Recap: Louis C.K. hosts Saturday Night Live

Louis C.K. SNL

Comedian Louis C.K. was back hosting Saturday Night Live tonight with musical guest Sam Smith.

It was an incredibly strong start to the episode with an uncharacteristically and unfortunately weak Update, but even the first post-Update sketch, a cutesy musical sketch, was worthy of the top of the show. Louis C.K. mostly played himself or versions of himself, like Lena Dunham and Jim Parsons have done before him, but, like Dunham, it worked tonight. There were enough variations of it for tonight’s episode, especially pre-Update, to be among the best of the season. Tonight’s episode hit a snag towards the end, but I’m hoping one of the pre-recorded sketches (Dyke & Fats) becomes recurring.

The last time Louis C.K. hosted was just about 18 months ago, in November 2012. I remember enjoying the episode that had a stellar monologue (no surprise) that was straight-up stand-up, but only remember two sketches: “Last Drunken Soulmates,” the end-of-episode sketch that features Kate McKinnon and a male host trying to convince each other (though mostly themselves) to take the other home, and “Lincoln,” a Louie-inspired pre-recorded short on the U.S. president post-Emancipation.

The last new episode of SNL, hosted by Lena Dunham, was three weeks ago, so I’m particularly excited for the show to cover all the stuff that’s been happening this month. Louis C.K. writes, directs and edits his FX show Louie so I don’t doubt that the SNL writers will be stepping up their game.

Louis C.K.’s FX show Louie returns May 5. Next week’s Saturday Night Live will be hosted by first-timer Anna Kendrick and on April 12, Seth Rogen hosts his third episode.

You can check out my other Saturday Night Live recaps here. I’ll be recapping tonight’s episode hosted by Louis C.K. starting at 11:30 p.m.

In Canada, you can watch the episode on Global’s website, usually by noon on Sunday. Note: the broadcast had some major audio issues during the cold open and monologue during the live broadcast. 

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Cold open

We kick off the show with a sketch about Obama’s new social-media guru thinking up new stunts the president can take part in that’ll go viral, and get more people to sign up to HealthCare.gov’s ACA. There were some serious audio issues that made the sketch difficult to follow along, but it seemed like they pulled all the stops. Obama got help from Kim Kardashian, Batkid and Justin Bieber. Maybe it was funny, maybe it wasn’t. Video via Tumblr.

Update: After watching the cold open without the faulty audio, I think it was a strong way to kick off the show. In the past, SNL‘s been relying too heavily on celebrity impressions. That they got them all out of the way this early and logically was welcome.

Monologue

Louis C.K. is in his element here. Canadian Tweeters are complaining about persistent sound issues. I’m unable to make out much of what Louis C.K. is saying, but the audience is eating it up. From what I could hear, he tackled kids’ theatre, God, wifebeaters, and a ton of other stuff – I think. Video via mediaite.comCanadians click here to watch.

Update: No surprise at all: Louis C.K. ruled the monologue. For fans of his or fans of stand-up comedy in general, he did a generous eight-minute routine (longer than most SNL monologues, but Louis C.K. is not like most hosts) that gave viewers a taste of what his comedy is like – and maybe a preview of his next stand-up special?

Black Jeopardy!

Louis C.K. plays the one white contestant on an all-black Jeopardy hosted by Kenan Thompson’s (obviously) Alex Treblack. Louis C.K.’s Mark is a professor of African-American studies and he’s in for a rude awakening with answers like “It’s been a minute since he had a job” and “She do hair.” SNL did something similar when Kerry Washington was on called “How’s He Doing?” – this wasn’t quite as great, but very good nonetheless. Video via mediaite.com.

Baby CEO

Beck Bennett is committed to getting screen time and if he has to get food on his face, he’ll do it. The genius CEO with the body of a baby appeared on the Josh Hutcherson-hosted episode, too, and this was more of the same, but everyone’s commitment to the physicality (and messiness) made it fun to watch. Plus, it seemed like the cake-throwing was a real surprise to Aidy Bryant. Regarding Louis C.K., though, he played second fiddle to Bennett.

Jos. A. Bank suits

Jos. A. Bank SNL

A short pre-recorded sketch about cleaning up spills using cheap suits from Jos. A. Bank. Four suits for the price of a modest dinner.

Weekend Update

Update’s usually good, or at least good enough, but something was amiss tonight. Jay Pharoah’s Stephen A. Smith made a short appearance that was mildly amusing. A markedly improved performance by new Update host Colin Jost, who seems less nervous and laughs a lot less when one of his jokes lands. Video via Global.

Mr. Big Stuff

The most I can say about this sketch is that it was cute. It wasn’t funny, but I don’t think it tried to be. A man (Louis C.K.) asks for directions from four women and they serenade him with Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff” on the street.

It’s Better to Know

A pre-recorded sketch about asking the right questions at doctor’s appointments, like “Do I have a Darth Vader up my butt?” Absurd and was just short enough not to get stale. Video via mediaite.com. Canadians click here to watch.

Private Eyes

Was this The Californians by way of Desperate Housewives? I’m not quite sure what to make of this sketch, but there were some playful euphemisms that sometimes landed and a blink-and-you’ll-miss appearance by Bobby Moynihan. Video via Global.

Dyke & Fats

Pre-recorded promo for a show about two bad-ass female police officers in Chicago, Dyke and Fats (Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant). Hoping these two will come back at some point. I got the sense that this was setting up future shorts; that could be promising. Video via Global.

Kyle Mooney short: Chris for President 

Another pre-recorded sketch, though this is one of those more off-beat ones, something Kyle Mooney is mastering. He and Beck Bennett are definitely making a case for sticking around next year and tonight’s short about a high schooler’s mundanities is one of the strongest Mooney’s been in. Video via Global.

Romantic Speech

We were spoiled with an outstanding end-of-episode sketch the last time Louis C.K. hosted, the Last Drunken Soulmates. Mostly, I think the first joke didn’t come quickly enough, and then the strangeness of Louis C.K.’s character using some lines from movies to try to win back Aidy Bryant never materialized into much that was funny. And Louis C.K. quite blatantly was reading off cue cards. Video via Global.

Musical guest Sam Smith

I had never heard his stuff before and I rather enjoyed it. His show at Le Belmont in Montreal was cancelled on March 26. I’m guessing if it is rescheduled, tickets will be a bit more hard to get – and probably a bit more expensive than the $18 announced by Evenko.

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