Saturday Night Live

Season 34 Episode 1

Michael Phelps/Lil' Wayne

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Sep 13, 2008 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
81 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Live from New York, it's... Tina Fey and Amy Poehler!

Sketches include "A Non-Partisan Message from Governor Palin and Senator Clinton," "Quiz Bowl," "Jar Glove," "Swim Team Pep Talk," "Stacia and Cousin Craig," "The Charles Barkley Show," "T-Mobile," "Space Olympics 3022" (Digital Short), "Mark Payne," and "The Michael Phelps Diet."

Lil' Wayne performed "Got Money" (featuring Mack Maine) and "Lollipop."moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
  • Congratulations, Nancy Kerrigan. You are no longer the worst athlete-host in SNL history. Way to go, Nance.

    A Review by "HelloStuart," Amateur Critic and Mysterious Underwater Creature

    I've been doing this for six years already?

    These last four months have brought us the single most intense and most boring off-season in SNL history. The biggest news amounted to nothing; Amy Poehler will leave the show at some point midway through the season, depending upon her unborn child and the status of her prime-time vehicle with "The Office" producer Greg Daniels. With the exception of newcomer Bobby Moynihan, last year's cast is more or less still intact. Because of the writers' strike, Season 34 will launch with four straight live shows and two more episodes than usual. The cast has three cast members with established impersonations of presidential and vice-presidential hopefuls- Darrell Hammond as Senator McCain, Fred Armisen as Senator Obama, and Jason Sudeikis as Senator Biden. I can only assume that Kristen Wiig will be the lucky lady that prods and imitates Governor Palin, if only by default; I doubt Tina Fey would come back on a regular basis just to play one character.

    This week's host is Michael Phelps, American Olympic hero and the latest in a string of overexposed athletes on SNL. The media has been making cute jokes about this for weeks ("will Michael remember to keep his shirt on?" and so forth) but they overlook the fact that athlete-hosts rarely if ever bring the funny, if only because so few of them are willing to be self-depreciating (Peyton Manning being the exception). Early speculation suggests this will be a "cast night," a show where the host takes a backseat to SNL's regular ensemble. The musical guest is Lil' Wayne, the successful and acclaimed rapper behind the best-selling album "Tha Carter III."

    And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:

    COLD OPENING: A non-partisan joint statement by Senator Hillary Clinton (AP) and Governor Sarah Palin (Tina Fey, natch) does little to address the apparent chauvinistic undertones of the election. As Hillary rants about an opportunity squandered, Sarah makes love to the cameras like the oblivious neophyte most liberals perceive her to be. As a topical sketch, the one-liners are sometimes obvious but it really never lags.

    OPENING CREDITS: It's the same credits as last year, but with a little more color. Did Don sound a little hoarse?

    MONOLOGUE: While Michael tries to reign the audience in, his mother (AP) proves to be overzealous and distracting in her support. In discussing his post-Olympic plans, Will suggests a kid-friendly meth lab while William Shatner interrupts to shill for Priceline.

    "Quiz Bowl": A game show sketch where three average high-schoolers (KT, CW, BM) are pitted against three home-schooled barn-raisers (WF, AP, Phelps) in this jumbled commentary on renegade polygamist sects and our failing education system.

    "Jar Glove": An introductory question takes on a life of its own in this left-of-center send-up of late night kitchen toy commercials. Chalk this up as another sketch for the Kristen Wiig highlight reel.

    "Swim Team Pep Talk": In a rehash of a funny sketch from the Peyton Manning show from eighteen months ago, a frustrated swim coach (WF) jigs to "Dancing Plants" to his players' befuddlement.

    "Homely Children": While her parents (BH, AP) entertain guests, the awkward oddity that is Stacia (KW) returns with her equally maladroit cousin Craig (Phelps) in tow. Like "Pep Talk" before it, it's a carbon copy of a funny sketch that didn't necessitate an encore performance.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: With a little assistance from Mack Maine, Lil' Wayne rolls though his current single "Got Money." WEEKEND UPDATE: When an episode like this gets into a slump, you have to hope that Update and its take on current events will give things a jolt. Tonight, they partially succeeded; mountain man Alaska Pete (WF) begs his friends in the lower 48 to lay off his governor, but the key points to his defense belie his own personal abnormalities. Where Pete was somewhat inspired, incoherent comedian Nicholas Fehn (FA) proved that you can only reheat the same one-note character before it turns into flavorless mush. Amy and Seth's recreation of a cockatoo's 911 call was cute, but what was the deal with beloved nose-less comic-strip character Cathy (AS)? Will we be seeing characters from "Get Fuzzy" and "Pearls Before Swine" on SNL anytime soon?

    "The Charles Barkley Show": The Round Mound of Rebound (KT) welcomes Bela Karolyi (DH) and Michael Phelps on his hastily produced talk show. The sketch is little than a vehicle for Kenan's suspect Sir Charles impression and the basketball great's notorious gambling addiction. It all felt thrown together.

    "T-Mobile": Finally, a funny sketch! Spoofing a cell phone ad that aired over the summer, two teen siblings (CW, Phelps) bicker over their "5" before dad's (JS) offhand remark unearths tensions with his cold shrew of a wife (KW). Dad's defending his tendency to hang out with his daughter's friends only throws things in a tailspin of delicious schadenfreude.

    DIGITAL SHORT: "Space Olympics 3022" is a weird, green screen-heavy musical take on sports in the distant future, as explained by a megalomaniac, Ming the Merciless wannabe (AS). Like most of tonight's sketches, it's a mixed bag; it's general weirdness and touch of originality keeps this piece from being a complete failure, but it barely merited a laugh. "Uno's Waiter": Unctuous, somewhat effete w****r Mark Payne (BM) is obsessed with the smell of pepper and alienates two customers (Phelps, AP) in the aforementioned pizza franchise. This sketch was intended to give Bob a breakout moment in his first show, maybe give him a potential recurring character, but it ended up being a huge drag.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Tha Carter mumbles through his summer hit "Lollipop," then proceeds to butcher a guitar solo that would put the most remedial "Rock Band" player to shame.

    "The Michael Phelps Diet": Michael awkwardly pitches his high-carb, eat-all-you-want-and-more system of weight loss, based on his own unfathomable 12,000 calorie-per-day intake. Jared Fogle appears out of nowhere to make a bad pun about foot-long sandwiches, than walks away out of disgust. Whether Jared's frustration came from that insipid line or art for art's sake, that's tough to say; if the longtime pitchman thinks he could do a better job of hosting than Michael, then all the power to him.

    Plain and simple, Michael Phelps was a ghastly host. He didn't even meet the lowered standards generally expected from an athlete, and he was the single greatest negative factor in an otherwise humdrum show. On top of being stiff and uncharismatic, Phelps' performance was sloppy, unprofessional, and poorly coordinated. For someone who's eight months pregnant, I was surprised to see how much work they gave Amy tonight; even more remarkable is that her expectant status didn't really hinder her performance at all, except for a fat joke late in the show. I've seen weak season premieres before, but nothing this bad; granted, the Lebron James show last year was below average, but Season 33 recovered quite nicely. Hopefully, this was entirely Phelps' fault and everything will tighten up as the year goes on.

    Segments That Will Probably Be Removed in the 60-minute edit: Nicholas Fehn and Cathy on Update, "The Charles Barkley Show," "Uno's Waiter," "Lollipop," and "The Michael Phelps Diet."

    Next Week: "Pineapple Express" star James Franco hosts with southern-fried rockers Kings of Leon as musical guest.

    "HelloStuart" has written episode reviews of every SNL live broadcast since May 2003. Send him your questions and comments at
  • And I can see Russia From My House!

    Live from New York, it's Saturday Night! SNL is back after summer hiatus! And, what better way to start off the year with a good host? Marci Klein booked Michael Phelps, 8-gold medal winner, to host the show. Ugh, and it gets worse as far as guests. Lil Wayne decides to try rapping.

    Over the summer hiatus, Lorne hired new cast member, Bobby Moynihan. We'll see how he progresses in time to come.

    Palin/Clinton Campaign message: Fey appears as Sarah Palin, while Amy must have lost all that head weight of hers, because she looked as thin as she was back in May! (she's pregnant, and she was standing behind an appodium) This sketch soared to make me believe tonight's show would rock my world! Great start.

    Opening Credits: Same thing, yet the logos and VPRs have this yellow streak after they leave. Also, if you didn't watch in high-def, you saw the show in 3:5 screen again. Just like how it was before SNL went in high definition.

    Monologue: So, we were all over the place for the premiere. Amy did better at mommy Phelps than the real mommy Phelps did at mommy Phelps. Also, Price Line Negotiater spokesman decided to show up, William Shatner! Also, Phelps is starring in a new NBC show this fall! So, even though it had 15 different plots, the monologue was funny.

    Quiz Bowl: Much like Common Knowledge, this show quizzes teenagers from public schools and home schools. Kristen almost reminded me of her character back in the Julia-Louis Dreyfus/Paul Simon episode during Unsolved Mysteries. Actually, she did remind me of her. The sketch was actually funny. People will disagree. But, I must ask, Don Roy King hasn't gotten used to the show? I mean, yeah, we've had 3 and a half months off, but still. Someone was sure asleep in the control room. Well, at least we know that Michael Phelps keeps character when he thinks he's not on camera.

    Jar Glove: Once again, not many will find this funny, but I did. I know I'll be stating the obvious, but the whole randomness of where this commercial went was great.

    Locker Room: Hey, remember that 2nd-worst Peyton Manning/Carrie Underwood sketch of the night? Well, it's back! And guess what! It's exactly the same. Yeah, Forte got some new moves, but nothing that took a giggle out of me. The only thing that made me chuckle was him moving that tape cassette and making that damning sound.

    The Retards: Or whatever you want me to call them. Yes, I was really hoping they'd bring this back, but with Seth Rogen!!! Or at least save it for James Franco! Not Michael Phelps! My god! Luckily, this wasn't the exact same replica from the last time they did it. I enjoyed this sketch a little, but, nothing surprised me.

    NOTE: To all writers, if you're going to do recurring characters, mix it up a little!!!

    Weekend Update: I'll say, this started out very slow. Then, after the first commentary, the jokes finally got their edge. Nicholas Fehn is back. Enough of him! Enough! Fred, make something else! Cathy was somewhat enjoyable. Alaska Pete kind of got things warming up for Update. I'll give him that.

    The Charles Barkley Show: Oh, I was so happy to see Kenan's Charles Barkley back. Unfortunately, this sketch went absolutely no where! But, I'll give it the fact that it did have some comedic preference.

    T-Mobile's 5: A little late to be doing a commercial about T-Mobile, but ignore that. This sketch was absolutely hilarious. This was probably one of the best sketches of the night.

    3022 Olympics: Jesum, the singing digital shorts have been used up. But, I will admit, Andy's hair kept on making me chuckle throughout the whole sketch.

    Unos Restaurant: A sketch revolving around Bobby already? Alright. Was the sketch good? No. Not in the least. I'm sure Bobby brought this in from something he wrote earlier in his life. But, come on, it wasn't funny. I want sketches to have me get a click and be like "Oh! That's why they're doing this! That's clever! That's funny!", and throughout the whole sketch, I waited for that click. The click came when I saw the commercial break.

    Michael Phelps diet: This was a good last sketch of the night. Amy's pregnancy spoof was great. How many lines did Phelps flub in this sketch alone? Subway's Jared's appearance was out of no where, but funny.

    Now, I'm not gonna be a drama queen and say "Is this what our new season is going to look like?!?", because we're simply not there yet. I want to get a taste of the next 3 episode, then judge how this season will play out. I think that the writers gave Phelps these sketches, because they thought he wouldn't fall flat on his face. While we had some sketches that fell flat horribly (Unos Pizzaria, Locker Room, Charles Barkley), we had some actual funny ones (T-Mobile, Palin/Clinton).

    But, tonight, I have to give it up for Michael Phelps. He has been the worst host in recent memory of the show. LeBron James and Ellen Page showed him up. He was terrible. I thought tonight would be a "cast night" meaning that the cast would carry the show, but even they couldn't carry his mistakes and bad acting. Which makes me want to give it up to Marci Klein for getting Phelps. Now, I'm not being harsh, I've rewatched the sketches over and over again. Phelps was bad.

    This is the first time ever that I muted musical performances, but I did. ... I guess... some people like that.... m... music.

    So, in creoble, tonight's episode was just bad writing and bad guest performances. Seriously, by the time the locker room sketch came on, I was biting my nails of how bad things were shaping out to be, as far as Michael Phelps not knowing English nor how to read, those two recurring sketches that were EXACTLY like the originals, and the technical gaffes. The random cameos were enjoyable, but made you think "If only they were hosting..." And, also, the 3:5 screen is hard to get back used to, especially on Update. The technical gaffes were just a case of bad luck tonight. It's the premiere. Don't worry. And lastly, Bobby Moynihan did not please me with that pepper sketch. If all his characters are going to not have a point, and be semi-retarded, then he will be, indeed, the next Horatio Sanz. But, the feeling with him is neutral. It's nice to see that Casey got a good amount of screen time tonight. Once again, I'm not taking this as a preview of our 34th season, yet, I'm just declaring it, as of now, rusty pencils syndrome. RPS.

    Next week: James Franco, from Pineapple Express hosts, with musical guest Kings of Leon. I'm excited to see our first indie band of the season. And, trust me, as far as performance, next week will be awesome. Writing? That's not up to me.moreless
  • I don't think Michael Phelps will be invited back.

    Sometimes the guest star alone can make or break an episode of SNL. This week, Michael Phelps breaks it. He may be full of the ability to swim fast, but all that talent leaves no room for any acting skill. He was a host NBC had to have after his amazing 2008 Olympics, but I don't think he locked up a second appearance with his performance. He had too many problems reading his lines. I do give him credit for knocking the fake ad about his diet out of the park. That was my favorite sketch of his. I recently saw a real ad he appeared in without speaking a single line, prompting me to wonder if the ad producers saw this SNL episode.moreless
  • I like this episode. Decent opening episode.

    Highlights include:

    Opening- Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are always funny.

    Quiz Bowl- Very funny, but Michael Phelps is not that good an actor

    Stacia and Cousin Craig- Sometimes there's nothing quite like making fun of retarded disabled people. I'm sorry.

    Charles Barkley Show- Funny. Not incredible.

    Not-so-highlights include:

    Space Olympics- Terrible. Just terrible.

    Lil' Wayne- I hate rap. Really I do.

    For some reason Seth Meyers isn't in any skits lately... Kenan Thompson is funny as usual, Bill Hader is slipping but still good, I never really did care for Andy Samberg but he is not bad, Kirsten Wiig is great, Amy Poehler is great, Casey Wilson is too early to tell, Bobby Moynihan is promising, Will Forte is average, Fred Armisen is OK, etc etc nobody wants to hear me talk anymore goodbye! :)moreless
  • Phelps was a terrible host (not even a bronze for him), the writing was pretty tired (already). Not a very auspicious debut for the season.

    Palin/Clinton cold open - Fey was the obvious choice to play Palin given the physical resemblance, except that she's not on the show anymore. An entertaining opening, but it could have been better. They played to the obvious stereotypes of Palin as a glamorous airhead and Clinton as a bitter shrew. Admittedly these are funny stereotypes, but it might be funnier to have the two act out of character to some degree. Oh, and they should have made more of the lipstick joke. Obama's remarks over the past week about lipstick were considerably funnier than any of the political satire I have heard over the entire campaign season. Somebody get his speech writer a job at SNL (and I don't mean for political content)! Somebody previously mentioned that Fey was doing a Fargo-type impression for Palin. I noticed the same thing and found it a bit odd since Palin doesn't really sound like a North Dakotan to me. Just Fey's range (or lack thereof) I guess. Grade: B+

    Phelps monologue - Michael is kind of a stiff out of the water, so hand it to the unflappable Shatner to come in with the save (one of the best hosts of all time BTW). Grade: B (thanks to Shatner)

    Quiz Bowl - Bobby's first appearance and he comes off a bit as a Belushi type. The old debate about public school education vs home schooling is given a pretty weak treatment here. At first we are made to think that the public school kids will outshine the homeschoolers in science, but they inevitably turn out to be just as ignorant. The moral of the sketch? Your kids are screwed (unless you are among those who can afford to send his/her kids to an expensive private education). Grade: C-

    Jar Glove - Pretty weak late night commerical parody. At just over 1 minute, it actually felt a bit long. Grade: C-

    Locker Room - I guess this sketch is the new de facto sketch to break out whenever an athlete hosts the show. I enjoyed it more when Peyton Manning hosted. Forte does great moves, but Phelps is a bad actor and worse dancer. Grade: B- (just for Will)

    Spaz Kids - Another reprise sketch. Not nearly as good as when Seth Rogen hosted and it did nothing to expand on the original. Sure, Kristen is great as a weirdo and her awkward dance is strangely funny, but the reactions from the couch were so bad and the sketch so stale, that not even Kristen could save it from the dregs. Grade: D

    Weekend Update - Some decent jokes. Forte's Alaska Pete was a great characterization. The return of Nicholas Fehn was not welcomed by me. Armisen has added nothing new to this and it is getting very old. Samberg as Cathy was a surprise Grade: B

    The Charles Barkley Show - Kenan is still searching for a recurring sketch. Keep searching Kenan. Better yet, stop the search and take a job down at your local Sbarro. No range, no sense of comedic timing and poor impressions. What's to love? Thanks for reminding us that Darrell is still on the show. Nearly as old as the character he was portraying, Darrell is the only link back a better, funnier time on SNL. They keep him around as some kind of good luck charm. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be working so well. Whose brilliant idea was it to get Phelps to host? Apparently they had never seen him do an interview. I've seen cardboard figures with more personality than this guy. Grade: D

    T-Mobile - A one-joke sketch that went nowhere and was stuck a pretty lame joke. The American Beauty thing has been done to death, but this was a feeble attempt at that style of mid-life crisis fantasy. Grade: D

    Space Olympics Digital Short - I just and watched it and wondered when it was going to get funny. I'm still waiting. Nice costumes and effects, but not much biting humor. Not much humor at all for that matter. Remember that one time when Farley was an Olympic skater? That was awesome! Grade: C-

    Uno Pizza Waiter - Bobby's big introduction, though I'm not quite sure why he was saddled with the oh-so tired big black lady stereotype. He's got some chops (and I love the Belushi resemblance) but he'll need to work on some better characters before he'll secure a place as an SNL great (or evern a regular cast member for that matter). A common theme with this episode, but the sketch went nowhere and we were left pondering the fate of a heartbroken waiter after his irritated customers stormed out. The recurring pepper theme was not all that great either. Remember that one time when Carvey and Sandler played waiters with big pepper shakers? That was awesome! Grade: C-

    Michael Phelps Diet - Yeah, we know the guy eats like a pig and burns more calories than a race horse. Pretty slim premise for a sketch. Then again it was a throwaway 5 minutes to one 'o clock sketch. It might have been better if:

    1. Phelps had a pulse (get that guy in the water and he's the world's fastest corpse)

    2. Phelps could read better than a 3rd grader (one of the sacrifices he had to make to win all that gold). Grade: C-moreless
Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps


Guest Star

Lil' Wayne

Lil' Wayne


Guest Star

William Shatner

William Shatner


Guest Star

Tina Fey

Tina Fey

Gov. Sarah Palin

Recurring Role

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Hillary Rodham Clinton: In conclusion, I invite the media to grow a pair. And if you can't, I will lend you mine.

    • Seth Meyers: A freshman at Michigan State University was randomly assigned to the same dorm room his father occupied in 1978. A fact that will no doubt cross his mind every time he masturbates.

    • Seth Meyers: O.J. Simpson's trial for kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon started Monday. Man, you know you've lived a crazy life when a trial for kidnapping, armed robbery and assault isn't your most interesting trial.

    • Sarah Palin: You know, Hillary and I don't agree on everythi --
      Hillary Rodham Clinton: (cutting in) ON ANYTHING!! I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy.
      Sarah Palin: And I can see Russia from my house!
      Hillary Rodham Clinton: I believe that global warming is caused by man.
      Sarah Palin: And I believe it's just God hugging us closer!
      Hillary Rodham Clinton: I don't agree with the Bush Doctrine...
      Sarah Palin: laughs ... and I don't know what that is!

    • Hillary Rodham Clinton: I didn't want a woman to be president, I wanted to be president... and I just happen to be a woman.

  • NOTES (10)

    • The Food Network's Guy Fieri can be seen seated next to William Shatner during the monologue.

    • Sketches not shown in the 60 minute version: the Alaska Pete segment on Weekend Update, "Mark Payne at Pizzeria Uno," "Space Olympics" (Digital Short), "Craig & Stacia," "Quiz Bowl," and Lil Wayne's performance of "Lollipop."

    • The opening presentation is the same, but with one minor altercation; some shots are in color, some in black and white, and some in black and white but with one object in color (like in the movie Sin City).

    • International airdates:
      Latin America: February 7, 2009 on Sony Entertainment Television (aka Canal Sony).

    • The media buzz the preceding week helped push this episode to its highest rating score since 2001 and the most-watched episode (10.2 million viewers) since Al Gore/Phish in December 2002.

    • Sketches cut after dress rehearsal: a spoof of websites with Will Forte playing the spokesman; a meeting of superheroes ends in the purging of Aquaman (Michael Phelps) from the precedings; Larry King (Fred Armisen) tries in vain to get an interview with Bob Woodward (Darrell Hammond); a bridal shop owner's (Kenan Thompson) discount store sells stained gowns, and Katy Perry (Casey Wilson) of "I Kissed A Girl" fame sings about other things she did. (The Katy Perry skit was recycled for the Anne Hathaway/The Killers episode.)

    • Sen. Barack Obama was scheduled to appear in this season opener; however, he cancelled at the last minute due to Hurricane Ike.

    • This broadcast was dedicated in the memory of legendary TV producer/agent Bernie Brillstein, who passed away a month before this aired. Brillstein played an invaluable part in helping put SNL on the air in the mid-1970s.

    • This is the second consecutive year and third time overall (Michael Jordan/Public Enemy from September 1991) that a season premiere has featured an athlete as host and a rapper as musical guest.

    • Bobby Moynihan's first episode.


    • Mark Payne (the Uno's waiter) wears a t-shirt that features the anime character Sanosuke Sagara from the series Rurouni Kenshin.