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

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?