SNL Recap: Maya Rudolph Hosts The Strongest Episode In Some Time And Brings Us Down Memory Lane

Let’s just get away with: there were flaws (the opening monologue) sketches that shouldn’t have aired (What’s Up With That? is possibly the worst most prominent sketch) and the reoccurring presence of the always unfunny Kennan Thompson, but taking the following into account: with a host as talented as Maya Rudolph, sketches that will be sent to every media outlet tomorrow and Monday, and with new classics born, I have to say, this is one of the strongest episodes Saturday Night Live has delivered in a long time. I loved Jimmy Fallon’s episode from December but not even that was as funny as this. It was maybe more put together, but not as funny (for me).

As I tweeted (@jthecritic) I have not laughed that hard to the point where I cried since everyone shit their pants in Bridesmaids. I have a really good sense of humor (or I like to think so) and I’m not that person that laughs at Adam Sandler-humor and I enjoy a great poop joke every chance, and while there are a lot of really shitty episodes of SNL… BUT when its good, it just gets me. And that was tonight’s episode. I’ve been a very big fan of Maya Rudolph since she started on Saturday Night Live. She was always in the background behind Tina and Amy but, in my opinion, a much stronger comedienne. Her impressions are works of art that cannot be learnt; a talent only she truly possesses. And tonight was a really big and proud moment for large SNL fans, like myself (how about the picture of her with the original cast?) or even just fans of Maya in general.

The show started off strong with a great Jeremy Lin cold open. It was on point and fun. In typical SNL fashion, it was too long. They could’ve cut a minute off of it, but you know, Lorne, he’s lost it (but really). The monologue followed and I enjoyed it during, but in hindsight a lot bothered me: it was an obvious rip off of Jimmy’s and I don’t really understand why or how it went that route. It may have turned a lot of fans or people off. I just, I didn’t need it to be so similar. But I wasn’t turned off from it, I just could’ve have something else happen I hadn’t seen before.

Right away we were launched back to the prime of Saturday Night Live (the prime for me, as a 21 year old, is the 1997-2006 cast, roughly): Bronx. Beat. Two words. A title. And two bitches from the Bronx. It’s a fan favorite. I’m pretty sure it’s all improv, especially with Amy’s Second City background. It was on point and hilarious “Hoarders? They should call it “Opps, I found a dead cat” “Put your boom in my hand and it’ll look bigg-ah!” . And as always, because he cannot resist, Justin Timberlake joined the Bronx Beat sketch. He was great but again, he’s never BAD on SNL. Just in his movies that he won’t stop making.

The Bronx Beat sketch was followed by a parody of Betty White’s prank show that was on last month, but instead of Betty, Maya played Maya Angelou. Ya, I’ll give you a moment to sink that in. Her impersonation was skilled, tactful and even, restrained. It was so good that I didn’t want to laugh because I didn’t want to miss anything of her inflections.

Then came something I did not see coming and I’m dissapointed in myself that I didnt: A Beyonce + Jay-z = B.I.C (Blue Ivy Carter) sketch. GENIUS. Maya’s Beyonce was amazing as expected, but it’s Jay’s Jay-Z that I honesty don’t think is as appreciated as it should be. The laugh! The laugh kills me every time. Celebrities came by and this is when SNL is at it’s best; you have a cast full of really talented actors (for the most part) and they never get to do ENOUGH celebrity impressions. The best ones had to have been Kristen Wiig’s Taylor Swift and Fred Armiesan’s Prince. “Her crib is made of Diana Ross’ best wigs” “And then I asked the doctor “Did I have a boy?” and he said “No. You had a Single Lady!”

After that we were “treated” to a performance by Sleigh Bells. Who? Exactly. Almost as bad as Lana Del Rey’s performance but because they moved around they won’t get as much flack. I told my friend, Big F, who I watched it with, “in all sincerity, I would’ve been fine with Maya being the musical guest as well and doing covers”. 

And then we returned with Weekend Update. It was great and of course, Seth was joined by Amy for not only “REALLY?! With Seth & Amy” but she also did some news bits. It was very nostalgic and great and I loved it, all that, but is Lorne trying to tell us something? I know Amy stopped by for Maya, of course, but you think Lorne KNOWS what the current state of his cast is? Besides Taran and Jay, and maybe the girl who played Nicki tonight, the new cast members are just not up to par. I look at Abbey Elliot running round in the What’s Up With That Sketch with drum sticks and I’m like, but why? They don’t have what the cast prior had. He needs to start with a clean slate.

The What’s Up With That? sketch was used tonight. In place of mocking The Voice. I’m not really understanding as to why this sketch has been used so much. It’s awful and never funny and makes no sense. They’ve opened the SHOW with this sketch before. It needs to end. Soon. And I’m hoping it’s whenever Thompson wants to leave the show. Sorry.

In leu of writing what I really want to talk about I’m just going to fast forward: The Obama Show sketch was so smart. Not hilarious, BUT SMART and on point, and everything and Maya and Mrs. Huxtable is more than a TV lover like myself could’ve ever asked for. And the final sketch was alright, but again, smarter than funny.

AN THEN CAME THE SUPER SHOWCASE SKETCH: It started off unfunny. I thought to myself, “oh here’s another one of those stupid sketches that is just dry and lacking in any mockery or self-awareness” And then Kristen Wiig drove a f-cking golf cart. And then they unwrapped a chicken. And then Kristen Wiig LOST it. I mean, LOST IT. Kristen has cracked up before, but she’s never gone on to absolutely lose herself to the point of just almost giving up. Maya lost it at points and so did Bill Hader. For me though, what got me the most, to the point where my veins were popping out of my forhead, I was on the floor, I was crying and then went on to re-watch it three times: the accents and the moment Kristen drove the cart backwards/around Maya and then through the billboard. Their accents started off very Hampton-Martha Stewart-lite and then by the end Maya was doing 5 cultures in one. I have literally not laughed that hard in ages and I watched it twice after it aired to make sure it just wasn’t a momentary thing. Nope, it was hysterical. This is the SNL I miss. It reminded me of the infamous Debbie Downer sketch were everyone BUT Amy aboslutely looses their shit, to the point where Rachel Dratch is just a mess and barely holding it together.

More of this Lorne. Please.

And last thing: while the show may be so hit and miss this year it’s hard to keep up, the one thing Lorne knows how to do is stunt cast: Lindsay Lohan will be hosting the March 3rd episode of Saturday Night Live. Oh, it’s happening. WELL PLAYED, LORNE. WELL PLAYED. You will get every single f-cking viewership rating you expect with that episode. And then, have that record broken with when Justin Bieber hosts. WELL. PLAYED.


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