Gabourey Sidibe is a boundless ball of energy. She has shown that over and over again in her talk-show performances, red-carpet interviews, and appearances on The Soup. And dammit, it’s infectious. Everyone loves Gabby and that Valley Girl accent of hers. Including us. We were psyched when she landed SNL hosting duties and were hopeful that she would be able to harness that energy and her wide-eyed enthusiasm to put on an awesome show.
We’re going with yes. Sure, Sidibe flubbed some lines and wasn’t able to do much with weak characters (the Jamaican nurse in the Suze Orman sketch), but overall she gave a super-charming, enthusiastic performance that could have won over even the most hardened Gabby hater (assuming such a vile creature even exists).
The charm offensive started with the musical monologue, which was just like her, energetic and fun. And it addressed a topic that the entire episode would drive home: she’s not Precious (capital p) but she is precious (lowercase p). Our post-monologue buzz was quickly killed by sketches based around impressions of Suze Orman and Steve Harvey; from there the rest of the show had its ups (the “Digital Short,” “New Alarm Clocks,” Stefon on “Weekend Update”) and downs (“Public Employee of the Year”).
But before we get into the best and worst of the night, let’s talk MGMT. We get not wanting to play songs from old albums, especially when you just put a new one out, but it seems like they really missed an opportunity to hook some new fans last night. Not that “Flash Delirium” and “Brian Eno” weren’t fine (they were totally fine), but if they had played “Kids” or “Time to Pretend” we can’t help but think that a lot of people watching last night would be more likely to remember who that band with the bug-eyed guitarist was.
First a nod to the “Digital Short,” which was so strange yet so delightful, and “New Alarm Clocks,” which provided the best line of the night (“Wake up, you got a boner about nothing”). Those were good, but “Crazy Lady Yelling From Window” was the best. SNL takes a lot of crap for being poorly written, but this sketch was anything but. It was inventive, original, and damn funny. Sidibe nailed “Mrs. Johnson,” a grumpy old lady who first comes across as crazy but is soon revealed to be a savant with encyclopedic, or maybe that should be wikipedic, knowledge of the world.
Is SNL even trying with the cold open anymore? If they are, they should try harder. Each week, it seems, Fred Armisen’s Barack Obama impression is supposed to carry the whole sketch. But when he’s talking about something as mind-numbingly boring as financial reform, that’s a hefty task. This week’s went a whole 75 seconds before even attempting a joke. That’s like 75 years in TV time.
If the fifteen-second commercial for Betty White’s episode is any indication, we’re in for a real treat in two weeks.