SNL: Will Ferrell, We'd Missed You!

By Price Peterson

May 14, 2012

Saturday Night Live S37E21: "Will Ferrell & Usher"

SNL can often feel like a 90-minute party, at least for the people on stage, and the proceedings are rarely as festive as when a former cast member returns as a host. Usually the very fact that he or she is now hosting implies a post-SNL success of some kind, either in movies or primetime TV, which is cause for celebration in itself. But even better, returning alumni tend to travel in packs: Where there's one there are many, and that held true for Will Ferrell, who brought not only an easygoing sense of fun, but some pretty hilarious former castmates as well.

If we're being honest, this episode of SNL may not have been the funniest (certainly none of the sketches would make a Best of Will Ferrell: Volume 4 DVD), but there was something irresistible about seeing one of the world's most famous comedy stars engaging in some good old-fashioned weirdo sketch comedy. For one night at least, Ferrell was a supporting player again and just seeing his face made me happy. Let's talk about the episode!

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



Cold Opening: Obama Visits Biden


I'm not particularly savvy about politics, so a lot of these political cold opens are generally pretty lost on me. In this case I think it was supposed to seem funny that Vice President Biden is childish? Who knows. But it did afford us the opportunity to see Ferrell's George W. Bush impersonation, which made me realize how badly I missed it! Now that Bush is no longer president, this character is charming and much more likeable! I laughed when he said he'd been living in the White House for the past three years after getting lost while chasing a butterfly. Poor fella!



Will Ferrell's Monologue


I just loved Ferrell's monologue, despite his weirdly hoarse voice. In honor of Mother's Day he brought his mother onstage and then proudly proclaimed that he wanted to speak from the heart (and not cue cards) for the first time in a while. What followed was one of the most grammatically bizarre, terrible speeches ever given and it verged on genius. Just a good idea perfectly executed and it ended up being heartwarming as well.



Ad: Cold Medicine


Another great ad. Do you ever watch these ads and imagine how funny they must have been during the initial pitch meeting? Like a room full of writers sneeze-screaming at each other. Kristen Wiig does a great exasperated wife and that final button made me LOL. At this point I was settling in for what I was hoping would be a great episode.



LGBT Prom


Not gonna lie, I've never loved this bit or these characters, The Kulps singing modern pop songs in between ultra stilted banter. However, it WAS still pretty fun from a nostalgia standpoint and seeing Ana Gasteyer in costume again was a thrill. And, okay, their rendition of "Super Bass" was pretty great. Still though, this was more just pleasant than hilarious.



ESPN Classic


Hey, it's Will Forte! In what would be one of the bigger surprises of the night, he'd wind up getting almost as many hard laughs as the host. This recurring bit about mid-'90s color commentators discussing professional ladies' golf has made me uncomfortable in the past. It just makes me feel weird to see women athletes painted as freakish, plus the recurring joke about Maxi Pad slogans is pretty juvenile. But man, I definitely laughed at this. From Forte's incredible non-sequiturs to Kristen Wiig's golfing behavior, this sketch ended up much better than what I was expecting. Credit where credit's due!



The 100th Digital Short


For their 100th Digital Short, the guys from The Lonely Island decided to make a self-congratulatory video that revisited many of their old classics (and threw in Justin Bieber for no real reason). The joke is right up front: They're both literally and metaphorically sucking their own d*cks! So while the entertainment value was in playing a sort of Where's Waldo? with all their former guest -tars, it was genuinely cool to see who returned for more—including Natalie Portman, Michael Bolton, Justin Timberlake. It's really amazing how many celebrities they've gotten to play ball over the years.



Usher: "Scream"


I think the thing I was most surprised about tonight was how much I liked Usher's two performances. I don't know his music too well. I know it constantly plays at the mall and that Usher "discovered" Justin Bieber. But he kind of put on a great show tonight and in my mind separated himself from his nearest competition—Chris Brown—in a really good way. This has been my pop music critique for the day!



Weekend Update


You know what? Seth Meyers' "REALLY???!??!?" segment was terrific. The only thing better than his rant about that Time Magazine breast-feeding mother would've been if Amy Poehler could've dropped by to join in, but oh well.



Commentary: "Get in the Cage" with Liam Neeson


I love that Liam Neeson is starting to lend his talents to weird comedy more and more. Like, you all saw his incredible bit in Life's Too Short, right? He wasn't as laugh-out-loud hilarious here, but he served as a great foil to Andy Samberg's Nicolas Cage. I laughed.



The 2012 Funkytown Debate


This might've been my favorite sketch of the night, if only for how WEIRD it was. The idea of a bunch of colorful citizens (and one normal woman) running for the mayorship of Funkytown was funny enough, but how impressive was it that they all had to speak in sync with the music? It looked really hard! But I loved the way it played out, especially when Kenan Thompson's character vehemently denied that he'd never been involved in a sex scandal. See, I'm not a political person, so this is as close as I get to enjoying comedy about politics. Just make it all ridiculous in a FUN way, you know?



Broadway Sizzle


I straight-up did not understand this sketch at all, but I liked how go-nowhere the Will Ferrell stuff was. Repeatedly singing Broadway songs only to realize they were being sung from the perspective of a woman, then insisting on getting to go again? Okay. I was sort of transfixed by his hat more than anything.



Usher: Climax


Good job, Usher!



Anniversary Party Speeches


I love these sketches. Just a revolving door of the cast doing their weirdest, most awkward characters. And the idea of strangers insisting on toasting the guests of honor makes me laugh. Taran Killam's bizarre transsexual (?) model was great and I especially loved the return of Will Forte's Hamilton character. That the disturbingly creepy Hamilton ever became a recurring character just shows how amazing Will Forte was on this show. Come back more often, Will Forte!



Ad: Almost Pizza


This was just an encore presentation of my favorite fake ad of the season. That shattering glass sound effect gets me every time. Weird that the show ended on this, though. Maybe a sketch got cut or Will Ferrell got TOO hoarse? Either way, if they had to replay a fake ad, this was a good one.


I'm probably sending mixed signals here, but I enjoyed this episode in a pleasant, just hangin' out kind of way. Nothing I saw was anything worth screaming about from the mountaintops, but sometimes all you want from SNL is a late-night party. Thanks to Will Ferrell and his friends, it really was a happening.


What did YOU think of this episode?

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  • TiniTinyTony May 19, 2012

    My review: http://3tnewsreviews.blogspot.com/2012/05/snl-will-ferrellusher-review.html



    In a word - disappointed.

  • mrsquinto May 16, 2012

    REALLY, SNL? REALLY?! You get Will Ferrell to host and NOT do Celebrity Jeopardy sketch?



    REALLY?!

  • JT_Kirk May 16, 2012

    Biden as the awkward teenager was funny, "I have my own opinions and you just steal all my ideas" made for a surprisingly insightful look at things. Having Bush as his imaginary friend took it down to schtick, but it was a cute idea. I wouldn't have used this as cold open though, it was a bit long and talky and high-concept, would have saved it for later.



    Ferrell's monologue was awkward and grotesque, which is his often his comedy genesis, but I found it offputting. It was also weird to see a woman who looked so much like Will Ferrell - he's a famous face, and she's wearing it!



    Cold Medicine seemed cute, but should have been live, as a pre-taped bit it overplayed its hand and stayed too long.



    LGBT Prom with the Kulps was cute, too long but first time it's ever not been entirely repulsive. Didn't really let anybody else do anything though, giving all the action to the host and his guest former castmember. Also, this was the only sketch where Ferrell's hoarse voice didn't become a problem.



    ESPN Golf really went nowhere, but Forte and Sudekis were funnier than usual with the material.



    The 100th Digital Short seemed like a lot of good ideas tied together by a really dumb one, making it sorta forced. It also felt like Samberg's last hurrah.



    I fast-forwarded over Usher, glad you had fun with him.



    Weekend Update with Yelly McOverstayedhiswelcome, Seth Meyers didn't even deliver his "REALLY?!?" lines right. The only laugh I had was the one about Time removing the chair from the photo, that was awesome. Everything else stank, and Liam Neeson reading off the cards with a smirk the whole time was ok but this bit needs more committment than that.



    Funkytown Debate was cute but really didn't need the single normal debater, it needed a 3rd funky debater. Also, Usher was awesome but Ferrell wasn't funky at all. Kristen Wiig was a poor addition here, they should have given her a better character. Unlike you, Price, I could have gone for more pointed political material here.



    Broadway Sizzle seemed like it could have been a showcase for everybody to appear on a Public Access show, but instead was just Ferrell doing schtick for way too long.



    Anniversary Party was funnier than I expected, Sudekis being miffed at all the weird, inappropriate mic-stealers was cute, and the characters were diverse even if the material wasn't.



    Ending on Almost Pizza rerun did seem like an overrun, they should have just had Ferrell and the cast mug closing credits for longer, or pull a classic SNL move and have someone do a weird monologue. They don't do enough of that stuff. And then Ferrell was really down for the goodbyes, I think he was sick or something.



    Anyway, a fair episode but felt like it was missing a center, it was an SNL without a real host.

  • Thnunumber6 May 15, 2012

    I'm sure SNL has missed ol' Wee Willie, as I'm sure most of the people who still the show itself (I stopped pretty much after the fourth season, which I suppose classifies me as an old fart) missed him; me, I got tired of WF long ago, and just wish he'd go away so that so many many of us don't have to see him, particularly when prettty much every movie he'd made appeals mainly to children and people with I.Q.s under 79 (I suspect Ferrell is one of those in the latter catagory).

  • GreenyFool May 15, 2012

    Looking forward to seeing Will Ferrell in the "Rest of World" Soccer Aid team, I man-love Ferrel.

  • Jimmy_Fishkin May 15, 2012

    Will Forte is awesome - I would love to see him come back and host some day...

  • MunchletteBelle May 15, 2012

    Ugh. I hated Seth Meyer's "Really?!" segment. There's just something about a man making fun of a breastfeeding woman that is deeply distasteful to me.

  • JonnyBlazed May 15, 2012

    Thanks for the warning about the videos, I just skipped the rest of the article.



  • AyeDub May 15, 2012

    City Comptroller - Diaper Jones.



    Love it.

  • torontogirl98 May 15, 2012

    For me it was just okay nothing too special but I loved seeing Will again on SNL. Liam was hilarious and that Life's too Short clip is one of my all time favorites-I have aids hahaha!

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