Saturday Night Live

Season 34 Episode 19

Seth Rogen/Phoenix

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Apr 04, 2009 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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  • "Spabblespoov Out."

    A Review by "HelloStuart," Amateur Critic and Former Defense Minister of Bolivia (1992-1997)

    When Seth Rogen first hosted 18 months ago, I commented that the future A-lister was affable and enjoyable even though the cast and writers were having an apparent off night. I later stated in the SNL forum that I hoped Rogen would get another shot, so it pleases me to say that the "Observe and Report" star has earned a second go-around as host. Following two strong shows in March, I can only assume that the stars will align and Rogen will have the top-notch effort that he was denied in October 2007.

    Where tonight's host looks like an ace in the hole, the musical guest is a virtual wild card. That honor belongs to the French rock band Phoenix (yes, you read that right), an outfit best known until now for having a lead singer that is married to Academy Award-nominated director Sofia Coppola.

    And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:

    COLD OPENING: After a quick gag regarding his reception by Europeans at the G-20 summit, President Obama (FA) elaborates on the GM bailout and how other sectors of the American economy will be affected. The domestic products there were in need of government handouts were top-to-bottom random, from blue jeans and toothpaste to NFL teams and soft-core pornography (thanks, Bubba!). Once again, the political satirists at SNL avoid jabbing at Obama yet disparage the peripheral elements of his term in office. I've come to terms with the eventuality that this isn't due to a liberal bias as much as it's simply hard to find a go-to angle on our 44th president.

    MONOLOGUE: After admitting that he's "lost a million pounds," the slim, trim Mr. Rogen fields audience questions. Two faux spectators (KW, JS) are quick to confuse "Observe and Report" with "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," Seth's old pizza guy/pot dealer (BH) demands a bailout, and a heavyset skirt-chaser (BM) laments that he no longer resembles a certain Judd Apatow bosom buddy. Not awful, though I'll take Kristen off the hook for breaking character.

    "The Fast & The Bi-Curious": Two rival gearheads (AS, Seth) are intense, cutthroat, and… incredibly flirty. Sometimes I wonder if there's a correlation between sketch titles that sound like porn flicks and strenuously obvious sex jokes, but this movie trailer spoof was enough to draw conclusions.

    "Save the Funnies": Hey, does anybody remember that "Save Broadway" sketch from three months ago? Basically, it's the same sketch but with beloved comic strip characters and various other entertainment section standbys looking for ways to save the newspaper as a medium. Oh yeah, and Cathy (AS) shows up. In other words, it's just as transparent, reheated and lazy as about 80% of all comic strips nowadays. Seriously, no representatives from "Pearls Before Swine?" What about "Get Fuzzy" or "Dilbert?"

    "La Revista Della Televisione": All of the typical components of a Vinny Vedecci (BH) sketch, the one new tangent being the host's resemblance to a "Bear Man." Though similar, "La Revista" is an example of not fixing what isn't broken; it took awhile to warm up to Vinny and company, but their shtick holds up well. Plus, in Bill Hader's case, it's not a crime to be self-referential every now and then.

    DIGITAL SHORT: "Like a Boss" is a nightclub hip-hop stomper about corporate narcissism. The latest white-boy rap tune from Andy is almost identical in sound to "I'm on a Boat" from earlier this season, though the subject matter is much darker. Maybe a plunge into the moral abyss was just enough to light up The Lonely Island's creative spark (so to speak).

    "Phone Voices": Three friends (BH, AS, Seth) planning a bachelor party speak alter their voices when their girlfriends hit their cells, than keep talking goofy when other people call them up. As this point, it seems like Bill and Andy have been in every sketch because they're real-life friends with Seth, and that crony-like obligation was clear as day in this one-joke skit.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: The biggest thing to come out of Versailles since Louis le Dernier bust out "Lisztomania." Whether the song is paying homage to the 1975 Roger Daltrey movie or about something entirely different, it's hard to say, because I can barely understand the lyrics over their thick accents.

    WEEKEND UPDATE: Several jokes are told at the expense of this weekend's G-20 summit, a hot topic that culminates in a brilliant diatribe by Seth Meyers where he plays on stereotypes upon how a middle-aged black woman and an elderly white women (Michelle Obama and Queen Elizabeth II, respectively) should gift each other. From there it's mostly downhill; Jean K. Jean (KT) jokes about what it'd be like if the French prime minister was black, Rod Blagojevich (JS) ponders how to take financial advantage of his recent indictment, and probably worst of all Madonna (KW) and Angelina Jolie (AE) brag about secret baby-adopting locales. Not to sound racist ladies, if you want to adopt a malnourished black baby, why can't you just go to Detroit?

    "After the Presentation": A corporate gadfly (Seth) takes the fall when the audio portion of a crucial quarterly report is replaced by the "Grease" soundtrack. Evil eyes abound as "You're The One That I Want" blasts from a boombox on the boss' (FA) desk. While I didn't mind this particular sketch, the twist ending was just plain hackneyed.

    "Milestone High": Somewhere on ABC Family, this short-lived TV series from 1987 finds a stereotypical nerd (AS) helping a dense jock (Seth) cram for the big test… or so it seems. The flat dialogue is accurate for the subgenre that they're spoofing, yet the sketch got off to such a slow start that it barely ever accelerated.

    "Jackie and Clancy T. Sing Easter Songs": The apparently beloved country duo (KW, WF) croon more ballads about spaceships, beer jars, Model T's, and babies just in time for Lent. This sketch is a good prodding of how post-9/11 country music has defanged itself and recycled the same three themes (women, trucks, and patriotism) into oblivion, but it was a deeper cut the first time around.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Much like their first song, "1901" is proof that these guys want to be the Gaelic answer to The Strokes.

    "Muppet Hit and Run": A gaggle of Jim Henson creations react poorly to an accidental death while traveling to their next gig. It's a showcase for the various dead-on Muppet impressions in the cast (Will as Kermit, Seth as Rolf, etc.) and little else.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Following the goodnights, Mars and the boys perform a minute or so of "Girlfriend" before being cut off from the network feed.

    In a way, tonight's SNL was a lot like a baseball team where every player hit .250; there were some spurts of power although their lack of average would make them spare parts on any other roster. The comedy highlight was probably Seth's gift rant, though Phoenix was a pleasant surprise as musical guest. Overall, this show was only marginally better than Seth's first hosting stint, but it brings me to the sad conclusion that Seth's brand of comedy just doesn't work in the short form.

    Segments That Will Probably Be Removed in Repeats: The Madonna/Jolie commentary on Update, "Milestone High," "1901," and "Muppet Hit and Run."

    Next Week: Tiger Beat pretty boy Zac Efron hosts with musical guests The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

    "HelloStuart" predicts that his Kansas City Royals will finish 82-80, third in the American League Central. Contact him at
  • Dear gods, are the writers even trying?

    I don't have high expectations for Saturday Night Live in general. It's a live comedy sketch show, and I know some sketches are going to win and some are going to lose. But for the love of all things holy, it's like they aren't even trying anymore. I don't know if there was a single good sketch in this entire mess. It's not like Seth Rogen is completely without talent, and certainly there are still some good cast members. All I can think is it's the writers. C'mon, writers, let's do something funny, okay? So far this year you've done with worst episodes ever that have starred Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, and history shows they can carry even a bad episode.
  • A lot of lazy ideas were passed off as sketches without any development.

    Obama Address - Started off OK but then descended into a seemingly non-ending list of unfunny companies, products, and teams. I honestly couldn't tell where the punchline was. Not good for "list" style jokes. Grade: D

    Rogen Monologue - After humorously addressing his weight loss, Rogen takes questions from the audience in yet another "Q&A from the crowd monologue". Hader had a good turn as the pot-selling pizza delivery man and Moynihan was enjoyable enough as the Rogen-impersonating scoundrel, but there was something flat about this monologue overall. Grade: B

    The Fast and the Bi-Curious - Nice parody of The Fast and the Furious. Not too much of a stretch for Andy though, who seems to be somewhat of a specialist in gay humor and hip hop parody. About the only thing I didn't like was the placement within the show. To stick a filmed bit immediately after the monologue and then follow it up with a commercial break completely sabotages the "live" feel that is SNL's calling card. Grade: A-

    Save the Funnies - Original ensemble costume sketch. Very similar to the Save Broadway sketch from the NPH episode. All of the characters were enjoyable, except for maybe Cathy who is growing a bit tiresome. The Peanuts gals (Kristen and Michaela) confirmed our suspicians wheras Moynihan re-enforced his role as resident "guy in a furry cat suit". Remember Snagglepuss? The sketch seemed to go for on-liner jokes rather than build to a climax, unless you call Armisen appearing as an ancient Chinese man peddling a modern Japanese phenomenon a climax. I really enjoyed Dick Tracy denoting the passage of time by saying "Guys, we've been here for something like 50 panels." Ha! Clever. Good sketch, but not great. Did you see the Paula Pell cameo? Grade: B

    Vinny Vedecci - This sketch has been pumped a lot over the past couple of seasons. Unfortunately, ther've fallen into a sadly predictable pattern with this sketch:
    1. The guest doesn't speak Itlaian so Vinny switches to English
    2. The stagehands look mildly irritated while eating spaghetti
    3. The guest's commercial product (movies or songs) is twisted beyond recognition for the Italian market
    4. Vinny's son (Moynihan) makes an appearance to ask the guest a question and leaves with a cigarette (exactly as in the Malkovich episode).
    5. The show ends with some kind of prop malfunction or crazy prop idea

    If it wasn't so predictable, it might be better, but this has become about as funny as watching Leno do Battle of the Jaywalking Allstars. (Hint: Not very funny). Either come up with something entirely new for Vinny (on the set of a movie, visiting a star's home, etc.) or just bury it. Grade: C-

    Like a Boss digital short - Another Rogen/Samberg digital short in the same episode? (Fast and Bi-curious as a digital short in all but name). This time Samberg emphasizes his hip hop side, which isn't exactly my favorite. The song didn't do much for me, but even worse was the series of non-sequitors which didn't add up to anything. Don't get me wrong; I love non-sequitors when used with care (watch Monty Python for example). But this just reeked of lazy minds reaching for a series of increasingly outrageous things rather than taking the time to cleverly construct a scenario where the non-sequitors would elevate the humor rather than dominate and ultimately trivialize it. Grade: D

    Phone Voice - This takes the prize for "Weakest Execution of a Sad Idea for a Sketch". Three guys are at a bar and as each of their phones ring (remarkably in succession and never at the same time) they proceed to talk to the party on the other end with a strange voice. Kind of a weak idea to start with, but wait, it gets worse. Each time the phone rings the guy at the table TELLS us who is on the other end and how they speak so that we dummies will understand the purpose for the unusual voice. I understand the film technique of telegraphing, but this is ridiculous! The raison d'être of the sketch is nothing more than to provide a showpiece for Hader's incredible vocal talents while squeezing in room for Samberg's and Rogen's less impressive vocalizations. Yes, Hader is a vocal wonder, but why torture us with a "sketch" when any cheap reason could be used to have Hader do his vocalizations during the monologue or Weekend Update. I love Hader, but man did this suck! Grade: D-

    Weekend Update - WU has become the centerpiece of the show and tonight was no different. Sudeikis amused again as Blago especially with the line "flogging a dead ho". It was inevitable that Kenan would return to his familiar and annoying characters after a few fine WU appearances. Tonight featured Jean K. Jean who punctuates every joke with an exclamation and a little dance. My wife sighed, "oh no, it's the guy who yells 'Fix It'". Well, yes and no. Jean is somewhat less annoying than Oscar Rogers, but how hard is that? The Madonna/Angelina battle for the babies was easily the highlight of WU and perhaps the night. The two new gals are adding some much-needed freshness to the show. Grade: B

    Quarterly Prospectus - Something is amiss tonight. There are lots of sketches that are long on gimmicks, but short on substance. Case in point: this entire sketch revolves around the angry expressions an employee receives for screwing up the audio portion of a company report. Lots of angry reaction shots while "You're the One That I Want" blares from a boombox. Top it off with the very predictable ending of the CEO proclaiming his love for the CD and I am left scratching my head in disbelief. Is this really considered writing? Grade: D

    Milestone High - What appears to be a sketch about a do-gooder egghead helping a jock pass his exams so he can play in the big game turns out to be a sketch about a semi-retarded kid who is not even on the team. The writers thought they had a twist here, but forgot to inject the funny. Blooper: Armisen mentions a Calculus test, but is holding an Algebra book. Lance may have failed his tests, but I'm feeling a bit generous, so go ahead writers and play in the big game. Just try not to serve up any airballs like this one. Grade: D

    Clancy and Jackie Easter Album - A virtual repeat of the first time with Jonah Hill. Will and Kristen were barely in tonight's episode and this was not exactly the best way to utilize their talents. The roast beef minister was pretty good, but not enough to carry this sketch. At least this sketch included a climax, albeit strained screaming about spaceships and toddlers. Grade: C-

    The Muppets - Rogen officially has a recurring character: Rowlf. Another costume sketch, but this was different in that it had actually had a plot (albeit slim) with conflict. resolution, and oh yeah, a glimmer of humor. Everybody played their respective characters well and the turn by Kenan as Nipsy Russell was also a gas. I liked the portrayal of the muppets as more complex than we've known from their own shows and movies and the undercurrent of violent tendencies added a nicely incongruent aspect to their characters. Easily the best live sketch of the night. Grade: B+
  • It's 2009, Chuck!

    Our host tonight is Seth Rogen. Up until this week, I thought his weight scale was a roller coaster. I've seen him thin, huge, and medium. But, when I saw the promo, my god, he lost so much weight!

    A lot has changed on SNL since his last hosting gig. Like, half the cast.... well that's basically it. Phoenix is our musical guest. I'll keep an open mind.

    A Message from the President: I guess the sketch was decent, but the formula was the same. I guess the irony was what brand he'd name next, which made me laugh at times. But, the last one should have been something really funny, and not soft drinks.

    Monologue: Good monologue. Bobby could kind of remind me of Jonah Hill.

    Fast and Bi-Curious: This made me chuckle, but homoerotic sketches can only go so far before you realize "same tune, different lyrics".

    Save the Newspaper: Much like the Save Broadway sketch 3 months ago, all the cartoon strip characters need help. I chuckled at a lot of these, especially at Kriten and Michaela's Pep. Patty and Marcie.

    Vinny Vedecci: I've warmed up to this sketch since it first started going in early 2007, and even though I chuckled a few times, there was not a whole lot new. I knew SNL would try to change up Bobby's character, and instead of cigarettes, there would be some alcoholic beverage given to him. The ending with Seth being kidnapped was funny, though.

    Like A Boss: Eh. I laughed at a few parts, but just about average with the rest of the digital shorts lately. It's a bummer too, because the Tracy Morgan digital short reminded me of the good ol' shorts back in 06 and 07.

    Phone Voices: This was a really silly sketch, and Bill made me laugh the most. At first, I thought this would be another 'memory' sketch, but I realized Jason and Will weren't there.

    Musical Performance: Phoenix performs "Lisztomania" which was somewhat a good song to listen to.

    Weekend Update: Most of the jokes were good, but there was A LOT about Obama in England. I loved the gift exchange joke that Seth did. Rod Blagojevich was a middling effort, while Jean K. Jean was just a chore to watch, and Madonna/Jolie was pretty funny. At least it wasn't a "do you see a baby?" "No, but how's-" "Bye." formula.

    You're The One That I Want: Talk about a simple sketch. I did laugh at this, though. I'll say that.

    Basketball Tutor: Man, I'm not sure what the writers were doing, or if this was just Seth's humor, but a lot of these sketches were simple sketches that didn't deliver as well as hoped.

    Country Songs: I would say I liked it, but let's be honest. Not much different from the Jonah Hill sketch last year.

    Musical Performance: Phoenix performs "1901".

    Muppets Hit & Run: Gotta say that this was a real 5 to one sketch. I guess it was kind of funny seeing all the cast members as the muppets. It was interesting seeing Michaela doing Janice after Maya did. I love Michaela, but Maya looked almost exactly like Janice.

    And Phoenix performs another song.

    The effort tonight was a mixed one. It seemed a lot of the sketches were "Yeah, whatever. That sounds good." I'm not sure if that was Seth's taste in sketches, but you know. Seth was just like last time. He matched right in with the cast.

    Phoenix was a little disappointing for me. They remind me of what Fall Out Boy would be in England. Their songs were pretty one note. Maybe I need to re-listen to them.

    All in all, an adequate show. I wish there were more creative juices to be honest, though.

    Next week: Zac Efron hosts (ugh) with musical guest Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
  • Phoenix is the best musical act on SNL so far this year!!!

    Hey the episode had a couple of decent skits, nothing very special in the way of gut-busting funny. Josh Rogen was a good host and there were some very good moments on this show...the Madonna/Angelina skit was quite good. Really the show was outstanding because of the the performances by Phoenix. Not two performances but three! It reminded me of Coldplay when they played three songs on SNL last year. Phoenix really took the show!!! You will hear more about Phoenix in the upcoming weeks when they release their album. Also check out the band Tahiti 80 if you like Phoenix.
  • Seth Rogen hosts.

    Cold Opening: Remember when the political sketches used to be funny? Well, if comparing toothpastes and fake vomit companies is your kind of humor this was right up your alley.

    Monologue: Dumb, and probably worse than Seth Rogen's first monologue last year. We knew it wouldn't be long before a Paul Blar Mall Cop joke was made, but twice in the same skit?

    The Fast And The Bi-Curious: Goofy movie parody. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Save The Funnies: The cast reprised some of its comic strip impersonations. Nothing to write home about. Weird not to see Seth Rogen in the sketch.

    Vinny Vedecci: Expected a lot of Bill Hader sketches since his buddy Rogen was hosting. This isn't a bad concept, but the problem is that there is no reason to repeat it as it's the exact same thing every time. I did like calling him "Bearman" though.

    Digital Short: Another rap parody, this time mocking the use of "boss" in songs. Like most digital shorts funny in the beginning, but by the end it's just too ridiculous.

    Changed Voices: Three guys must change their voices to talk to various callers. Well, Bill Hader and Andy Samberg were funny, but Rogen still hasn't produced a laugh this evening yet.

    Weekend Update: A few good Seth Meyers lines tonights. Outside of that, the usual string of guest spots.

    Messed Up Speech CD: Maybe this was supposed to be something and I was just missing the point, but not really funny at all.

    Milestone High: Andy Samberg as a nerd was funny, and the skit had a surprising twist at the end, but still nothing too great.

    Muppets: Yeah......yeah. The kind of thing you expect at 12:54 A.M.
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