'Saturday Night Live': Lady Gaga, Madonna, the s-bomb drop, Letterman jokes, and a little funniness

Ryan Reynolds may have been the host of Saturday Night Live last night, but music guest Lady Gaga provided the most notable, if not the most entertaining, moments. Carrying on what is now a mini-tradition, Lady Gaga said a four-letter word (“Dancing to that s— on the radio”) during her first song. She also appeared in one of Kenan Thompson’s periodic house-music sketches. Gaga and surprise-guest Madonna conducted a little cat-fight that had less to do with humor than with Madonna literally trying to fend off the latest usurper to her dance-music-queen status:

Other celeb sightings: Scarlett Johansson during a fake-commercial for “porcelain fountains,” and Elijah Wood in an Andy Samberg Digital Short, a hiphop parody that was arguably the funniest thing of the night:

Yes, SNL did acknowledge the David Letterman scandal via two jokes by Seth Meyers on “Weekend Update” — the 48 Hours producer attempted a Stupid Human Trick, he said, and after sex, Letterman says “Stay tuned for Craig Ferguson.” Ha. Ha.

At this point in its history, SNL is more about itself than about the comedy. New cast member Jenny Slate was present, with no harm done after her accidental expletive last week. Darrell Hammond’s appearance as Arnold Schwarzenegger during “Update” was a good performance, but more notable for the fact that Hammond, who no longer appears in the opening credits of the show, turned up at all. New regular Nasim Pedrad was amusing as the wife of Fred Armisen’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The most elaborately produced sketch was “So You Committed A Crime And You Think You Can Dance,” which contained some taped elements. The only time I laughed, though, was upon seeing Bill Hader’s silent Phil Spector as a judge.

Bonus points to a well-thought-out PBS parody in which supposed actors from Oslo (including Reynolds, Armisen, and Kristen Wiig) performed, excellently, a cop drama with accents that invoked yet surpassed old “Wild and Crazy Guy” sketches. Points detracted for the Family Feud sketch about John and Mackenzie Phillips whose only laughs came from Jason Sudeikis’ slick host.

But it all came back to Lady Gaga: Her second song featured her wearing what looked like part of a big Slinky. For her, the spectacle is more important than the music (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Still: The biggest suspense of the night turned out to be whether she could sit at the piano wearing her getup, and the awkward moment when she had to take off her sunglasses in order to continue (“Hello, SNL,” she vamped weakly).

Even the final comic moment was reserved for Gaga — dressed in her bubble-suit, she, not Reynolds, got to have a precious few moments of screen-time shared with exec producer Lorne Michaels. Like I said, SNL is all about the inside-maneuvering of SNL than it is about comedy so far this season.

What did you think?

(Here’s the Lady Gaga “s—” performance of “Paparazzi”: warning: language)

Comments (231 total) Add your comment
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  • Theresa

    I loved the digital short, it was hilarious! Happy Birthday to the ground!!!!

    • simon

      Yeah the short was the ONLY funny part of the show, the rest was pretty bad even from reliable one such as Bill Hader/Will Forte. This show should have brought back Michaela Watkins – Bitch Pleeze was one of the funniest skits last season, and kirsten Wiig is overplayed and frankly not that funny vs Watkins.

    • Best Moment

      This was my champagne! This was my quaaludes!

    • Jane

      This is the first time I’ve laughed at an Andy Samberg short since D in a Box.


      Ha ha. I agree, one of the funniest ever!!

  • Alex

    Madonna is the Queen. Soooo Sexy!

    • Jackie

      Lady GaGa ruled this episode, and second funniest female was actually Scarlett Johannsen — she did awesome. The last song was amazing, and I thought it was good for GaGa to explain her background of growing up in New York, when she’s getting so big and people view her as something other-worldly.

      • simon

        You morons are easily amused with trash like Madonna and Lady Gaga, you are the kind of people who find books sold in the checkout lane to be challenging and literary art

      • to Simon

        You are an angry and sad person, and a legend in your own mind. BTW genius, the checkout line actually has magazines, tabloids and the like. They don’t really have books.

      • Mary

        R u kidding?! Her 2nd performance was horrendous… the sounds were awful and i thought it was never going to end…. and I usually don’t mind her music

      • drama17

        Whoa simon, what’s your problem? And since when is Madonna trash? You sound like a snobby intellectual who looks down on others just because they like pop culture.

      • jason.

        Umm…Simon? Is the rest of SNL ever any better? A skit featuring the PBS logo ain’t high art, man, and that woeful Family Feud skit…

        Gaga’s stuff is the closest thing to performance art you’d find on this week’s episode, and thus, the most…highbrow…part.

        Besides, Madonna’s no fool: she’s managed to ride pop trends like a surfboard for the better part of three decades.

        I guess my question to you, sir, is why are you even watching SNL if you’re all about “challenging”?

        It’s not like they’ll pull ratings getting the Kronos Quartet to do a cameo.

      • Daniel

        I found Lady Gaga extraordinarily entertaining. I know not much about her except for the reputation for her performances. She, for me, was the highlight of the show. I’m now a fan. And @simon, I read much more complex material than checkout stand literature. What a weird, reductive comment you make.

      • Ed

        Simon is far from an intellectual elite. I mean, c’mon, he’s trolling EW message boards. More likely, a right wing Glenn Beck-following mouth-breather who thinks Toby Keith is the epitome of talent and thinks Sarah Palin is an intellectual giant. Loser.

      • Xena

        Geez, I was gonna take Simon to task for his rude comment, but Ed has smoothly done that job for me. Well played, sir!

      • Ella

        I thought that the ‘medley’ was a self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing mess. Rather full of herself, Miss Gaga is.

      • edgardo

        Yes Ed I agree 100% with you.

  • 2cents

    Ryan Reynolds is the hottest man – and funniest – in Hollywood.
    With that said – last night was so unfunny and a huge waste of this comic talent.
    They can get the talent – just the writing is so not funny.
    Too bad.

  • kevin

    I believe the the pbs sketch was aimed at making fun of all the recent press daniel craig and hugh jackman have been getting, as they apparently are struggling to do the chicago accents that the characters in their broadway play calls for. All in all, I thought this was one of the funniest episodes in a LONG time. And it wasn’t even that funny.

    • Yogurt

      I do believe that you are WAY overthinking this, kevin.

    • Jen

      I thought that’s what that sketch was about too. Although I saw that play this weekend, and Hugh and Daniel’s accents sound fine on stage.

  • David D

    I liked the Digital Short until it turned into “they tased me in the butthole” over and over again. It’s like Samberg & Co. think of a funny idea and then are obligated to make it extreme, and then overdo the extreme. Oh, and what’s the difference between Charles Barkley and Jean K. Jean? Apparently a beret.

    • Rachel

      Exactly! “You know what would make this short hi-larious? If I said ‘butthole!'” “Well, by all means, go for it!”
      Not cute. Andy, you were doing so well…
      Anyway, I thought the writing was miles better than last week.

    • james

      Keenan is the most unfunny player on the show…I’m so over him and can’t believe he continues w/ the cast season after season…

      • sina

        I think he’s funny. Sometimes his skits don’t come out right but at least he was funny last Friday on Psych.

      • Liza

        I think SNL should say Adieu to Keenan.

    • jason.

      Zut alors!

      • Yogurt

        Bon to the jour!

  • scutter

    I pretty much disagree with the assessment of lady gaga’s second song not being good. In fact, I was NOT a fan until that second song where she made me a believer as something more than a pop sensation …actually respect her as an artist now

    • coco

      Lady Gag was AMAZING during her second song. Even though she had the weird customer, the piano sit down was raw and very human, getting back to her New York roots. She is an over the top perfomer but also a gifted singer and musician. I became a fan after that performance!

      • Sparky

        Really liked Lady GaGa. Would have been great if she had sang the entire version of Bad Romance but what she did instead was also very impressive. The opening while a little lame was spot on the status of our current pres – very sad…

      • herman

        I believe among everyone else you hit it. I was and am not a fan, but her 2nd performance, costume aside showed what a true talent she is. I will began to take a closer look .

    • Sara

      I TOTALLY agree, Ken Tucker is so off. It was awkward as she sat down, but then the little wave and taking off her glasses was good comic timing, and got the audience on her side. And obviously the song itself was very cool, breaking down “Poker Face” like that. Loved it!

  • David D

    Oh! And no mention of the Obama cold open? As far as a script goes, it was cold indeed, but sadly accurate (and funny), but what? Armisen isn’t even TRYING an accurate impression anymore? His delivery was so UNLIKE Obama that it’s as if SNL thinks the wig and the desk are all you need. (Or maybe it’s a tribute to Chevy Chase’s non-Gerald Ford.)

    • John

      I so agree David. There was little to no attempt at the trademark mimicing of Obama’s voice and mannerisms. It was a poor start to the show that only went down from there.

    • Anonymous

      That has to be the laziest impersonation I have ever seen. It’s not like he has never done the obama voice before. He just didn’t put in the effort.

  • Reverend

    What is the hoopla over Lady Gaga? Her songs were weak, and her performances weren’t even that entertaining. Doesn’t someone on her staff check to see if her costumes actually work? I enjoyed seeing her struggle to keep the rings out of her face (not to mention the whole “how do I sit with this at the piano” part). I have to say that Reynolds’ best bit was his as the son-in-law for the fountain sketch (or maybe I was dazed by Scarlett’s “surprise” appearance). Again Adam Samberg steals the show with his Digital Shorts. The worse had to be the supposed cat-fight between Madonna and Lady Gaga. What? Who cares? If they really drew blood or were coherent they would have sold it better. Hey, at least overall it was better than last week’s train wreck.

    • Haider

      You obviously don’t like pop music if the cat fight didn’t entertain you. That’s the first time we’ve seen Madonna and Lady GaGa together after months of comparing them. It was pretty special.

      • sara

        HUH?? YOU obviously are confused. If someone doesn’t think Lady Gaga’s insipid theatrics and weak vocals, you think that somehow translates to them not liking pop music?? Could be they don’t like BAD pop music. Some people do have taste. I hate to break it to you.

      • hey you

        I like pop music and I like Gaga. The cat fight was awful. And it’s ANDY Samberg you idiot.

      • Andy

        Sara, you are an idiot.
        A pure unintelligent imbecilic twit.

        Lady Gaga had amazing vocals and amazing theatrics.
        Just shut up , after her second song its OBVIOUS the girl can and does sing.

      • edgardo

        Oh poor sara! Your “knowlege” of pop music is really poor! You obviously don’t have taste in anything pop.

  • brad

    Lady Gagas second song was the highlight of the show. i wouldve rather she sat at the piano and sang right up until 1 and close the show that way. the girl is very talentd but for some reason people just dont want to admit it.

    • Yogurt

      They really need to change the name of that song from “Poker Face” to “Butter Face”.

      • jackie

        HAHAHA definitely. i cracked up laughing when she said she is “totally hotter” than madonna.

  • jmelvin1

    I thought GAGA was comparable to Bowie in the late 70’s when he was carried on stage in some sort of wood triangle thing (Ziggy Stardust). But the second song “Love Game” was wonderful. To me, Lady Gaga comes across like this wacky drug addicted superstar, but for a few precious seconds we got to see her think…..”Ok. Work like you did in rehearsal. Be calm, little push….oh crap, whose idea was this stupid Gyro thing anyways? Oh, yeh, mine.”

    Best of all, she does seem to value a live performance. Whether her Freddy Mercury like stint at the piano, or her awkward pop into deep chest voice in Paparazzi, we have something to watch.

    • sara

      OMG. Someone is comparing Lady Idiot Gaga to David Bowie. Just wow. that has to be the sadest thing I have read in a very long time.

      • jason.

        The comparison was for utilization of spectacle, not for quality of song.

        I’d say it’s valid, and I’m a HUGE Bowie fan.

        But he didn’t really start right out of the gate brilliant, did he? It was a couple of albums before he started to become BOWIE.

        And when he started out, he used to hire limos to show up to gigs in (or so I’d heard). Spectacle, start to finish.

        Something both Lady GaGa and Marilyn Manson have learned from the master.

    • hey you

      Where in the world do you come up with drug addicted. That is quite a stretch. She’s just a girl who probably wasn’t pretty enough to be packaged like Brit etc. so she had to do something to get noticed. SHE has the talent to back it up.

      • Dave

        GaGa is a joke. You can’t take her seriously. She’s a flash in the pan ridiculous costume diva. Her entire appearance was so publicity fueled it was absurd. First she tries to get some press by dropping an S-Bomb. Clever… then her entire piano performance was constructed to show the world, “hey i’m actually just a new york gal with some talent…” Unfortunately, she looked like a moron in that saturn costume and she messed up her piano playing far too often to really wow anyone. Fail.

      • to Dave

        Apparently it wasn’t a fail.

    • Maria

      wait, what? i just stumbled upon this site. and i’m reidnag through these comments, and you all seem to be under the impression that the two least talented people deserve to win? not even deserve, more like entitled from the comments i’ve read. like those brothers can’t carry a tune.. did you see the one in the hat screaming attempting to sing? i thought he was gonna pass out! okay the saxophone was alright, and so was the piano. but the singing.. dear god..and that guy rodney didn’t know how to sing either.. i’m just saying..ugh kids these days.

  • theanonymous00

    LOL poor Ryan Reynolds….no one is talking about his performance on SNL…just another footnote in a show dominated by GaGa.

  • Lola

    I thought it was a great show. I don’t see anybody even attempting this
    type of comedy anywhere. Sketch comedy is difficult in a society with so little common knowledge.

  • Tomi

    I think Andy Samberg is funny but he’s becoming a one trick pony. You think his hip-hop parody is funny? He’s been doing NOTHING, NOTHING but hip-hop parodies from Narnia ’till now. His point, I guess, is ‘everything sounds funny when you say it in a hip-hop self-serious tone.’ We get it. Move on.

    I loved Lady GaGa’s second song, it not only was good, but sets her apart from generic pop stars who only go trough the motions of their lip-synch ‘performances.’

    And the Madonna skit, well, she looked amazing, and while the piece was clumsy, the ‘Molly Ringwald’ and ‘disco stick’ lines made the show worth watching.

    I think the PBS thing was the only thing that came through as the planned it.

    • Sara

      Agree about Andy Samberg, but at least he’s doing more than Will Forte and others.

  • Ramo

    Another bad episode. Not as awful as the premiere, but not much better. WU was weak, despite some great material to work with. Digital Short was just ok. Armisen’s total lack on an attempt at an Obama accent was weird. Hammon’d Arnold is terrible. The star of the show: Lady Gaga’s super nice bum.

  • wakeforce

    Just like last week, the musical guest was the highlight. She is out to prove to the naysayers that she is talented, which she did. Tucker failed to mention the Obama-skewering opening sketch that was pretty spot-on in content, if not delivery (and I’m a Demo!)

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