Cold Open: This opening is already generating a bit of controversy. I don't know why. The coverage on the so-called "news" channels has been far more disrespectful of Anna, especially in light of the fact that they are supposed to be covering news, not the aftermath of a celebrity's downfall. Anyway, the sketch wasn't going much of anywhere until Rainn showed up. After just a few beats, it was pretty obvious that Rainn would make a great SNL cast member. Too bad he is already taken. I enjoyed both of Rainn's segments and thought the disembodied head of Wolf floating around was pretty funny if, for no other reason than Wolf takes himself far too seriously and comes off a bit as a pompous a$$. All in all, a much better opener than another political sketch, but not as hard hitting as it could have been.
Monologue: I thought this was a pretty funny parody of The Office for those of us who watch the show. Both Kristen's "Pam" and Jason's "Jim" were spot on. Kenan, Amy and Lorne left a little to be desired, but the concept was still fun. It sure beat the hel1 out of a song and dance number. So was the part where Rainn stepped through the door pre-filmed? It kind of looked that way.
Memories at a Bar: A simple premise that recalls everything from the Big Chill to old Docker's commercials. For the most part the stories were pretty good. What was great was how convincing the performers were. I loved the little touches like Hader punching Rainn in the arm. The writers need to do more sketches that feature the male cast members together like this. It really works. Of course, the highlight was the "pee through the nose" joke. The buildup was so great that I was laughing my a$$ off by that point and wondering how nihobbs would respond to such a depraved use of his beloved urine jokes in a sketch. The Pulp Fiction ending was pretty cool instead of the usual fade to commercial.
SNL Digital Short-Budget meeting: A simple concept that was OK but could have been fantastic with better suggestions from the participants. "Consolidate marketing" "Cut HR" "Reduce IT" Come on! You can be more creative than that! How about "stop reimbursing employees' breast augmentation surgery" "hire less expensive strippers" and "limit employees to 2 alcoholic beverages per 8 hour day." OK, these aren't great, but you get the picture. There should have been some more outrageous stuff than a talking turkey sandwich and stuffed tiger's head.
Noonis: For me this has always been a borderline sketch. It can be good for a few laughs, but it rarely truly delivers anything of substance. This sketch did not standout from the usual Nooni sketches in any way. The urination hose was kind of funny, but they have made several jokes in these sketches about using the facilities in public. The inability to pronounce names has become a tired joke. Really, this sketch relies on unique props and a strange visit from the housekeeper. Samberg did OK, but Parnell is sorely missed as Tato.
The Peeper: OK, now things are getting very funny. The thought of a guy who cannot even ID somebody in a lineup without turning it into a voyeur show is pretty classic. Rainn really stole the show here with his brilliant and believable performance as a perv. Amy's timing kind of let down the sketch. She kept talking to Sudeikis BEFORE hitting the mic button. The ending seemed forced. Having the two officers kiss was out of context and contrived as nothing more than a way to give Rainn a chance to do some REAL peeping before the sketch ended. Still, it was my favorite of the night.
Weekend Update: Has anyone else notice how LONG Weekend Update has gotten lately? Last night, it was over 14 minutes! Back in Chevy's day, it used to be around 5 minutes. I don't think the expansion with all of the guests has done much to help it. Armisen did a good job as the judge, but I couldn't help but think that nobody will no who in the hel1 that is when it goes into syndication a year from now. Aunt Linda was about the same as usual. Not too funny and kind of annoying. The Academy Awards bit had me recalling the wonderful times when Bill Murray would pick his choice for the Oscar winners. This was nowhere even close to that. Andy was very funny as Prince Harry. I love the rouge on the cheeks. This was my favorite part of WU. Yes, the vomiting bit was childish, but I always fall for this type of humor when it is set up well and when the performers do a good job with it. Andy was great during his puke scenes. Seth could have showed a little more concern or horror rather than just bemusement.
Welcome to the Office: These characters were kind of funny the first time around primarily because it wasn't clear what the punchline was going to be. Now, we know it will be something outrageous after a LONG setup. The payoff was nowhere worth the wait last night and even worse there was no real ending. Kristen muttered something like "That's America" and the applause sign was lit and off to commercial. What the hel1? If you're going to make us wait that long for a joke, then the payoff better be HUGE. Weakest sketch of the night.
White Possum Scream: This was amusing just for the sight of seeing Rainn chained to Kenan while in a half-shirt and white undies. It almost didn't matter what the dialog was with that visual. Not a great sketch, but scores points for being absurd.
New Age Band: I kept thinking of Jack Black this entire sketch and how he would have taken it to the next level with a heavy metal harp jam. Not that Rainn was bad or anything. Some of the jokes were so underdeveloped it was almost painful. Like when Maya insists that her pan flute is in tune and Kenan replies "Really. Then I need to make an appointment with my ear doctor because that hurt my ears." Nice comeback. Sheesh! And yes, I understand that having the band members entirely incapable of delivering a burn is part of the joke, but still. Watching the band jam was probably the best part of this sketch (Armisen's jerky movements). And as weak as they were, they blew the pants off of Arcade Fire.