It’s always nice when a famous person shows up to host Saturday Night Live and isn’t actively promoting anything. It makes it seem like that famous person is doing this for the love of the show, not just to shill his or her latest product. (My favorite instance of this was when James Franco hosted and told the crowd he was promoting an award-winning movie called Hope’s Promise, which the crowd applauded. Then he revealed there was no Hope’s Promise. I still wish James Franco would make a movie called Hope’s Promise) And then Matthew McConaughey shows up in the monologue and just talks about Dazed and Confused. In two weeks, I hope Ryan Gosling just talks about The Mickey Mouse Club.
This was one of those shows that never could find momentum for whatever reason. It was a fine enough show, but, other than “Update,” it never did find its groove – it felt like a show with missed opportunities, for whatever reason. Anyway, here is your Scorecard:
Sketch of the Night
“Weekend Update” (Jost, Che, Bayer, Thompson) Jost and Che continue to be good when they are “loose,” which suits them so much better than the straightforward approach. I have no idea if the “trade jokes” bit was real in that Jost had no idea that joke was coming, but it was “cute” and worked. I’m starting to think Laura Parsons is Vanessa Bayer’s best character and last night was the epitome of everything this character can be. The timing of the punchlines was perfect and Bayer does a perfect “child acting” voice. I didn’t even realize this voice was something that existed until she started doing it. And then Kenan Thompson as David Ortiz looked like he was having the time of his life. This is the first time in a long time I’ve thought, Wow, that was really a great “Weekend Update.”.
“Star Wars Auditions” (Abrams, Ridley, Boyega, Stone, Hamm, Ensemble) There was something a little off about having the real cast show up in these. I always get the feeling of, “Oh, the real cast is in on the joke, maybe this isn’t that funny then.” I realize that’s probably irrational. Anyway, Jay Pharoah as Shaq as Chewbacca was great. Taran Killam as David Beckham drop-kicking BB-8 was great. It was great to see Emma Stone and Jon Hamm, who both need to host again soon. (I think my favorite thing is just seeing Jon Hamm in that kind of off-looking Han Solo outfit, which looks like a Han Solo you’d see at Comic-Con who thinks he looks great. (This prompted me to watch the 1997 Star Wars auditions when Kevin Spacey hosted, they are still so good.) Also: Have you heard there’s a new Star Wars movie?
“Matthew McConaughey Monologue” (McConaughey) This was nice! It was almost like when a standup hosts and does their act, only Matthew McConaughey isn’t a standup, so he came out and just told a story. I’m on board with this. I do wonder how this came about. I just imagine a bunch of ideas being thrown at McConaughey, then saying, “Nah, I got it, I’m going to tell a story about Wooderson.” I almost feel like this was done so no one will ever ask him about Wooderson ever again.
“Hey, Matthew, what was it like being Wooderson?”
“Hey, man, just watch my SNL monologue from 2015, it’s all in there.”
“Cold Open: Fox & Friends Syrian Refuge Crises” (Killam, Bayer, Moynihan, McKinnon, Pharoah) I wrote this last time “Fox & Friends” aired, but they could just make this the cold open every show. It certainly feels sometimes like they want to. (Though, the lack of “corrections” made this one feel a little off.) Anyway, there’s a teeny, tiny part of me who wants to see Ben Carson do well in this election just so we can continue to watch Jay Pharoah’s impression, which is one of my new favorite things on the show.
“Town Hall Meeting” (McConaughey, Killam, Bennett, Bryant, Moynihan, Strong, Thompson) It was when Matthew McConaughey’s character started berating a town official for having a real hand – accusing that official of being better than him – when I finally realized I was enjoying this sketch. And I strangely loved the now kind of dated “Age of Ultron” joke, because why not?
“A Thanksgiving Miracle” (McConaughey, Ensemble) I know this sketch will be “popular” because it features Adele’s “Hello,” but it felt like it was made just for the sake of being popular. Like, it feels like a sketch I’m supposed to like – all of the elements are in place – but “Hello” feels shoehorned in for the sake of using a popular song from the person who happens to be the musical guest that night. Nasim Pedrad and Emma Stone’s “Someone Like You” sketch from 2011 (wait, it’s been that long?) is still the best Adele sketch.
“Blues Shack” (Thompson, McConaughey, Pharoah, Mooney, Jones) The lyric from McConaughey about getting a bad haircut and not wanting to go outside made me laugh because this happened to me a few of months ago. What a dumb thing. This was a good idea for a sketch, but the lyrics, execution, whatever weren’t quite there. This felt like a premise where everyone kept waiting for it to take off and it never did — and the kicker about selling his Facebook shares didn’t land at all. Also, McConaughey’s timing seemed just a little off.
“Should You Chime In On This?” (Thompson, McConaughey, Bryant, Mooney, McKinnon) I don’t know what happened here because this seems like it should have been something great, but it does in the studio. Maybe it’s too close to “Black Jeopardy”? Maybe all the characters needed to be a little more self-righteously smug like Kyle Mooney’s Tristan, because his character seemed to work the best? I’m befuddled by this! This should have been a no-brainer home run and for whatever reason it didn’t work.
“3D Printer Man” (Strong, McConaughey, Bennett, Killam, Ensemble) What a weird thing in that here’s a really weird idea that didn’t run with being weird. Though, McConaughey was funny when he was walking around with that goofy smile.
“Right Side of the Bed” (Killam, Strong, McConaughey, Bryant, McKinnon) I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not a fan of Taran Killam’s character in this sketch. (And I say that as someone who greatly enjoys Mr. Killam’s work.) It just seems like the gist is that he’s a man who is in the closet and goes out of his way to act “masculine” — and that seems like a joke from another era that wasn’t that funny back then. I’m not against “trying things” for the sake of comedy, but maybe it’s time to leave this one behind. And I get that this impression is probably based on a real person, but, still. (Though, Matthew McConaughey’s turkey face man was funny.)
Average Score for this Show: 5.78
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.