Saturday Night Live Highlights: Melissa McCarthy Is THE BEST

Like some newly discovered hidden link between Gilda Radner and Tim & Eric, Melissa McCarthy has quickly become one of the most respected comedic actresses in recent memory. Even if Mike & Molly, the show for which she just won an Emmy, probably won't win a Peabody award anytime soon, it's certainly given McCarthy the visibility boost she's needed to finally let her freak-flag fly. A longtime member of The Groundlings (where she met Bridesmaids co-star Kristen Wiig), McCarthy has a reputation around L.A. for committing to some of the most insane, bafflingly hilarious characters anyone's ever seen. This past Saturday she brought that sensibility to SNL in a big way, and it resulted in the best episode I've seen in years. Let's talk about it!

(Apologies to our foreign readers: Hulu is pretty much our only option for stable, embeddable SNL videos.)

In a rare non-political cold open, we got another installment in the long-running Lawrence Welk / Dooneese series. The first notable thing about it was the obvious ascension of featured player Taran Killam to leading-man status, plus an additional freakish sibling: Melissa McCarthy's strangely buff, buck-toothed sister. The sketch wasn't necessarily mind-blowing, but it did provide fair warning that this episode would contain lots of (1) music and (2) weirdness.

McCarthy's opening monologue was pretty great. After politely asking her children to go to bed because she was about to get inappropriate, McCarthy teamed up with Kristen Wiig for a sincerely offbeat vamping session that culminated in the two women "jazz dancing" in silhouette behind sheets. Almost none of it made any sense and I laughed at almost all of it.

This ad was the stuff of nightmares. I kind of don't even want to talk about it.

One completely valid criticism a lot of people have about SNL is that it lets many of its sketches run way too long. Are nine-minute skits really necessary? Usually I'd say they shouldn't run long, but ones like this definitely make me reconsider. Ostensibly a sketch about an inappropriate woman, this thing just goes on and on and on, but it gets even FUNNIER as it goes? Also, this is the first point where I realized McCarthy wasn't really reading the cue cards and it just made everything so much more thrilling.

I gotta hand it to these guys, as ridiculous as the "twist" of this video was, I was enthralled. I especially loved the blonde lady with the AK-47. You'll know her when you see her.

This was pretty disappointing, mostly because when I saw the title card I thought it was SUCH a good premise for a sketch. Unfortunately the execution wasn't really there. I guess I'd pictured people arguing with with the same belligerence people use in internet comments sections, but instead it was more of a H8R situation where commenters were confronted with reality. Oh well! But again, Melissa McCarthy's commitment to her weirdo character was able to salvage the situation.

Jay Pharoah finally got some screentime this week with his uncanny Chris Rock impression. Uncanny! It's too bad the show can't work his talents into actual sketches, but oh well.

These people seemed nice.

I'm definitely what you would call a not-fan of Seth Meyers. Sorry, that is a rant for another time.

I didn't expect to like this bit as much as I did: childhood friends of Gaddafi who suddenly break into whispered trash-talk. It was kind of perfect, right? We all know people who do this?

This was tough. I love Kenan Thompson, but no Tyler Perry impression could ever be as funny as Tyler Perry HIMSELF in those movies he makes. Have you SEEN Madea Goes to Jail? That thing is insane. There is one split-screen scene between Madea and Tyler Perry (as a man) and the sexual tension is basically UNBEARABLE.

A friend of mine who has performed with Melissa McCarthy at The Groundlings once told me that sometimes McCarthy's written sketches didn't seem too special on the page but then on stage she made them transcendent just through sheer force of will. This is one of those sketches for sure. Her absolute embodiment of this woman is really something to see. The ticks, gestures, repeated lines. McCarthy was just doing laps around everybody, and it all culminated in one of the most fearless, disgusting denouements imaginable. God, I love this woman.

In what's become a recurring staple, we got another Turner Classic Movies sketch concerning lost footage from classic films. In this one, McCarthy played Lulu Diamonds, a brassy broad with tons of catchphrases and almost no ability to climb stairs. I couldn't get enough.

This dude looks like a cool dad, and I bet this lady gives really thoughtful Christmas gifts.

The final sketch was one of the weakest, mostly because McCarthy had to play straight-man up until the end. Still, though, it was one of the few weak moments in an episode that had me consistently laughing through most of it. Plus I loved that the first time she dressed even remotely normal was during the 12:55am sketch.

Because McCarthy is a Groundling, I wonder how many times she's actually auditioned to be part of the cast of Saturday Night Live? Seriously, I'm pretty sure they all audition multiple times. But whether she ever did or not, I'm sure that after this past Saturday Lorne Michaels must regret not snapping her up when he had the chance. I just hope he invites her back tons, and that someday she'll break Alec Baldwin's hosting record. And maybe Zach Galifianakis can be HER Steve Martin? FINGERS CROSSED!

What was your favorite sketch this week?

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