Gabourey Sidibe commenced her Saturday Night Live hosting job with a musical number about how she’s not the character she played in Precious, set to the tune of “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss).” It was cute, if not particularly funny, but things improved from there.
An early amusement was Sidibe as Mrs. Johnson, a cranky elderly woman yelling out her apartment window at two guys (Kenan Thompson and Fred Armisen) sitting on her stoop. It gradually became clear that Mrs. Johnson wasn’t a crank, but more of a savant — a genius, perhaps. The premise was refreshingly free of the reflexive ridicule such a character would usually provoke.
Going for what must be a fraction of its viewership, SNL parodied Steve Harvey’s recent guest hosting of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. The one joke? Harvey (Kenan Thompson) mispronounces all the clues. Ha.
Andy Samberg’s Digital Short was “Cherry Battle”: Samberg and Sidibe blowing cherries into each other’s mouths, filmed in slow motion. It was funny, a little hypnotic, and kind of beautiful.
“Weekend Update” was stronger than it’s been in a while, with Seth Meyers coming up with a good Nadya Suleman joke and a good Pope joke. Bill Hader put in a fine appearance as “city correspondent” Stefon, a fey eccentric offering weird/lewd/absurd tips for tourist activities. Midway through, Hader cracked himself up, but so what? His performance and his material were so funny, breaking character didn’t dissolve into self-congratulation — if anything, it seemed to make the studio audience enjoy him all the more.
Musical guest MGMT? Clever, peppy, light-hearted, and dexterous.
The show almost came crashing to a halt during the final half-hour with an endlessly tedious “2010 Public Employee of the Year Awards” show, and another sketch with Jenny Slate as Tina Tina Shanooz, selling “Alarm Clocks and More.” I said almost… because the final sketch of the night was one of those oddball winners. It was a “New York Times Conversation With Gabourey Sidibe,” featuring Will Forte’s creepy lothario Hamilton (blond shag wig, growled murmuring) as Sidibe’s former boyfriend, trying to win her heart once again. Haven’t we all been to public events at which people as peculiar as Hamilton have commandeered the microphone?
In general, this was one of SNL‘s better weeks: Less reliance on too-familiar recurring characters, some notably adventurous writing (the sheer volume of intricate verbiage was impressive — I’ll bet if you looked at a transcript, there were more words spoken this week than any edition this season), and more emphasis on trying out new things, such as SNL writer and comedian John Mulaney’s rumination on the Girl Scout cookie-sale business model.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think were the high and low points this week?