Quick, without looking at that picture, can you remember who hosted SNL last night? Give up? It was Ryan Phillippe. We almost forgot too. On a night that saw the appearance of characters old (Target Lady) and new (Mort Mort Feingold), Phillippe was almost an afterthought. He didn’t appear in the weak cold open that was dominated by Kristen Wiig’s giggly Bjork impression and he didn’t do much in his own monologue, which we’ve almost completely forgotten in our excitement about the possibility of a “What Up With That?” movie. The few memorable moments the host did provide occurred when he was able to show off his muscles. No wonder Phillippe has been missing for the past five years; he was working out! We would have never guessed it, but Phillippe totally gave Ryan Reynolds and Taylor Lautner competition for the title of buffest host of season.
Phillippe getting to host SNL has struck us as odd ever since it was announced, but at least we knew he would bring with him a few MacGruber sketches, since it’s the film version of the 20-second sketch that he’s promoting. Oops, we were wrong. There was no MacGruber in a night that could have used some explosions. Not that it was all bad—”ESPN Classic,” “Shake Weight” and “Hip Hop Kids” were well done, but the rest of the episode was what SNL is these days: mediocre, providing just enough laughs to keep the audience watching but never enough to send milk pouring out of noses.
Then there was Ke$ha, whose performances weren’t very good musically, which is totally fine. No one expects a good musical performance from Ke$ha. They expect a song you can make fun of and an entertaining performance. She provided both of those, even if her astronaut dancers and tribal, glow-in-the-dark paint reminded us of Lady Gaga and how much weirder she would have made the performances.
Though the commercial parody of the Shake Weight was spot-on and our love for “ESPN Classic” hosts Pete Twinkle and Greg Stink continues to grow and Father Swimcoach Scoutmaster was an inspired, if disturbing, character, SNL’s visit with the Thrilla Killa Klownz was our favorite sketch of the night. Not only did Bobby Moynihan and Phillippe look just like I.C.P., but the lyrics to their song “Magical Mysteries” could have been ripped straight from the song they were parodying, the magical “Miracles.” The timing of this sketch was right on and because of that it has a chance to live a second life on the internet, which can’t really be said of any other sketch from last night.
Not even Andy Samberg’s perfectly-awkward impression of a mumbling teenager could save “Teen Talk,” and its one joke (“What? I can’t hear you”). While we like the idea of a fat, bald producer sitting in for the host of a touchy-feely advice show, this sketch never seemed to go beyond that initial idea. Since this isn’t the first time we’re seen it, you can, unfortunately, count on seeing it again.