It was a family reunion on last night’s Saturday Night Live, with host Amy Poehler briefly joined by former cast members Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, and Jimmy Fallon for the opening dream sequence, in which Poehler kissed Justin Timberlake and Kenan Thompson played Lorne Michaels, because why not? We hardly spent any time with the four new cast members, but Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, and Governor David Paterson all made interesting appearances: Andy Samberg begged Timberlake to go back to making music, Paterson faced off with Fred Armisen, and Katy Perry came out in a cleavage-bearing Elmo T-shirt, a nice middle finger to Sesame Street, from which she was recently banned. Frankly, however, Perry’s Auto-Tune-less “California Gurls” performance could have been a sketch and we wouldn’t have known the difference. The choreography was slow, high notes were neglected, and it amounted to a sort of depressing, stripped-down version of otherwise upbeat music. We don’t want to see Katy Perry like that ever again! Never!
Poehler ably carried the show, of course. It was far from her best SNL work, and the return of all those former, funny cast members just made us miss better SNL lineups, and it almost seemed a little desperate on NBC’s part. But Poehler’s ability to jump from gossiping-Bronx-girl to a lady-who-lunches made up for the episode’s general lack of creativity and side-splitting sketches. Thankfully, the writing does seem to be embracing its left-leaning roots, with Christine O’Donnell’s ridiculousness mocked in the cold open (“Also, I burned a house down once”), a fairly bold ground-zero-mosque-meets-gay marriage sketch, and an anti–“don’t ask, don’t tell” monologue during “Weekend Update.” Here are some highlights:
This lunching-ladies skit was apropros of absolutely nothing, but we hope it’s recurring. We had no idea what we were watching, which made most of the punchlines funnier, such as, “Faking your own death is the new tiny hat.” This was a pretty awesomely strange one.
We’re going to hand it to “Weekend Update,” mostly for Governor Paterson’s appearance. The man came out during Fred Armisen’s send-up of him, and he seemed to be having a good time! “I wanted to come here tonight to tell you that working in Albany is just like watching SNL: There’s a lot of characters, it’s funny for ten minutes, and then you just want it to be over,” he said, which is pretty spot-on. Paterson explained to Armisen: “You poked so much for at me for being governor, I almost forgot I was black!” And does it ever get old hearing him chant “I’m blind and I’m still alive”? No. Paterson is surprisingly well-suited for sketch comedy. Well, maybe it’s not that surprising.
Poehler and Meyer’s “Really?” monologue, in which they pointed out that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a ridiculous policy, was funny and well-put. Plus, they pointed out that the term itself “sounds like something a gay dude would use for his e-vite.” Because they were defending a gay person’s right to serve in the military, they got to make a lot of gay jokes along the way. (“The military needs a mak-over, and you know who’s really good at makeovers?”) But Meyer and Poehler have great chemistry. Plus, they sent an excellent message to Lady Gaga if she wants to be taken seriously as a political voice: “It’s very hard to be The Girl in the Meat Suit on Sunday, and the Voice of Reason on Tuesday.”
“Controversial? Maybe. But fun? Definitely!”