Saturday Night Live

Season 34 Episode 14

Steve Martin/Jason Mraz

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Jan 31, 2009 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (5)

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  • This is why I'm a Mr. Pibb kinda guy...

    A Review by "HelloStuart," Amateur Critic and Closeted Fanilow

    Apparently ex-host Michael Phelps was caught smoking a bong over the weekend. This might explain his underwhelming stint five months ago; than again, this would also justify that 12,000-calorie diet of his…

    This week's host is the incomparable Steve Martin, whose 15th stint as master of ceremonies is practically an untouchable SNL record. I acknowledge that Steve is a living legend but he's not quite infallible, as his tendency to star in rehashes of old Peter Sellers movies will prove. The musical guest is Jason Mraz, the singer-songwriter behind last year's inescapable (for better or worse) hit "I'm Yours."

    And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:

    COLD OPENING: President Obama (FA) addresses the nation on the grave state of the economy, but the mechanics of his bailout are overshadowed by wistful memories of his presidential campaign. Obama admits that the courtship stage is over; he's not a morning person, and America is bad with money. To further prove that the honeymoon period has ended prematurely, Vice President Biden (JS) butts in just for the sake of reminding people that he's second in command. This first stab at the new administration was nothing special, but it could've been a lot less amusing.

    MONOLOGUE: In a sad harbinger of things to come, Steve makes a few bon mots that completely bomb, than rolls off a string of statements that make the audience go spastic.

    "Chewable Pampers": A fake ad for biodegradable, vegetable-based, and therefore edible diapers. The idea of eating fecal matter has been covered before (see "Litter Critters," Year 25) and it's been done in a way that was not only uncouth but pretty funny. This was just crude.

    "MacGruber": In the middle of a commercial break, our hero (WF) pops up to brag about himself, shill Pepsi, find a way to escape an abandoned oil refinery, and butts heads with the real MacGyver (a paunchy Richard Dean Anderson). Yes, it was just as overdone as it sounds.

    "Socially Awkward Officemates": Jean (KW), Neil (WF), and their newest friend (Steve) are completely oblivious to the Super Bowl party that they've just crashed, than chug ecstasy in the corner of a bar once they realize they don't belong. Basically, this recurring sketch looks and feels automated; the location and third member change but little else is altered. The vague sadness of their first few appearances have been diluted for a quirky type of going through the motions.

    DIGITAL SHORT: With some coercing by Andy and Bill, Steve presents "Laser Cats 4Ever!" to a disenchanted Lorne. This time the production values are more amateurish than ever, with people unrelated to the production wandering in and out nonchalantly, and that was the good part. The premise of the whole thing is a rip-off of "Return of the Jedi," with Steve shoehorned in as ultimately redeemed villain.

    "Issues": A talk show spoof where judgmental, bucktoothed college dropout Clarence Derrigan (KT) is more concerned with the odd physical features of his guests (CW, Steve) than their actual personal problems. If a one-note sketch like this can appear in the first half-hour of the show, than it doesn't well for any other sketches airing tonight.

    "MacGruber": Trapped in the boiler room of an illegal supply ship, MacGruber (or should I say, PepSuber) just won't shut up about how much he loves Pepsi. The fact that the first two segments were cued up like a commercial makes me wonder if this is really what it seems… (EDIT: This "sketch" re-aired during the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl. This completely reeks of selling out.)

    "Bernie Madoff": The home-arrested Ponzi schemer (FA) unsuccessfully throws together a Super Bowl party by calling up all the famous people he swindled. It's a chamber sketch that you rarely see anymore; the camera is static and frozen on Madoff, and the lack of movement helps you realize the claustrophobia of the world he's created for himself. It's melancholy, poignant, and savagely satirical all at once.

    "Backstage": The four female cast members channel Karen Carpenter, Natalie Cole, and Etta James as they try to conceal their unreciprocated crush on Steve. This is as close as the host has gotten to self-depreciation all night (apparently huge paychecks don't shrivel your sense of humor after all), and after a loaded first 30 minutes it felt good that we went into the first musical act on a high note.

    "MacGruber": Talk about a hard sell- now stuck in an Italian mafia hideout, MacGruber stymies MacGyver and that damsel with the bad '80s hair (KW) by repeatedly saying "Pepsi" as if it were some type of tribal dialect.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: I will admit that I'm not the biggest fan of this song, but Jason's performance of "I'm Yours" was a diligent crowd-pleaser.

    WEEKEND UPDATE: Seth's been working Update solo for three shows now and I still haven't decided if he works better without a partner. It's almost as if his jokes are time filler between guest commentaries, an opportunity to shoot the breeze while the rest of the cast takes a breather. Jason drags out his Blago impression one last time, admitting that he's unfazed by his impeachment before reciting an original, scornful poem. Abby makes her belated Update debut with a spot-on Angelina Jolie impression; too bad it was wasted on a bad joke about those octuplets that were born last week. Everything seemed like an appetizer for the big meal, where Gov. David Paterson (FA) resurfaces to defend his appointment of Rep. Gillebrand to the US Senate, than regress into the same obnoxious Jersey-bashing and pedestrian blind jokes that we saw six weeks ago.

    "Tiffany's Makeup Counter": Thomas the perfume guy (Steve) deals with his clingy, unemployed wife Katrina (KW) as a chagrined customer (CW) looks on. If you told me a month ago that Kristen had created one poorly developed character with a weird voice too many, I would not have believed you. Now I'm starting to feel a little bamboozled.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: From his upcoming album of original banjo music (no, not a joke), Steve and a gaggle of doting bluegrass musicians performed the kid-friendly "Late for School." I can't begin to describe how out of place this song felt; why couldn't Steve save this for when he makes the talk show rounds next week?

    "Forefathers of the Game": On ESPN Classic, old-time football players recall the career of Billy "The Gun" Van Guff (Steve), whose pistol-brandishing during game action made him the most dominant quarterback of the early 1930's. Not quite a fumble, but SNL certainly lost a few yards on this play.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: With the lovely Colbie Caillat by his side, Jason duets on the sure-to-be-Top-40-hit "Lucky." The song's pleasant, radio-friendly sound almost makes you forget that it's also undeniably bland.

    This whole show reeked of self-indulgence (on Steve's part) and shameless product placement (via "MacGruber"), and the end result was a confusing mess. I respect that SNL was originally a variety program before settling into a sketch-comedy-with-music format, but the (presumably) one-off regression was more jarring than entertaining. Selling out a popular recurring character reeks of identity crisis, which would be a wrong turn for a show that was having such a strong season up to this point. If the show wanted to push its credibility right over the edge, the producers would've sold the last half-hour to Ron Popeil or the people that make those Snuggie blankets. Amidst all this hubris was a couple of pretty decent sketches, but ultimately they were lost in the shuffle.

    Segments That Will Probably Be Removed in Repeats: all three "MacGruber" pieces and everything after Update.

    Next Week: TV/movie semi-star Bradley Cooper hosts with musical guest TV on the Radio.

    "HelloStuart" had predicted Steelers by 10, but hey, close enough. Contact him at
  • No, there's a mirror over there.

    Can anybody believe we're more than halfway through the season? It's unbelievable! Also unbelievable is that I'm doing reviews with one arm.

    Our host is Steve Martin! How can you not be excited? But, then again, SNL has been trying to get former classic hosts for a while, and the episode itself just doesn't deliver. I think getting new hosts is what SNL should focus on. The best episodes this season have been by newbies like Jon Hamm, Anne Hathaway, and Neil Patrick Harris. But, maybe tonights episode will be awesome. Musical guest is Jason Mraz. Moving on..

    Message from the President: Very funny opening. Between the lookbacks, and Biden, this showed that SNL is going to try to spoof this president, even if it kills them. I'm looking forward to more spoofs in the future.

    Monologue: You know it's a Steve Martin monologue when he's all over the place. Nice monologue.

    Pampers Chewables: I creative idea, bur the commercial proved that the idea can be milked so far. Why are all commercials starring Kristen and Jason this year?

    Awkward Inoverts At a Superbowl Party: I was glad to see these characters back. The ectasy thing was great.

    Laser Cats 4ever: Eh.. after last year's Walken one, I'm not all crazy for this sketch. The 'so bad its good thing' has gotten really old. I did get some chuckles, though.

    Issues: Kenan sketch... yawn. The premise was a decent idea, but, after Update. Please. It was a LOT beter than "GOOD! EX! CUSE!!"

    Benard Madoff: I thought it was a funny idea, but I was waiting for something to happen. Like, his wife to come out... oh well.

    Crush on Steve: All four ladies have a crush on Steve. I thought this was pretty funny, and I love that persona that Steve plays being a down right snob.

    While I'm here, I just to say I loved those 3 Pepsi/Macgruber commercials during the breaks that appeared during the original broadcast for NBC, not Global).

    Musical Performance: Jason Mraz performs "I'm Yours". I'm not a hater of this song like my good friend, Stu (lol), but I don't enjoy the song all too much. Mraz is a great live act, by the way.

    Weekend Update: Good Update tonight. The Blagojevich commentary was decent while the Jolie appearance was a great step for Abby. But, Fred stole this. The Patterson commentary was hilarious. It was even better than the last time.

    Crazy Wife: Same character, different costume and voice. The only thing that made me remotely laugh was the resemblance to my former piano teacher (by looks, not voice or mind). Kristen, you're very talented, but make characters that have a point.

    "Late To School": Steve performs "Late To School" with his band. The song got good laughs out of me.

    The Gun: This was kind of funny, but, it was put at the right timespot.

    Musical Performance: Mraz and Colbie Caillat perform "Lucky". Whatever.

    Tonight's episode was a disappointing one with such a great host. SNL obviously has a better time finding its voice with the new generation of actors. I'm very disappointed with the weak writing, but, there were some Steve Martin esque stuff, like the backstage sketch, and such.

    Next week, Bradley Cooper will host with musical guest, TV On The Radio. Excited for the musical guest, and the show itself can go any direction.
  • Pretty disappointing given that this was a Martin episode. It would have been weak given any host, but with Martin it was especially a letdown.

    Obama cold open - Not particularly funny, but somewhat amusing considering that Obama had a lot of great times during the campaign and the inauguration and now he has to face the realities of a horrible economy and two wars. Notice that Fred said that the note was from 44 to 43? A slight blooper. I did love the line that Obama found out that "you are terrible with money." Sudeikis as Biden livened the sketch up somewhat, but not enough to save it from mediocrity. Hopefully these addresses from Obama don't become the new standard cold open. We had enough of those during W's years and only Ferrell elevated them above the typically mundane. Grade: C

    Martin Monologue - The guy in the lower left corner of the screen salutes Martin as he walks on. I wonder what kind of gestures he was giving Martin as the show ended. Martin's reference to the movie tie-in was amusing because it is so true. SNL typically bases their guest choice now on who has a new movie to shill. The only other joke that didn't fall flat was the one about the audience appearing in his next movie. Grade: B-

    Chewable Pampers Commercial - Gross, but not really all that funny. I think it is too far from reality to be funny. The funniest bits are always close enough to reality to be believable, but have something odd enough to make it funny. This one just didn't work for me. Grade: C-

    Superbowl on Ecstasy - These characters really just need to go away. These sketches never go anywhere and take a long time to get there. This was one of the few times they didn't end the sketch in a discussion to have group sex.Grade: D

    Laser Cats 4 Ever - The weakest of the Laser Cat series. I did enjoy the Robocop and Star wars references, but it just wasn't that good. Kenan did pretty well with his death scene. As much as I used to like some of the digital shorts, I am beginning to think that all of these filmed bits are really getting the show too far away from its live roots. Maybe a digital short hiatus is in order. Grade: B-

    Issues - Kenan's new character was better than his typical characters, but still not great. The theme of the guest not being aware of their physical issues could get old very quickly and would probably not make a very enjoyable recurring sketch. Although it does beat the pants off of The View and Deep House Dish. Grade: C

    Bernie Madoff Invitations - Madoff is certainly a cretin and deserves to be lampooned. A one-man phone sketch is not really the way to do this jerk justice though. Why not have him appear before the Congress and have him pitch some great investment ideas while getting grilled? Grade: D

    Martin and the Ladies - Good to see all of the ladies interacting with Steve. I love how SNL has maintained the tradition of having animals and people in costume roaming around backstage as though this were an old minstrel show. Perhaps a reminder of where this style of sketch comedy originated. Nothing else to say about this one. Grade: B-

    Weekend update - Decent jokes, Jason's good Blago impression, Abby as Angelina and the oh-so non-politically correct impersonation of blind governor Patterson. A good update overall with some good pokes at upstate NY and NJ.Grade: B+

    Cosmetic Salesman - I mentioned a couple of months ago that Kristen's weird characters were rapidly becoming the backbone of the show. I'm beginning to think this is a very bad thing for the future of the show. Two weeks ago we had Gilley and now this awful characterization of an annoying and weird wife. These sketches are only based upon the strangeness of the characters and offer nothing in the way of plot. This is not a good direction in my opinion and should be tempered with more plot-driven sketches. As it is, this was terrible. Grade: F

    Martin's Banjo Tune - Not bad, but not really funny. More of Nickelodeon type of thing than an SNL thing. Grade: D

    Billy "The Gun" - I actually liked this. I thought the concept was funny as were the recollections by the participants. I would have liked it more if they could have shown some old grainy film of the incidents they described. Still, not bad. Grade: B+

    MacGrubers - Pretty strange that Mac went corporate. I think Mac should not be allowed back on SNL at this point. He is nothing more than a corporate shill now. As commercials, they are pretty good. Given their relationship to SNL and the fact that they are being passed off as part of the show is nothing less than disappointing.
  • Obama, Diapers and a Banjo

    ExcUUUUSE ME,I was not impressed. Steve Martin seemed tame & tired.Edible Pampers were gross and sadly the highpoint of the show.I'm sure the Pepsi ads will leave the majority of the Super Bowl audience scratching their heads.These skit/commercials are alot like the hidden advertisements on Saturday morning cartoons.Is MacGruber considered classic SNL now? Oh please. SNL has devolved into sophomoric poop & fart jokes and has really lost its edge. The old Buck Henry pedophile baby sitter sketch from the 70s would never even air in today's world.That was gutsy and hilarious TV. Now its "he's blind", "He's got bad hair","He's got a gun" Well,har de har har....
  • Steve Martin hosts.

    Steve Martin is your host tonight, for the 15th time. You may know him from a lot of bad comedy films, and if you don't, feel free to waste $10 next weekend by seeing Pink Panther 2.

    The opening sketch is a Presidential Address from Barack Obama, still poorly played by Fred Armisen who sounds nothing like him. It's clear the writers support him as there are various things to make fun of him by and yet they can't produce a single valid one.

    This followed with a commercial about eating diapers. That's about as far as I want to analyze this. The next sketch was a MacGruber short, featuring the actual MacGyver. It didn't feature funny lines though.

    The first real sketch of the evening featured three annoying people played by Wiig, Martin and Forte, discovering their first true Super Bowl. This is on track for a really, really bad episode.

    Yes, the return of Laser Cats! Finally, something good. Could it live up to the first three? Well, no, it was not as good as it's predecessors, but it was still a breath of fresh air on an already irritating installment of SNL.

    "Issues" with Clarence Thomas (Kenan Thompson) is our next sketch. Kenan needs more screen time, but outside of his stare here, not much to talk about. Fred Armisen played scam-artist Bernie Madoff again in a sketch solely around his annoying Jewish accent.

    We had another backstage skit with the female cast falling for Steve Martin. Textbook definition of time filler. As was the third MacGruber sketch of the night. God, they really need to end this.

    Weekend Update is next, but so far Seth's joke are all swings and misses. Jason Sudeikis is playing former Governor Rod Blagojevich. He's pretty much become their go to guy for impressions. Fred Armisen is also playing Governor David Patterson, and this has already gone on for way too long. For the UFC fans out there during this Georges St. Pierre is currently besting BJ Penn.

    Oh God, it's another annoying Kristen Wiig centric character. What is wrong with this show that they have to put this schtick on every week?

    Next we get Steve Martin performing "Late for School". This is surprisingly not that bad, better than the majority of this episode. And St. Pierre just defeated Penn via towel throwing.

    Next is ESPN Classic video of "The Gun" a player with a good arm who used an actual gun. This was actually pretty clever, but still not enough to save this episode.