SNL episode 14 of season 41 drew Jonah Hill as host, his fourth time to do so, and with an solid miss on the comedy front, Hill probably felt that he should have stopped after number three. The music guest was Future; the hip-hop artist responsible for DS2 who did the obligatory two songs and come out to join Hill’s opening monologue and took part in a quick gag for Weekend Update.
Speaking of “Weekend Update,” this portion of the show was the highlight with a strong comic presence that kept the episode from going completely down the toilet. (Since two of Hill’s skits dealt with his characters soiling themselves, pun intended.) Without Jost and Che, along with the Vanessa Bayer/Kate McKinnon who trumped the Cecily Strong skit where she, once again, presents a pale version of the late great Gilda Radner‘s character “Roseanne Roseannadanna.”
Strong is a performer, however, it is not her fault that Radner got here first…
The real star performance of the episode belonged to the vastly underused Jay Pharaoh who ran through rapid fire impressions of the creme de la creme of black comics. With speed and apparent ease, Pharaoh did Eddie Murphy, Kat Williams, Chris Rock (who was so spot on it was eerie), Chris Tucker and even the late Bernie Mac before admitting that the “secret” meeting he was reporting on was all made up.
Pharaoh was the best bit of the show and only the Bayer and McKinnon skit with Kate as 115 year-old Flossie Dickie as a most unwilling interviewee came close. Although that was mainly because of Bayer’s character trying to shove the microphone in “Flossie’s” mouth and Kate came dangerously close to corpsing as her grimace fought valiantly against an amused grin.
The pre-taped Donald Trump advertisement was a glimpse back to SNL days of yore, where their “face” commercials were pithy, satirically perfect and, sometimes, with a hidden truth that was so funny it hurt. A great throwback to those pertinent ads of the 70s.
All of the sketches felt forced, un-funny and a little desperate. There were two “local” news skits; the first “Fond du Lac News” was a Wisconsin news program from, Fond du Lac…Where apparently the people who live in the “That ’70s Show state” all sound like they live in Fargo. The second was a “YouTube” type channel that felt completely flat as Jonah Hill played a “roving reporter” who visits a local “crush” who is having a breast reduction.
“The Champ” where Jonah Hill plays a high school wrestler who “wins” against a champion who has never lost before was interesting more than funny. The entire exercise felt like a very, not-so, sly dig at the MTV show Made, where
kids from high schools were “made” into “winning” versions of themselves.
While the entire gag was clever, sly and poked fun at the concept that all the “players” in the MTV show were sincerely helping the high school wannabes it was not necessarily funny. It was, however, a great idea.
The Oakridge High student auction was, once again, a fine idea but it did just miss the mark. In a time when Google’s YouTube is more about subscribing to new channels and less about teenagers finding fame through “raw talent” the whole thing felt a bit, for lack of a better word, dated. Even Vine, which was the platform of the two “lads” in the skit, is being overtaken by Periscope.
Even Future made more of a splash than poor Hill who just missed the mark all the way around. It is not often that the musical guest does “double duty” and while the hip-hop artist was not overly involved, his brief comic bit, on the Weekend Update section, was funny.
McKinnon got three homers from her appearances as Flossie, Hilary and the cook with the odd and quirky (Northern?) English accent in the Clue, aka Cluedo scene. As another reviewer stated, “we are perfectly happy to sit and watch McKinnon mug for the camera and do what she does best.”
And speaking of the “middle,” McKinnon got the highpoint of the political open where, as Hillary Clinton, she did the “stuck in the middle with you” gag. A close second to Kate’s win, was the reappearance of SNL alumnus Jason Sudeikis as Mitt Romney.
Sadly, even though there were some comic moments in the show, Jonah Hill’s fourth time up was a clear miss. Mad props to Jay Pharaoh and Kate McKinnon for totally knocking it out of the park and kudos to Che and Jost for becoming such a consistent double act.
SNL is doing back-to-back airings , hopefully the second episode, aka number 15 does a better job of delivering the laughs.