The cast of “Saturday Night Live” gets the entire week of Thanksgiving off before returning to work in December for three shows, three weeks in a row to close out 2014. And if you tuned in for last night’s episode hosted by Cameron Diaz, you might have been turned off by the time the flat monologue showed up, which seemed to indicate that this episode might be a little rough due to the less than lively cast. Thankfully, the rest of the show packed some solid comedy and even the return of some familiar characters you may not have been expecting. So let’s get down to it!
High School Theater Show – Hands down, this was the best sketch of the night. For anyone who lives in a big city, these experimental, preachy theaters shows aren’t hard to come by. But even if you’ve never seen one of these eye-rolling stage productions, you get the idea pretty quick. The sketch nails the pretentious nature of the messages in these shows, the exaggerated theater acting, and it’s just perfect. Making it even better is confused and bewildered Kenan Thompson, which always gets a laugh from me.
Back Home Ballers – It’s hard to live up to last season’s “(Do It On My) Twin Bed” (my favorite sketch of last season) and the return of this eclectic lady hip-hop group (including your Lil’ Baby Aidy) certainly doesn’t match up to the original. But once you stop expecting that level of greatness after the first minute, it takes a solid turn once we get down to the details of how these ladies get treated when they go home to their parents’ house. Honestly, whether you’re a woman or a man, this is exactly how it is to be home for the holidays, especially in your 20s and even 30s. The verse with the wi-fi password forced me to pause my DVR, because I was laughing so hard.
Office Boss – Now here’s how you make a funny recurring sketch that began to falter a bit and make it fresh again. Taking Beck Bennett’s well-performed Baby Boss and moving him to a professional dinner setting was the best way to make this fun again. Yet again, Kenan Thompson isn’t given a whole lot to do, but his supporting role in the sketch still got a rise out of me. Of course, the star is Bennett, who is just amazing at being a baby.
The Fight – Here’s another sketch calling back to a character from Season 39 (the episode hosted by Louis C.K.), and since it was one of my favorites of the year, matching that quality was going to be tough. Much like the above “Back Home Ballers” sketch, it’s not quite as good, but it still has its moments. Kyle Mooney has this character down, and it’s obviously because he knew kids like this in high school (most of us did in the late 90s and early 2000s), but the fight just doesn’t play out as well as Chris Fitzpatrick’s campaign video for class president. Still pretty good though.
Capitol Hill – Not that it would be hard to be the best cold open this season, but this one certainly seems to take the cake. Parodying something nostalgic like “Schoolhouse Rock” is always a good idea, but I felt like this was held back by some obvious choices in the jokes. We all knew this was going to mock the idea of Executive Order and shake up the idea of how a bill becomes a law, but I was hoping for some kind of surprising direction or joke that didn’t come. Kudos to Kenan Thompson though for capturing the voice of the bill magnificently.
Dr. Dave and Buggles – Yes, this almost ended up in the next category of the show, mainly because the sketch isn’t that good. But there’s just something about Kenan Thompson constantly bringing up the fact that his monkey friend ripped off his genitals that made me laugh more that I should have. It’s a one-note joke, and the sketch was basically a poor man’s version of Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet, but Thompson elevated so that it wasn’t a complete waste for me.
New Annie – The idea of “Black Annie” is hilarious, and Leslie Jones even made it work a bit, but the rest of the sketch constructed around that concept wasn’t anywhere near as funny. The way Jamie Foxx (Jay Pharoah) was used was super weird, but at least Vanessa Bayer doing her own “Black Annie” impression brought a good chuckle.
Night Murmurs – Maybe it’s because the faux sexiness is so much better utilized in the ex-porn star commercials that this sketch didn’t work well. But at the same time, nothing really happens with this sketch. The only escalation comes from just how weird Kate McKinnon’s turkey abuse bet gets, but it wasn’t enough to make this sketch good.
Poetry Class – I’m gonna be honest, I don’t really like this character anymore. Vanessa Bayer was amusing the first time this sketch premiered when Miley Cyrus hosted last season, but the joke has already run its course. It would have helped if Cameron Diaz’s character offered anything more than a predictable poem full of sexual innuendo, but sadly that didn’t happen. Thankfully, Kenan Thompson salvaged it from being a complete disaster with that spot-on poem about “Friends.”
Nest-Spresso – The inspiration for this sketch just feels so far out of left field, but that’s what makes it so fascinating and funny. Is urban farming such a big thing that an idea like this isn’t all that crazy? I love how nonchalant Vanessa Bayer is when it comes to being clueless about how the machine works, and also the fact that there’s no remorse about one of the chicks just being turned into bones. Consider this one of the best sketches of the night too.
All right, Colin Jost, even though you did have a similar joke about “Franklin & Bash” being canceled that I made on Twitter over a week ago, this was another great Weekend Update session. My only complaint is that there should have been some kind of longer diatribe from Michael Che, or even him teamed up with Jost, to just riff on this whole Bill Cosby situation. Che opened the gates by referencing one of Cosby’s classic bits, but sadly, the rest of the bit was all too brief.
Angela Merkel On the G20 Summit – I love Kate McKinnon as Angela Merkel, and the character hasn’t worn out her welcome, but this particular installment just wasn’t anything to write home about. Though I did love when she and Colin Jost adorably got all up in each other’s faces.
Charles Manson and Star Burton – Thankfully Taran Killam had this on the show, because otherwise he didn’t stand out much. His crazy Charles Manson was just fantastic, fully of energy, and acts out exactly how we all think a relationship would be with that mad man.
The next time Cameron Diaz hosts “Saturday Night Live,” she’ll be part of the pretty exclusive Five-Timers Club. But if I’m honest, the only sketch I can ever remember he being in is “Jingleheimer Junction,” which just so happens to be one of my favorite all-time sketches. The only sketch that measured up to that greatness tonight was the high school theater sketch, but I’m happy to say that Diaz didn’t bring the show down at all. In fact, she seemed be having a lot of fun. However, the above monologue was just abysmal. Again, I’m happy the rest of the show was much better.
Kenan Thompson – You probably guessed by the number of times that I specifically mentioned Kenan Thompson that he was going to be the MVP this time around. The guy didn’t have any sketches of his own that were stellar, but when he appeared, he made average sketches funnier and even the bad ones fairly amusing. It’s Thompson’s trademark voice, especially when he sings or yells, that just gets me everytime. It’s always surreal think that he ended up here afte rI grew up watching him on Nickelodeon. Keep it up, Kenan.
The Final Word
While it wasn’t the best show of the season, it certainly wasn’t anywhere near the worst. There was an even number of great, average and bad sketches, and that’s usually what happens with any decent episode of “SNL.” Thankfully host Cameron Diaz didn’t bring the show down, and she was actually probably funnier than she normally is on the big screen (at least when it comes to her movies from the past few years). The next time she hosts, you can expect some guest stars to welcome her to the Five-Timers Club, so that should be fun.
Come back in December with reviews of the episodes hosted by James Franco, Martin Freeman and Amy Adams!
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