After a week off, this is all they could come up with? Lady Gaga was host and musical guest on the first new episode of Saturday Night Live since the one helmed by Kerry Washington at the beginning of the month. Gaga was a fine host whose strong monologue gave me false hope for the rest of the episode; it was a bit of a mess, but it’s nice to see Gaga doesn’t take herself so seriously that she can’t poke fun at herself. For the first time since I can remember, the stronger sketches came after Update.
Rob Ford fever has hit SNL. The episode opened with the host of a CBC news show grilling Toronto Mayor Rob Ford; I think the joke here was that Rob Ford does and says crazy stuff, then apologizes for it, and repeat. Maybe the other joke was this tired stereotype: Bobby Moynihan as Ford and Taran Killam as the host had ridiculous Canadian accents that just weren’t funny, eh. Soorry, eh. There’s a video of the cold open (and praise which I do not understand) over at Gawker.
Host and musical guest Lady Gaga stepped out with all the confidence in the world. She looked and sounded great and delivered a jazzy rendition of her song “Applause” where she acknowledged the pandering in which most hosts take part: “I love New York,” “it’s a dream come true to be here.” “I’ll take your cheap applause,” she sang to the beat of her song. Lady Gaga can sing: she can be Roxie Hart in Chicago. She certainly looked the part. Watch the monologue in the video below:
Paxil, for presidential depression
An ad for Paxil, a pill that helps with presidential depression. I think this was a clever bit, albeit not too different than other mock ads SNL does. Jay Pharaoh’s Obama looks out a window; it’s black-and-white. Paxil is “second-term strength” medication and will make you “feel like you’re giving a speech at a college campus in 2008.”
Waking up with Kimye
A talk show hosted by Jay Pharoah’s Kanye West and Nasim Pedrad’s nasally Kim Kardashian. The highlight of the sketch is Gaga’s Karen, an Apple store employee who works at the Genius Bar. “You do not deserve the title ‘genius,’ ” West berates her. The talk show’s house-band is the Kardashian Eleven, members of the family who were assigned instruments based on their skills (there are eight triangles). Pharoah’s West yelled ridiculous things like “Food is jewelry; she just changed the game,” when Kim makes a macaroni necklace. It wasn’t an unfunny sketch, especially after Gaga’s Karen shows up, but it didn’t really do anything different; Kanye says crazy things, Kim is spoiled.
Worst cover songs of all time
An ad for a compilation CD of the worst cover songs of all time. I think this is the first time I notice freshman Noël Wells: she sang “Hallelujah” as Britney Spears. The sketch didn’t really go anywhere or do anything; just a way to get the cast to practise their impressions (Kenan Thompson was Rick Ross, Aidy Bryant was Adele.) The last “cover” was Lady Gaga’s rendition of Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” but wait: “Was it even a cover?” the host asks. No; it was Gaga singing Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
Gaga performs “Do What U Want”
I like this song and I really think Gaga *can* sing; this was a theatrical performance and R. Kelly – who is featured on the song – also showed up. There were some awkward thrusts, humps and lifts that I hope not to have to relive, but here are some immortalized in GIF form.
I feel like these are getting shorter every week. There were three Rob Ford items, but nothing too memorable in this week’s Update. In a pre-recorded segment, Kenan Thompson’s Mr. Senior scolds New Yorkers who are prepping for Christmas in mid-November. “Thanksgiving is first;” “it’s too early,” he screams, stealing Salvation Army bells and breaking candy canes. This was the second of four pre-recorded bits on tonight’s episode.
NYC co-op board
A couple is interviewed by a co-op board and a building’s cooky tenants. This is the kind of sketch that feels so lazy, especially since the last new episode of Saturday Night Live was a full two weeks ago. The characters go around the room to be asked questions by the tenants; you meet all of them one at a time and none of them really interact with one another. These used to work with Kristen Wiig’s Gilly and Penelope, but this was just a dud.
My second-favourite sketch of the night, thanks in large part to Vanessa Bayer who, I feel, will be carrying the show for the next few seasons. Spotlightz is a camp for kids who want to be serious actors. They reenact scenes from serious movies like The Social Network and Forrest Gump with a perkiness that is just out of place enough to make this sketch funny.
A pre-recorded sketch about three Blockbuster employees who are told the store they have worked at since high school is closing. The post-Lonely Island digital shorts at SNL have been pretty good, but this one was just OK.
Gaga sings “Gypsy”
Kind of a mess. Bad news for Artpop if this is one of two songs she wants to promote on SNL?
A nice, short sketch that showed Gaga flexing her physical-comedy muscles. She and John Milhiser are a young girl’s crazy stage parents who want to make sure their daughter nails every one of her steps. “Look at me, baby,” they say as they rub, twerk, lick, shake, shimmy.
Upper West Side – 2063
By far my favourite sketch of the night. It’s 2063 and a washed up future Gaga sits in her apartment when her doorbell rings. It’s her super whom she called to change some lightbulbs around her apartment. All she wants is for him to remember that she was a superstar once. “Perhaps you heard about the extravagant costumes I used to wear?” She heads to the piano and starts playing “Poker Face,” then “Bad Romance.” This was the no. 1 song in the world, she laments, “back in the day – 2008.” The super then starts to sing “Born This Way” as an ecstatic Gaga, with lipstick on her teeth, tells him that’s her song. “Oh?” he asks. He only knows it as the jingle from a commercial for a toilet cleaner. “Maybe this will jog your memory?” Gaga asks, balancing a telephone on her head, referencing her duet with Beyoncé. “Empress Beyoncé?” he asks. Gaga’s ability to poke fun at herself is so refreshing; it is puzzling though how the last live sketch of the night was the strongest. Watch the 2063 sketch in the video below:
Kind of like the NFL Red Zone, but for reality TV. An informercial (and the fourth pre-recorded bit of the night) for a network that airs only the trashiest parts of reality shows: people fighting, people being thrown in pools – “24/7 garbage.” “Life’s short,” Real Housewives-esque Cecily Strong says. “I shouldn’t have to listen to Rob Kardashian talk about his line of socks.”
This was one of the weaker episodes of the season. It’s a shame, because Gaga seemed like she was up for anything. She did, however, also seem like she could only do two or three types of characters: nerdy, New Yorker and over the top. There were also way too many Kardashian jokes for one week. Rob Ford, too, is an easy target this week, but the jokes were uninspired, especially after the field day Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart had bashing the Toronto mayor on their shows.
First-timer Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games, The Kids are All Right) hosts a new Saturday Night Live next week, Nov. 23, with musical guest Haim.