from Nick Suss
Feb. 4, 2014, 4:03 p.m.
I don't care that Melissa McCarthy hosted this week. It didn't matter. In fact, and I've thought about this, the only three hosts that could have interested me this week would have been Brett Favre, Chris Farley reincarnate and me. Aside from that, no other hosts could have lived up to the hype I generated in my head about Seth Meyers' last episode. That's how important Saturday was to me. Don't get me wrong, Melissa McCarthy is a funny lady. There's a reason she's hosted three seasons in a row now. But she wasn't the right host for the occasion. Seth was the most important member of a, despite what some detractors may say, legitimately fantastic SNL cast for about the last six years of his run. In addition to serving as one of the better writers the show had, (He wrote the Sarah Palin sketches back in '08, to list just one of his many accomplishments)it seemed that under his run Update once again became the show's marquee attraction. His legacy on SNL will be remembered far after he is gone. And in my opinion, Seth should not only go down as one of the best writer/performers in the show's history, he is the greatest Weekend Update host of all time. He was better than Tina Fey, better than Norm MacDonald, better than Kevin Nealon, better than Dan Aykroyd, even better than Chevy Chase. He was the best.
And that's why Melissa McCarthy didn't make sense to me. She's funny, but she didn't seem like the right person for the situation. I would have preferred a lifer like Alec Baldwin or Steve Martin. Or maybe a Seth-era host like Jon Hamm or Justin Timberlake. Or even a returning cast member like Kristen Wiig or Andy Samberg. Not to say that Seth's final Update lagged. It was McCarthy's sketches that lagged. Frankly, she didn't have a single funny moment all show. It seemed like she was trying too hard to be "wacky" or an oddball. I don't know if it was stale writing or stale acting or a combination of the two, but the episode was just plain bad. Somehow, McCarthy managed to take laughter out of the scenes with which she was involved, and might have effectively ruined all of the comedic momentum gained by the Girlfriend's Talk Show through the season. (Side Note: For any who are about to criticize me for the use of the word "momentum," let me say this. Momentum does not exist in sports, but it does in comedy. For a sketch that is written in a recurring manner, one good sketch sets the tone for another, because you can see what works and what doesn't work. The same doesn't go for baseball. One hit does not predict another hit. Oftentimes, one good sketch does predict another. There.) Overall, McCarthy is a comfortable host, but she isn't necessary when Aidy Bryant is emerging as a real star.
Performer of the Week: Taran Killam
Although I'm sure a lot of people will find Taran's performance Saturday to have been polarizing, I think you have to be able to make fun of that which you love. Taran did that for me, and most of you too. First off, as I assume majority of my readers are Southerners like myself and Georgians like myself, I know that his character Buford Calloway was perfect. Don't be offended. Laugh at yourself. It's ludicrous that just two inches of New Hampshire Cocaine paralyzed an entire region of the United States. Taran wrapped that little dilemma up into a quality parody. Plus, and I don't know if he wrote this part or just performed it, but all of those different names for snow were absolutely perfect. Every single one landed. And I don't know why, but the name "Sethory" just tickled me. Additionally, Taran strutted his stuff as some weird hybrid of Peyton Manning and fur-coat sporting Joe Namath for his Broadway halftime show sketch. He did exactly what he had to and poked fun at the most recognizable event in the US in a fun way. And I'll go ahead an say it, I like when people make fun of Peyton. It makes me happy.
Impression of the Week: Jay Pharaoh
During that same sketch, Beck Bennett unleashed a Howie Long and Bobby Moynihan did what to be the worst Jimmie Johnson of all-time, but it was Jay's Michael Strahan impression that had me laughing the hardest. Let's just be honest here, Michael Strahan has lost any cred he had when he joined the morning talk circuit. So portraying him as a Broadway-loving, ignoramus was the perfect choice. (Note the comma. Not all Broadway-lovers are ignoramuses. We at StoriesHouse appreciate people from all walks of life, even if you enjoy plays.) The gap tooth was perfect, the voice was spot on, and as with all of Jay's impressions, the movement was uncanny. When it is all said and done, Jay Pharaoh is still the best impressionist on cast.
Alarming Absentee: Kenan Thompson
Kenan is in the middle of the best season of his career. I don't believe he actually showed up live this week. Any sketch Kenan isn't in is instantly worse. Any episode Kenan isn't in is way worse. He did show up for the short entitled "28 Days," which was probably the best segment of the night discounting Update, but no Kenan is not enough Kenan.
Facial Expression of the Week: David Patterson
Overexplanation of a Joke: Florida
So here is a random observation. This was the third straight week that during Weekend Update a derogatory joke has been made at the expense of the state of Florida. I, by the way, love this. Anyway, I can't help but enjoy this string of Florida jokes. This one was a little deeper though. Seth joked that a retiring Florida congressman was tiring to spend more time with "those who are still awake." But there may have been a twinge of sadness in Seth's eye. You see, he too is retiring in favor of a land of people who are merely still awake. Could it be that Seth is hiding his fears about low viewership in his future endeavors, masking his true feelings about his new job? Or maybe, just maybe, Florida just really is easy to make fun of. It could be both.
Joke of the Week: Stefon
I mean, c'mon. If Stefon shows up, he gets joke of the week. It's pretty much a rule. This appearance, my favorite reference of his was to Japanese daredevil "Yolo Ono." I'm not saying that goes in Stefon's pantheon of jokes (that is reserved for Menorah the Explorer, D.J. Baby Bok Choi, club owner Jew Diamond Phillips and Hoombas - Human Roombas)but it had me laughing rather hard. I guess the grand irony is that if Yolo Ono had been true, she wouldn't have broken up the Beatles. Because, as we all well know, Paul McCartney died in 1966.
Newbie of the Week: Kyle Mooney
To talk about the body of the show a little bit, this week the writers finally allowed Kyle Mooney to do what Kyle Mooney does best and awkwardly interview people on the street. Needless to say, it was brilliant. It wasn't his best performance of the season, that still belongs to "Dancing" in the Josh Hutcherson episode, but it was the best sketch after Update. Also, don't sleep on his Broadway performance in the cold open. He knows how to do spoken word.
Sketch of the Week:
Single Best Sketch of the Season... So Far
This is tough for me. I've purposely been holding Weekend Update segments out of this slot all season. For example, Taran Killam's speech critic was probably the high point of the season, along with Drunk Uncle and Anthony Crispino, but these segments are one's that I have felt shouldn't be considered sketches. No longer. Weekend Update is avaialble. And ain't nobody been better than Fred Armisen slowly creeping in front of the camera and the view zoomed out. That was my single hardest laugh all season. When you combine that with the tears which were crawling down my face, you have the single best sketch of the season. So far.
Next Week: We're off for a month until after the Olympics. Even more tears.