Saturday Night Live Highlights: Maya's Moment

By Seth Abramovitch

Feb 20, 2012

Saturday Night Live S37E15: "Maya Rudolph/Sleigh Bells"

Saturday Night Live has been killing it lately. This weekend’s show, hosted by former cast member Maya Rudolph, was easily one of the best of the season. Rudolph is obviously a seasoned pro, so you never got the sense that the rest of the cast was having to carry her through sketches. Instead, it felt like she was the evening’s star and everyone else was there to showcase her in the best light, like the supporting cast of The Carol Burnett Show used to do for Burnett. And of course, Amy Poehler’s and Justin Timberlake’s presence is always welcome, but that was too far a fleeting glimpse of Stefon—though it was nice to see him out from behind the Weekend Update desk. MVP shout-outs go out to rubber-faced mimic Jay Pharoah, whose Morgan Freeman and Jay-Z were great, and Taran Killam, who has a seemingly bottomless bag of tricks. That guy is the future of SNL right there.

This sketch, about the casual racism of “Linsanity,” was everything a sketch should be: timely, incisive, and damn funny. The double-standard that seems to make Asian jokes okay but any other kind of racist cracks completely taboo was targeted in a bit featuring sports anchors discussing the amazing rise of Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin.

There was magic in "Bronx Beat" this week. The writing was so funny (Jodi describing her fantasy Valentine’s Day, then the “cold medicine farts” she actually experienced had me doubled over), and then Timberlake and Andy Samberg playing crew guys who give it as good as the ladies’ take just put it over the top.

I can’t remember the show ever having had this many talented mimics in the cast. From Fred Armisen’s Prince to Kristen Wiig’s Taylor Swift to Abby Elliott’s Angelina Jolie to Killam’s hilarious version of Brad Pitt (who indeed bark-speaks like a tough guy with a low IQ), this sketch featuring Jay-Z and Beyonce and Baby Blue was SNL running on all cylinders.

Are you still into "What’s Up With That?" What if I throw in a Bill O’Reilly to sweeten the deal? This sketch delivers diminishing returns every time, since we all know what the joke is, but the party atmosphere and mute Lindsay Buckingham always put a smile on my face. And honorable mention to Jason Sudeikis’s running-man. Still, I don’t like O’Reilly, nor do I think he should be given a platform to mug for laughs in front of liberal America. (Because Republicans don’t watch SNL, right? It’s too pro-abortion.)

Bill Hader AND Maya Rudolph AND Kristen Wiig all broke during this "Super Showcase" sketch, turning a messy, ridiculous sketch into something wonderful. But kudos to Vanessa Bayer for keeping a straight face all the way through.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the Cosbys-meets-Obamas sketch. For starters, was Armisen doing Cosby or Obama? I mean, obviously he was doing Cosby, but then what did it have to do with Obama? Just because both families are black? And why wasn’t Sasha or Malia lipsyncing the “baybeeeeeh!” part of “Night Time is the Right Time?” Maybe I’m overthinking it. Everyone loves The Cosby Show, after all. I just kept waiting for the joke that never came, and then it ended.

I’d also like to compliment Sleigh Bells, who I thought did a great job, and wiped away the memory of that Karmin group from last week, who I didn’t like at all. I’m totally going to playlist their new album on Spotify! (I realize that’s not quite the same as saying I’ll buy their album, but times are tough, and it’s totally legal.)

Now it's your turn: What did you think? Favorite sketch? Did you love Maya Rudolph? Let us know in the comments!

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  • JamesFord Apr 04, 2012

    Bravo Maya! Such a well done performance, indeed.

  • Pantalonz Feb 22, 2012

    Maya<3 (I wish they had done a Donatella Versace sketch:)

  • pcsjunior002 Feb 21, 2012

    First, I'm as Republican as you'll ever meet, and I love and watch SNL every week. Every once in a while I get a little sick of the unabashedly Left sentiment, but I can normally overlook it because the show is funny. I feel like it is a little bit unfair to complain about Bill O'Reilly's presence being too far right when the show is so obviously over the top left every week. And that's enough of me complaining.

    I fully agree with you and that SNL has been killing it lately. I've said it before, but this season, even the misses, seem wholly better than the last couple of years. Much of this is the talented cast we currently have, but I swear they must have acquired another one or two writers who are just rocking it in the writing room.

    My favourite? Bronx Beat. No question. Like you said, there was magic in it, start to finish. Amy Poehler of course is fantastic, but it was just amazing, and to see Timberlake giving it right back, priceless. Also, Wiig is a professional start to finish, so I was just TICKLED to see her break in that sketch, and you know everyone else was thinking the same thing because they all broke after Wiig. Good episode.

  • FilmFanatic Feb 21, 2012

    p.s.,, I agree about last episode's music guests,,, they were awful. I will go ahead and say it. I would prefer Rebeca Black stupiest song in the world 'friday' that them

  • FilmFanatic Feb 21, 2012

    SNL last 3-4 episodes are great, funny and much more fresh. This episode was clearly one of the best in the season (heck one of the best of last season as well) Only thing. Fire Seth Myers,,, he s freaking annoying, and weekly update? try more like weekly repeats! Id it wasn't for the help of other cast members to boost the funny factor, weekly updates would be even more of a snore fest! Seth Myers u r not funny

  • Pantalonz Feb 22, 2012

    You guys realize that he is the Head Writer right now? Right? You may not like Weekend Update, but you can't deny the talent!

  • radrobd Feb 21, 2012

    I agree Seth needs to go. He's overstayed his welcome (11 seasons!!). He's not funny on Weekend Update and suffers from "Jay Leno syndrome," in that he has to explain his jokes when they bomb, as if that will make them funnier, and then laughs at the jokes he thinks are funny.

  • hpfan06 Feb 21, 2012

    Agreed - and Jason Sudekis! I can't stand him either.

  • JamieBlumenfe Feb 21, 2012

    Definitely a good episode and for once we agree on most of the skits too - loved the opener, it seems when they do skits with several cast members instead of a monologue they come off better. I agree that the gameshow skit wouldn't have been good except that they were all having so much trouble not laughing that it became the joke. Wasn't a fan of the Obama thing either, it was weak and I guess if you are crazy PC then it was rascist too?

  • hpfan06 Feb 21, 2012

    SNL is at its best when it avoids politics, so I was very happy with the Linsanity cold open. It was nice to see a cold open that wasn't as unfunny as every single anti-Republican one is, and one that didn't feature Jason Sudekis. I felt that the Beyonce/Jay-Z sketch was definitely the funniest of the night. I was excited to see Amy Poheler back on the show, until she ruined her appearance during Weekend Update by bashing anyone that has a different opinion than her (yes, Seth, this one's directed at you as well). The Obama show could have been amazing, but they squandered the opportunity with, I must say, a pretty bad Bill Cosby impression by Fred Armisen (who, as mentioned above, should have been parodying Barack Obama if he's in Obama makeup and the show is called The Obama Show), and by having Jason Sudekis in the sketch, who couldn't decide whether he was playing Theo Huxtable or Joe Biden. And honestly, regarding the Super Showcase sketch, the original sketch was so dumb that I wondered whether they were all instructed to appear to break during the sketch to make it funnier - because if they hadn't broken, that sketch would have been AWFUL. Overall, this was a very good SNL episode, and I hope that the season continues its strong showing.

  • torontogirl98 Feb 21, 2012

    I loved seeing Amy on Weekend Update and Stefon!

  • Dudekotka Feb 21, 2012

    My favorite part was probably Justin Timberlake's Bon Iver impersonation. Other than that, I thought this episode was mostly just alright.

  • radrobd Feb 21, 2012

    Enough with "What Up with That?". It's completely run its course and is not even remotely funny.

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