So, Betty White said “balls” on Saturday Night Live last night. She also talked about her muffin, declared her distaste for balls, nearly made out with her grandson, screamed out “Wizard of Ass,” and admitted to using a “crotch massager.” Yes, the 88-year-old was crude, crass, and damn funny in what was the best episode of this nearly over SNL season.
With Betty White, Jay-Z, and a gaggle of returning cast members (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, and Rachel Dratch), our expectations were high. And when expectations of SNL start to get high, it’s wise to expect disappointment. But improbably, surprisingly, thankfully, the show didn’t disappoint. White was energetic throughout, the SNL alumni made the episode more pleasant, and Jay-Z showed why he’s one of a few musicians who can share the stage with White (we’re giving him a pass on the leather vest).
But if we had to complain about something from last night’s SNL (and this is the Internet, so we do), it would be the repetition. It became clear in the monologue that there would essentially be two types of jokes from White. First, the old-person-saying-something-that’s-really-only-funny-because-there’s-an-old-person-saying-it type. And second, Betty White talking about her genitals. Both these things are funny and even in the large doses they came in last night, they remained funny, but next time Betty White hosts (we’re hoping there will be a next time) maybe she can get some sketches that aren’t about sex. Maybe? On to the best and worst!
There was a ton of competition for best sketch on last night’s SNL. Far more than usual. First, an acknowledgment to those that didn’t make it. The MacGruber sketches, with White in a motor-scooter and MacGruber putting up with her embarrassing stories, were a lot of fun, especially because of MacGruber’s childhood nickname: Poocasso. This week’s installment of “Scared Straight” was solid, except for Betty White’s pummeling of Bill Hader and exclamations of “Wizard of Ass” — which were both fantastic. The Digital Short was both sweet (the cast’s rendition of “Thank You for Being a Friend”) and badass (White’s metal version), “CSI: Sarasota” provided some great one-liners and the revival of NPR’s “Delicious Dish” had White talking about her muffin, which was both uncomfortable and hilarious.
That’s a lot of good stuff! But the best stuff of the night was the Census sketch. With the exception of the first joke about the “crotch massager,” this sketch got away from the night’s theme of “let’s make Betty White talk like a sailor” and instead had her delivering a bunch of oddball answers to Tina Fey as the Census taker. The writing was on a different level, and we’re guessing it’s because Fey wrote the jokes. The best one: “Ascertain, that used to be my stripper name.”
When “The Manuel Ortiz Show” sketch ended about twenty minutes into last night’s SNL it was clear that it would take a miracle for it to not be named worst of the night. It was pointless and too long and not even Betty White’s dance moves could save it. Really, though, when there’s a clear winner for worst sketch of the night and a bunch of contenders for best sketch of the night, SNL has been a success. It would have been even more of a success without this sketch, but you can’t win them all.