To call this weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live good would be a massive understatement. In all the time I’ve watched this show, I’d be hard pressed to find another episode as efficiently funny as Miley Cyrus’ second hosting gig. Now that doesn’t seem like too much of a compliment, but it is a grand honor. This wasn’t the funniest episode in recent memory – that honor still belongs to Justin Timberlake’s Five-Timer Show – but the jokes in this episode did exactly what they were expected to. There were three topics that definitely needed to be addressed coming into the episode: the Government Shutdown, Miley’s VMA performance and the semi-pornographic nature of her recent music videos. Those jokes weren’t just low hanging fruit; they were easy audience-slayers. And within three of four sketches all of this issues were not just lampooned but spun in a way no other show could do. Late night television has been mocking Miley since she put on a blonde wig and sang The Best of Both Worlds. But the one thing they couldn’t do: get Miley to make fun of Miley. That’s the beauty of SNL. Not only was every joke engineered perfectly, the entire cast came out for this episode. Everyone was on their A-game. I’m not saying the episode was perfect, the Girlfriend’s Talk Show is still one of my least favorite recurring sketches currently active and the cheerleaders sketch was just bizarre, but the episode exceeded expectations by doing exactly what it should have. The parodies were spot on, the impressions were better than top-notch (see later) and most of all, Miley assimilated well into the cast. There were times I even forgot she was the host. She just seemed to fit into the sketches. Kudos to the writers, the performers and the direction, this was a superb episode of SNL.
Performer of the Week:Taran Killam
This was a tough one. As many of you know, I am a huge Vanessa Bayer fan and she absolutely crushed this week, but Taran Killam was an ahem wrecking ball of comedy this week. His Piers Morgan impression was lower key this week, which I appreciated and (In the past all of the stutters and high pitched whines were funny, but now it’s good that he’s turned Piers into a character, not an exaggerated voice.) the Christoph Waltz impression was hysterically on point, but everyone knows Killam saved it all for one sketch. Parading around bare-assed with grills and a unitard as John Boehner is a (literally) ballsy move and I can never imagine anyone but Killam doing it. (I barely want to imagine Killam doing it, but it was so funny I do.) Just like last week defined this season as the year of Kenan and Bobby, last night reemphasized my suspicions that Taran is going to be this season’s king. He’s not the funniest person on cast, but I compare him to Drew Brees. He’s always on, but when he’s hot there is no defense in the country that can stop him. Taran was on last Saturday. Find me one person who didn’t laugh at Taran Killam this week and they are without a funny bone.
Impression of the Week: Noel Wells
Two weeks running, I gave this crown to the new girl. Narrowly edging out Killam’s Boehner, Bayer’s Cyrus and Jay Pharaoh’s unbelievable Shannon Sharpe impression, I chose this award from the Fifty Shades of Gray sketch which had me dying. Beck Bennett proved a lot to me by capturing all of the Phillip Seymour Hoffman-y charm that Jason Sudeikis used to in this sketch and my goodness was Nasim Pedrad’s Aziz Ansari hysterical, but Noel Wells’ Emma Stone impression was just too good. Seriously, she is a person I didn’t think had any distinctive quality to mock and Wells found it. Extra points for her Kristen Stewart, which was the best capturing of her facial weirdness I’ve ever seen on SNL, but the Emma Stone was just too damn good. The more I think about it, the more I think that Noel Wells can end up being a Kristen Wiig kind of performer. I just haven’t seen her play a character yet. It’s always an impression or, in last week’s case, herself. But if she can keep turning out these impressions at this pace, she’ll be on this cast for a long while.
Alarming Absentee: Bobby Moynihan
In all fairness, Bobby was in the show quite a bit. He showed up in the monologue, the cold open, the Fifty Shades sketch, the last sketch and the sketch where he killed as B.F., but still I can’t help but feel he was in the background the whole time. He had one line in three of these sketches and in the last sketch he was really just playing the role that Will Forte and Bill Hader used to play in digital short after digital short as the guy who sees what’s going on. When he was finally allowed to let loose as BITCH FANTASTIC in the final line of the newscasters sketch, I was reminded why he should be in every sketch. The dude is funny. Don’t expect to see him in this section again any time soon.
Facial Expression of the Week
Here is this week’s facial expression of the week, this time belonging to Jay’s Obama. I really don’t think this needs to be explained.
Overexplanation of a Joke: Cold Open
“Oh my god. It is like totally morning and the birds are chirping and stuff like that. And I’m like super hungry and stuff like that. And I am obsessed with cereal!” I physically did not want the joke to end. It was everything I ever wanted Garth and Kat to be: funny. Miley allowed her accent to come back for a brief moment, Bayer slayed with her old school Miley expressions and the subject was just pure funny. You see, because in the morning, people tend to be hungry. And birds chirp in the morning. And who isn’t super obsessed with cereal? I know I am. But it was the innocence of old Miley counterplayed against the Molly-smoking, twerkaholic that Miley has become that truly solidified the exchange. People want Miley to be the old Miley, but new Miley is here to stay. And we’ve had to come to peace with this. And in some ways, this exchange put the old Miley to sleep. She’s gone. Until we have the comeback, wholesome Hannah is gone and slutty Cyrus is here to stay. Thank you Vanessa for giving us one last glimpse into the America’s sweetheart we once knew.
Joke of the Week: Bobby Moynihan
This one was a close one. No offense to the aforementioned Miley exchange, the hilarity that was Bitch Fantastic or to Kenan’s haiku, but the joke of the week belongs to Bobby. I can’t find a screen shot of it and I don’t know how to do that by myself, but just trust me, it was good. It involved Bobby Moynihan sitting practically naked on a wrecking ball. Just look up Miley’s monologue. It’s worth it.
Newbie of the Week: Noel Wells
Hands down this is a no brainer. I love the sketch Kyle Mooney stylized perfectly at the end, it was the first Good Neighbor-esque sketch the show has done so far. But Noel Wells. Hands down. No questions asked.
Single Best Sketch of the Season … So Far:
Sorry Tina, but Miley got you beat. La-de-de-da-de-Republican Party was both catchy and funny enough to steal the top spot. I don’t see anything beating that any time soon. Let’s hope something does, but We Did Stop was that funny.
NEXT WEEK: Bruce Willis brings Katy Perry along in a classic trap episode. I have extremely low expectations. Let’s hope I’m wrong.