(Photo Courtesy of Billboard)
Two SNL enthusiasts, Zac Hirschbeck & Marci Buehler, recap the week’s host, musical guests and sketches.
Marci: That Ryan Gosling is such a dreamboat, huh?!? He’s handsome, he seems approachable, and boy can he giggle! In fact, he put on quite the display of giggles this past Saturday Night, bringing an interesting nervous excitement to the stage that was both endearing and adorable to anyone in his path. I’ve gotta say, I quite enjoyed the episode. Gosling seemed to be very nervous, which was very charming, and the episode was filled with moments that just made you laugh, because even THE CAST was laughing.
Specifically, this alien abduction sketch where Kate McKinnon is at her best, causing just about everyone else around her to break, and causing Mr. Gosling to lose his shit. Although watching the cast break usually makes me giggle along with them, this sketch would have been hilarious even if they all kept a straight face, because McKinnon is a comedic genius. Have a watch:
Another highlight for me was the Nespresso commercial spoof, where Bobby Moynihan plays a ridiculous Danny DeVito and Taran Killam plays a suave, cool Clooney. Although it’s a super simple premise: silly impersonations making fun of an odd, nonsensical real-life commercial, it proved to do its job and make me laugh. I vote that Moynihan works his DeVito impression into every episode from here on out.
I also was digging the Santa Baby digital short, a weird little sketch about a creepy couple that still believes in Santa, and isn’t afraid to let us know. This prerecorded bit was able to utilize Gosling’s dramatic chops in a way that made this otherwise silly sketch into kind of a scary, weirdly realistic mini-movie. I also liked the way they end the sketch, with the real Santa looking in on the scene, mortified.
There were a few other moments I enjoyed as well, but I’d love to get your take on the evening, Zac. What’d you think of Gosling’s first time hosting? And did you enjoy the musical stylings of Leon Bridges?
Zac: I really enjoyed this week’s episode, and I think a big reason for that was Gosling. While I was surprised to learn that it was his first time hosting, it was clear that from the opening monologue he was nervous. It was nice of fellow Canadian Mike Myers to come out and help put him at ease.
I think Gosling’s inability to suppress his amusement in nearly every sketch made the night all the more enjoyable. SNL is rarely funnier to me than when cast members or hosts are unable to contain themselves, and it seemed most everyone was struggling to not break character throughout the night. And I loved it. I have to imagine that the cast and the writers do too. Despite the fact that being a cast member is likely a dream job for any comedian, I’m sure there are hosts that can make the week feel like a grind. However, when a host comes on and is so easily amused at those around him, it probably makes your job incredibly enjoyable.
As far as sketches go, I really liked your selections. Close Encounter was definitely a high point. McKinnon’s descriptions of her alien interactions were weirdly hilarious. In addition to Gosling losing it, Moynihan and Aidy Bryant were struggling to get through their lines too. If you listen closely, I’m pretty sure you can hear Moynihan and Bryant giggling hysterically as they exit the stage. Moynihan’s DeVito impersonation and Santa Baby were great too.
Some other sketches I enjoyed were Santa & The Elves and Birthday Party.
The inappropriate, sexual nature of most of the jokes was amusing to me. Plus, Gosling seemed to really enjoy playing along with everybody involved in each sketch.
I thought Leon Bridges’ performances put the finishing touches on a great episode. Although I had no knowledge of him prior to his SNL announcement, you introduced me to his debut album (“Coming Home”) and I have really enjoyed listening to it ever since. I also appreciate that he can perform really well without lip-synching or utilizing absurd props or stunts to show everybody how creative he is. I’m not sure how interested you’d be, or how easy it is to obtain tickets, but Bridges will be at The Beacon Theater for a couple of tour stops in early March…
What did you think of Bridges’ performances Marci? Is there anything else that stood out for you this week? And who do we have to look forward to this coming Saturday?
Marci: I thought Leon Bridges did a great job this week. Like you, I find it immensely impressive when an artist can take the stage at SNL and let their music do the talking, rather than using elaborate staging or gimmicks. Leon and his band did just that, utilizing his old school soul to the fullest, and giving us quite the performance. The second performance was definitely my favorite of the two, but that might have been solely because I was more familiar with it going into the evening. AND I LIKE THINGS THAT I FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH.
I also enjoyed the Birthday Party sketch, specifically the ending where Aidy Bryant went all Chris Farley on us and broke a table. That’s the second episode in a row where her physical comedy has had me laughing out loud. Thanks Aidy!
Unfortunately, I did not share the same enthusiasm over the Santa & the Elves bit. I wasn’t really into it the first time they did it with Louis CK and the Shoe Maker, and my feelings did not change this time around. I like me a good sex joke, but for some reason this one doesn’t do it for me.
One more sketch that I did enjoy, though, was about the fake dating app called Settl. There’s a lot of great one-liners in this short, sweet parody that elicited a giggle or two, even without watching Gosling cracking up in the middle of it. Now that’s a win!
All in all, this week’s episode was really fun to watch – it seems like SNL is hitting its stride this season. And with Chris Hemsworth hosting this week, I think we’ve got a good chance of keeping the streak of great shows going.
Zac, did you have any other thoughts about this week’s episode? I KNOW that you of all people is excited for Chris Hemsworth’s return to 30 Rock. I’m not that familiar with Chance the Rapper – are you excited to see his musical performances next week?
Zac: I had forgotten about Settl! Definitely another good sketch, and one that also makes me eager to jump out into the online dating community.
I think Thor Chris Hemsworth will follow up a strong SNL debut with another solid performance. A quick YouTube search revealed a few sketches that I can remember being funny from his first go-round. His mock American Express Ad in particular was pretty great.
I think you’ll enjoy Chance the Rapper. He’s talented, inventive, and an energetic performer. He debuted a new song on Colbert not too long ago, and if his SNL performances resemble that, he will be fun to watch.
However, while I’m fairly certain I’ll really enjoy Chance, he’s just keeping the stage warm for a certain group of musical guests on the 19th…