‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: Season 39, Episode 8 with Host Paul Rudd

By December 9, 2013
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Saturday Night Live - Paul Rudd - Bumper 1

With Paul Rudd hosting “Saturday Night Live” just a couple weeks before Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, there was a good chance that some of his co-stars, especially alums Will Ferrell and David Koechner, would stop by. However, there were a few more special guests, including some other former cast members, who decided to stop by for some fun. They helped an unfortunately mostly lackluster show, but we’ll get into that below.

The Best

Saturday Night Live - Paul Rudd - Monologue

Paul Rudd Monologue – Sadly, this fantastic monologue isn’t officially available online due to music rights. Even more sadly, this is one of the sketches with a great trio of guest stars. Basically, Rudd is happy to be back for his third time as host, especially because he doesn’t have major musical guests like Paul McCartney and Beyonce to upstage him this time. But then One Direction shows up and takes the spotlight, forcing Rudd to bring out his man band: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell and David Koechner. The Channel 4 News Team does their rendition of “Afternoon Delight” and ends up getting joined by the British sensation to become Nine Direction. Watch an unofficial version of the sketch right here while it lasts.

One Direction Concert Line– In case you didn’t know, Paul Rudd is a huge fan of One Direction. Okay, it’s not really Paul Rudd, but this recorded sketch featuring Rudd being nothing more than a fanboy of the British boy band is pretty damn funny. It’s pretty funny to see Rudd interacting with a bunch of tween girls and talking about all the things only hardcore fans of One Direction discuss. He gets a little sassy with some of the young kids, and it’s pretty priceless.

Bill Brasky– It’s been 15 years since we heard about Bill Brasky, the man who breast fed a flamingo back to perfect health. The last version of this sketch aired in 1998, and while there have been plenty of opportunities for Ferrell to do the sketch again as host, it took this surprise appearance to bring the sketch back with buddy Koechner (who was let go from the show in 1996), in addition to Paul Rudd, Taran Killam and Kenan Thompson joining the Bill Brasky buddies. It wasn’t perfect, but that Bill Brasky is a son of a bitch, and it was good to hear some new stories about the rascal.

The Average

Memories– Visualizing the ex-boyfriends of this seemingly upscale city woman is a great concept, unfortunately, the sketch didn’t get to the point of absolutely hilarity. Still, there’s something to be said about Rudd’s goofy demeanor as this pizza guy who nailed Cecily Strong in the kitchen of a Papa John’s at the airport. The idea of remembering all the good relationships from the past and having the one you’re ashamed of continually pop up is pretty funny, mainly because we all have that one (at least) regretful hook-up. We just wish it was a little better.

Michelangelo Unveils David– The iconic statue David has a pretty small penis. Everyone knows it. But for whatever reason, no one did a comedy sketch about it until now. It’s so simple, almost to the point that it feels less funny than it should. But I’m a sucker for a sketch that is set far in the past but features the characters speaking with modern vernacular. Also, Jay Pharoah didn’t do much this episode, but his appearances in this one were chuckleworthy.

White Christmas– Considering all the criticism “Saturday Night Live” has received due to their lack of diversity (addressed in the Kerry Washington hosted episode earlier this year), this sketch seems pretty bold. Taking aim at the popular holiday films like Best Man Holiday, A Madea Christmas and Black Nativity, all with predominantly African-American casts, this sketch parodies those film by taking similar stories, but using almost entirely white actors. If anything it’s worth it for Paul Rudd doing his best white Madea, not to mention Jay Pharoah questioning whether or not they’re going to get in trouble when all is said and done.

The Worst

The Sound of Music– Well, with all the hilarity that could have been made from lampooning the long, drawn out, lackluster live adaptation of The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood, “Saturday Night Live” went to the well by bringing back Kristen Wiig and her oddly deformed baby hand girl/woman/thing. Granted, this was a surprise because the character usually was expected due to an introduction by Lawrence Welk (Fred Armisen, who also stopped by just to end the sketch). This sketch has been hilarious before, but it just fell flat in this context.

Politics Nation– Normally, I love Kenan Thompson playing a dumbed down, childish man, but his Al Sharpton is just too similar to his Steve Harvey, which is infinitely more entertaining. Paul Rudd tried to bring energy into this sketch, but he had literally nothing to do. Boring.

Santa Meeting– What a waste. What would Christmas be like if Santa Claus wasn’t fat and jolly and kind of turned into a healthy asshole having some sort of midlife crisis? Unfortunately, we get a disappointing, awkwardly unfunny answer. There was nothing entertaining about the entire cast looking on as disgusted and worried elves, and all the jokes for skinny Santa Claus were flat.

The Weird

Saturday Night Live - Diner Divorce

Diner Divorce– It took some time to get over how strange the set-up was, but once the premise was made clear, this only got funnier. This felt like a sister sketch to Josh Hutcherson’s lip syncing of The Outfield’s “Your Love” with the use of “I Don’t Want To Know” by Fleetwood Mac triggering some sweet dance moves from Paul Rudd and Vanessa Bayer. Honestly, I think this sketch is funnier on a second viewing when you know what’s going on from the beginning.

Weekend Update

We’re getting closer to Seth Meyers leaving “Saturday Night Live” for other late night pursuits on NBC, and thankfully, Cecily Strong seems more and more ready to take over the position. We’re pretty sure she’s going to end up taking on the job all by herself, and we’re just fine with that.

Jebidiah Atkinson Reviews Holiday Movies– Whoa. It’s only been three weeks since this character from Taran Killam debuted on Weekend Update when Lady Gaga hosted, and Jebidiah Atkinson is already back. First he skewered famous speeches, this time he criticizes famous Christmas specials and movies. Atkinson will clearly be recurring, and I’m fine with that as long as the snark keeps working.

Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy– This has never been one of my favorite recurring Weekend Update characters, but Vanessa Bayer is always so adorable as this nervous 15-year old Jewish boy. Making things even more charming this time is the fact that the little guy is worried that he won’t see Seth Meyers again (reminding us all that he’ll be leaving next year for “Late Night” on NBC. The little sadness felt gets picked up by a quick laugh when Jacob gets nervous thinking about talking to Cecily Strong instead of Seth, but we’re already thinking about how hard that farewell will be.

The Host

Saturday Night Live - Paul Rudd - Bumper 2

Paul Rudd is the first host we’ve had in a while who didn’t have a prominent project to parody or even a significant moment in the spotlight to joke about, so it was nice to have a set of mostly original sketches. Right from the get-go, Rudd brought the energy for a fun show, along with his special guests, and was fully dedicated to every single sketch. We just wish they were a little funnier this time around.

The MVP

Saturday Night Live - Paul Rudd - One Direction Fan

Paul Rudd

– There was no single cast member who really shined in this episode, and despite that fact that Rudd seemed mostly underused (as far as his talents are concerned), Rudd’s energy and charisma carried the show for some average entertainment. And while Rudd has a bit of help from Will Ferrell, David Koechner and Steve Carell, they only popped up a couple times, so Rudd deserves a lot of credit for making a fairly underwhelming episode still worth watching on some level.

The Final Word

Honestly, we just wish “Saturday Night Live” would work some sort of deal out for music rights, because some of the best sketches of the night never make it online legally. We suppose that’s a good incentive for people to record the show or watch it live (after all, the DVR essentially ruined the live fun of the show), but it still bums us out a bit. In the end, Rudd had a good time with his third time hosting, but the sketches weren’t quite up to snuff.

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Ethan Anderton
Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.