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Saturday Night Live Highlights: Maya's Moment

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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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