Quick question, and I'm not trying to be disrespectful: Does Joseph Gordon-Levitt have a bit of a personality disorder? It seems like every few years he's got a new personality entirely? Far gone are the days when he was an awkward charmer who starred in quirky indie films. Now he's like some kind of fratty wiseguy? Seriously, every time he talked it sounded like he was doing a bit. Like Christopher Walken at a kegger or something. But regardless of what the real Joseph Gordon-Levitt personality may be, it's hard to deny that the guy is talented. This week he returned to SNL for his second hosting gig, and NAILED IT BRAH. Let's talk about it!
[Apologies to international readers for these embedded clips, Hulu can be a bit of a jerk.]
Cold Open: Live with Kelly and Michael
First noticeable thing about this sketch? Jay Pharoah was hilarious in it! He's definitely risen to a much more prominent place in the cast, hasn't he? Personally I haven't seen much of this new incarnation of Live with..., but I trust that Nasim Pedrad and Pharaoh are probably nailing it.The picture of Michael carrying Kelly around in a Baby Bjorn made me laugh out loud.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Monologue
This intro is not available online probably due to music-licensing issues (they danced to that dubstep remix of "It's Raining Men" from Magic Mike). Which, YUP. Magic Mike parody. Which meant stripping. I don't think anybody was mad about this, and a lot of people probably really enjoyed it. My favorite part was Bobby Moynihan ripping off a vest to reveal a second vest. Congratulations are probably in order to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's personal trainer? I don't know.
PERFECT. Seriously, this was just a great, great sketch. Probably my favorite of the night. Not only did I nod my head all righteously, like, "Right on," but it was genuinely funny. Plus it unveiled a new SNL mystery: Who was that Asian dude? No really, who was that?
Fake Ad: Tres Equis #1
This was fine. You know. Just fine. The problem is, it riffs on something that itself was already parody. Those Dos Equis commercials about the Most Interesting Man in the World are already hilarious, so this just felt like piggybacking in a way. There are few comedy sins as grave as stepping on other people's bits, but whatever. I get it. I still laughed.
This was probably the first dud of the night. It reminded me of that failed old Kelsey Grammer sketch show on Fox, The Sketch Show, in which sketches had one joke and then ended after like ten seconds. They could've just ended this thing after the first drawing and called it a day. Zing! We got it. Moving on...
Fake Ad: Tres Equis #2
Oh, here was the pay-off for that first ad: The Most Interesting Man in the World gets mad at his son! So again, see what I'm saying? They took a comedy character and parodied him? Parody of parody is the worst.
This was great: Taran Killam is amazing. A man "pretending" to be hypnotized but still making a straight-up fool of himself in the name of goofing on the hypnotist? Plus the button was killer. Loved this sketch.
Fake Ad: G.O.B. Tampons
This fake ad was definitely more of a thoughtful head-nodder than actually funny. You know? Politically relevant, but maybe not something you want to post on Facebook. Unless you're one of those political Facebook posters in which case I probably unsubscribed from you years ago. Anyway, Vanessa Bayer's ALSO kind of front-and-center this season, isn't she? It's cool, she cracks me up 2 the max.
Mumford & Sons: "I Will Wait"
This is a good band full of handsome dudes, but this song was incredibly forgettable to me. I ain't no music critic, but I remember their breakthrough album as being a cool, unexpected treat that a bro could share with his pops. This song sounded like they were just going through the motions. I don't know. Hey remember that time the lead singer dude secretly married Carey Mulligan? I'd forgotten about that until just now.
Weekend Update: "What Are You Doing?"
Commentary: Assad's Two Best Friends Growing Up
I love this recurring bit: Two backstabbing childhood friends who whisper-trashtalk a prominent dictator of some kind. It's simultaneously ludicrous and relatable. Perfect.
Commentary: Ann Romney
Speaking of perfect! Kate MacKinnon's Ann Romney impersonation was an instant highlight. Man, I'm starting to get nervous that people may vote for Romney if only because it'll be more fun to watch Sudeikis and MacKinnon play the Romneys on SNL than whatever tired Obama impersonation we'll get. We live in dangerous times!
Commentary: Stephen A. Smith on Tim Tebow
I don't watch sports and barely know what they even ARE, but I still laughed at this Jay Pharoah character. All screechy and boastful. "When I was 11 you pulled me from a river and saved my life. The next year I returned the favor and pulled you from that same river." I don't need a working knowledge of football to laugh at this!
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
When Mumford & Sons—in Beatles drag—began to play "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away," I immediately was like, "Well, this sketch won't be on the internet." And guess what, I was right! Finally. But yeah, here's a sketch that I thought was going nowhere until the premise kicked in and it became amazing: As the band played, four dudes exchanged embarrassing or terrible stories just in time to then join in and sing the chorus. The actors' timing was impeccable, and the whole thing concluded with everybody rising up and marching into the studio audience. Not the most hilarious sketch overall, but plenty funny and more than anything just impressive considering this was LIVE TV. I'm all for spontaneity and this sketch brought it in a really exciting way. I would love for SNL to play more with the live TV aspect. Call it a Christmas wish.
The Finer Things
Another dud, unfortunately. I'm not sure the idea that rappers like luxury has been funny since... 1996? But I did laugh when Jay Pharoah coyly modeled the expensive handbag. Other than that, it always makes me nervous seeing white people affect hip-hop personae for the sake of comedy, so this sketch didn't really work for me.
Mumford & Sons: "Below My Feet"
More handsome background music. Will probably not be downloading this .mp3 though.
This here was a classic example of a last-half-hour-of-SNL sketch, and by that I mean it was BATSH*T. I still don't even know what was going on? Was the joke that the daughter (played by JGL in drag) really WAS awful, or was it that she looked like a man, or that her parents were a nightmare? I don't know and quite frankly I don't care. Some of my favorite comedy is confusing as hell, so I appreciated that about this. Give me weird over boring any day. (Also after this, isn't it clear that Kate MacKinnon is SNL's next leading lady? So good.)
Real Estate Agents
Dick jokes! I like 'em. Also, it's only the second episode and I'm already liking this Tim Robinson guy. Seems like a winner already.
We're only two episodes deep into Season 38, and I have a really good feeling about this season so far. It seems like an effort has been made to fit more content into the runtime (four pre-taped shorts in this episode alone), and the standout sketches have been pretty strong. And I don't know how to tell you this, but the next host? Daniel Craig. TELL ME that won't be fun. I dare you. (It seems fun!)
How did YOU think Joseph Gordon-Levitt did? What was your favorite sketch of the night?