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Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest

SNL Recap – Gwyneth Paltrow and Cee-Lo Green

If I had to pick a favorite show of all-time, it would have to be Saturday Night Live.  I’ve seen almost every episode of the show for about twenty years, videotaping it when I wasn’t home (or now, DVRing it) and catching up with it late at night or Sunday afternoon.  I think it’s a show that captures the mood of the country and serves as a kind of time-capsule for future generations about what we found funny and who we enjoyed making fun of.  The humor is almost always broad, but I most enjoy the sketches that are absurd.  A lot of people bemoan that SNL isn’t funny anymore.  Anybody who says that doesn’t watch SNL often.  It’s just as funny now as it’s always been.  Go back and watch any season of the show, there were always sketches that flat out sucked and they always went on too long.

The current cast is really good, with folks like Andy Samberg and Bill Hader doing some remarkable things every week while Jason Sudeikis occupies the kind of utility/Phil Hartman role.  Kristin Wiig has been relied upon a lot in the past two season after Amy Poehler left, but I’d like to see more from Abby Elliott who has a lot of potential.  But I think they’re missing the absurdity that Will Fore often brought to the show.

I decided that I would do a pseudo-liveblog/recap of the show starting this week.  I’ll break down each of the sketches and give some thoughts and then give a rating out of “10” to each sketch.  I see a sketch like “Dick in a Box” as a 10, so it’ll be hard to achieve that.  Gwyneth Paltrow has hosted before and between her hosting gigs in the past and her appearances on Jimmy Fallon’s show, she’s shown a wicked sense of humor and excellent timing, so I’m looking forward to seeing how she performs this week.  I really hope there’s at least one “Goop” reference.

Opening Sketch – Kristin Wiig doing her excellent Greta Van Susteren impersonation.  Love Nasim Pedrad this season, she might be the breakout star of the year; her Michelle Malkin is not spot-on, though, and it’s not cutting at all, there’s no joke there.  Ditto Bobby Moynihan’s Sean Hannity.  But the whole skit is just an excuse to have Hader do his James Carville impression, which was funny the first time but is a bit tired now.  Abby Elliott’s Rachel Maddow is probably the best in terms of a straight-up impression.  The skit, as a whole, felt pretty flat and wasn’t a particularly strong opener. 5/10

Monologue – Gwyneth (wearing a black dress that will be easily to slip out of…for changing into costumes, you perverts!) starting off self-effacing, talking about her Britishness, then confusing Kenny Rogers (Sudeikis) for Garth Brooks.  Paltrow is pretty funny and charming, fumbling while trying to duet with Kenny Rogers on “Islands in the Stream.”  Thought there was a missed opportunity for Paltrow to sing the lyrics to “Ghetto Superstar” during the chorus.  Cee-Lo comes out to needlessly elongate the sketch.  Jeez, how tall is Cee-Lo?  Gwyneth is like a full foot taller than him. 7/10

Commercial – A silly send-up of the promos for NBC’s The Cape, replacing the titular item with all sorts of other accessories.  Really enjoyed The Bolo Tie.  A nice interstitial, nothing more.  Crowd didn’t seem too enthused.  6/10

Secret Word – A game show sketch that they’ve done before.  It’s got a good premise, with two contestants playing something similar to to $25,000 Pyramid, except the celebrities keep screwing things up for their partners.  Kristin Wiig and Gwyneth Paltrow are playing the idiotic celebrities.  “There are no secret words to an actress, I see the word and I explore it.”  Wiig kills it in these sketches, when she’s required to be exaggerated and Gwyneth is perfect as the “pretentious” actress…hmmm.  Nothing too special overall.  6/10

Digital Short – Crowd is cheering before it even starts, then I’m cheering as soon as I see Pee-Wee Herman.  Samberg and Pee-Wee doing shots at a bar, loving it.  Ahhh!  The Pee-Wee tequila dance!  Anderson Cooper spotting!  Pee-Wee hitting people with chairs!  Intervention with Chairy!  “They’re a national treasure.”  “I know you are, but what am I?”  Shots!  Surprised they didn’t bring back the “secret word,” especially with the last sketch.  Either way, this was nearly a home run, great digital short.  9/10

Next Week: Jessie Eisenberg and Nicki Minaj.  I’m excited to see what Eisenberg does on live TV, sometimes actors that are able to create indelible characters on film or seem like they have really good senses of humor, just can’t hack it on SNL.  Robert De Niro was awful earlier this season.

Jacob’s Rockin’ Bar Mitzvah – Gwyneth Paltrow as Taylor Swift as a special guest, singing her songs with a “Jewish” twist.  Having been raised Jewish, I chuckled, but I wonder if anybody else will.  Jay Pharoah doing Jay-Z, singing “Empire State of Mind” with a Jewish twist.  I’m sensing a theme and I’m not laughing.  I wish Jay Pharoah was given something to do besides impersonations of black celebrities.  I mean, he does fantastic impressions (his Jay-Z is spot-on), but it seems like that’s all Lorne Michaels lets him do.  Let the man spread his wings!  Abby Elliott doing Katy Perry, easily the funniest song of the three so far (“Ashkenazi Jews are undeniable…”), glad to see Abby getting more air time tonight.  Cee-Lo saying “straight up meshuggana,” blah blah blah.  5/10

Forget You – Gwyneth Paltrow as a music exec, replacing every instance of “fuck” with the word “forget” in reference to Cee-Lo’s famous song.  Pretty funny, “nintendo” for the n-word.  A lot of Cee-Lo in sketches tonight, surprising.  This would be a great 90 second skit, but it’s at least twice that long.  That was weird, it was all just a build-up to Cee-Lo’s performance, don’t think I’ve ever seen SNL do that before.  5/10

Cee-Lo Green – Really not interested in hearing this song if it’s not in its original version.  The whole gimmick with this song was hearing this kind of sweet/sad story about Cee-Lo being overlooked and then saying a cathartic “fuck you” to the woman who made him feel so low.  “Forget” is really not a suitable replacement, no matter how hard the lead-in skit tried to make it okay.  The performance is pretty standard, with an all-girl band and Cee-Lo mostly remaining stationary.  This is not even close to Kanye’s epic performances earlier in the season.  3/10

Weekend Update – I love Seth Meyers as the anchor.  He’s probably my favorite since Norm MacDonald.  Tiny Fey, Jimmy Fallon, and Amy Poehler were all great, but Meyers brings a unique sensibility that is part authoritative and part boyish/puckish charm.  He’s like a mixture of Fallon, Fey, and Poehler.  Boy, I really hope Stefon (Bill Hader’s greatest character) makes an appearance tonight.  “French fries will be the prison cigarette of schools” is a pretty good one, even if the audience politely chuckled.  I love his monologue (Weekend Update’s Constitution Corner) about what the founding fathers would really think if they were around today (guns would be the least of their worries), hilarious and perfectly stated.  The baboon/tangerine joke made me laugh.  Keenan, conspicuously absent from the first half sketches tonight, comes on as the “Rent is Too Damn High” dude and does his usual deal: the obvious joke without taking it anywhere interesting.  Yawn.  Moving on.  “Switzerland: neutral on Nazis, tough on dogs.”  “The guy with the pet skunk definitely also has weed.”  New cast member Vanessa Bayer “on the scene” at the Golden Globes.  Bill Hader as Cher, Nasim Pedrad as Christina Aguilera, singing their answers – not that funny.  Bobby Moynihan as Chaz Bono – very funny.  “Every morning I wake up and…I look at it.”  I liked the I Love Lucy joke.  Garth and Kat, one of my favorite recurring Weekend Update sketches!  Basically Fred Armisen and Kristin Wiig play a singing duo that makes all their words up on the spot.  The hilarity comes from watching Wiig try to keep up with Armisen as he makes up the words on the spot.  Last time they did this, Armisen started laughing almost instantly, which was enjoyable because he never breaks character.  It’s so stupid, but I don’t know why, this skit always kills me.  Gwyneth comes out as a third-member, how is this gonna work?  Wow, shes good.  I love how Meyers plays the straight man during these skits, so fed up yet on the verge of smiling.  “Please, just 10 more really long ones!”  Overall, a pretty middling Weekend Update that’s semi-redeemed by the ending.  6/10

Shakespearean Previews – Nobody has ever done previews before now.  Love Bill Hader as the “voiceover” guy and Samberg as the skeptical peasant who doesn’t understand what “previews” are.  “Coming Soon: Hamlet never believed in ghosts…until his father came back from the dead.”  Jay Pharoah: “Watch out, Hamlet, there’s a ghost!”  Nice.  “Aww, hell nay!”  I’m really loving this skit.  “Coming soon: You loved Henry IV, well guess what, there’s a new king in town…Henry V!”  “Let’s burn this place down!”  “And so they did…and no one ever heard of Shakespeare again.”  This was really good.  8/10

Fresh Prince 20th Anniversary Boxed Set – Jay Pharoah doing his instantly classic Will Smith impression.  I used to love Fresh Prince when I was younger.  “The script just said to react,” so he reacts like Scooby-Doo would react, very funny.  Wow, Gwyneth as the cop looks a lot like Daphne Zuniga.  “Cha-ching!”  Keenan is actually great in this sketch, playing the uptight straight man to Pharoah’s goofball.  This was a clever idea for a sketch and they pulled it off.  Points for not letting it go on too long.  7.5/10

Sportscenter Deportes – I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from Paul Brittain this year, like his manner.  This is a pretty silly and funny skit where these Spanish speaking broadcasters inject the English words and expressions into the Spanish recaps.  Armisen interviewing Jay Pharoah as Kevin Garnett.  (Lots of Jay Pharoah tonight and less Keenan, and I’m sure it’s no coincidence; SNL has long had a problem injecting more than one black person into a skit at any given time and in time, Pharoah is going to take all of Thompson’s parts, just watch.)  Tres Equis commercial, Bobby Moynihan popping out.  Paul Brittain is really killing it in this skit and Paltrow is right there with him.  Post-update skits have been way better than the pre-update ones.  8/10

Cee-Lo Green Again – I didn’t buy his album, so this song is new to me, but I’m kinda digging it…it’s got a Princeish beat to it, with heavy rock riffs to go with the R&B flow but Cee-Lo’s got that great voice that holds it together.  It does what a performance on SNL should do: make me download the song.  But it’s not quite good enough for me to check out the whole record.  8.5/10

New Co-Host for Spitzer – Hader’s Spitzer is excellent and appropriately lascivious.  Nasim Pedrad’s Christiane Amanpour is off.  “I’d like to take that bet, but my wife doesn’t let me carry money anymore.”  Gwyneth Paltrow as Heidi Klum.  “Perfect, hired.”  “In or out, in out in out in out.”  “I’m about to say something awful, you should go, hahahaha.”  Ahhh, Armisen as David Patterson always kills.  Nice one.  7.5/10

Final Grades:

Gwyneth Paltrow – She was excellent, really a top-notch host who didn’t rely too heavily on the cue cards and did a lot of interesting impressions.  A lot of energy, lots of different characters, and a lot of fun.  9.5/10

Cee-Lo Green – Wasn’t crazy about his first performance because a neutered “Fuck You” just doesn’t sound right, but he got some points for his second song.  Also, I give him credit for making appearances in some of the skits.  6.5/10

The rest of the cast – Nobody really stood out to me tonight.  Lots of Jay Pharoah and Abby Elliott, which was a good thing.  Wiig, Hader, and Armisen were on their game.  I think Samberg needs to be used more in the skits and not just in the digital shorts (which was awesome tonight).  The cast is a little cumbersome, too many castmembers and not enough parts.  I thought Nasim Pedrad was off tonight, not her best night.  Seth Meyers seemed a little subded on update.  Overall, they didn’t bring the energy that Paltrow brought.  6/10

The writing – The first half was really weak and played it too safe.  The second half was really strong, too more risks.  I think it hit the mark more than it missed.  Nothing I feel compelled to send to my friends tomorrow morning, except for the digital short and possibly – POSSIBLY – the Sportscenter Deportes skit.  7/10

Okay, that was exhausting for me.  I give myself a 5/10, I think I can do better next week.  What’d you all think?

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5 Responses to “SNL Recap – Gwyneth Paltrow and Cee-Lo Green”

  1. Fred B says:

    Good review. Largely spot on from my perspective. Keenan’s ‘Rent To Damn High’ character should be retired. Not topical and not funny anymore. Gwynneth was great. Armisen, Wiig, Hader and Samberg are treasures. I’d hate to see any of them leave.

  2. KingrocknLR says:

    Good review. I look forward to your next one. I’ve been watching/taping SNL every week since my parents let me stay up to watch Fran Tarkenton host it in the 70s…I agree, best show on tv.
    But, I thought tonight was kind of weak. And actually, this whole season seems to be (get ready for it) the “worst” one in a awhile. They’ve got an excellent cast right now, and I’m sure this second half of the season is gonna be funnier.

  3. Willdrzio says:

    I’m always up watching this by myself, which is so different then when I watched with friends while in college. I miss seeing how others react to the show. Wondering, was that as funny as I thought, was that outrageous or lame? So it’s nice to hear what you think of the performances as they happen. Only regret…. I wish you started last week and recapped Jim Carey. I thought it was as good of a SNL as I’d seen in quite some time.

  4. Joe Sav says:

    “I give myself a 5/10.” HAHAHA. I’ll give you a 10/10 just because you clearly had to rewind and rewatch for about 3-4 hours just to catch every single joke.

  5. baidu says:

    I tried to sign up to your RSS however it doesnt appear to be working. Ill come back later.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon