their shot.) It’s kind of a shame David hasn’t hosted until now, because he seems like someone who should be at least a five-timer by now. Anyway, whatever, it took until SNL’s 41st season for David to embrace the show and, well, better late then never.
As an aside, yes, for the first time in the six years I’ve been writing SNL Scorecard, I missed the previous episode. I was covering Sundance and had a conflict during the show. By the time I saw the Ronda Rousey show, it seemed a little late to write a full post about it. But, for the sake of the ongoing season scoring, here are the results, if interested. (If not, then just keep scrolling.)
“Screen Guild Awards”
“At the Club”
“Cold Open: Palin Endorsement”
“Ronda Rousey Monologue”
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, we’re back … and off we go to this week’s Scorecard:
Sketch of the Night
“FBI Simulator” (Strong, David, Thompson, Ensemble) How in the world is this sketch called “FBI Simulator” and not “The Future Recurring Sketch We Have To See At Least Five Times Starring Larry David As Kevin Roberts.” Honestly, if I read that Larry David had turned down the chance to do another season of Curb Your Enthusiasm to instead make a 13-episode season of Kevin Roberts, I’d be okay with that. Wait, not only would I be okay with that, I’d bingewatch the Kevin Roberts show immediately.
“Bern Your Enthusiasm” (David, Ensemble) When you think about the fact that this was only conceived, written, filmed, edited and aired in a grand total of five days, that makes it all the more remarkable. This is just a really well done piece of comedy that actually uses a real-life, just-happened event as the crux of the entire story as opposed to shoehorning it in. We knew David would be playing Bernie Sanders, but this is a real story with a real narrative and real consequences.
“Peyton and Cam” (Thompson, Killam, Moynihan, Bennett) You know, SNL likes to claim they never have the “save the world with comedy” sensibilities that, say, a show like Studio 60 liked to pretend sketch comedy writers had. For the most part, I believe they don’t. For the most part, a funny fart joke is a funny fart joke. But every once in a while, along comes a simple sketch about two guys singing a 34-year-old song that encapsulates a lot of things that are wrong about racial injustice, the NFL, and the different standards people have to live by based on who they are. Anyway, sometimes a sketch about social commentary can be a really great sketch about social commentary.
“Totinos” (Bayer, David, Ensemble) This was so delightfully weird! Actually, it wasn’t just weird, it really did work as a horror film. It really was a bit frightening.
“Last Call” (McKinnon, David, Thompson) Would these sketches even work without Kenan Thompson? Well, probably. But we are all Kenan Thompson when we watch this sketch. And, boy, how fun is it to see Larry David break down and look like he’s having the time of his life. I mean, even Larry David couldn’t keep a straight face.
“Weekend Update” (Jost, Che, McKinnon, Rudnitsky, Stiller, Wilson) Jost and Che continue to become more playful with each other, which is a good thing. Forever we heard about “the chemistry” between these two, but now we are seeing it on a consistent basis. Also, the fact “Weekend Update” could basically call an audible and do a whole segment about the Republican debate is remarkable and great to see happen. SNL may be live, but it’s still a heavily scripted show. To add something in like that at the last minute is not an easy thing to do.
Kate McKinnon’s “Sturdy Barbie” is a really great idea and really well done. Jon Rudnitsky came on and made jokes about how no one know he’s on SNL, which was basically what Brooks Wheelan used to do, which is not a great sign. (I was kind of enjoying his Dirty Dancing routine until he started added his own wacky narrative, which all just seemed way too rehearsed as “a bit.”) And then Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson showed up to promote a movie.
“Songwriting Class” (Davidson, David, Bayer, McKinnon, Killam, Pharoah) This was nice for a couple of reasons: It was nice to see Pete Davidson star in a sketch in which he’s not playing the victim of a sexual assault. Also, it’s always nice to see sketches that work today just as well as they would have worked in 1975. It’s just a good example of sketch comedy.
“Larry David Monologue” (David) No one does a better Larry David impression that Larry David.
“Steam Ship” (David, Sanders, Ensemble) As far as shoehorned cameos go, this was one of the better ones. And I give SNL credit for not doing yet another “SNL character meets the real life version” segment because those just never quite work out like people hope they will. (And effectively defang the character in the process. I think politicians have figured this out and now want to meet their SNL counterpart.)
“Cold Open: Message From Ted Cruz” (Killam, McKinnon) I wrote about this last week, but I still don’t understand why Killam isn’t playing Rubio. For whatever reason, they are really trying to force this home that Taran Killam is Ted Cruz now. And now, after Saturday night’s GOP debate, Rubio has a comedic angle. He’s the robot! Taran would be amazing playing “Robot Rubio.” (I’m thinking of that carnival ride, animatronic character he did with Jim Carrey.) The thing is, this sketch was pretty well written, but there’s just a disconnect between this handsome man telling me how unattractive he is and, well, what I’m looking at. (I’ve always been an admirer of Killam’s work, but this just isn’t the best fit.)
Average Score for this Show: 7.08
· Tracy Morgan 7.12
· Larry David 7.08
· Elizabeth Banks 6.98
· Amy Schumer 6.53
· Chris Hemsworth 6.35
· Ryan Gosling 6.07
· Adam Driver 5.98
· Tina Fey and Amy Poehler 5.90
· Matthew McConaughey 5.78
· Miley Cyrus 5.41
· Ronda Rousey 5.09
· Donald Trump 4.48