SNL: Ronda Rousey, Selena Gomez & Justin Bieber

Saturday Night Live, aka SNL, featured Ronda Rousey and muical guest Selena Gomez (who also took part in the “Bland Guy” skit), along with Kate McKinnon doing her brilliant Justin Bieber, and Tina Fey reprised her spot on impression of Sarah Palin.

 Saturday Night Live - Season 41

Saturday Night Live, aka SNL, featured Ronda Rousey and muical guest Selena Gomez (who also took part in the “Bland Guy” skit), along with Kate McKinnon doing her  brilliant Justin Bieber, and Tina Fey reprised her spot on impression of Sarah Palin. Despite a fairly good open, with the Palin/Trumbo double act, episode 1694 had more misses than hits.  Even the studio audience, who braved a blizzard to attend, seemed more bemused than amused.

Once the political mickey-take was over, Rousey began her monologue which needed all the help it could get. While Ronda is a personal favorite, her open was almost painful to watch as the cast worked overtime to make it funny.

Missed Opportunity:

So. Selena Gomez is the musical guest on SNL.  Kate McKinnon does a wicked good impression of Gomez’s old flame Justin Bieber.  During Rousey’s painful to watch open, Bieber is trotted out (and slapped making this bit the best part of the monologue, hands down) and then exits before Gomez is introduced for a mini-musical number. Why, oh why, could there not have been a McKinnon/Bieber and Gomez moment during the open?  Too soon? Too late? Answers on a postcard please, or in comments below…

 Saturday Night Live - Season 41
Best bit of Ronda’s monologue; The Bieber smackdown…

The monologue was followed by a brilliant satirical sketch where the “White-Oscars” and the “Black Boycott” took “best in show” for comedy.  A number of African-American themed films were trotted out for nominations and in each case it was the white performer in each film that got the nod.

As the film’s were listed, each caucasian actor’s role got smaller, and more insignificant, for each “movie” (One actor being nominated for “unknown male voice on phone.”) By the end of the skit, all of the non-African-American nominees had won.  SNL at it’s topical best. Sadly, the rest of the episode was not as funny, or spot on.

 Saturday Night Live - Season 41
The Color White…Or possibly a Reservoir Dogs reunion…

The next skit was the BAMM (Bullies Against Mixed Martial Arts, which should have been BAMMA surely?) and the whole thing had a Carrie-ish slant. While Ronda was “Carrie” there was no pig’s blood moment and the only destruction was that of the main bully’s face (Vanessa Bayer). It was amusing in a very limited way.

Next up was “Bland Guy” (a spoof on The Bachelor) another “miss” for all intents and purposes. While a number of female cast members, and Rousey, plopped on a bench next to “Bland Guy” Beck Bennett, the gags ran from okay to tepid.  One of  the best gags of the set utilized the very much underused and stunning Sasheer Zamata,  and made what seemed to be another reference to the Oscars. Zamata sits down and Beck’s character asks who she is:

“I’m the black one…”

The best part of the whole sketch had musical guest Selena Gomez showing up and making a  joke about being conceived during the second season of the 25 year-old show.  “Bland Guy” immediately choses the young woman after she reveals who she is.

Saturday Night Live - Season 41
I’ll take this one…

This sketch served as an intro to Gomez’ first musical number and armed with a slit dress and sexy demeanor, the singer proved, beyond a shadow of doubt, that she is all grown up.  Sultry and sexy, the singer has easily moved from teen performer to impress those old enough that acne is no longer an issue.

Other comedic misfires included the party invitation skit which felt completely off and a bit like an attempt to recreate the “Wild and Crazy Guys” persona of Steve Martin and Martin Short, but without the “European”  or comic flair.

 Saturday Night Live - Season 41
Clear comedic miss…

The last three skits; a superhero one, where each “hero” demands their introduction time while the city is destroyed and each character’s superpowers diminish in importance/relevance, and a teen boy whose sexual exploits with two teachers has his day in court, were fairly tame and also misses. The town hall meeting sketch also felt flat and uninspired.

 Saturday Night Live - Season 41
Close but no cigar…

Perhaps the one skit that made the audience, who braved the winter storm to attend the live show, fairly uncomfortable was the one with Pete Davidson as the teenager who was “seduced” by two teachers.  The jokes took a long time to reach the audience and in terms of taste, this one was quite probably a bit too close to the bone for the studio viewers.

 Saturday Night Live - Season 41
Questionable skit…

Selena Gomez ended  the show with another sexy number, both costume-wise and song-wise.  Sadly, Tina Fey turning up and doing her “Palen” was not enough to save this episode.  Kudos for the Oscar sketch though and major points for having Gomez sing. It is a shame that they did not allow for a McKinnon “Bieber” face-off with Selena though…

“Update” kudos to Colin Jost for his Sarah Palin dig:

“Either that or she saw an open microphone and decided to say all  the words she knew in random order…”

Further kudos to “co-host” Michael Che with his Oscar joke:

“Boycott is a very strong word for not attending a party you were never invited to…”

Guest host Ronda Rousey lost something in translation, as the guest of SNL,  but mad props to the world’s most beautiful fighter who gave it her best shot.

 

 

SNL: Adam Driver, Chris Stapleton & Liev Schreiber (Review)

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.

Saturday Night Live - Season 41

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…)

Saturday Night Live - Season 41
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — “Adam Driver” Episode 1693 — Pictured: (l-r) Kate McKinnon and Adam Driver on January 12, 2016 — (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC)

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.

 

 

This Is Where I Leave You: Jason Bateman and a Different Modern Family

This Is Where I Leave You can be seen as a different sort of modern family tale starring Jason Bateman, Timothy Olyphant, Adam Driver, Corey Stall, Rose Byrne, Tina Fey and Jane Fonda. Directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum 1, 2 and 3) and adapted for the screen by the Jonathan Tropper, author of the book that the film is based on, is an amusing and sometimes awkward look at family life in the white collar world of the professional.

Carol Burnett American First Lady of Comedy Television Wins Mark Twain Prize

Carol Burnett American First Lady of Comedy Television Wins Mark Twain Prize

There are some things that are intrinsically American. Like the old Chevrolet commercials singing patriotically about baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet, they should have made room for Carol Burnett. There may be a few people who could argue about bestowing the title of “American first lady of comedy television”, but it would be a weak argument at best.

Tina Fey Golden Globe Moment with Naughty Nipple Peek

Tina Fey Golden Globe Moment with Naughty Nipple Peek

This has been Tina Fey’s year. First she will guest host on the new season premiere of Saturday Night Live; then she won an Emmy for Best Comedy Writing, along with her writing partner Tracey Wigfield. And it has been confirmed that Tina and and Amy Poehler will host the next Golden Globes. But on Sunday night at the Emmys Tina Fey had a wardrobe malfunction when one naughty nipple peeked out from one of her own golden “globes.”