This 40th season of Saturday Night Live is attracting huge names, with Chris Pratt having hosted last week, and SNL alum Bill Hader returns to host next week. There have also been reports that Jim Carrey will be back at some point this season (Dumb and Dumber To comes out Nov. 14 …)
This week, it’s Sarah Silverman who returns to SNL, though I hope her hosting gig is more memorable than her short tenure on the show in the ’90s.
Maroon 5 will be the musical guest tonight.
Join me on Twitter starting at 11:30 p.m. and come back at the end of the show for a full recap of the episode.
Cold open: Whose Obama impersonation do you prefer? Jay Pharoah’s on SNL or Jordan Peele on Key & Peele? I think Pharoah’s is a bit less of a caricature than Peele’s, but the political stuff on K&P blows SNL‘s out of the water. Tonight, Obama was on 60 Minutes discussing the social media strategies of ISIS. The sketch rested entirely on the shoulders of Pharoah and he couldn’t carry it all the way. C+
Monologue: “Is it really crazy? It kind of makes all the sense in the world.” Sarah Silverman’s a pretty big comedian, after all, so it really does make sense that she’s finally hosting SNL. Fresh off her Emmy win for her HBO stand-up special We Are All Miracles, she incorporated some jokes from her special with two hysterical gags that are setting the bar high for the rest of the season. First, she sat on an audience member’s lap, doling out life advice and fishing for compliments. Then, she answered questions from “plants,” SNL castmembers planted in the audience to ask the host a question. They were clips from Silverman’s time on SNL, and the questions were as non-sensical as they were funny: Will she release a solo album now that she’s left Wilson Phillips? There was absolutely no doubt Sarah Silverman would have been comfortable up there by herself, repurposing an act like Louis C.K. did last season. But this was inventive, hilarious and a great showcase for her style. A
The Fault in Our Stars 2: The Ebola in Our Everything: It’s The Fault in Our Stars, but instead of two teens with cancer, Theodore (Taran Killam) falls in love with Olive (Silverman), who doesn’t have cancer … She has Ebola. The surprise reveal gave this fake movie trailer legs, and it kept delivering until the very end. B+
Heaven Roast: If there’s anyone Joan Rivers would have deemed OK to impersonate her, it would be Sarah Silverman, who portrayed the late comedienne in the sketch. My favourite line was directed to Steve Jobs, whom Rivers wished would be made to buy a new coffin every six months. Silverman’s impersonation was good, but the jokes didn’t always land. In this case, it wasn’t parodying the format of the roast or roasts themselves; they merely moved the roast to Heaven. C
Whites: This is the kind of pre-recorded sketch that makes the live stuff look so weak in comparison. About how white people need to enjoy these last few decades of total domination, it was scathing and hilarious and timely. A
Supportive Women: A “forgotten TV gem” is a soap opera in which there is no conflict between the female characters, who support each other no matter what, even accidentally getting shot in the chest. C
Maroon 5 performs “Animals.” I think it’s commendable that Adam Levine still calls the band Maroon 5 and not, like, Adam Levine and the Maroon 5s. I like the set on this song and the light set up was really cool.
Weekend Update: Michael Che’s jokes were better this week, but Colin Jost’s delivery continues to improve. “Who goes to Africa *and* Texas?” asks Che about the first U.S. Ebola case. Update started heavy on politics, but settled into Ebola pretty quickly, having Kenan Thompson’s Rev. Al Sharpton rambling about Secret Service things and Ebola, again. Then something great happened. Jost turned to Che to ask him if “bae” was an appropriate word for him to use. No, Che said, because Jost is 30. Their interaction was nice and the first time in a long time the Update anchors didn’t feel and look like they were anchoring together/separately. Kudos. Then there was Kate McKinnon’s first appearance this episode. With Silverman, the duo was a feminist band, singing that everyone and everything is a woman, from Bill Maher, to Walt Disney (but Pixar is a pointed shoe). B
Proud Mary: OK, so it’s post-Update and there’s a certain expectation that the quality’ll take a dip at this point. The energy from all the performers (Cecily Strong, Sasheer Zamata and Silverman) was up, and the costumes and wigs were a nice visual gag, but I just didn’t think there was much else here. C-
Amsterdam: Rachel is picked up by her brother from the airport after a trip to Amsterdam during which she cheated on her boyfriend who’s hiding in the backseat waiting to propose! Blame lowered expectations becauses of the “Proud Mary” sketch … B
The December Generation: I don’t know about these Kyle Mooney sketches. One week they’re great, others less so. They’re always weird, though, of course, which is part of their charm. I just didn’t get this one, but I am glad Beck Bennett was asked back this season. I think he can fill the void left by Jason Sudeikis (white, great hair, can play corporate ass and terrible boyfriends) C-
Maroon 5 performs “Maps.”
Vitamix blender: Hey, now! There’s Vanessa Bayer showing off an a $650 blender that purees and juices without you needing to core! This was a cute way to end the night. Two women (who are not Supportive, like the women in an earlier sketch) argue over the unreasonable price of the blender. It’s not really funnier than it sounds, but it was kinda cute. B-