A few weeks ago, I ran into an SNL cast member who I won’t reveal by name. We had what I at least remember as a friendly, yet spirited conversation about criticism of the show. The thing is, during this conversation, I often found myself taking this cast member’s position because I do believe that the fact Saturday Night Live all comes together every week is a minor miracle each time. I think I even said, “I should include that disclaimer at the top of every post.”
My main point was that I just like writing about the show, and when I started this feature in 2010, no one was really writing about each and every sketch. I found it frustrating that, often, the “here are three sketches that aired last night” posts would neglect to include something brilliant just because it didn’t feature a “fun” cameo or it wasn’t a recurring sketch. (Like, say, this Bruce Chandling sketch that got cut from last night’s show that would have been the sketch of the night had it aired.)
But, it has been five years – I’ve written about every single sketch that has aired on SNL over the last five seasons – and it’s always about right now, after the finale, that I decide that I don’t want to do this anymore. That I want to just enjoy Saturday Night Live again like a normal person. (I’m pretty sure I actually did quit once two years ago.) I mean, there are now plenty of features out there that cover every sketch. I honestly love this show so much, I really do hate being critical of it. Each show is a minor miracle. But that’s also why I can’t stop writing about it. Writing SNL Scorecard truly is a love/hate relationship for me — but, having said all that, I can’t imagine not writing about SNL’s 41st season this fall.
Anyway, sorry for the digression. Louis C.K. hosted the finale and SNL ended its 40th season in strong fashion. With all of the celebration surrounding this particular season, it had to be even more of a grind than it usually is. This is a strong cast and it doesn’t feel like past seasons in which there’s obviously going to be any kind of massive turnover, if any, really. This is a cast that, during good nights, didn’t have that “Oh, God, I hope I’m back” look to them, it felt more like, “I need the summer off so bad.” Anyway, they’ve earned it. Here’s the last Scorecard of SNL’s 40th season.
Sketch of the Night
“Louis C.K. Monologue” (C.K.) Wow.
“This is How I Talk” (C.K., Jones, Pharoah, Bayer, Bryant, McKinnon) This isn’t funny as much for the way that Louis C.K. mimics Leslie Jones’ character, but for the duration that he’s willing to keep up this ruse. And for the duration of time that Leslie Jones’ character tries to figure out the truth. I wish this was a real sitcom and it’s not until season five that it all falls apart for Louis C.K.
“Weekend Update” (Jost, Che, Killam, Davidson, Moynihan) This wasn’t the best pure “Update” of the season, but this did feel like the best as far as just Jost and Che interacting and seeming like they are both having fun. There’s that rapport we have heard so much about. It’s nice! Of course, now they have the whole summer to forget how that worked. Taran Killam’s Tom Brady is always great — though, without wearing a piece of Patriots paraphernalia, it’s not the most recognizable of characters. Hey, how about Pete Davidson this season? Sure, he didn’t have a ton to do in sketches, but he was an honest to goodness presence on “Update.” Riblet made his first appearance during the Kevin Hart show’s dress rehearsal, then got cut for the live show and I couldn’t believe it. Anyway, I think Riblet is here to stay because there is some good in this world.
“Forgotten TV Gems” (Thompson, C.K., McKinnon, Bryant, Moynihan) Everyone is great in this sketch, but, my gosh, Bobby Moynihan just killed it. He might be the best “Late ‘50s dopey TV friend” impersonator on the planet. I’m being dead serious. I didn’t even know that was a thing, but here we are. And the hilarious McKinnon-Bryant “lesbian kiss” will be our final image from the 40th season of SNL.
“The Shoemaker and the Elves” (C.K., Bayer, Thompson, Bayer) I honestly can’t believe this was the first sketch after the monologue. This was a sketch that prominently featured jokes about bathroom fetishes. I laughed out loud four times during this sketch, primarily from shock. And I somehow still had the ability to feel shock after that monologue.
“Cold Open: Summertime” (McKinnon, Jones, Thompson, Strong, Moynihan, Mooney, Bennett, Pharoah, Bayer, Killam, Davidson, Bryant, Zamata, Hammond) If it wasn’t for the political aspect, this would have been a great closing sketch. (Since it featured the Clintons, I get why it was the cold open.) But it was the last show of this historic season and there wasn’t really a “last sketch.” Then again, maybe we are getting a little too used to people leaving the show – those special “last sketches of the seasons” over the last few years have usually been reserved longtime departing cast members. But I do wish they had done something. Regardless, this serves as a nice goodbye.
“Wood PSAs” (C.K, Bennett, Moynihsn, Bayer, Strong, Zamata) It sort of felt like there should have been a couple more of these running though the show. Regardless, I laughed. (Speaking of: last week there was a pre-taped runner that aired throughout dress rehearsal that I won’t reveal just in case they use it again — and I really hope they do, but I heard the audience, maybe understandably, didn’t quite get it. It sounded … weird.)
“Police Lineup” (Thompson, Killam, Mooney, Bennett, C.K., Davidson) This is a fun idea, it just felt like it was missing a little … something.
“Cabana” (C.K., Strong, Thompson, Bayer, Zamata) There were glimpses of hilarity the first time they did this sketch with The Rock – oof, it didn’t work this time at all.
Average Score for this Show: 6.58
· Martin Freeman 6.89
· Woody Harrelson 6.75
· Michael Keaton 6.75
· Bill Hader 6.73
· Louis C.K. 6.58
· Chris Hemsworth 6.55
· Amy Adams 6.52
· Kevin Hart 6.39
· Dwayne Johnson 6.12
· Reese Witherspoon 6.10
· Chris Pratt 5.99
· Jim Carrey 5.94
· Cameron Diaz 5.92
· James Franco 5.89
· Scarlett Johansson 5.86
· Sarah Silverman 5.86
· J.K. Simmons 5.81
· Taraji P. Henson 5.63
· Blake Shelton 5.58
· Dakota Johnson 5.47
· Chris Rock 5.38
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.