With only a few days left before Oscar voting closes, Supporting Actor nominee and all-around lovable guy Christoph Waltz got one last chance to impress people, and he did so. The Austrian actor — Austrian, not German! Get it right! — showed people what a treasure he is for American dramatic film (or Tarantino-style dramatic film with strong undercurrents of farce) by revealing that he’s kind of ill-suited to sketch comedy. But! He was game and un-self-conscious and looked to be having a great time, and who doesn’t appreciate that in a host/possible two-time Oscar winner?
Most Bleakly Topical Sketch of the Week
Obviously, the Poop Cruise needed to be addressed, and without Gilly around to take the blame for it, we got Jason Sudeikis and Cecily Strong as desperately positive cruise directors Dean and Diana, hoping to keep spirits high as they drift rancidly towards Mobile, Alabama. Despite a shaky mentalist gag that only served to remind me of the superior mentalist sketch in the Joseph Gordon-Levitt episode, there were a few moments with savoring here. Jay Pharoah’s offscreen shriek about dookie on the walls. A monkey skeleton. “It is not better to be a chicken than a person.” Still, for as funny a phrase as “Poop Cruise” is, I wonder if asking people to contemplate the realities of it for too long makes it harder to laugh.
Obligatory Game Show Sketch of the Week
After an incredibly brief monologue that didn’t really go anywhere — Casual Hitler is kind of brilliant, but it’s probably best left as the meta-textual whisper it was here and not ever blown out into a proper sketch — Waltz returned as the host of “What Have You Become?,” one of those periodic sketches about how nobody does Real Work anymore. I know it’s just a bunch of sketch comedians projecting their weird Grandchildren of The Greatest Generation guilt onto the rest of us, but the crankiness of the tone every time they do a sketch like this kills so much of the comedy. On the bright side, we got to see Christoph dance for a moment.
Casting Director’s Fodder of the Week
Christoph Waltz looks rather appropriate playing a Pope, right? I’m not sure what kind of demented pontiff he’d make, but he at least looks the part. Decent little commercial parody about planning for the incredibly unlikely event of papal retirement. “No Other Testimonials Available.”
Contemptible Familiarity of the Week
Real Question: have we seen Nasim Pedrad as Tippy the party-killer before? Google says no, but my gosh, what a familiar character type. She’s socially awkward! She ruins everybody’s good time at casual parties! She doesn’t give anyone time to finish their anecdotes! Didn’t Kristen Wiig have like seven of these characters? Specifically Penelope? I’m as happy as anybody to get Nasim Pedrad in a sketch where she doesn’t have to be a backup singer, but a sketch that feels like a stale retread in its first iteration isn’t great.
Tarantino-Bait of the Week
Of all the ways to address Django Unchained in honor of Christoph Waltz’s presence, “Djesus Uncrossed” may have been the one most guaranteed to draw outraged letters of protest. Which is great for me, because that shit was pretty funny. Tarantino’s bloody revenge-fantasy historical revisionism taken to its logical absurd conclusion. Kind of a waste of Taran Killam’s awesome Brad Pitt impersonation to have him submerged into that Inglourious Basterds accent that sounds nothing like Brad Pitt, but I appreciate the commitment to the bit.
Husky-Voiced Cecily Strong Takeover Update
I know the point of the Jamarcus Brothers sketch was that Waltz played an awkward white virgin singing songs that betray his complete ignorance of sex, but all my favorite parts were Strong’s determinedly “all up-and-down sexy” interstitials. “Some people have three children, and their songs are sexy.” Indeed.
Slavic-Voiced Kate McKinnon Takeover Update
In the grand tradition of Cecilia Gimenez, Kate McKinnon was back with another desperately strange creature, this time Olya Povlatsky, a denizen of the Ural mountains in Russia, where that meteor landed this week. Best sketch of the night, if you ask me, and all on the strength of McKinnon’s increasingly demented descriptions of the hard, cold, barren Russian existence she lives. They JUST got “Who Let the Dogs Out?” and it’s a much more topical song for them than you’d think. Even as Seth Meyers was giving the setup about the Russian meteor, my mind kind of screamed out, “I HOPE IT’S KATE MCKINNON!” I was not disappointed.
Sneaky YouTube Meme Reference of the Week
Also on Update, Taran Killam showed up as acutely dry-mouthed Marco Rubio, which gave him a chance to make a one-percenter about the Cinnamon Challenge, which WILL consume half your day if you end up following that search term down the rabbit hole. Regardless, it’s Killam’s incredulous reaching for that ever-elusive water (“FURTHER? FURTHER? FURTHER?”) that got me the most.
Fred Armisen Indulgence of the Week
God damn it, Regine. Again? This awful monster of a sketch. I appreciate a good “Absinthe on the rock” joke as much as anybody, but this sketch, as ever, is just a countdown to Regine flashing her crotch at the camera, followed by Armisen trying very hard to get his cast-members to break character. Poor Bill Hader is no match for this assault, but if anything, Regine proves to be the toughest test yet for Vanessa Bayer’s Quiet Dignity. The Dignity bends … but it does not break.
Pause-Button Appreciation of the Week
My picks for best “Fox and Friends” scrolling corrections from this week: “The Vatican is not accessible through a wardrobe”; “Marco Rubio did not bring pasta back from China”; “Zumba is not a secret form of Santeria”; “North Korea is not a Cloud City”; “A ‘period piece’ is not a movie that only plays during one week of the month.”
Christoph Waltz Creep Factor Update
I’m actually surprised we didn’t get more sketches about just how damned creepy Waltz can be when he wants to. But maybe after they aired this sketch, calling people out on their creepiness is off limits. Anyway, it’s a ten-to-one sketch, poor security guard Dimitri can’t seem to express his infatuation with Cecily Strong without getting weird about it, and he is fooling exactly no one with his protestations of innocence.