Saturday Night Live

Season 33 Episode 4

Brian Williams/Feist

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Nov 03, 2007 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
69 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Live from New York, it's... Senator Barack Obama! Sketches include "Clintons' Halloween Party, "Maybelline for Men," "Bronx Beat," "Reilly's Way," "Publishers' Clearinghouse," "A Day in the Life of Brian Williams" (digital short), "Larry King Live," "iPhone," "Drexel University Debate," and "Dunham & Kirk." Feist performed "1-2-3-4" and "I Feel It All."moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • "Joe Biden sucks 9/11"

    A Review by "HelloStuart," Amateur Critic and Handsome Quasi-Journalist

    It looks like we dodged a bullet… for now. A work stoppage by the Writers' Guild of America, the first such sweeping strike since 1988, hasn't quite gone into effect yet but at least it didn't cancel tonight's broadcast. I was a wee lad during the last strike, but I know that its aftershock lingered for a long time; after all, seven live broadcasts were cancelled in Year 6, two were scratched in Year 10, and another seven were wiped out in Year 13. If this is the last new SNL we'll see for several months, we may as well savor it.

    This week's host is Brian Williams, the respected network news anchor, and as it seems a closeted comedy buff. It may seem like an odd choice, but this isn't his first foray into comedy, much less his first appearance on SNL. Some of you may recall his deliciously awkward stare-down with Seth Meyers in last year's season premiere, or the dry, charming wit that he exuded in several interviews around the time that he replaced Tom Brokaw three years ago. Either way, I'm waiting to see how this develops; this could be a diamond in the rough, or it could just as unfortunate and forgettable as the first three episodes of this season.

    The musical guest is Leslie Feist, the Canadian singer-songwriter behind the cute, stuck-in-your-head crossover hit "1-2-3-4." I don't really have much to say about her, except that I really enjoyed her album "The Reminder" the one time I listened to it.

    And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:

    COLD OPENING: A Halloween party at the Clintons' (DH, AP) house brings out all their major opponents, including Gov. Bill Richardson (Horatio Sanz), noted "Milk Duds" collector Mike Gravel (FA) and Sen. Barack Obama as himself. This was more of a fawning who's-who list than a real sketch, but I'll admit that dressing Slick Willie as that pick-up artist guy was pretty clever.

    MONOLOGUE: Brian tries to break away from his reputation as a stiff, serious newsman, but it proves to be easier said than done. Oh well, points for trying.

    "Maybelline for Men": Dudes in women's makeup. Need I say more?

    "Bronx Beat": This time around, Betty and Jodi (AP, MR) fawn over a mustachioed firefighter Paul Dooley (Brian) while complaining about Halloween costumes and masturbating husbands. Ultimately, Jodi's irritable bowels force the hosts to bow out early, leaving a skittish Paulie to promote Fire Safety Week by himself.

    "Reilly's Way": The three stars of "the best high school drama in the history of The CW" find the taping of their final episode marred by the neurotic ramblings of their much older co-star (Brian). If this was Brian's purest attempt at bona-fide acting in the show, then he got a passing grade in the most literal sense. His pathetic attempts at maintaining his post-show career (and constant allusions to "Quantum Leap") were delightfully winsome.

    "Publisher's Clearinghouse": This year's winner (Brian) doesn't seem terribly enthusiastic about winning $15 million, despite the representative's (KW) sunny attempts at coaching him. Brian's blatant cue-card reading was almost justified by his capable deadpan delivery, but I couldn't help but feel that this sketch ran longer than it should have.

    DIGITAL SHORT: "A Day in the Life of Brian Williams" is just that, an exercise in constant ego-stroking and maintaining his wooden demeanor. This was may more predictable than it could've been, right down to the "I love you" voicemail.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Surprise, surprise: she performed "1-2-3-4."

    WEEKEND UPDATE: The Update desk has been awfully underwhelming so far this season, but tonight was a pleasant change in direction. Not only was the return of Barbara Birmingham (KT) bearable, but I actually chuckled a few times. Seth brought out his "real" self in an amusing ad-lib, as Amy fiddled with his mussed tie. However, the real highlight was a commentary by studio exec Roger A. Travanti (FA), who provided a unique and unabashed point of view on the pending WGA strike by admitting that he can't afford to lose his meager $20 million salary and all its perks.

    "Larry King Live": A chat with JK Rowling (AP) results in the showing of several cutting-room floor clips that emphasize Dumbledore's (BH) status as a spurned gay lover. The preceding clips demonstrate what few gay stereotypes SNL has never touched upon, and though they may not be as blatantly sexual as past alternative-lifestyle sketches, it still feels tired and banal.

    "iPhone": A guy (FA) brags gleefully about his limber French Canadian mistress in a spoof of those ubiquitous man-on-the-street ads. So funny, I didn't even feel any sympathy towards the jerk's wife.

    "Before the Debate": Last Tuesday, Brian Williams apparently told the other Democratic presidential candidates that the media wants Hillary on the ballot, and her opponents made an abortive attempt to thwart her candidacy at any cost. Even though he's been removed from the show by 18 months, I had forgotten that Horatio was a passable straight man (he played Governor Richardson again), but my short-term memory was clear enough to recall Fred's lunatic Mike Gravel impression. By the way, did anyone else find it odd that two different actors (Hader and DH) played Chris Dodd tonight?

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Guitar-strumming and piano-banging dominates the album cut "I Feel It All."

    "Dunham & Kirk": A quintet of merry minstrels (FA, WF, MR, AS, KW) fail to come up with a satisfactory new theme song for the NBC Nightly News, but Brian's spy movie-themed intro proved to be a great be-all end-all. After all, that is how he rolls.

    Following the Bon Jovi mess, SNL came back rip-roaring for the fourth episode of the season. Fred Armisen was a one-man wrecking crew; not only was he the dominant sketch presence of the night, but he was also the funniest. His two Mike Gravel impressions and hilarious commentary on Weekend Update are more than enough to remind anyone of what an underestimated comedic actor he can be. On top of that, the writers put up their best overall effort since last season; they even found a way to make the usually obnoxious Horatio Sanz look tolerable. It almost makes me wish they were threatening to strike every week. Brian Williams spent most of the evening reading off cue cards and trying mightily to emit some form of emotion, but unlike past line-flubbers like Lance Armstrong and Annette Bening it was clear that he was having a lot of fun. As expected, Leslie Feist was a pleasant distraction.

    Sketches/Segments That Will Probably Be Removed in the 60-Minute Edit: "Maybelline for Men," "Larry King Live," Feist's second performance, and "Dunham & Kirk."

    Next Week: Barring a miracle or two, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnston hosts for the third time, with musical guest/tabloid caricature Amy Winehouse.

    Feel free to write "HelloStuart" at During the strike, Stu will be spending his time at beautiful Illinois State University, where he'll be forcing himself to write several ten-page essays while trying to hold back the symptoms of senioritis, and than waste his time at to avoid the inevitable responsibilities that will probably consume him for the rest of his life.moreless
  • Out of character for Brian Williams, that is.

    When I saw the name "Brian Williams" on the list of upcoming SNL hosts, I thought there was another celebrity with the name Brian Williams. You know, an actor with that name or something? When I found out it was anchorman Brian Williams, I held my breath. I like the guy, but can he really make it in live comedy?

    The answer: Yes, sir. He met and exceeded expectations by the end of his monologue.

    Williams was brilliant. His bit in the monologue where he turned it into a newscast showed that he did indeed have the comedic talent to make the show a good one. I loved the "Riley's Way" skit where he was a newly fired high school principal. His line of "You can go to Hell, you can lose 10 pounds, and you're gay knows no comedic bounds. The Digital Short with him leaving a voice message on his own phone was hilarious.

    Williams did an amazing job altering his usually monotone voice and making us laugh by doing it. He remained calm under pressure despite being in a situation he's never been in before (live TV comedy, that is).

    Definitely one of the best SNL episodes I have seen in some time. Brian Williams was able to poke fun at himself and make us laugh doing it. Kudos, Brian, and I hope the writers give you another chance to show your genius on SNL.

    One final note: Brian Williams' stock has gone up in my book. I may not watch his newscasts, but I now know what lies beyond his TV appearances, and I respect him even more now for his SNL appearance. Again, well done.moreless
  • Brian should do it again!

    Really haven't laughed since the Peyton Manning show last March but Williams did an awesome job and hope that he will be able to do it again. As I thought the sketches were really good. Loved the one where he is a fireman with the accent and the mustache. As well as the ones with him being an actor telling the kids what they should do. And the one where he wins $15M but doesn't get excited. Until he wins some free cheese bread and pizza. Sketch about "his day" at NBC News. Also knowing that Hilary will win the elections as the candidates really get jealous. Plus the Bond 007 "proposed" Nightly News opening thing. Gosh he should do it again.moreless
  • You're in charge of your own pleasure....

    The writers guild of America is going on strike. Wow. I never thought it'd actually happen. Of course, SNL would be one of the first to go, unless they have a plan. But, I don't know how they'd do that with out a lawsuit, and a lack of respect. I know I wouldn't respect them if they kept on making new episodes. The writers deserve a better deal. So, how will that effect tonight's episode? Will the writers try to salvage all they can to make an above-average episode, or will they just fall into the pits of "Ehhh, we're going on hiatus, who cares?" like they did with Jon Bon Jovi/Foo Fighters a few weeks ago?

    Getting back on focus. Brian Williams is our host tonight. I'm mixed about that. I think the guy does have a funny bone. I can tell. He just looks like he had fun on last year's opener. But, still, I'm not sure how I should handle it. Feist is our musical guest. Excited for that!

    Clinton's Halloween Party: Wow! This was a really funny political opening! It was nice to see Horatio again! (has he lost weight, or is it just the camera angle?) How else to end this other than OBAMA coming out! Oh my gosh! I got so excited right then!

    Monologue: Brian was hilarious in this! It was nice to see a real monologue.

    Maybelline For Men Only: Ehh... it was alright. The deafening overtone of how it was for men only was kind of funny.

    Bronx Beat: I knew this was going to be on, since I saw it on the promo Thursday. You know what? Brian saved this sketch. It turned out to be a really funny sketch. Amy and Maya leaving at the end to go find a sex toy was funny, too.

    Riley's Way: This was hilarious! Knock your socks off funny. Brian was great in this. Perhaps Brian's monologue at the end was a little too much, but, it was still a very funny bit.

    Money Giveaway: Other than Kristen's performance, most of this sketch was forgettable. But, the reactions from past winners was funny.

    Daily Life of Brian WIlliams: This was really funny! It was a little predictable, but Al Roker, and Matt were hilarious!

    Musical Performance: Feist goes through that awesome song of hers, "1 2 3 4". Love it.

    Weekend Update: Fred Armisen was hilarious in this. Roger A. Trevanti bit was great! I've got to say, also, Amy's hair is lookin better. I couldn't stand those half-curls. Even Kenan's Nanny was funny in this. The improv by Seth about his tie was hilarious! Like, all the jokes were funny tonight.

    Larry King Live: I'm happy to see Fred's Larry King back. It's always funny to see. The deleted gay scenes were hilarious, also.

    iPhone: This was a funny commercial bit. Probably shot around this week, since these franchised commercials hadn't started to air since around the Jon Bon Jovi show. (and what kind of creativity did they have that week?)

    Democratic Waiting Room: Why is Darrell now Chris Dodd? But, this was funny. It went a little too long, though.

    Musical Performance: Feist goes through that so slick song, "I Feel It All". Talk about awesome.

    Brian's New Song: This was really funny, actually. I liked how most of the cast got in this. The James Bond twist at the end was awesome.

    Wow. What a great episode. After that terrible show three weeks ago, SNL came back like a bomb! Brian was an awesome host! And Feist rocked the night away! Fred was the player of the night (next to Brian), and the show just turned out to be a winner!

    Next week: The Rock hosts with Amy Winehouse? I don't think so. That's obviously just optimism from Lorne. Considering how the strike started today, and how today is idea pitching day. May not sound crucial, but I'm sure it is.

    What will probably be aired this week? Unfortunately, unless we go to older episodes, Jon Bon Jovi/Foo Fighters. I'm sure SNL will repeat this very episode for 11/17 if the strike actually does last for a while. Then 11/24 will probably be season 32 repeats... bummer, I know, but the truth.

    See you after the strike!moreless
  • Not a super strong episode primarily because the writers were unwilling to take chances with Williams or he did not want to stray too far from the anchor role.

    Halloween cold open - A nice twist on the usual political opening, but was kind of flat. Other than Hillary's laugh and Kucinich making out with his trophy wife there weren't too many laughs. The sketch could have used more hi-jinks from Bubba, like maybe having a ho on each arm since he was supposed to a playa'. The two cameos were non-eventful and I hope Obama is never invited to host. He is such a stiff. Grade: C

    Monologue - Just give Williams jokes to read and let him do it in his straight manner and it works well. I have always liked that style of delivery rather than hyping everything up (Dane anyone?). The self-parody at the end was the real kicker and closed out a great monologue. Grade: A

    Maybelline Makeup for Men - A silly idea that hearkens back to the early days of SNL when goofy commercial parodies were a staple. Armisen looks downright creepy with that makeup on and reminded me a bit of Dee Snyder from Twisted Sister. Simple but effective. Grade: A-

    Bronx Beat - I was shocked to see this sketch return, but I have to say that writing was better than usual as was the repartee between Amy and Maya. Williams did well as the uncomfortable fireman but did not have enough lines. His soliloquy at the end was a nice way to end the sketch along with the ladies departing the set to buy a vibrator! blink.gif Grade: C-

    Riley's Way - It's always nice to see the writers try an original idea, but this one just didn't have much to it. Besides Williams telling Kenan to go to hell, it was pretty slim. The ending was the kind of weak, but solved the problem of the last shot and ended the sketch so I guess it worked. Grade: C-

    Publisher's Clearinghouse - I've always had a huge laugh at those winners who go absolutely ballistic in front of the camera when they win. So to see somebody who couldn't care less is refreshing. Kristen put in a great performance trying to pump up Williams. The clips of the previous winners were excellent and not too far-removed from reality. Again, they had no good way to end this sketch so the free cheesy bread became the out. Not a clever ending, but I'm not sure how I would improve this. Grade: B+

    Digital Short - This didn't have the usual hallmarks of the Lonely Island crew, but still succeeded due to Williams' dry sense of humor and supposed narcissism. Grade: B

    Weekend Update - I was very disappointed that they didn't do the obvious and have Williams read some lines, perhaps as a new hire. It would probably would have confused some channel-flippers to see Williams reading jokes in a deadpan style as if it were the news. NBC probably didn't want to risk any confusion or possibility of offending Nightly News viewers. Armisen was great as usual during his commentary while Kenan was painful as usual in his dress. The jokes were on par tonight. Grade: B-

    Larry King - The all-time buffoon of talk show TV is always ripe for parody and SNL has had no fewer than five cast members lampoon him (Nealon, Farrell, MacDonald, Fallon, and Armisen). Norm's take is still favorite but Armisen is a strong second. One of the few times we got to see Hader tonight and he excelled as the gay wizard (though maybe a little too close to his O'Toole impression). Seeing Dumbledore in a gay bar was pretty surreal. This kind of scene could actually enliven those leaden Potter movies. Grade: B-

    I-Phone - Short and sweet take on the I-Phone commercials. Armisen is really the go-to guy tonight and is starting to break out this season. About time! Grade: A

    Democratic Debate - The lowpoint of the evening. The backstage plotting to get Hillary was much less interesting than actually spoofing the debate. Apparently Obama wanted no part in this sketch and the only thing Kenan has in common with Obama is skin color. If they don't want to hire a new black cast member to take this role (and many others), then get Seth out from behind that desk now and then, but some facepaint on him and let him rip. I know he could nail Obama because his stilted deliver is not all that different from John Kerry's. BTW, I love Forte is Edwards. He brings out all of the unsavory qualities about that man. Grade: D

    News Overhaul - Another sketch with Williams in the anchor character! The idea to freshen up the news is funny because it is so relevant. NBC just spent big bucks remodeling the news studio for Williams to give it a more contemporary look. So anyway, the band was dopey but Forte was pretty excellent as the southern rock hippie band leader. The James Bond montage for Nightly News was pure genius. I wish they would actually use that for the news occasionally. Grade: Amoreless



Guest Star

Matt Lauer

Matt Lauer


Guest Star

Al Roker

Al Roker


Guest Star

Brian Williams (II)

Brian Williams (II)


Recurring Role

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • In most cases, the host thanks all the other guests; however, Brian Williams didn't thank Al Roker, Bono, or Matt Lauer.

    • The newspaper articles seen after the "Drexel University Debate" sketch were fully written (though satiric and including childish insults about all the candidates) and readable in the high-definition broadcast.

    • In the "Deleted Gay Scenes" from the Harry Potter films, Prof. McGonagall refers to Lord Voldemort by name. In the books as well as the movies, only Harry and Prof. Dumbledore refer to Voldemort by name, with all other characters being terrified simply by the mention of his name.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Brian Williams (to Democratic presidential candidates): Gentlemen, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to run. I have a 15-minute pre-debate interview with Senator Clinton. We're going to ask her about her plans for her first 100 days in office. I wish you all good luck tonight, although we, again, in the media have pretty much made up our minds to go with Senator Clinton.

    • Larry King: Well, you heard it here first from J.K. All wizards are gay.
      J.K. Rowling: Larry, there aren't really wizards.
      Larry King: Well, that's a whole 'nother show. Stick around. Things are gonna get hotter. Coming up, the sexiest woman alive- Ann Margret is here so stay tuned.

    • John Edwards: Hillary, thank you so much for throwing this Halloween party.
      Hillary Clinton: John Edwards, I'm so glad you came. I just thought it would be good for all of us Democrats to get together after Tuesday's debate. (laughs)
      John Edwards: Agreed.
      Hillary Clinton: Yeah, because even though things can get heated, come next November, we all have to support the Democratic nominee - no matter who she may be.
      John Edwards: And may I just say, that is a great witch costume.
      Hillary Clinton: I'm actually a bride.

    • Brian Williams: You know, when I agreed to host "SNL", I believed I was following in this long tradition of newsmen who have appeared on this show. Icons, heroes of mine. Like Walter Cronkite, Ted Koppel, Peter Jennings. It wasn't until rehearsal this morning that I was told those were not the actual newsmen, but cast members doing impressions of them. The newscasters never risked their own careers and reputations by coming here.

    • Brian Williams: Good evening, I'm Brian Williams and that's how I roll.

    • Seth Meyers: Alex Rodriguez announced Sunday that he would opt out of his contract with the Yankees to become a free agent, making him a perfect fit for teams with money to burn but hate winning.

    • Seth Meyers: During the Democratic debate Tuesday night, Senator Joe Biden criticized Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani, saying that 'there's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb and 9/11' Giuliani later responded, saying, 'Joe Biden sucks 9/11.'

    • Amy Poehler: Pat Philbin, the man who staged a fake news conference on the California wildfires last week, has lost his promotion because of the event. Which begs the question, what does it take to actually get fired from FEMA?

  • NOTES (7)

    • Sketches not shown in the 60 minute version: "Maybelline for Men," "Riley's Way," "Publisher's Clearing House," "Larry King Live," "Democratic Nominees Backstage," "IPhone," and Feist's performance of "I Feel It All."

    • Sketches not shown in the 60 minute version: "Maybelline for Men," "Riley's Way," "Publisher's Clearing House," "Larry King Live," "Democratic Nominees Backstage," and "IPhone."

    • Maya Rudolph's last episode.

    • This was the last live broadcast before the WGA strike that started on November 5, 2007.

    • Brian Williams is the very first network news anchor to host SNL, and the second NBC News reporter to host the show (following Ron Nessen).

    • The NBC rerun cuts the I-Phone ad spoof, which featured Fred Armisen talking about his various uses for the product, that appeared in the live show and replaces it with a different I-Phone ad spoof that was cut after dress rehearsal. It features Jason Sudiekis as a man who likes to use his I-Phone to punch policemen.

    • Sketches cut after dress rehearsal: while traveling the highways, Willie Nelson (Will Forte) and Julio Iglesias (Brian Williams) discuss and sing about water; A vegetable grower (Brian) admonishes his son (Andy Samberg) for not watering his vegetables while he was away; a pedophile (Forte) goes trick-or-treating much to the disgust of one of the houses (Brian) he visits; Dennis Kucinich (Amy Poehler) talks about his increased popularity, though its due to his wife (Kristin Wiig); and a man (Jason Sudiekis) likes to use his iPhone while punching policemen.