On SNL Adam Driver has proven that he can, and did, follow up the Christmas pairing of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (who also had Bruce Springsteen as their musical guest) with a first guest-hosting gig that rocked. Even without Chris Stapleton (who rocked the show in a different way) and the hysterical cameo by Liev Schreiber, (and a somewhat uneven pitch in terms of comedy sketches) Driver killed it.
At least one other site (Vulture) has gone on record stating that the “Kylo Ren” actor is the new Jeff Goldblum. That may be a bit overstating Driver’s skills, the man does lack that Goldblum patented art of delivery, but in all honesty the Star Wars: The Force Awakens star has his own modus operandi for comedy.
Lorne Michaels, and his staff of writers, must have been doing cartwheels when they realized that Driver possesses some impressive comedy chops. Unlike most guest hosts, the actor did “back-to-back” skits where he literally knocked the humor ball out of the SNL park. (Admittedly, some of the skits were not “killer” but Driver did well in all of them, with the exception of the last one in the episode, Dr. Rockhard.)
Considering that some of the gags were a bit like the show’s open (tepid) Driver managed to do very well. The only skit that was a clear “fail” was the Dr. Rockhard sketch. Another thing that may actually “grow into something” is the SNL writing staff still attempting to find modern versions of Jane Curtin and Gilda Radner to guest anchor on Update.
Speaking of the writers, this episode worked even when Driver was not the focus of the skits. (Even Michael Che and Colin Jost were cracking up more than usual during the Weekend Update segment.)
While the start of this episode, number 1693, was a bit tepid with the usual suspects trotting out impressions of the political candidates and Driver’s opening monologue. Since the new star is a “Noob” on the show, his spiel was kept very short and featured a picture where he does indeed look like a 12 year-old marine.
After the monologue, where Driver congratulates the Arizona Cardinals, to a less than enthusiastic reception, and mentions that this is the first SNL of 2016, the first skit, a riff on the NFL and Pete Davidson’s “Schlepp” receiving a horrific injury, gave an example of that uneven quality of the evening.
While the repeated viewings of the injury was amusing, it was essentially a reworking of the Eddie Murphy gag, way back when, where Buckwheat is shot in front of a nightclub. To be fair that particular bit of comedy has the footage shown throughout the episode and each time more gunshots are heard. Essentially, however, the two gags (the NFL injury and Buckwheat has been shot) are the same.
“Weekend Update,” despite the fact that Michael Che found it very funny, felt a bit forced.
The skit about “social puppeteering” was good with some creative ideas, like “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” and “Vampired…” Kudos to whoever came up with the “21 Jump Street” gag…
In this sketch, the whole “Vampire” bit was brilliant, especially the opening premise where Driver’s character says.
“I got this weird albino dude to bite him and then fed him Molly.”
Before the best sketch of the evening, musical guest Chris Stapleton performed Parachute and proved just why he has all those awards. If there was any doubt he sang again later on and his performance was still top notch.
Fred Armisen presented the episode’s memorial to the late David Bowie that really could have been longer but time constraints being what they are on television was cut short.
The Golden Globes sketch, where Liev Schreiber has a hysterically funny cameo, and driver dangles his Golden Globe award between his legs, drunkenly proclaiming:
“Look, I’m Liev Schreiber!”
was brilliantly done. A “pre-recorded” skit, the husband and wife team who have left their kid’s home alone, to attend and receive their writing awards was funny and the ending, where Schreiber comes out wearing only an apron and starts cracking eggs, in front of the kids was almost perfection.
Adam Driver was let down a little with the doctor’s sketch, sort of a “gay” tribute to Vaudeville perhaps (?) but over all, the actor did extremely well on his first SNL gig. In some ways, despite Vulture attempting to force Driver into the Goldblum slot, the performer feels like a tall Justin Long. (look at the below picture, it is there…)
The two standout sketches of the show were the Golden Globes and the “social puppeteering” bits and the “GG” came in first place mainly because of Schreiber.
It could not be an enviable position, coming after the powerhouse duo Fey and Poehler, but Driver does a great job despite the up and down quality of the sketches. SNL continues to keep the aim high and Lorne Michaels still has that touch, although he should crack down on those “repetitive” writers a little.
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