SNL: Starring Jeremy Renner and His Special Guest Co-host, Dead Air

By Price Peterson

Nov 19, 2012

Saturday Night Live S38E08: "Jeremy Renner and Maroon 5"

Anyone who works a particularly hard job gets burnt out from time to time (especially the week before Thanksgiving), and that most definitely applies to the cast and crew of SNL. While they do take at least one full week off each month, those remaining three weeks seem tough as heck, and particularly by the third consecutive show it can sometimes feel like the cast is trying to just power through it. By Saturday night, many of them haven't slept or seen sunlight in days! If last week's Anne Hathaway episode felt a bit off, this week's was a full-blown snooze. Perhaps I'm imagining this, but did this week's episode seem full of dead air? Like maybe even the audience was eager to get out of there also? Host Jeremy Renner was a pretty major part of the lackluster nature of the episode, but not because he isn't charming. He is! And he's handsome and a good sport. But for a professional actor he seemed weirdly ill-at-ease in front of an audience. Mumbling, outright staring at cue cards. Plus the episode seemed particularly live this week—which, obviously it's a live show, but usually SNL's live-ness translates into an irresistible energy. This week it just made everything feel flawed and slapped-together. I don't mean to bum you guys out, but despite a few notable highlights, this episode fell pretty flat for me. Let's talk about it!

[Apologies to our international readers for these embedded clips, Hulu can be a bit of a jerk.]

Cold Open: Paula Broadwell's Book Reading

This sketch certainly set the tone for the weird energy that plagued the entire show. Because SNL is legally obligated to comment on headlines with its cold open, here was a riff on the General Petraeus scandal. Except there wasn't much going here other than Paula Broadwell reading very sexy passages from her biography of the fallen CIA director. Except it didn't make any sense because the whole reason this issue is exciting to us is that the stuff was secret, and the book itself was boring? I guess the one funny part here was when the audience walked out (jealous!) and Fred Armisen just sat there looking pleased. I laughed at that. Otherwise, this was just an exercise in tedium.

Jeremy Renner's Monologue

I wish this was online (music rights issues, I'm guessing) because it was just so strange. The idea was that Jeremy Renner—a professional actor who still looked so nervous on stage—wanted to sing his own made-up theme songs for movies he'd been in. But right off the bat, the piano he started playing remained silent and he just sort of charmingly did an aw-shucks type of thing while a PA fixed the issue or whatever. And even though he had a nice voice, the jokes were bafflingly lazy: His theme song for The Bourne Legacy was called "Shoot Somebody" and was sung to the tune of Kings of Leons' "Use Somebody." I don't know. I admit that I enjoyed Renner's awkwardness and the technical difficulties aspect was one of the more interesting things to have happened during an SNL host's monologue in years. But overall everything felt so half-baked.

Fake Ad: Your Hometown Tourism Board

This was a step up: A fake ad made by the tourism board responsible for getting people to return to their childhood homes for the holidays. Really well-written and perfectly observed. On the downside, it also wasn't hilarious? It was a warm cup of bittersweet cocoa, sure, but not the spiked punch we kinda needed at this point.

The Californians

Okay I officially hate this recurring sketch now. The premise has always been terrible but the humor has stemmed from seeing people like Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen put on their dumbest sounding voices; not even Fred Armisen breaking up on camera could make this thing seem remotely funny. But these sketches are probably super easy to write, so that basically confirms my suspicions of how uninvested the writers were this week.

The Situation Room

I can barely remember this sketch. I think it had to do with making fun of cable networks for only having a single piece of footage and then re-using it over and over. The highlight was probably Jeremy Renner as the self-proclaimed Mayor of Tampa. Credit where credit's due: It was probably the funniest bit he did all night.

The Standoff

I loved this, this was excellent. Taking a very simple and dumb joke, but stretching it out way beyond the limits of a typical sketch. I laughed a lot, especially when Adam Levine showed up as himself (with two guns!), and also how many gunshots happened at the end. Also Bobby Moynihan's Leon glasses. Yeah, this was a great sketch.

Maroon 5: "One More Night"

I don't get it. What the H was this song, screamy reggae? But I DO get matching outfits, and in that regard Maroon 5 knocked it out of the park.

Weekend Update

Some weekend update jokes 4 u.

Weekend Update: Winners & Losers

More of them.

Commentary: Katt Williams

Man, Jay Pharoah is very talented! His Katt Williams impersonation was essentially flawless. I usually object to comedians making fun of other comedy, but ever since I saw Katt Williams' most recent special Kattpacalypse and he ranted against evolution and also started talking about the 2012 prophecy being a real thing and claiming that the government setting up secret death camps to round up minorities, I started liking Katt Williams a lot less. Carry on, Jay Pharoah.

Commentary: Gov. Chris Christie

Wow! I did not realize how funny and cool New Jersey Governor Chris Christie seems. I know he is well-liked in his home state, but since I live in California I really had no idea. So at this point it's only a matter of time before HE hosts SNL, right? Yeah no he did a good job for a non-actor.

The Avengers

Oh my God, this sketch. You know, for about a half a minute I thought this sketch was funny—specifically the open acknowledgment of how lackluster Hawkeye is as a hero (and Jeremy Renner's willingness to make him seem like such a pussy). But then SNL tried to actually spoof The Avengers in totality and the sketch turned into this terrible, bad stunt-filled extravaganza. (They legit hired little people to attack Hulk so that he looked bigger?!) Man, I don't even want to know how much money and time SNL sunk into this cluster-eff. Get out of here, this sketch.

Movie Set

Hoo boy. Just when I was getting sad about Jason Sudeikis leaving the show, this sketch happened and I was like, "Well, have a good one, Jason Sudeikis!" Not gonna lie, I literally could not pay attention to this thing for more than 20 seconds at a time. A glorified extra who brags to and physically assaults Jeremy Renner on set? Perfect idea, perfect execution, perfect length (27 minutes).

Maroon 5: "Daylight"

Okay, this song was slightly less mind-numbing, plus the band went for a nice gray ensemble. Refreshingly inoffensive!

Midnight Snack: Drones

I like the idea of SNL incorporating animated shorts into the show (R.I.P. Robert Smigel's Saturday TV Funhouse sketches). It's just too bad that this cartoon was so boring. The one highlight was probably the incredibly long scene of drones shooting missiles at a tiny shack (a joke we'd just seen in the "Standoff" sketch). So yeah, this idea didn't work for me but I appreciated the effort.


Congratulations, cast and crew of SNL, you made it to the end— Oh wait, no, just do this one last sketch and then you're off for the holidays. Don't worry, the premise is incomprehensibly ridiculous, it's not well-written and you don't even have to read the cue cards properly. And go!

Well, that certainly was an episode of SNL. Sorry to sound like a Negative Nelly (what is a Negative Nelly?), but I didn't love this episode. I'm just going to chalk it up to pre-Thanksgiving distraction/exhaustion and cross my fingers that everyone rests up for a much more fun return to form. Byeee!

How did YOU think Jeremy Renner fared? What was your favorite sketch of the night?

  • Comments (34)
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  • ohnobees Nov 23, 2012

    The Standoff was definitely the best thing I've seen on SNL in quite some time.

  • eliza_bennet Nov 20, 2012

    I absolutely love Jeremy Renner, and I think that he's great. It just felt like they didn't practice enough or something, which is weird because Jeremy goes above and beyond when preparing for roles, but maybe he didn't have the time to put in the necessary preparation for this. But I still loved it all because, hey, it's Jeremy Renner.

  • Acrobit Nov 20, 2012

    I didn't like most of this, but I did like The Standoff. And as a californian, I have to admit that I did do the "Wut're u dooooing here" bit, and it killed with my friends at TGIF...but even that was last year. Once. It was always stupid, and it needs to end. I'm not insulted because there's not enough truth to it. It's just bad and tired.

    I liked The Coroner bit, but that was through the "This is so Stupid" filter. Like The Neighbors, sometimes that filter works wonders for me.

    Pharoah doing Katt Williams was damn good even if it was only a little funny. I think it might've worked better if people actually knew who he was. Anyway, I wonder if Pharoah only wants to do impressions, of if he's only allowed to to impressions to make Keenan stay relevant, because Keenan is frickin' awful. Awful!

    Gov. Christie wasn't bad at all. I don't like the guy, but he totally sold it this week. I still want him to run in '16 so he can finally crash and burn, but I give him credit here.

    I've never gotten Maroon 5, and nothing changed for me. Guess that's about it.

  • twilightw Nov 20, 2012

    I LOVED last week's episode with Anne Hathaway, dunno what you're talking about. And the politic opening are some of the most funny. This episode was fairly strong before weekend update, often times the sketches after are just there to finish off the show

  • KiMarie Nov 20, 2012

    Aw no... Jeremy Renner is just too damn cute and charming for this episode to be considered "bad". Was it awkward at moments.. yes. Did it contain one of the most annoying and in my opinion non-funny sketches SNL has ever written.. yes. (I was talking about The Californians there, do not understand why that's recurring) But I may have been biased by my opinion on how adorable I find Jeremy Renner, and his singing voice... amazing. Best sketch though was The Standoff, "was that Adam Levine.." Haha

  • bluemystique Nov 20, 2012

    I like Jeremy Renner. I truly do and I felt like he has a natural charm and wit and should have been funnier. I don't know if his not being funny was a result of him being uncomfortable and my having high expectations or if it was a result of the skits throughout the entire night being positively lackluster. I've seen funnier skits on reruns of ALL THAT. I wanted him to be funnier than he was, and I still feel like he's capable of it...but I don't know. The whole thing was weak.

  • Montana_Katana Nov 20, 2012

    All That >>> SNL

  • JustinJohnson0 Nov 20, 2012

    Loved the Avengers sketch...

  • DaveCarroll1 Nov 20, 2012

    I thought it was mostly hilarious. It's just considered cool to say that things suck for some reason but I think SNL is getting better with some of these new cast members like Jay Pharoah.

  • chrmapp Nov 19, 2012

    I don't hate Jeremy Renner but he is not built for this type of show.

  • shocker713 Nov 19, 2012

    Funny thing about the Avengers sketch is that the next night, Robot Chicken did essentially the same sketch, although theirs was more focused on how useless Black Widow was...then, after Widow gets killed, the focus shifted to Hawkeye.

    I love me some Chris Christie, and though I've yet to pick a winner in presidential elections, I'd vote for him if he ran in 2016.

    Standoff, albeit amusing, was no Digital Short, just like Drones was no TV Funhouse.

    As much as I hate to say this, Maroon 5 should learn fro Nickelback...just keep releasing the same 2 singles over and over, because if you release a 3rd single, no one will understand nor remember it. (Although I do admit that Maroon 5's 2 singles are much better than Nickelback's 2 singles).

    Cold open would've been better if someone had at least mentioned 50 Shades of Grey.

    I'm surprised Hulu has the fake ad since there's licensed music in it.

    And finally, The Californians needs to FOAD.

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