With Tina Fey hosting what she called “the Mother’s Day episode of Saturday Night Live,” there was a feminine-friendly vibe you don’t get most weeks on this show. The six-months-pregnant humorist (“I have the number one book in the country and the 86th TV show”) brought out also-great-with-child Maya Rudolph to sing a duet to their so-called “feti.” The unborn children (played by Kristen Wiig and Kenan Thompson, naturally) harmonized along with their mothers.
An hour later, Rudolph co-starred in a pretty amazing birth-class sketch that parodied 25 year-old home-birthing films. It worked on every level, from the appalled reactions of Fey and other cast members watching it, to the movie itself, a document full of pseudo-mystical gush, and make-up and acting performances intentionally reduced to the level of a high-minded porn film.
Late in the show, there was a perfect parody of Bravo’s hideous Pregnant In Heels, with Abby Elliott capturing the pretentious diction of host Rosie Pope (“every morning a thousand bees sting my tongue”); her vacuous, too-rich-for-their-own-good clients (Fey ran “a p.r. firm that represents other p.r. firms”); and the show’s slavish pandering to the pampered women’s whims (Fey, in the delivery room, to doctor: “Don’t cut the cord! I might want to return it!”).
And right under the wire, Paul Brittain did a solo, taped turn in “The Hallmark Mother Collection for Weirdos,” an Anthony Perkins/Psycho-ish salute to
motherhood that was delightfully creepy.
All of the above contained pure jolts of Fey’s sharp sensibility, and gave SNL an extra, distinctive crackle. Also showing her sisterhood was Nasim Pedrad, who offered a fine new edition of her Bedelia character. That’s the brainy girl who loves, admires, and respects her mom (played this week by Fey), much to her friends’ dismay. I love that clever, independent girl.
Set aside the almost-obligatory sketch in which Fey could morph into Sarah Palin (a debate between undeclared Presidential candidates that included the return of Darrell Hammond as Donald Trump)
and a typically riotous “Weekend Update” appearance by the giggly, skeevy Stephon (Bill Hader at his most impish)
and much of the rest of the show was devoted to a single subject: Osama bin Laden.
From the cold-open to “Weekend Update” jokes (Seth Meyers’ line about conspiracy theorists doubting President Obama’s bagging of the terrorist — “the first black person ever to have to prove he killed someone” — lit up Twitter), it was Osama-a-go-go; too much so. Having bin Laden’s shrouded corpse drop in on The Little Mermaid was a visual gag that became soggy fast; so did Jason Sudeikis’ usually-reliable Devil on “Weekend Update.” Even the Devil seemed a bit bored having to complain about receiving bin Laden in hell; only Sudeikis’ unexpected throwaway jab at Outsourced made me laugh during this bit.
Music guest Ellie Goulding sang gamely in a chalky voice; the British star (oh my gosh, she sang at Kate and Will’s wedding reception!) probably didn’t win over too many new American fans with her draggy version of Elton John’s already-maudlin classic “Your Song.” Oh well, her album went to number one in Merrie Olde England!
I almost forgot: The “Digital Short” with Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island collaborators, working with a Michael Bolton who insisted on singing about movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Scarface when they wanted him to go hiphop-in-the-club? The notion of Bolton working against Samberg and company added an extra zing to an already amusing idea. (Don’t cheer too loudly for Bolton, though — you’ll only encourage some producer to put him on, say, The Voice.Which actually I guess is where he belongs.)
In general, this week’s SNL had a schizophrenic quality. Fey disappeared for stretches of time (hey, I’m not knocking her for that; I hope she had her feet up backstage — I would if I was six months pregnant), time that was filled with the show’s standard unpredictable unevenness. But the moments that carried her sensibility were among the strongest of the night. Of course, that’s just my guess — for all we know, maybe she wrote most of the bin Laden stuff, too.