There were a lot of reasons to think last night's Saturday Night Live would rise above the show's typical uneven fare and be funnier and more consistent than what we're used to. First, Tina Fey hosted and Tina Fey is professionally funny. Second, SNL had been on a four-week break, so writers had time to come up with killer sketches (that's the idea at least). And third, Justin Bieber was the musical guest and he's just funny to look at. So, when the curtain went down and the show was over, did it live up to those not-exactly-lofty expectations? Yeah, it did.
Much of the success of last night's SNL was due to Fey, who was in every sketch with the exception of Fred Armisen's cold open mocking people afraid of the Census. She also brought SNL something it's lacked lately — a strong female presence. This isn't meant to slight the female cast members, but last night's SNL, with its "Brownie Husband," "Women's News," and "School Dance" sketches, seemed particularly like it was made by ladies. Remember, bitch is the new black.
A few of the show's big players didn't get much screen time this week. Kristen Wiig appeared briefly as Aunt Linda, a "Weekend Update" character that we once enjoyed but are now inclined to give two "Oh, brothers" and a "Sheesh." Bill Hader was equally absent, showing up in a sketch meant to make fun of Tiger Woods that really just made fun of golf and in the final sketch of the night. Meanwhile, Kenan Thompson debuted a badass Al Roker who parties with tabloid strumpets in between Today show segments. On to the best and worst sketches of the night.
Tina Fey channeled her inner Liz Lemon for the night's most successful sketch, "Brownie Husband." Not only does it speak to a real-life fantasy (brownie companionship), but it is fantastically gross. This sketch also showed, right off the bat, that Fey was willing to go completely over the top for laughs, always a good thing for an SNL host. Also, we hope Duncan Hines was watching because we could really go for some “rich fudge and emotional intimacy.”
Fey's reprisal of her Sarah Palin impression was a close second to "Brownie Husband" in the race for best sketch of the night. The impression, as always, was spot-on, as were the examples of shows that would play on the Sarah Palin Network. By the way, network executives, we'd totally watch Todd!
It's been about twelve hours now since "Lolene" ran and we've got no idea what was going on. The idea of a nine-inch hooker is much more sad than funny and the dialogue made it even more of a bummer. Beyond that, the special effects removed the audience from the equation and created an awkward pacing, something you'd like to avoid at the end of the night.