SNL: Kristen Wiig, The XX – More SMH Than SNL

 Saturday Night Live - Season 42

The Dave Chappelle guest host show was going to be a hard act to follow and Kristen Wiig, with musical guest The XX, were tasked to deliver. Sadly this episode was more SMH than SNL. It says a lot when one of the funnier sketches was cut for time…

Alec Baldwin came back for what will obviously be a standard act for SNL throughout Trump’s presidency.  Or at least as long as the president elect can still be found funny…

The cold open was amusing but, like the rest of the skits this week, felt a tad flat. Perhaps having Trump on his own, without McKinnon’s Hillary is not as entertaining.  It could also be that the stark reality of the recent election results caught the writers off guard.

The theme of a delusional Trump and McKinnon’s distressed Kellyanne Conway and Trump Googling ISIS was funny, but perhaps a bit too close to the mark.

It was a crowd pleaser (Jason Sudeikis popped in as Mitt Romney for some topical humor) and the punch line for the skit was Trump’s backing away from all his campaign pledges. The open does end on a scary note; Trump asks for reassurance that Pence will “do everything.”

Wiig’s monologue was fairly humorous and included the usual cameo appearances that seem to be included with every SNL alumni hosting. Steve Martin and Will Forte slid in for a bar or two of Kristen’s Thanksgiving song.

The punchline was Kristen getting everything muddled up about the upcoming holiday. Once again, the opening monologue was amusing – especially the ukulele, “personal” guitar  and stool schtick – but otherwise it was merely functional.

(H0wever there was one highpoint. The 10 kinds of meat “like they’d murdered a zoo” was brilliant.)

The most relevant and spot on skit was a pre-recorded segment. “The Bubble” may well be taking the mickey out of all the horrified liberals who still cannot believe the election results, but it also pointed out the huge disparity between the left and the right.

“Secret Word” was the first live skit and featured an audio cameo by Bill Hader, another SNL alumni and Wiig’s co-star from The Skeleton Twins. Wiig definitely ruled in this one. Although she never quite surpassed the “warm up” exercises her character recited.

Next up was a sketch that was more clever than funny.  “Anderson Cooper 360” was amusing but then hit sublime when the punchline was delivered…The panel and Anderson Cooper are all “Westworld” robots.

The pre-recorded Target commercial was a return to the old days of SNL when their fake adverts seemed so real. It was, though, not that amusing. A bit of a misfire that was followed by the “QVC Audition” skit which was was more annoying than funny. It says something when the most noticeable part of the sketch is the fluttering backdrop of the house next door.

Even the pairing of McKinnon and Wiig for another standard SNL feature “Whiskers R We” was not up to its usual standard of belly laughs.  Although Kate struggling  to remain in character was funny when  Kristen’s character struggled to find that nipple.

And while referencing a SNL cast member working overtime to hold back those unwelcome laughs…The funniest bit of the “Surprise Lady: Thanksgiving” was Leslie Jones struggling to stop laughing at Wiig’s antics in the sketch.

“Weekend Update” was spot on this week. It was all politics and very on point. Michael Che and Colin Yost were spot on and Pete Davidson was brilliant.  Davidson’s Staten Island as the herpes of boroughs was hysterical. Although his best bit was the Kanye West crack…

“If it isn’t over a sick beat, we don’t wanna listen to anything Kanye West has to say…Every again”

Keenan Thompson earned huge yucks with the cockroach pie gag.

“Macy’s Parade Balloons” sketch was, along with Surprise Lady, the best sketch of the show.  The balloons terrorizing the family watching the parade from a brilliant vantage point was hysterical.  (Bobby Moynihan’s clown, however was terrifying.)

The best bit of the sketch was Madeline (Wiig) dropping Kristen Chenoweth and Woody riding Pennywise the clown across the screen.

All in all this episode was a hard sell. Dave Chappelle killing it the  previous week left Wiig with a tough act to follow. Each skit  did have at least one thing that stood out, rather than an entire sketch that tickled the funny bone.

Major kudos to Kristen Wiig for her closing remarks:

“Please stand with Standing Rock”

Amen, Kristen, amen.

 

Maya Rudolph Variety Show Marie Without Donny?

Maya Rudolph Variety Show Marie Without Donny?

After this weekend’s Saturday Night Live, where Maya Rudolph dropped in again to take part in the Jay Z and Solange Elevator fight, the next place to see the lady will be her variety show on Monday, which could be like Marie without Donny. Or you could say Cher without Sonny; Tenille without the Captain, or even the Brady without the bunch. As most of variety shows, “back in the day” usually consisted of a double act, it could feel like Vaya has left something out of the mix.

Rocky the Musical Another Win for Sylvester Stallone

Rocky the Musical Another Win for Sylvester Stallone

It appears to be a case of history repeating itself, Rocky the musical has proved to be another win for Sylvester Stallone. The star made cinematic history and back in 1976 with his self-penned film with himself in the starring role of the broken down boxer who defies odds to emerge victorious from his bout with boxer Apollo Creed. The soundtrack, with its almost iconic Eye of the Tiger theme song and the images of Rocky Balboa training by punching sides of beef and running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the song Gonna Fly Now almost guaranteed the film’s success. Now the film has made its transition not only to Broadway, but as a musical version of the movie that launched Sylvester Stallone’s career.