It’s crazy to think that the first time Seth Rogen hosted “Saturday Night Live,” he was only 23 years old. Unfortunately, his third round hosting felt like he had never been to Studio 8H to host the show, but with sketches that never really seemed to hit the mark and a cast that seems to be tired, it wasn’t entirely his fault. Maybe it’s because we’re coming off last week’s exceptional episode hosted by Anna Kendrick that this week was more disappointing, but either way, this was a certainly a low point for the season. Let’s break down the sketches below.
Monster Pals – The best sketches, especially the pre-recorded ones, have a bit of heart to go along with the comedy, and that’s why this was easily the best sketch of the night. You may not be able to tell at first, but that’s Mike O’Brien under the green monster make-up, and this undoubtedly came from his quirky mind. This was a little rough at first, especially with a huge editing mistake that left a stray shot intended for later in the wrong spot, but the payoff with James Franco was worth it. Also, I’m pretty sure those scenes where the monster scares people on the street were totally candid, and that’s awesome.
Blue River Dog Food – At first, I didn’t understand why this commercial sketch wasn’t pre-recorded, and then it all made sense. We’re basically watching the crumbling of what should be an artificial family being paid to promote dog food, but instead, they’ve brought all their problems with them. The shots of the dog were adorably hilarious, and Cecily Strong’s raw emotion completely sold this sketch 100% to make it work.
420 – Whenever Kyle Mooney does one of these weird video sketches, it’s hit or miss. Thankfully, this one was a major hit, with some sort of stoner episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. But what made it even more odd and hilarious was the fact that the host of this makeshift program didn’t even smoke weed. And of course, Beck Bennett appearing is standard in these kind of pieces, and his deadpan delivery is perfect.
CNN Pregnancy Test – Taking a cue from the endless coverage of the lost Malaysian plane, even when there’s nothing to report, this commercial was topical and funny, but it also felt late to the game, especially after there have been countless pieces on “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” skewering the ridiculous coverage that CNN has been delivering on this tragedy. But this was better than having a mediocre cold open on the actual news story.
Steakhouse – Initially, this felt like a lame improv game that we’d see on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” but the Southern accents and near-breaking of Aidy Bryant and Seth Rogen added some fun to the proceedings. This sketch was amusing, but not overly funny. I can’t believe the fart joke played as well as it did, but part of me feels like it might have to do with something happening off camera.
GOP at Coachella – Another “SNL,” another lame cold open. The music festival is happening in California right now, and as the 2016 elections near, the Republican party is undoubtedly desperate to prove to young voters that they’re not the same old white men that have been dominating the party for years. While the concept of this sketch is funny, the idea of having completely uncool conservative candidates pretending to be cool isn’t anything new, and it was pretty lame. But at least Brooks Wheelan got to say “Live from New York” this time (and probably the only time).
Undercover Sharpton – At the end of this sketch, Kenan Thompson says this is true. And in case you didn’t know, Al Sharpton really was an FBI informant at one time. This sketch tries to turn it into a ’70s cop show version of the bumbling Al Sharpton that we’ve seen Thompson do countless times before, but there might as well have been crickets chirping through the entire sketch.
Shallon: Drug Safety – This character does not need to recur anymore, but since this episode is the the last in a three week run towards the end of the season, maybe the writers are just tired and figured the contrast of Seth Rogen’s love of drug paraphernalia and playing a D.A.R.E. lecturer would bring the laughs. It felt like the show as on auto-pilot for this segment, and that made for a severe lack of laughs, with the exception of Bobby Moynihan’s great outburst.
Engagement Party – Well, it didn’t get worse than this all night. From the material to the ending itself, this was just a poorly written version of what could have been a funny sketch. Cecily Strong gave 110%, but it was no match for the complete lack of interest and amusement from the audience.
Herman & Sons – This is like the epitome of the 10-to-1 sketch, and I’m betting that it was a last minute decision to include it, mostly because it was so short, and sometimes the live nature of the show will allow for some spare airtime to fill, something that Lorne Michael knows to be prepared for when necessary. It was certainly one of the better sketches of the night, despite the oddity.
Well, the headlines portion of Weekend Update was a highlight of the entire night, especially that incredible Katherine Heigl joke, but we missed the interaction between Colin Jost and Cecily Strong this week. Plus, this week’s guests were 50/50 as far as comedy goes.
David Ortiz – Maybe it’s because I’m not ingrained in sports that this one didn’t work for me, but Kenan Thompson’s impression of David Ortiz felt lazy and not unlike several other fictional characters he’s played. Granted, his listing of things, especially Dominican foods, brought a smirk to my face, but genuine laughter was few and far between.
Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy On Passover – Well, this was a little weird since Seth Meyers is gone, but the interaction of Jacob warming up to Cecily Strong was adorable and funny. Plus, Vanessa Bayer’s cute, sad reaction to Strong bringing up the retirement of Derek Jeter (notice that Jacob has always worn a New York Yankees yarmulke) is a subtle but great example of why she’s one of the best cast members on the show.
You know what, I don’t think Seth Rogen is very good on live TV. As great of a writer and comedy actor Rogen is on the big screen, especially roles that clearly have a lot of improvisation, it doesn’t look like he’s built for live comedy. Rogen has been fine in the past with his two previous hosting stints, but there have been plenty of other hosts without as strong of a comedy background who do much better. As someone who loves pretty much everything Rogen has pushed forth in his career thus far, this is a disappointing revelation, but the monologue above just proves my point. Plus, it was just a lame idea anyway.
This week, Cecily Strong really knocked it out of the park. From her awesome role in the Blue River Dog Food sketch to being the only tolerable part of the worst sketch of the night, Strong gave it her all this week (Weekend Update, especially with Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy, included). Also, Mike O’Brien deserves an honorable mention for delivering one of the best sketches of the season in Monster Pals. That was some great stuff.
The Final Word
In what was one of the more disappointing episodes of the season, this just shows that the cast of “Saturday Night Live” needs a break before finishing the season in May. We can’t imagine how hard it is to do three weeks in a row of creating an entire episode of “SNL” from scratch, so this happens from time to time, which is a bummer for the audience but seems mostly unavoidable. But the more frustrating element was the lack of Seth Rogen’s success as a host this time. We’re sure he’ll be back again, so maybe he’ll do better next time.
We’ll be back with another recap after the May 3rd episode, which will be hosted by Andrew Garfield.
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