'Saturday Night Live': Hosted by Gerard Butler and beer. Actually, mostly just by the beer.

It was a great night to be a beer-drinker or the kind of person who always loved watching the bloopers at the end of Smokey and the Bandit movies. Anheuser-Busch sponsored most of Saturday Night Live this week, to promote its Bud Light Golden Wheat brand. The beer company also introduced never-before-seen dress rehearsal outtakes from earlier SNL seasons — the company was as much the host of the show as Gerard Butler was. If you’d been yearning to seeĀ a 1998 clip of Will Ferrell laughing while sitting on a donkey, this was your week.

The rest of the time, you probably needed to drink a lot of the sponsor’s product to find much else that was funny. The weekly cold-open attempted to find something funny about President Obama resulted in Dwayne Johnson making a return cameo as The Rock Obama, hulkingly asking things like, “Why health care bill no have public option?”

Following the bad-luck pattern SNL has followed this season in booking hosts with poorly-received movies opening the same weekend (Megan Fox, Drew Barrymore), Butler was a smiling, friendly presence but he wasn’t used well. As with Fox and Barrymore, Butler’s current product wasn’t mentioned. Instead, we got a 300 parody in which all the soldiers were gay with a drawn-out “don’t ask, don’t tell” punchline. The sketch wasn’t funny — especially since “Weekend Update” had made at least two other “don’t ask, don’t tell” jokes preceding it.

Butler had to compete for screen time not only with Bud Light, but also with Kristen Wiig, who seemed to be everywhere. Sketches would begin with one premise — say, Butler as an ad-agency rep coming up with ideas about how to make cottage cheese sexy — only to have Wiig enter and take over the sketch doing one of her 25 interchangeable nervously-awkward characters. I’m not saying Wiig isn’t talented; it’s just that she’s being stretched too thin. Couldn’t Abby Elliott, Jenny Slate, or Nasim Pedrad have been used more prominently to give her (and them) a break?

The night’s real missed opportunity, though, was a fake BET talk-show called “What Up With That?” hosted by Kenan Thompson as an R&B-crooning host. His guests included Bill Hader as Lindsey Buckingham and James Franco as James Franco. But those two said not a word: The joke was that Thompson’s character sang and talked so much, time ran out. A red jump-suited Jason Sudeikis did some highly amusing dancing in the background, but — well, all I can say is, I was really looking forward to seeing Hader do his Buckingham impersonation. Too bad…

Oh, I almost forgot: I liked Seth Meyers’ “Update” joke about the new cast of Celebrity Apprentice reducing the meaning of “celebrity” to “mammal.” And I always laugh at Hader as the alien sportscaster, which he did early in the show.

Musical guest Shakira shook various parts of her body with great vigor. Twice.

What did you laugh at on the show this week? Did SNL succeed in making you want to buy beer?

And I think I’m federally mandated by law to say you can follow me on Twitter.

Comments (322 total) Add your comment
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  • Hannah

    Think he waa the best so far. He was trying and the first few sketches were written decently. His weekend update appearance was good. I expected nothing from him and was pleasantly surprised.

    • true

      I agree he has a real knack for comedic roles and is very charming. I liked beauty and the beast. The other ones I enjoyed were the greg the alien sports sketch and the jersey gay couple which is always funny. i think bill hader is kinda underused he is an amazing impressionist.

      • James

        I agree, this has to be the best episode of the season, I though all the sketches where funny, and the monolouge, the Beauty and the Beast and 300 sketches were hilarious, I think the love between Ken Tucker and SNL is over, but this was a good episode,

    • squirlgirl

      My coworkers and I thought it was hilarious. Even the commercials were funny. The guys really wanted to try the new beer!

      • Daniel

        I’ve had the new beer and it is really good.

    • simon

      Beauty and Beast skit was great but Kirsten Wiig is OVERRATED – all she does is the nervous/socially awkward characters and the act got old long ago, bring back michaela watkins and her bitch Pleeze!!!!! act, focus more on the best three – will forte, bill hader, and andy sandberg

    • lls

      this was probably the best episode thus far, but that’s not really saying too much. i love snl, but feel like this season has really not been too original. even their usually reliable political stuff is falling flat. i don’t know what’s happening in the writers room, but it’s like they are just pulling old sketches at random and substituting the host. hopefully the show gets stronger as the season goes on.

  • David

    SNL either needs to be totally revamped or allowed to fade to black.It’s not funny anymore.What used to be a show of a string of hysterically funny bits is now a few chuckles between long stretches of zzzzzz.Look at the reviews,they have to work hard to find good things to mention.I went back to the ballgame after awhile,a better use of my time.

    • SteveB

      You’re able to find a few chuckles? Remember when you and your friends would rehash skits an laugh again just at the thought of them. So many years ago now.

      • Michael

        The funniest part of SNL has always been how people always think the current cast sucks. In three years you’ll be reminiscing about Kristen Wiig and Seth Meyers as if it was the golden years, just like people did with Fey, Ferrell, Shannon, Macdonald, Sandler, Farley, Rock, Carvey, Hartman, Lovitz, Murphy, Murray, Chase, and everybody else.

      • DEX

        Michael, you are delusional.

      • JJ

        Well, it’s true that people have been predicting the demise of SNL since the 90’s with every year declared “the worst year ever”. However, I find it highly unlikely (and slightly reprehensible) that anyone could imagine Wiig, Meyers and Macdonald would ever be listed in the ranks of Murray, Murphy and Chase.

        (and yes Michael, I know you were just trying to make a point.)

  • fluff

    I don’t watch SNL anymore. I read Ken’s reviews to see if anything was remotely funny. Just as I thought — nothing. Lorne Michaels needs to fire everyone and start fresh with a whole new cast (I don’t care if I ever see Kristen Wiig again!) and get rid of Seth Myers as head writer. These writers have been working together in small dark rooms at 30 Rockefeller for WAY too long. They have lost touch with funny.

    • John

      Its time to get rid of Lorne Michaels. If he can’t run his show right, then its time to pull his plug.

      • Michael

        You win Stupidest Comment award.

      • Dear Michael

        Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to honor John with the SC award.

      • Monica

        John, you’re an idiot. Lorne Michaels is as much an NYC icon as the Statue of Liberty. Shut it.

    • annie

      I agree about Kristen Wiig. I never really warmed up to herr and now she is just annoying. She isn’t really funny. And Ken is right, all her characters are pretty much the same. Her funniest character was the yoga instructor on the DVD extras for Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

      • yardjock

        Not true! Kristin Wiig is good, just overexposed. Gilly is hilarious! That character and the other kids in class remind me of the old SNL. If we had more of that, the show would be relevant again!

      • Caitie

        I can’t stand Kristin Wiig! Her characters are SO annoying…and all the same. Wow she can play someone who is mentally challenged in 50 different ways! How original *note the sarcasm*.

    • J

      Fluff-you read the reviews this guy writes instead of just watching for yourself???? Ken doesn’t watch the show! He has no idea what he is talking about. SNL has the best cast and writers they have in years. This Ken kid is just an intern with no journalistic experience trying to get a real job. He has no clue what he is talking about. Trust me-don’t go on his word.

      • Brian

        Haha. Ken Tucker — who’s been EW’s TV critic for 20 years — is just an intern?

      • Ethan

        Ignoring the fact that you claim Ken “doesn’t watch this show” in a column called “Watching TV,” I will say that even if he were just an intern (and not EW’s long time TV critic SINCE 1990 and a movie critic elsewhere before that), all he’s doing is expressing an opinion that you can agree with. In fact, he ASKS you to say when you disagree. We all have opinions and we all “know what we’re talking about” if we mean them, eh?

    • Chappel

      Lorne Michaels is the Al Davis of the TV industry and SNL is the Raiders.

      • Aprilcot26

        HA! Even though I don’t quite agree with you…that was funny.

    • crm

      All these so called critics don’t have the talent to do anything but sit on their behinds. I think the cast is talented especially Kristin Wiig. There hasn’t been anyone that funny in years.

  • Anon

    This was actually my favorite episode of the season (not saying much, but still). While there was a sketch or two that I didn’t laugh at, I liked most of them (esp orgasm girl, even though Wiig was indeed used too often).

  • mydove

    I thought ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was hilarious!

    • JJ

      seconded!

      • schmed

        Thirded! That was one of the best skits I’ve seen on SNL in a long time (not saying much, admittedly). Premise was great and, lo and behold, it actually built, gettitng more perverse and funny.

      • Chris

        fourthed! could not stop laughing

      • DEX

        But isn’t it a bit of a sad commentary when the funniest sketch of the show is a spoof of an 18-year-old movie?

      • TriP

        I agree, too. It was the first sketch in a while that literally had me laughing out loud.

        RE: Kristen Wiig – she’s the only female “regular” right? They need to get some others to take some of the weight off her shoulders!

      • Kimmer

        Indeed. The best part of a pretty mediocre show. I love Kristen–just too much of the same thing.

    • Kim

      Fourthed! the best skit of the night … Especially when Luminere cracked he had dated a menorah .. funny!

    • beneduae

      Agreed. Beauty and the Beast was funny, and Gerard on Weekend Update was really good. He’s the best host of the season so far, for sure. I’m beginning to realize that Bill Hader does most of the things that I love- he’s really pretty good.

    • Kelly

      Absolutely hysterical. As usual, Bill Hader had the best line: “once in college, I dated a menorah.”

      • elena

        Ah! That was the best line!

    • jj

      Yes, I loved the Beauty and the Beast sketch.

  • Lee

    Thank God for my DVR. I had to skip through most of the show. Kristin Wiig is normally very funny but missed last night. Weekend Update is always worth watching. Butler did OK. Since no one will really read this I can say Kenan Thompson is just always the same character. He seems really nice. But they need to work with him and get him to be…well…more funny. He needs a little more punch.

  • Annie

    Butler generally has an innate comedic slant which was used poorly on SNL. The SNL cast is not as impressive as it once was. I was looking forward to GB hosting which was genuinely funny, interesting and engaging but those around him whose art is comedy were disappointing.

  • JMB

    Has anyone maybe thought that there might be a correlation between Kristen Wiig’s abundance on the show and the fact that it’s become one of the worst seasons in SNL ever? Hmm? She’s not that funny, people, and her characters are pretty much the same thing over and over. Plus, if I never see Gilly again it will be too soon. There is NOTHING funny about that bit, and it goes on too long every time. This used to be an ensemble show. Now it’s the “Kristen Wiig” show, with occasional bits by others. The writers suck this year. So they keep dipping into the same wells. If you keep doing the same things over and over, you can’t expect different results.

    • Kim

      Thank you. All her characters are exactly the same!

    • bootsycolumbia

      “Gilly”–only in theaters, summer 2010!

    • RK

      I can’t stand her, and I had to turn it off with the ad skit — it is just grating. My wife said the same thing — “Doesn’t she do that same character every time?”. Great review by Ken; loved the What up with that? skit. Just offbeat and strange enough to be enjoyable. As for the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, that must be a NY (and DC) thing, because I don’t think that “news” is getting much play around the country.

      • BP

        Then you dont watch the news very much.

    • pull the plug

      As far as the people who are the show now, Wiig’s one of the better ones…which is faint praise. Her biggest problem is that they’re overusing her in one horrid sketch after another. Because she’s so visible, people are starting to blame and resent her. It’s not her fault the show sucks. It’s the writers and producers who ruin it. Fire the damn writers! They’re juvenile and completely unfunny.
      They also lack the boldness to skewer the President! Supposed satirists who can’t see their way to mercilessly poke at those in power are nothing more than hacks.

      • hanna

        Agreed! People need to quit blaming Wiig, she doesn’t write herself in every sketch, the WRITERS do. And, in the writers defense, she IS the funniest cast member there. You can almost guarantee a laugh if she’s in a sketch. (She alone saved that cheesy cold open form being completely unfunny) My only criticism is the writers need to start trusting the other proven cast members (like Jason S., Hader, Samberg) and take a risk on the other ladies of SNL. To me, SNL is prime when it has at least 3 funny females. Lorne needs to find himself another Poehler and Rudolph stat.

      • cg

        Unless that skit is Gilly, which is not funny. Or that secretary last night.

      • Mikey

        Skewer the president? They can’t do that! That’d make them as racist as Fox News!

        Funny how that works these days.

  • Carrie

    I thought that last night’s episode was the funniest so far. I laughed more than I did in the other episodes this season. The writing still needs a lot of improvement though.

  • kenjashi

    I even said it out loud at the beginning of the show….this is the wrong place for HIM…but really he blew me away.

  • Holly

    Hate to be an SNL basher but was once again disappointed. Gerard Butler was funny and a good actor but the sketches weren’t funny and too long (esp the Rock Obama). I did laugh over Gerard Butler’s Scottish translation during Weekend Update. Oh, and didn’t know he was a talented singer.

    • Anna C.

      He played the Phantom in The Phantom of Opera I believe.

      • Leslie

        Wow, I never realized that was him. He has a great voice.

    • saywhat73

      Hi
      I just read your comment where you said you didn’t know Gerard Butler was a singer. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Phantom of the Opera with Emily Rossum. A modern version of beauty and the beast. Anyway, The Phantom was acted by Gerard Butler who was the most phenomenal singer! Rent that video. You may not like musicals, but he sang all the songs himself and he’s an awesome singer. I think that was his first real big acting job. Check it out. Hope I’m not bothering you.

      R

  • Holly

    Also I do look forward to Ken Tucker’s review and reader comments, if only to see if I’m just not getting it.

  • Peter

    I thought last night’s episode was one of the best this season so far. There were plenty of laugh out loud moments for me. And people who don’t like Kristen Wigg or don’t find her funny???? HOW? WHAT??? WHY???? AGAIN…HOW? She is SOOOOO funny.

  • TorontoTom

    We don’t get the American feed here in Canada so we missed the out-takes during the commercials – we just got the awkward crap in between the commercials. I DVR the show and watch it in about 9 minutes on Sunday morning. Time for and overhaul. And I agree about the overuse of Kristen Wiig. I’ve gotten that as soon as I see her it’s FF time…

    • sting314

      I know. I live in Hamilton and I’ve always hated the whole simulcasting thing. That’s one big reason why I love the time shift channels on digital so we can watch stuff unsimulcast on the Seattle channels.

  • Peter

    I also love reading reviews in the comments section from the people who don’t even watch it. NICE!

    • pull the plug

      You don’t need to watch it. It’s the same damn show with the same weak characters week after week…or didn’t you notice that pattern?

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