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Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest

SNL Recap – Miley Cyrus and The Strokes

Miley Cyrus blah blah blah.  For the first time in forever, I’m much more excited about the musical guest than the actual host of the show.  You see, The Strokes are probably my favorite band and they haven’t released an album in five years and on March 22nd, their new record “Angles” will be released.  Seeing them on SNL gives me an opportunity to study they way they interact with one another (word is that they don’t get along so well these days) and to hear another song off the album (their first one will surely be the single “Under Cover of Darkness”).  On April 1st, the day after my birthday, I’ll be seeing them at MSG, but today it’s all about seeing them on my favorite television show.

Okay, sure Miley Cyrus is a popular kids’ star and media figure, but I have no idea if she’s talented or not because I’ve never once heard her sing or seen a minute of her acting, having avoided all things Miley pretty successfully.  So, I don’t know if she’ll be a good host or a terrible one, but I’m pretty confident we’ll be seeing “The Miley Cyrus Show” with Vanessa Bayer at some point.

Despite a three week hiatus, the same drill applies;  I’ll recap the individual sketches and then grade them on a scale of 1-10.  Let’s do this.

Cold Open – “Duh Winning” with Charlie Sheen.  Bill Hader plays the titular host of this talk show.  I gotta say, I was hoping SNL would steer clear of the Charlie Sheen jokes, for the simple reason that there is no possible way that a sketch or a joke about Charlie Sheen could possibly be funnier than the man himself.  It’s like making a parody of a funny comedy movie, it just doesn’t work.  This sketch just seems like an excuse to have Hader as Sheen say things we’ve already heard him say, like “warlock” and “goddess” and “winning.”  Abby Elliott is playing Christina Aguilera and as usual, she’s spot-on.  Taran Killam comes out as John Galliano (a man who I wrote about the other day and caused tons of racists to come out of the woodwork in the comments).  There’s no real joke in this sketch, it’s just a recap of the stupid things these people have done.  I think all of these jokes would have been better used on Weekend Update.  Fred Armisen comes out as Moammar Gadhafi, of course.  “If by ‘it’ you mean ‘my people’ then yes, I am killing ‘it.'”  “I dress like Humpty Hump from Digital Underground.”  Those are pretty good.  Miley Cyrus comes out as Lindsay Lohan and if I were ten years younger, I’m sure I’d see this as being “controversial” or something.  Overall, this sketch lacked energy and, you know, jokes.  An inauspicious start.  4/10

Monologue – Miley starts off making a reference to “The Miley Cyrus Show” by saying, “So that’s pretty cool.”  Ah, Miley’s crooning about her past tabloid scandals, including almost getting nude in Vanity Fair.  And yes, there’s another reference to Charlie Sheen and “winning” which is gonna get old very fast.  Moynihan and Wiig come out to sing with her.  The good news is that Miley’s got a pretty good voice and the monologue was kept at a good, short length.  6/10

Commercial – Baby Spanx.  “In no time, your baby will go from flab to fab.”  “That child looks hot!”  “I would never spank a baby, but I sure as hell would spanx one.”  This was pretty good, does exactly what you’d want an SNL commercial to do: goes in, finds its target, doesn’t waste any time, delivers on its goal.  7/10

Our Time with Taboo and – I love the premise of this from the get-go: a talk show hosted by the two background guys from the Black Eyed Peas.  When they were on the Super Bowl, I’m pretty sure they never sang.  Kenan is playing and Andy Samberg is playing Taboo.  “Finally our own show.”  “Just like the people wanted!”  “Despite the rumors, I’m not a Japanese ghost.”  I’m enjoying this so far, but I’m fairly sure this is going to get old fast.  Miley Cyrus comes out as Fergie – I’m guessing she’s going to sing in every sketch – and Jay Pharoah comes out as and then they both exit pretty quickly.  Abby Elliott comes out as Khloe Kardashian, one of my favorite Abby Elliott characters – she nails the voice so well.  “Well, I’m a black Filipino.”  “And I am from the Matrix.”  Pharoah and Cyrus come out again.  Really, it’s a shame that Jay Pharoah is being wasted in this sketch, just dancing next to Cyrus.  “Taboo was on the cover of this month’s Vaguely Asian magazine!”  And the skit ends very abruptly.  I think it should have ended way earlier.  6 minutes is too long to spend on these characters.  The jokes about Taboo were pretty solid, though.  6.5/10

TCM: The Essentials – I love when they do these, usually.  This time we’re checking out “behind the scenes” of The Sound of Music, which I’m guessing will give Cyrus yet another excuse to sing.  The Von Trapp children all line up and introduce themselves until we get to Fred Armisen as “Richie,” the adopted son from the Bronx, played by a 34-year-old stand-up comedian.  Just like I thought, Cyrus is singing “16 Going on 17.”  Armisen interrupts to do a stand-up routine.  “All the lines were lifted from the comedy album ‘Richie Valens: Dead or Hispanic.'”  This skit went off the rails pretty quickly.  The only funny part was the original line-up when Armisen introduces himself as Richie.  After that, it’s just Armisen interrupting famous scenes to tell bad jokes and it just doesn’t work all that well.  3/10

Disney Channel Acting School – Miley Cyrus as herself and Kenan Thompson as Raven Symone, teaching kids how to act like them.  “At the Disney Channel, every person needs to be the loudest person in the room.”  “In the Disney Channel World, any child is smarter than any adult.”  I wonder if Paul Brittain is behind this one, since 1) he’s actually in this short film and 2) it’s similar to his “Sex Ed” skit from a couple months back.  This is easily the best thing we’ve seen so far tonight.  “That’s so Raven!”  I think it probably could’ve gone even further than it did, but I think it did a nice job of sending up its target.  Not nearly as good as “Sex Ed” though.  7.5/10

Next Week – Zach Galifianakis is hosting again!  He was one of my five favorite hosts last year and his monologue was one of the best in recent years, so I’m looking forward to seeing him come back.  The musical guest is Jessie J. and I’m not even going to pretend that I know who that is.

The Miley Cyrus Show – I’m surprised they waited this long to do this skit.  I’m assuming Vanessa Bayer will play Miley Cyrus as usual and Miley Cyrus will come out and play somebody else as a guest.  But we’ll see.  I gotta say, I never thought this sketch was that funny to begin with, and I’m reminded of that instantly.  Yeah, Miley Cyrus comes out as Justin Bieber.  Once again, I’m sure if I was 15, this would be a really incredible moment in my life.  But, as a nearly-28 year old, I don’t really care about Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber’s lives.  I am so tuned out of this skit and bored to tears.  This seems like a skit from Nickelodeon’s “Roundhouse” rather than an SNL skit (that was a strange reference, admittedly, but it’s also the last time I watched Nickelodeon).  Okay, this is mercifully ending.  Please, can we retire this sketch now?  2/10

The Strokes!!!!!! – One of the biggest reasons I moved back to New York was because I saw The Strokes on MTV late one night, my first year of college.  I just adore them.  They’re playing “Under Cover of Darkness,” the first single from their new album.  The music video for the song is pretty disappointing, but I’m glad to see that they still have the same stage presence, with Julian still being the coolest dude in the room, even while sober.  They’re doing their same left-to-right line-up that they always do.  Everybody looks pretty good, except Albert is looking a little older.  I can’t believe it’s been a decade that they’ve been around.  The acoustics sound a little funky, though, like the sound guy screwed up.  It still sounds pretty awesome and it’s great to see the Strokes performing live for the first time in five years.  The song is a really good one, not quite a great one.  It sounds like it could fit comfortably in The Strokes early canon.  I’m a fan of it.  Also, Nick Valensi might be the coolest looking guy, always dressed super sharp.  9.5/10

Weekend Update – As usual, I hope Stefon makes an appearance, but he probably won’t.  Seth Meyers starts off saying “No!  Not yet, I will get to you,” when a picture of Charlie Sheen pops up.  So, that’ll be something to look forward to…we’re forty five minutes into this show and I’m already sick of Charlie Sheen jokes.  A joke about Newt Gingrinch’s potentially running for President: “Are voters still going by charisma or have they switched over to head size?”  And now we’re going into the Sheen jokes.  A whole segment devoted to “Winners and Losers” based on Charlie Sheen.  Denise Richards and the kid from Two and a Half Men are winners.  Also, 80s slang: “I would have thought the only way I would hear ‘gnarly’ and ‘bitchin’ so much would be via a time machine.  It just proves the theory that when you do cocaine, your slang freezes in time like a prehistoric mosquito in amber.”  Loser: the news media, “Piers Morgan talked to Sheen the way a guy who just ran out of coke talks to a guy who still has some.”  That’s a great one.  Loser: Tigers, “Tigers must be wonder ‘why’d he drag us into it?'”  “The biggest loser?  Winning.  It doesn’t seem to mean the same thing anymore.”  Galliano joke: “You know if you’ve ever been threatened with a chair, the occasional ‘I love Hitler” just slips out.”  Jason Sudeikis comes out as the devil to talk about the Westboro Baptist Church (the “God Hates Fags” church that I’m sure a lot of the commenters of my Galliano post belong to).  The devil: “I produced the Oscars this year, which went perfectly.”  About the Westboro Baptist Church: “I am the physical incarnation of pure evil, but what they’re doing is heinous.”  This is a pretty great rant that perfectly illustrates the ridiculousness of homophobia, spoken by the devil.  I don’t often like it when SNL takes an obvious political stance, but I’m way behind this one and I think the joke is pretty clever.  “Then I’m off to the West Coast to help with the next season of Entourage.”   Zing!  About Legionanaire’s in the Playboy mansion: I can’t even keep up with all of the hilarious things Seth Meyers said, but it was pretty brilliant.  So far this has been an excellent Weekend Update, but it’s about to get worse with the arrival of Bobby Moynihan’s Anthony Crispino character who hears news second hand and then screws it up when he repeats it.  I love Moynihan, but I really dislike this character.  He confuses Charlie Sheen and Charlie Rose, wonderful.  Back to the good stuff.  “Just a side-note, when I said the words ‘mom prom,’ my penis went up inside me.”  Even with that last character, this Update was one of the better ones.  Would have been better with Stefon, though.    8/10

Les Jeunes de Paris – You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.  This skit was the worst I’ve seen this year (from the Emma Stone episode) and they’re bringing it back a second time?  Basically, it’s all in French.  A bunch of young French stereotypes dance with each other.  It’s like the dancing scene from Band of Outsiders, except terrible.  I don’t understand the thinking behind bringing this skit back when nobody liked it the first time.  Can you hear how quiet the crowd is?  The only part anybody enjoyed was Andy Samberg as the mime.  At least Miley Cyrus isn’t singing in this skit and everyone is really committed and full of energy.  I just didn’t get the joke the first time and I really don’t get it this time.  1.5/10

Beastly Parody – I love this nerdy Andy Samberg character that was previously seen in The Roommate parody, which was also hilarious.  This is an insanely short short and it packs more laughs into it than most SNL sketches, including when the title card pops up under Samberg, “Gene Hackman.”  Last time it was “Sir Ben Kingsley.”  The ending is great.  “Burn!  Rango!”  8/10

New Products – Oh man, this is awful.  Kristin Wiig and Miley Cyrus with 80s wigs, against a white backdrop, promoting a facial cream and rockabilly CD combination.  I swear, it’s like they forgot to include the jokes in this skit.  Just absolutely intolerable.  PLEASE END ALREADY.  One of the worst skits of the year, along with Les Jeunes de Paris and the Spot of Tea skit from the Russell Brand episode.  1/10

The Strokes Again!!! – Thank goodness, The Strokes are back, playing a new song called “Life is Simple in the Moonlight.”  It’s a really pretty, soulful, near-ballad.  It’s most reminiscent of “Under Control” or “Evening Sun” and I’m really digging it.  It’s very summery and arranged very nicely.  They released a song called “You’re So Right” on their website that I wasn’t crazy about because there were too many instruments, too many disparate sounds, but this new song is excellent in its cohesion.  Really loved this one. 10/10

Cruise Ship – Miley Cyrus plays a singer on a cruise for elderly people and makes fun of them.  Yawn.  Oh and hey, what do you know?  Miley Cyrus is singing again!  She keeps singing, “You people are so gross to me!”  Taran Killam makes another appearance.  He’s getting a lot more spots in sketches than he did earlier in the year, but I fear it’s at the expense of the amazing Paul Brittain who is relegated to the keyboard player in this skit, with one line, “I’m not taking any requests from these animals.”  We want more Paul Brittain and Jay Pharoah!  This skit is really more sad than funny.  2.5/10

Gurney Month – Yes, CBS has a lot of shows that start with dead bodies.  This is like an outtake from The Soup and it’s completely unnecessary padding for the show.  3/10

Final Grades:

Miley Cyrus – I really don’t know if it’s her fault or the fault of the writing, but she did seem a little too earnest and used way too much “Disney” acting.  She was singing in almost every skit, which isn’t her fault.  She brought a lot of energy, though, which is a good thing.  Overall, she was mediocre.  Nothing more, nothing less.  5/10

The Strokes – Come on, best performances of the year, just ahead of Kanye.  Of course, I am ridiculous biased.  10/10

The rest of the cast – Nobody really stood out for me.  As I said earlier, Taran Killam was the most used.  I think the MVP for tonight has to be Seth Meyers, who delivered one of the best Weekend Updates of the year.  He’s often overlooked because he plays such a great straight man, but he’s almost always excellent and subtly hilarious.  And again, more Paul Brittain and Jay Pharoah please!

As for myself, I think I could do better, but it’s been a three-week layoff, so my rust is to be expected.  6/10 for me.

Next week, we’ve got Zach Galifiniakis to look forward to and I’ll see you all then.

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11 Responses to “SNL Recap – Miley Cyrus and The Strokes”

  1. Randy says:

    This is a book report gone wrong. Just lies there like a piece of week old toast.

  2. Chris says:

    The Strokes? Talk about mediocre, this is the first time in 3+ decades of watching Saturday Night Live when I felt that the guest host’s singing in skits was far better than the musical guests. They really sucked. I can see why they haven’t put out an album in more than half a decade. As for Miley Cyrus, I’d give her a 9 out of 10. I am apparently twice the age of the reviewer, and I remember those days being in my 20s. You are unfortunately stuck with this kind of absurd ageism where you are not allowed by your peers to admit when someone who is 10 years younger than you could possibly have any talent. It’s a kind of phony elitism that hopefully you will grow out of as you become an adult–that is, when you hit your 30s. SNL’s writing was inconsistent, as usual, but it’s getting better after the slump of the last few years. Overall, it was the best episode this year. As for Miley, she’s got loads of talent, and more importantly, she’s got that charisma that few entertainers have. She’ll be around a long time and she’ll have a great career as an actor, a pop/rock/country singer, a dancer, a songwriter, a best-selling author, etc.

  3. Noah Forrest says:

    Randy, thanks for reading.

    Chris, I think there are plenty of talented young people. I just don’t have any occasion to watch the talents of Miley Cyrus because I don’t watch Disney Channel shows, nor have I seen any of her films. And if you think this is the best SNL of the year, then you probably haven’t seen very many episodes. It’s not the fault of Cyrus, but the writing. As far as The Strokes, we’ll have to agree to disagree there.

  4. joe says:

    your recap is better than watching the show

  5. Joe Sav says:

    haha, I don’t know man, I laughed out loud at the “gross to me” skit.

  6. Ralph says:

    I can’t believe you like Seth Meyers at all. His smug face just *screams* “douche” to me every time he delivers a line, and while many of his jokes fall flat, the ones I hate the most are those over-written over-self-indulgent rants he goes on like he’s got something to say. He’s a pretty weak WU anchor and only marginally better than Jimmy Fallon or Tina Fey (ew). I long for Norm MacDonald.

    I cannot believe you like that stupid Beastly parody, though. Ugh, it was just a repeat of the last one and introduced NO new jokes at all so it fell completely flat. I just completely hate how many sketches they repeat almost verbatim over and over this season, especially the ones relying on obnoxious characters or “surprise!” jokes. By the time they show up, we’re already expecting them and they never deliver.

    The Strokes were decent and I love their new single, but I just didn’t feel that much energy from the performance. Okay, but not spectacular. Sorry, dude.

    I feel exactly the same about most of the show, though. The writing is so repetitive and inconsistent and they rely so heavily on stuff like Charlie Sheen and on barely funny celebrity impersonations that I’m convinced they need to just air the show every other week and cut at least half the sketches because they just don’t work. Is there anyone on the cast or crew who actually thinks that everything they air is actually funny? They seem like a bunch of high-school drama students who seem to have less talent than they have self-satisfaction.

  7. Ralph says:

    It also makes me sad that they seem to have so few actual ideas that they are forced to drag out unfunny or moderately funny gimmicks from sketches until they’ve worn out their welcomes.

  8. Jacqln says:

    This was the first time the Strokes played a song live from their album in 5 years. There was feeling, attitude. There was honesty, they seemed nervous even, with Julian missing a note or two. It was a genuine performance. Not some orchestrated circus show with suspended pianos descending from the ceiling. The Strokes have always performed as themselves, just with that cool, IDGAF New York attitude which is a form a stage presence. I like their music, so perhaps that might be a minor requirement in enjoying them live.

  9. Sandy says:

    I can’t believe you’re dissing the French sketch, that was the best part in the whole show, the only really good part. It was genuinely weird, original (even in its second run) and unique. It was even relatively concise and didn’t wear out its welcome. Once in a very rare while, the writers manage to do something entirely different than the same-old overlong repetitive character sketches.

    And yeah Seth Meyers grins like a psycho. Fire that piece of crap already.

    The cruise singer was the worst bit from the episode, there was absolutely no development in the sketch. And SNL seems to do way too many of those “person/couple singing and speaking at some event” type of sketches.

  10. Shawn says:

    I agree with you overall, in that the Strokes were great, and Miley was just okay. But I loved the Moisturizer/Rockabilly CD skit (anytime they do that big 80s hair SNL gets better), didn’t mind the French one (it’s just French Stereotypes, those are always comedy gold), and love Seth Meyers. The cruise ship one would have been good if she’d had better lyrics, “you’re all gross” was just lazy writing.

    Did it seem like Miley dissed the Strokes at the wave-out: “They made me say that” I thought I heard, after she thanked the Strokes. Maybe Julian was just pulling her pigtails all night, because they all went to the after-party together.

  11. Tanya says:

    Change of subject….I liked the Spot of Tea skit. Nothing gets me laughing like men dressed as old women, speaking with British accents and drinking tea with the threat of an earthquake 🙂

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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