'Saturday Night Live' review: Emma Stone was rock-solid, and flexible

At this point in Saturday Night Live‘s history, any edition with a few good sketches plus good performances by the guest host must be counted a success. So it was this week with Emma Stone and at a series of solid moments.

Stone endeared herself to millions during the very first sketch, when she played opposite Kristen Wiig in a “Dream Home Extreme” sketch. As Wiig’s character did standard Wiig stuff — condescending generic-Southern accent; wiggly-nervous moves — Stone’s character stood there poker-faced, just as we do at home when Wiig is trying to sell a sketch.

An excellent “Digital Short” featured Stone in a music video as a high school girl who kept slipping on a patch of grape jelly. Stone’s lip-synching and falling were impeccable, and just when it looked as though the short had peaked, the jelly itself began rapping. Good ‘n’ absurd.

One of the best recurring sketches SNL does is its parody of The View — Fred Armisen’s Joy Behar is always a clever combination of physical moves (Behar’s twitchy pinching at her clothes) and middle-aged-lady jokes. This week’s View was also helped by Stone’s Lindsay Lohan; it’s tough to do anything funny about the much-derided, sad-life Lohan, but Stone managed to find the right vocal timbre and captured Lohan’s ludicrous sense of hurt privilege.

Stone was also excellent as a disbelieving teen who can’t imagine how gullible adults are to fall for alarmist local news reports such as the ones delivered by a terrific Bill Hader. He warned about phenomena such as “souping”: “drinking expired soup to get high.”

(I loved Hader’s delivery of the line, “Shockingly, soup is legal!”)

“Weekend Update”: Despite the fact that it’s unlikely most of SNL‘s nationwide audience is aware of New York gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan and his The Rent Is Too Damn High party, McMillan was too obvious a target for a Kenan Thompson impersonation for the show to resist. Too bad there weren’t any jokes surrounding Thompson’s costume. There was an amusing return appearance by Bill Hader’s Stefon, which remained funny even after Hader cracked himself up. Best of all, however, was the welcome return of John Mulaney, who did a happy-news monologue called “I Love It.” Mulaney has a classic comic presence; avoiding easy vulgarity, scoring laughs with calm assurance, he’s the sort of performer who reminds the SNL audience that a joke is a cleverly arranged words the build to a surprising point. “We love him,” said Seth Meyers in closing out “I Love It,” and he was correct.

I also thoroughly enjoyed “Les Jeunes de Paris” — disaffected French youths led by Stone and Taran Killam flirting snootily and dancing with jerky precision. It was flat-out, energetic, verging-on-silly fun. I also thought the commercial for “Baby Spanx” fit into a fine, long-standing SNL tradition.

Kings of Leon purveyed their paradoxical brand of sensitive-brawny rock with effectiveness — but only the second of their two performances suggested the strength of the band’s new album Come Around Sundown.

Ultimately, Stone was an SNL success because she communicated an ease with herself and as any character she was assigned.

This week’s missing-in-action cast members: Vanessa Bayer and Jay Pharoah barely saw any screen-time.

What did you like or dislike about this week’s Saturday Night Live?

Follow: @kentucker
Oh, and after you’ve registered your decision about the episode, won’t you check out the latest edition of the TV Insiders podcast, featuring Dalton Ross, Annie Barrett, Michael Ausiello, Michael Slezak, Missy Schwartz, and me-myself-and-I, yakking about everything from Project Runway to The Good Wife to The Ultimate Fighter. All that, and more. You can either download the mp3 file here or click below.

Comments (192 total) Add your comment
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  • TorontoTom

    KRISTEN WIIG IS NOT FUNNY. Not that it needs to be stated – just watch the show. You are on the mark, Ken, with your take on her “Dream Home Extreme” nonsense. It’s embarrassing watching her embarrass herself.

    • Casey

      Come to think of it, that’s how I feel when I watch her anymore, embarrassed. I remember when I used to look forward to her in some sketches.

      • Ken is an A hole

        I like Emma Stone but she was seriously awful last night. Her faces were almost unwatchable. Ken, you are a dirty old man.

      • Cygnus_X-1

        More Stefon and What’s Up With That?

    • Bringbackrocky

      Oh Kem, thank you for your Wiig comments. You are so on the money with them.

      • James_1.0

        Lol. This week was better than the horrible drivel we got when Jane-“I-speak-only-out-of-the-side-of-my-mouth”-Lynch hosted. Plus all this glee crap is way overrated and gets way too much coverage for my taste.

    • Woot

      It’s been said many times. Kristen Wiig is funny, SNL is just doing her no justice. They used her so much, and her characters are so similar that she is just annoying now. Does that mean she’s not funny? No.

      • bringbackrocky

        And it’s been said many more times on this board that Kristen Wiig is not funny.

      • mary q contrary

        Thank you. Someone finally gets it. Everyone is always so quick to turn on anyone overexposed, no matter how talented they once considered them to be. How about instead of doing such an absurd 180, we maybe lay a little (or more) blame on whoever is doing the overexposing.

      • Mike

        I will take Kristen Wiig over any more Andy Samberg digital shorts. Or Andy Samberg in general.

      • Jason

        And what if some of us NEVER found her funny? Her twitches and spasms have been there since day one – they weren’t funny then, they’re not funny now. The difference is, before she was overexposed they were tolerable. Now they’re not only not funny but bringing down the show and groan-inducing. I honestly can’t remember the last sketch Wiig was featured as the main character that I laughed at. I’m sure at some point there must have been one…

      • BW

        Kristin Wiig is the “Who wants To Be a Millionaire” of SNL…… over exposure absolutely killed her!!!!!

    • Johnny P

      Wiig tried to make that prize lady sketch work when January Jones hosted and it bombed. It bombed again last night. (At least Stone fared a bit better than Jones) It was the exact same joke. Why does Wiig and SNL think that every character needs to be a recurring character? No one is more guilty of this than Wiig. The sexy/gross lady that made an appearance a few weeks ago, Gilly, and several more. They’re always the same. Things can maybe be funny once, but that doesn’t mean we should see the same thing again and again. And did anyone notice that between the prize lady sketch and the dateline spoof, Wiig played two hysterical ladies in a row? How is no one else tired of this. I think she’s actually incredibly talented. I’ve liked her in various films. But I’m beyond sick of her on this show.

      • Cygnus_X-1

        Well said. Wiig has her moments, and a lot of her characters are initially funny. However, the characters are more and more seemingly like the same thing. If these hits of recurring characters were for like 30 seconds, then it’d be cute and funny, but it’s the same shtick over and over for 5 mins or more with little to no audience laughter.

    • mike

      Why are just singling her out? None of them are funny. As a matter of fact, they should’ve cancelled the show years ago. Every single sketch iis forced and grossly unfunny. Why do they even bother? They seem to be living off of their legacy and not off of good writing.

      • Karen

        So true! I can’t remember the last time I watched SNL because I wanted to see the sketches. Now I only watch when I like the guest host and/or musical guest. I don’t think they should cancel the show. They just need to revamp it. get rid of/limit screen time for some of the main people, let some reacurring sketches just die altogether, and make SNL what it used to be!

      • Abe Froman

        I think NBC keeps renewing it out of some sense of tradition, but at this point they are doing no one any favors. Just put the show out of its misery.

      • Cygnus_X-1

        Sausage King, NBC renews it because no other TV show comes close to it in ratings during that time slot. As long as it sells, it’ll stay on the air.

    • Dan

      I completely disagree. I love Wiig. They obviously do research and testing that show the vast majority of people like her, and I am in that majority.

    • etm

      I just saw Cheri Oteri in a commercial for the SNL special that is airing on Monday. HER FACE?!?!?! WTF did she do? How am I just hearing about this now? OMG…

      • LOL

        I saw that, too. Didn’t even recognize her! Yeow!

      • wildflowerfaith

        I had to rewind my DVR three times to make sure I saw right! i wouldn’t have recognized her at all!

      • Amy

        YES! I’m glad you said something, because I thought it was just me. But she DID look weird and unrecognizable, didn’t she? Yikes – what was she thinking?

      • Matt Hooper

        HA!! I did the Tivo Three-peat too!!

    • brandy

      Speak for yourself. My friends and I adore her, and she makes me laugh harder than anyone else on the show, no matter what character she’s doing.

    • Samantha

      Wiig has been on the last two episodes of Bored to Death, and it’s made it difficult to watch ugh. As with so many people in Hollywood, she’s just too overexposed now.

    • Gary

      SNL has been crappy for the past three years. Why does Lorne only hire talentless, immature writers? Oh, once in a while I might crack a smile at at something on that show but it is no where as funny or “must see” as it once was. I am deleting SNL from my DVR scheduled recordings. Please do everyone a favor and cancel SNL.

  • Tom Brazelton

    I fail to see what you find entertaining about SNL’s tired parody of The View. At this point, they practically write themselves – with only the host acting as a guest to provide variety.

    If you’re going to acknowledge The View sketch at all, why no love for Nasim Pedrad’s spot-on Barbar Walters impersonation?

    • Molly

      her Barbra impression is awful. There have been other cast members who have been miles ahead of her in regards to her accent. I cringe when i hear her try to speak in that voice.

      • mary q contrary

        I completely agree. Her Barbara Walters is timid, at best.

      • dawnomite

        Rachel Dratch’s BW was also pretty good. I still remember her saying, “Cameraman, my filtah!”

      • Tyla

        Cheri Oteri’s Barbara Walters was hysterical. I think Nasim mimics her pretty well, but doesn’t really exaggerate BW’s annoying mannerisms enough to make it FUNNY.

    • Shannon

      The ONLY redeeming part of the View sketches is Nasim’s spot-on impression, as the others merely appear to be phoning it in!

      • Tom Brazelton

        Agreed. I thought Fred Armisen couldn’t have looked more bored during that sketch.

      • Jeremy DC

        Cheri Oteri’s Barbara was so much better.

      • mary q contrary

        Jeremy DC: Oteri’s was pretty spot-on, but Gilda Radner’s will always be the best.

      • viddingwithkyle

        I disagree. The only part I enjoy is Wiig’s spot-on Elisabeth. Of course everyone on this site hates Wiig so I doubt anyone will agree.

  • Larry David

    I loved everything about it!

    • JR

      YOU did???

      • Larry David

        Sorry I should say “Blah terrible. blah, so and so is horrible, etc.”

      • Cat

        Haha! There are so many haters on the message board! I thought Emma Stone was freaking hilarious.

    • Nola

      It was all right. My favourite part of the show was oddly the monologue–when what’s-his-name did a Michael Cera impression. He got the awkwardness and high pitched voice down to a T.

      • Erin

        I had to rewind my dvr to watch it again. He was spot-on!!

      • mawhi

        hilarious hilarious hilarious. and the jonah hill was pretty spot-on too, i noticed that when i rewatched.

      • Jennifer

        Totally agree! I watched it a second time. His impression was great! Now if the rest of the show was as good…

    • LOL

      Tabby Spanx!

      • Ken is an A hole

        The only funny thing on the show ( other than Brett the perv).

    • Larry David

      I’m a tool who says the opposite of what most people say because I think that it makes me look cool.

      • Larry David

        I’m also a huge supporter of gay marriage, as well as abortion, equal rights, and especially the show Glee. Just call me Lefty Larry!

      • Roselyn

        I’m not sure how much this would stop the curernt group of vandals from tagging private property. A few planters and the retaining wall in front of my house were the latest targets.

    • Saamii

      Hi I like the idea of this pjreoct. The places where I would think it would be useful are not private property: NY Ave/ 1st St park, where the day care/library and the Florida Ave Park.

  • Kevin

    I’m still trying to recover from the news that they made Bobby Moynihan a regular cast member and fired Jenny Slate. Um, no.

    • Karen

      Bobby is so not funny! Bring back Jenny!

      • l

        i hated jenny… soooooo glad she is gone.

  • Linda

    Stefon cracks me up. Hilarious!

    • Meier

      Furkels.

    • gah

      biscuit knees!

      • Jesse

        New York’s hottest club is TRASH . . .

    • Swarley

      Bill Hader is the best part of the show.

      • Kanye West

        tru dat

      • Sarah

        Yes.

    • Karen

      I loved that too!

    • Friggin Tommy Noble

      I disagree. New York’s hottest club is PUUUSH!

    • NanCeE*

      I just watched the show last night and I am still laughing at Ferkles! Stefan was hilarious – HILARIOUS – and I thought the whole show was solid. Best SNL in a long time!

  • alex

    That digital short cracked me up for some reason.

  • John

    It’s absolutely uncanny how much Emma resembles Lindsay Lohan. They could be sisters.

    • anamarie

      um, no

    • mel

      Yeah she does have similarities, I can see it.

    • etm

      They both have annoying voices.

      • RJB

        Emma Stone has so much more talent than Lindsay Lohan. The voices and looks may be similar, but there is no comparison with talent. Emma has her sh*t together. She was the best part of SNL last night!

  • David D

    After a very slow start — going after Harry Reid without any mention of Sharron Angle, a way-over-the-top Kristen in the HGTV sketch, the SAME jokes during “The View” (“You don’t know, you weren’t there,” “Who cares?”) — I thought there was a lot to like. I loved the novelty and enthusiasm of the French sketch, the “Souping” sketch was very funny and visually dead-on, and it was great to see Nasim get so much more screen time. But… why is Abby Elliott even in the cast? And why does Jimmy McMillan sound exactly like the “FIX IT!” guy?

    • jack

      Yea right…poor Harry Reid. Lol! How about poor us?

  • Barbarino

    Solidly amusing. The contest winning piece was tiresome, funnier when they did the same thing 3 years ago with Brian Williams. The French sketch was welcome new and unique territory for snl. The “Sex” Ed Vincent sketch was also new and different. They should stop the view and let nasim do a stand alone Barbara Walters skit, they really do nothing new on these skits for the behar and Goldberg players, it’s just goofy faces and “so what
    , who cares?” I thought the rent is too damn high routine was priceless, I had never heard of this guy before. Stefon delivered as usual.

    • Barbarino

      Oh and please fire Fred armisen. He does nothing new on this show and he gets comparatively a lot of screen time. Joy Behar, Obama, Ho Hum.
      Totally forgot about the hilarious Bret Favre open fly wrangler Jean ad.

    • Shannon

      forgot about Sex Ed! i laughed out loud at that part!

      • Shannon

        Hi Other Shannon.
        Um.. I wanted to like Sex Ed, but he gave me the creeps.
        It’s a shame because his heart was in the right place, but everything else was just….er…out of place.
        I think I laughed at the very last line.
        That double entendre about the location of his seminar.
        Hmm.. Seminar almost sounds dirty.
        Never realized that before.

    • mel

      Barbarino, you don’t have to check out the real Jimmy McMillan video then because Kenan nailed him. I disagree about Armisen though.

    • wakeforce

      What would have been more timely is a parody of The Talk, though it might have been too soon for the audience to get any of the jokes.
      My question is “What is the name of that French song they danced to?” I would download that song immediately! It had a cool vibe, although I don’t understand any of the words.

      • Jesse

        I have to say, Kristen Wiig as Elisabeth Hasselbeck still cracks me up, even though the home improvement sketch character was completely insufferable.

      • Rickh

        The song was Ta Douleur by Camille. I thought the skit was great.

      • Mich

        I had to search it out, too, and now I’m listening to it on repeat. It’s Ta Douleur by Camille.

  • Donald

    Boy, do you grade on a curve! This episode was no–wait for it–easy A, although Emma Stone gets extra credit for her total commitment. The home improvement sketch was interminable, with Wiig’s “Extreme” hostess a mash-up of her Target Lady and Surprise Party characters. The Lindsay Lohan bit was inevitable but it came off a more mean-spirited. Last night’s MVP was definitely John “Shut the door” Mulaney.

    • avidfan

      John Mulaney was hilarious. Spot on.

  • Carrie #2

    I literally couldn’t disagree more with Ken Tucker. This episode was awful!! The only part I enjoyed was all the guests of the extra-long Weekend Update, especially Jimmy McMillan. Kenan was born to play that role! Anyway, it was so dull that I slept through the last half hour and I’m not even sure I’ll catch that part online. Maybe I was just in a funk but I thought it was an awful episode.

  • TorontoTom

    Loved the Brett Favre Crotchless Jeans commercial. His teammates’ reactions were priceless every time he got his exposed junk near them. My “thumbs up” too!

  • Dean

    Decent ep. B-. Stone was solid. No mention of two of the highlights: Sex Ed and the hilarious impressions of Michael Cera and Jonah Hill in the open. The Hader sketch was amusing. The Wiig one, as usual, went on way too long. The View can just go away and no one will miss it.

    • TorontoTom

      So what? Who cares??

    • lefty

      The Michael Cera was hilaaarious.

  • Lance

    Sex “Ed” was awesome. That was the most brilliant piece in a while for snl. That guy is going to be a star.

    • Valerie Estelle

      I too think he has star quality, but I didn’t feel that that particular sketch had it all. It just wasn’t complete for me. :/

  • TJ

    The Brett Favre ad was brutal! Sex Ed was also awesome; but it’s a bummer that the best parts of the show are taped. I did like the French kids, though.

    • Valerie Estelle

      I thought the Brett Favre sketch was classic snl. You know, a goofy ad that just gets more and more ridiculous every 10 seconds. I think Jason’s having a good season too!
      Sex Ed was alright I guess.
      I wasn’t a huge fan of the French kids.

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