It’s the strangest thing. I know Vince Vaughn hosted Saturday Night Live last night. My DVR says so, for one thing. His name’s right there in my notes, as I jotted down how much he looks like the lead actor from The Neighbors now. And yet, I can’t remember a single thing he did on the show. We’ve has hosts this season who were … let’s say “strategically deployed,” but I don’t think SNL was hiding Vaughn. There was just nothing very memorable about what he did do, and coming a week after Melissa McCarthy delivered the best episode of the season by definitively putting her comedic stamp on the show, the absence of Vaughn doing the same was glaring.
It wasn’t a bad episode. On a sketch-by-sketch basis, there were probably more solid singles than home runs (in Vaughn terms, more Fred Claus than Wedding Crashers), and pretty much everything else tonight was overshadowed by Miguel’s sexy, guitars-y rendition of “Adorn,” but not a bad episode. Just not one we’re going to think back and remember for Vaughn’s participation.
Headline-Picking of the Week
Cold opens — particularly the ones involving President Obama — always bring out the backseat comedy writer in people. Everybody has a better idea of which current events would have made better comedic fodder. I realize this and know what a dilettante it makes me sound like, but it does seem odd that toothless gun-control legislation nabbed the opening spot rather than something about, say, our nation’s attractive attorney general. Hell, Jay Pharoah’s Obama even touched on the new Jay-Z song, albeit while stumbling over his lines. That really didn’t have more comedic potential than gun control? (All that said, Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis do incredulous buffoonery better than almost anyone, so at the very least those toothless new gun-control laws were delivered with appropriate zip.
Beautiful Babies of the Week
So weird watching old Vince Vaughn work that same kind of smarmy/ingratiating charm on audience members that he’s been working since trying to psych Mikey up in Swingers. Various audience members take turns being the Jon Favreau in this case, subject to Vaughn’s hyperactive pep talks. Clearly the show trusted Vaughn to run with a rather lengthy crowd-work segment, and it’s always fun to watch real audience members get in on the fun. Still, the older Vaughn’s gotten, the more the Swingers thing starts to feel like a dad trying to hold on to his cool.
Impersonation Free-For-All of the Week
I’m always a fan of the grab-bag impersonation sketches, and despite the fact that the “Al Pacino Accused Murderer Biopic Series” only offers opportunities for one cast member to show his stuff, when that cast member is Bill Hader, I won’t complain. I still remember Hader’s Pacino from his very first episode, and it’s as sharp now as it ever was. Hader as Pacino as Amanda Knox is the only way I’ll accept her biopic from now on.
Unexpected Roker of the Week
I guess the Weather Channel original soap “Stormy Skies” is supposed to be the methadone that weans us all off of our insatiable addiction to “The Californians.” We’re all going to be brave little toasters and learn to live life without our blonde, driving-directions-obsessed friends. This sketch was probably Vaughn’s best work all night, as he, Cecily Strong, Taran Killam, and Kenan Thompson (Al Roker cameo!) went through the paces of a daytime soap in the cadence of meteorologists. Vaughn’s “I’m very good at sexual positions in the high 60s. The highest 60s,” was as good a job of line-selling as I saw all night.
True Punk Aesthetic of the Week
A+ marks to the story of Ian Rubbish and the Bizarros, this week’s non-digital non-short. I’ve observed before that Fred Armisen seems, let’s say, selectively engaged this season, but whether he was strangely motivated this week or this particular idea got his creativity flowing, whatever it was, he was on point as Ian Rubbish, the punk movement legend who was really quite fond of Margaret Thatcher. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be singing “Hey, Maggie Thatcher, you’re alright!” for the rest of the day.
Break of the Week
Basically the only reason to watch “Short Term Memory Loss Theater” is to witness Bill Hader almost completely lose it at the slightest provocation. Call it the “Stefon” effect.
Kate McKinnon Takeover Update
Kind of a lateral move for McKinnon this week, as her Marina Chapman — the woman who was raised by monkeys — plays like a very obvious weak sister to her previous Update appearances as art-restorer Cecilia Gimenez and Russian peasant-woman Olya Povlatsky. It was kind of a middle-of-the-road week for Update all around, as Sudeikis’s and Thompson’s appearances as Brad Paisley and LL Cool J felt like it could have hit a lot harder. That said, SOLID Peppermint Patty/Marcy joke, Seth Meyers. And now I can say I know exactly where I was when I learned that Fleet Week was being cancelled. Thank you, Seth, for being there for me at that difficult time.
Pre-Prom Activity of the Week
Solid little sketch about a mysterious underwriter of a junior-high prom (that’s a thing???) with Vaughn showing up as the wealthy man who lives on top of the hill, trying to get the kids to make his money spent worthwhile. He’s also dressed like Alec Baldwin in his guest-starring stint on Nip/Tuck, so take THAT pop culture reference and run with it. He dances with the kids and starts fights and is generally inappropriate. The secret best part of this sketch is watching Aidy Bryant show off one of her secret talents: explaining the action of what we just saw in the funniest, most incredulous way possible.
Lyrical Brilliance of the Week
I think we saw Tim Robinson’s first-season highlight last night as he and Jason Sudeikis suited up as the Tesh brothers. Sudeikis was John Tesh, looking all snazzy in his cool vest and debuting “Roundball Rock” for the NBC Sports execs. Robinson was there as Dave Tesh, brother and lyricist, who provided the now lost-to-history words to that classic tune. Which mostly consist of “DUNK IT!” Super-goofy sketch with no modern-day relevance, but Kenan Thompson yelling, “That’s right, burn it down, Teshes!” was worth it.
Unexpected Callback of the Week
I have to say, I never expected “Last Call” to return. Last time, we had Louis C.K. and Kate McKinnon (as Ms. Sheila Sovage) expressing their strange and disgusting attraction to one another while bartender Kenan just wants to go home. This week, Vaughn steps into the male role, subject to such Sheila come-ons as spitting a tequila shot into his mouth like a fountain angel. He seems into it. This is the kind of weirdo character that allows McKinnon to shine, and kudos to Vaughn for keeping up with her, right up to the planking conclusion.