Saturday Night Live

Season 35 Episode 12

Charles Barkley/Alicia Keys

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Jan 09, 2010 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
41 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Live from New York, it's... Fred Armisen! Sketches include "The Situation Room," "Thomas Peepers Insurance," "Reel Quotes," "MacGruber" (three parts), "Sexy Shana," "Inside The NBA," "The Haney Project," "Booty Call" (Digital Short), "Scared Straight," and "Barkley's Bank." Alicia Keys performed "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart" and "Empire State Of Mind."moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • "Failure to..." "Launch!"

    Tonight marks the half-way mark through the 35th season of Saturday Night Live. After a weak string of December episodes, I'm wondering where tonight will go. The Lively episode wasn't too bad, but the Lautner and Franco episodes were less consistent.

    Tonight's host is Charles Barkley. A big surprise. He hosted the season premiere of SNL in the early 90s back when he was still playing basketball. Also, a reminder that he got arrested about a year ago from the airing of this episode. Our musical guest is Alicia Keys, who has been on SNL before, and is one of the better musical guests.

    The Situation Room: Jason's Wolf Blitzer returns for a second time after the Tiger Woods incident back in December. The sketch itself wasn't anything too special, but that's somewhat been a trend for the political cold openings so far this year.

    Monologue: Charles seems like a Chris Walken kind of host. The way he delivers his lines are comedy in and of itself. The monologue was no disappointment.

    Thomas Peepers Insurance: This was a pretty good parody. I'm not sure how many times this didn't make it to the live show, or if this is the commercial's first appearance.

    Reel Quotes: This sketch was just hilarious because of the way Barkley was featured in it. This wouldn't have been that funny in any other host's field, and I'm hoping the writers put this sort of writing in just because they knew Barkley would be good at it.

    MacGrubers: The "racial tension" version of Macgruber was hilarious. The stupid ideas they think of MacGruber for each installment is really impressive.

    Inside The NBA: A carbon copy of the sketch from the Jeremy Piven episode in January 2007. It wasn't anything better, really.

    Musical Performance: Alicia Keys performs "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart", which was a pretty good song.

    Weekend Update: The jokes tonight were more or less the same quality as the rest of the season, which is pretty good. Andy's commentary as Nicholas Cage was nothing to special compared to Bill's hilarious Carville impression, and Fred's David Paterson.

    The Haney Project: Barkley made this sketch once again. Obviously this sketch was written for Barkley.

    Booty Call: The contrast of Andy Samberg's flamboyant character and Alicia Key's usual seductive girlfriend character made this digital short pretty funny.

    Musical Performance: Alicia Keys performs "Empire State of Mind, Part 2". The piano percussion and the choral background made this a very enjoyable version of the song.

    Scared Straight: Barkley's reading the lines made this a pretty funny sketch, from the otherwise usual plot.

    Barkley's Bank: A typical ten-to-one sketch. My network cut this off early, but weren't there feed problems with everyone?

    Overall, the show was enjoyable. The writing itself wasn't too good, but Barkley's delivery of the lines made it a lot more funnier than it would have been. And, Alicia Keys added a few good thoughts to this episode. Overall, the episode was an above average broadcast.

    Now, the mid-season review!

    Favorite Rookie:

    Lets see. So hard to make up my mind. So far this season, I'd definitely have to say Nasim. Nasim can do everything Jenny can do and more. Jenny so far has had a very awkward start to the season. We can't blame the F-Bomb incident though. She just hasn't really come through yet. Hopefully the second half of the season will be better for her. She really has to step it up, because so far, she's been even more insignificant than Casey was. She's obviously talented, but she hasn't proven that in sketch comedy yet.

    Favorite Cast Member:

    So far, I'd say Bill.

    Worst Cast Member:

    Judging solely on this season, and not last season when Abby somewhat proved herself on some fields, I'd say its a toss up between Jenny and Abby. They both show extreme weaknesses, but show promise in certain fields. They both have to start mingling with writers though or something.

    Worst Musical Guest:

    Bon Jovi

    Best Musical Guest:

    Regina Spektor

    Worst Host:

    January Jones hahahahaha... wow...

    Best Host:

    It's a 3-way toss up between Swift, Butler, and Reynolds. I'm going to have to say Gerard Butler though.

    Worst Episode So Far:

    Megan Fox/U2

    Best Episode So Far:

    Ryan Reynolds/Lady Gaga

    How its been: The consistency of episodes has been okay. But the level of effort and quality has taken a step down since last season. The cast so far doesn't feel like it's gelled, and the writing is just average to above average. So far, we haven't had a real highlight of an episode. The Ryan Reynolds/Lady Gaga broadcast just has a slight favor above the rest.

    Next week: Sigourney Weaver hosts for the first time in 24 years or so, with musical guest, Euro sensation, The Ting Tings.moreless
  • Jersey Shore is their MacLaughlin Group

    Basketball legend Charles Barkley hosts a second time and songstress Alicia Keys is musical guest for the second time as well.

    The Situation Room- Wolf Blitzer (Jason) showcases press conference with General David Paetreus (Will) and the Yemeni president (Fred). the predictable political cold open. Not much funny this time around.

    Monologue- Chuck speaks his mind and calls out some audience members (writers Jon Lutz, Jessi Klein, and Hannibal Burress). Nice that writers were back to being the audience members again.

    Thomas Peepers Insurance- a peeping tom (Bill) advertises his company by peering into windows. Simple premise works for me

    Reel Quotes- game show tests contestants (Chuck, Kristin) of movie quotes. Chuck really impressed me here with this character.

    MacGruber (three parts)- another great installment. I like these because there is always a different storyline to each one. This time the bomb deactivater extradinaire (Will) is afraid of offending his new black assistant (Chuck). Each installment show the complete collaspe of his fear of not offending.

    Sexy Shana- the gross sexy lady from last year's John Malkovich episode returns and grosses out people again, while trying to be sexy. Can anyone say rewrite?

    Inside the NBA- Kevin Harlan (Jason) and Chuck moderate a basketball game with cliche-spouting kid (Andy) with a fake disorder. Another rewrite, this time from three years ago. Alicia Keys performs "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart"

    Weekend Update with Seth Meyers- James Carville (Bill) stops by to talk about Rudy Giuliani forgetting 9/11, Nicholas Cage (Andy) talks about his new responsibilities as ambassador of drugs and crime, and NY governor David Paterson spouts more New Jersey jokes. Plus, Seth has some decent jokes, middle of the road Update in my opinion.

    Haney Project- Golf Instructor Dan Haney (Jason) tries to help Chuck with his horrible golf swing (using real footage of the Round Mound's horrible play) through sweeping, flipping burgers and brushing teeth. Clever and short, works for me.

    Booty Call (Digital Short) - Alicia and her strange boyfriend (Andy) are on the phone trying to a hook-up only for the boyfriend to call his grandmother (Kristin) and asks if she wants to be apart. Another bizarre short that worked.

    Ms. Keys performs a Shawn Carter-less, subdued, piano-driven rendition of "Empire State of Mind"

    Scared Straight- Lorenzo MacIntosh (Kenan) scares kid once again, this time with his father. You seen one, you seen them all.

    Barkley's Bank- Chuck's bank loses money for a couple. Hell, I don't know, the sketch goes a bumper half way through, then to commercial. Next time just cut to the band and play us out to commercial. Well. I think writers are low on original ideas. I don't know.moreless
  • Charles Barkley hosts.

    Charles Barkley, a top five power forward of all-time, and popular basketball analyst, hosted SNL for the second time. Would his style of humor translate here? Somewhat.


    Cold Opening - Another Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer sketch. Another weak Jason Sudeikis attempt at doing an impression. Your usual political/Fred Armisen as an Arab sketch. Not much else to write about. Monologue - Completely scripted, but it's Charles Barkley, so it was still funny.

    Thomas Peepers Insurance - Post-monologue commercial with Bill Hader as an insurance agent for a company that doesn't charge anything, but follows you anyway. Not my cup of tea, but not as bad as Edible Pampers.

    Reel Quotes - Bill Hader hosts a game show about movie quotes with Charles Barkley and Kristen Wiig as contestants. Not the smartest humor, but a brilliant Wiig performance and Charles was passable in his first sketch. Nice first segment.

    MacGruber - You know what you get with a MacGruber sketch, but I guess we can expect more of them with the MacGruber movie coming out soon.

    Awkward Woman: Charles Barkley, Andy Samberg, Will Forte and Kenan Thompson obsess over a slutty Kristen Wiig, who turns out to be awkward during any chance of a sexual innuendo. About as dumb as it sounds. NBA on TNT: Charles Barkley and Jason Sudeikis as Kevin Harlan call a game, along with a special child, Andy Samberg. This sketch was done when Jeremy Piven hosted, but football was used instead of basketball.

    Weekend Update: Not much in the way of humor from Seth Meyers, but Bill Hader, Andy Samberg and Fred Armisen made decent appearances with their James Carville, Nicolas Cage and David Patterson characters. The Haney Project: Parody of the TV show in which Jason Sudeikis as Haney teaches Charles Barkley how to swing a golf club. They showed how his bad form was also present in other household activities. Gets a thumbs down from me. SNL Digital Short: Alicia Keys calls and obsesses over a metrosexual Andy Samberg. If Alicia agreed to do this, why not write a song?

    Scared Straight: A few good Kenan lines, but does every guest host have to do this now? Taylor Swift ruined it with her awful performance during it, and Charles Barkley wasn't much better.

    Barkley's Financial Center: A take on Charles Barkley's well-documented gambling habit. Unfortunately, it cut to commercial half way through.moreless
  • Charles in charge...

    Cold Open – US/Yemen collaboration - Yes, the Yemen "partnership" is a scam, but so is all foreign aid. This was played well by both Will and Fred and didn't wear out its welcome. I have to admit to be being more than a little annoyed that the cold open was not a sketch about the crotch bomber or the full nude body scanners. This stuff just begs to be parodied. Grade: B-

    Monologue - A fine, though not spectacular monologue. I liked the interaction with the black nerd. Grade: B-

    Peepers Insurance - A decent parody of the insurance and finance company commercials that want to get into every part of your life. Bill did a good job with the slim material. Grade: B-

    Reel Quotes - This is a new game show that had the feel of something we have seen a million times already, Maybe it was just having Bill as the host and Kristen as the kooky guest. Whatever the case, Charles didn't let it die on the floor. Grade: C

    MacGruber 1,2 and 3 (R) - One of the best of the Mac series. Even after his sensitivity classes, Will manages to misspeak about MLK and spray Charles when he tries to shake hands. Good micro-acting by all. I especially dug Kristen's look of admiration during Will's speech and Charles' skepticism. Grade: A

    Sexy Shana (R) - Strange to say, but this actually one of Kristen's characters that I like the most. There is something funny about the pretty girl with the horse laugh or whatever the detriment may be. Charles wasn't nearly as slick as Malkovich, but still managed to make a believable and funny (and sweaty) horndog. The reacations from the guys were actually the weakest part. Grade: B

    Danny Hoover (R) - Almost a note-for-note replay of the NFL sketch in the Piven episode. The sick little boy kind of funny in a tragic way the first time around, but was nothing more than annoying this time. Grade: D

    Weekend Update - OK, some average jokes, repeat appearances by Carville, Cage and Patterson, and extremely lousy acting by Andy (as Cage). I have honestly never seen anybody else threaten somebody with a knife while reading a cue card at a 90 degree angle from the victim's face. Showed a complete lack of preparation and professionalism IMO. I don't see Seth could even be marginally scared by such a tepid threat. Grade: C

    Golf Channel - Clip sketches are usually crap. This one was no exception. Grade: D

    Digital Short w/Alicia Keys - More of Andy's semi-retarded shtick. At least when Sandler did this over and over, it was actually funny. Grade: D

    Scared Straight (R) - My wife groaned when she saw the cop shop. We both grinned at Charles as the father though. He added a tough guy aspect that is sorely needed to play off of Kenan's clownishness. Kenan showed a lot of energy tonight and actually had me laughing when he threw the shoe and recreated the Matrix. Easily the best of these sketches. Grade: B-

    Barkley's Bank - This sketch was actually just beginning to build steam when it abruptly went to a bumper card. For what we saw, it looked pretty good. I suspect we will see the full sketch in reruns. Grade: B-

    Overall - This episode started off fairly strong, but lost momentum by the Danny Hoover sketch. Still, much better than most of the episodes we have seen this year. I appreciate the move (at least temporarily) away from the teen flavor of the month, even if Charles isn't exactly A-list material. Next week holds great promise with veteran actress and current resident of Pandora: Sigourney Weaver. Charles is certainly likable though, which is more than can be said for so many of the hosts who seem more interested in preening before the camera than serving up the laughs (Justin?). Grade: Cmoreless
Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley


Guest Star

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys


Guest Star

Jessi Klein

Jessi Klein

Female Audience Member

Guest Star

Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels


Recurring Role

John Lutz

John Lutz

Heavyset Audience Member

Recurring Role

Michael Patrick O'Brien

Michael Patrick O'Brien

Harlem Globetrotter

Recurring Role

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (3)

    • Sketches cut after dress rehearsal: an angel (Charles Barkley) and a devil (Kenan Thompson) help a man (Jason Sudiekis) make a decision; petite Kristen Chenoweth (Nasim Pedrad) compares herself to others on her new talk show; a boss (Will Forte) tries to raise the spirits of a group of grief counselors; and on Weekend Update, Janet Napolitano (Kristin Wiig) speaks on the security of the nation's airports.

    • The start of this broadcast was delayed 35 minutes due to the Cowboys-Eagles NFC Wild Card game running long.

    • With the possible exception of Tony Danza (a onetime Golden Gloves boxer) and The Rock (a former WWE wrestler), Charles Barkley is the first professional athlete to ever host SNL twice.