Joseph Gordon-Levitt Makes ‘Em Laugh (And Then Some) on SNL

Saturday Night Live

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Season 35 Episode 7

After the abomination that was last week’s January Jones–hosted episode of Saturday Night Live, we opined that Seth Meyers and the show’s writing staff was almost certainly fried after a fall schedule that has seen them put together seven original episodes of the Saturday-night show and two episodes of Weekend Update Thursday in nine short weeks. Well, after last night’s delightful and joyous program —the season’s best episode by a long shot— it seems as if we may have been a bit too harsh on the writers and not quite critical enough of the effort that January Jones put in. Because unlike his predecessor from last week, from the moment that Joseph Gordon-Levitt hit the Studio 8H stage last night like a house of fire, it was clear that he was not only incredibly well prepared for his hosting duties but also extremely enthralled with the opportunity to demonstrate to everyone watching that he’s a breakout talent on the verge of mainstream movie stardom.

After a pleasantly humorous cold open that managed to tie this week’s meeting between President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao with one of the more underrated lines uttered by Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction (“Does Marsellus Wallace look like a bitch? Then why’d you try to fuck him like a bitch, Brett?”), Joseph Gordon-Levitt took the stage for his monologue beaming like someone who had been waiting decades for the opportunity to host SNL. He quickly stated that he had been thinking and preparing for this moment for two full months, which is approximately 59.5 more days than January Jones spent prepping for hers. He explained that Singing In The Rain is his all-time favorite musical and that he’s always had a fascination with the song “Make ‘Em Laugh.” And then he did this:

Wow, just wow! When was the last time you saw a host with that kind of talent and enthusiasm take the stage on SNL? After that performance, we should all start calling him Joseph Gordon-LEVITATE (rim shot)! Oh, and just to prove that nobody slouched when recreating this moment, here’s a refresher of what Donald O’Connor’s original “Make ‘Em Laugh” from Singing In The Rain looks like:

Throughout the course of the evening, Gordon-Levitt gave every single sketch his 100% effort, as if he were campaigning throughout the evening for Lorne Michaels to ask him back to host again next week (interestingly enough, that duty will go to another up-and-comer looking to make a big name for herself, Blake Lively). And while we were certainly fans of JGL before last night, it wasn’t until he took the stage that he could not only sing and dance better than we had ever fathomed, but also that he’s has an incredible knack for comedic timing. We can’t wait to see him back hosting next year!

And while most of the SNL MVP talk these days centers around the show’s reliable workhouse, Kristen Wiig, we can’t help but feel like this season has belonged to Kenan Thompson. We’ve long been fans of his tragically underrated Weekend Update character Jean K. Jean, but his performance as fictional BET talk show host Diondre Cole is fast becoming his trademark character:

This is “What Up With That?“‘s second appearance this season and only shows signs of improvement. There’s no fatigue with either this character or this premise, and we can hardly wait to see where this character is going to go.

Kenan also played an integral role in the evening’s Digital Short as a man who has Andy Samberg convinced that he’s really Reba McEntire:

All in all, a pretty great show. Even the show’s weaker moments, like the Thanksgiving sketch (which was a direct descendant of Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer’s famed dinnertime blowup sketches, only minus the laughs), were worlds better than the material they turned out last week. Just goes to show you that having a host that is both multi-talented and comes to the table with a clear idea of what they want to accomplish that week goes a long way towards helping inspire the show’s writing staff. So a hearty Vulture congratulations goes out to Joseph Gordon-Levitt for totally nailing your performance last night: We’re quite certain that Lorne will gladly have you back anytime!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Makes ‘Em Laugh (And Then Some) on SNL