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Saturday Night Live Episode Recap

Episode 3806: Louis CK/Fun

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Louis CK hosts Saturday Night Live
Photo courtesy NBC

There was very little chance that this week's episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by comedian Louis C.K. (the very best comic working right now) could live up to my hopes and expectations. I like SNL. I love Louis C.K. The weird experiment of C.K. doing sketch comedy -- something I know he's written (like The Dana Carvey Show) but, to the best of my knowledge, never performed, had tremendous appeal. So I guess I shouldn't be disappointed that a weird experiment turned out to be pretty much that -- a weird experiment that didn't quite work, but was interesting to witness nonetheless. The best parts of the episode were those in which C.K. had the most autonomy (his monologue, essentially an abbreviated stand-up set, and a very funny short film about Abraham Lincoln that parodied his FX sitcom Louie), suggesting that he might not be the best fit for SNL. I'm glad we got to see him host, but I'm happier to watch him do his own thing.

Sketch Highlights

  • "Cold Open: Hurricane Sandy" - Of course Saturday Night Live needed to open the show by dealing with Hurricane Sandy, the horrible storm that hit the eastern seaboard of the U.S. and left most of New York City under water. There are so many directions the show could have gone with it, so I feel kind of bad (considering what the city went through) that I didn't love the approach that they took. A press conference is fine, I guess, but was too much about covering one specific aspect of the whole situation. I did like Nasim Pedrad as Chris Christie's Jersey'd-out interpreter, though. (Watch the "Cold Open: Hurricane Sandy" video)
  • "Louis CK Monologue" - It's always a little jarring when a stand-up comic hosts the show, because the monologue always just turns into a mini stand-up set (the same thing happened when Dane Cook hosted a few years back). CK even had a microphone with him. The good news is that the material was great, and made for some of the best stuff in the episode, basically proving the theory that while it was an interesting experiment to have Louis CK host Saturday Night Live, he's capable of being way funnier on his own than in this kind of environment. (Watch the "Louis CK Monologue" video)
  • "Fox and Friends: Hurricane Sandy" - These "Fox and Friends" sketches are always kind of funny, because Taran Killam, Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan have nailed the malicious stupidity that is the stock and trade of that show's hosts. CK was given less than nothing to do, though, which was a bad omen of the episode to come. Luckily, the rest of the episode did not follow suit, and at least always gave him bigger and better roles than in his first "in character" appearance of the night. Plus, Jason Sudeikis's Donald Trump impression made me miss Darrell Hammond. (Watch the "Fox and Friends: Hurricane Sandy" video)
  • "Lincoln" - Obviously, this was the sketch of the night (it may end up being one of the sketches of the entire season), and it's interesting that it exists almost totally independently of Saturday Night Live. This is basically Louis CK doing what Louis CK does on his own sitcom, and it was both funnier and a better fit for him than anything else on the show. I'm not suggesting he wrote and directed by himself -- I know better -- but it's the best example of the show really trying to adapt to him as a host instead of just plugging him into the sketches they were basically going to do anyway. I could have easily watched an episode of this for 90 minutes. (Watch the "Lincoln: Director's Cut" video)
  • "Australian Screen Legends" - I'm not entirely sure what to make of this one. On the one hand, it had Kate McKinnon taking her clothes off (congratulations, Bill Hader) and a couple of funny lines ("I'm gonna go crazy on that butt!"). On the other, what exactly is it trying to say about Australian culture? Or Australians as people? I don't mean that it's offensive or anything. I mean I don't really know what it's getting at. (Watch the "Australian Screen Legends" video)
  • "Mountain Pass" - Well, this had to be the weakest sketch of the night, and exactly the kind of thing I was worried about when Louis CK was announced as host of the show. The comedian seemed mostly uncomfortable with the material -- the costumes, the sets, the writing. None of it really worked. And, yet, if there was anything about it that worked, it was the fact that he seemed totally out of place. His performance basically called attention to that fact, and while that was amusing to watch as a fan of CK, it didn't make for very good sketch comedy. The premise was kind of amusing, actually, but the execution just didn't come together. (Watch the "Mountain Pass" video)
  • "Hotel Fees" - Here's a sketch that was a perfect representation of the entire episode: it was kind of funny, it had a few good jokes, but it was neither as good or as memorable as any of us wanted it to be. CK was at least given the "funny" role, but didn't have much funny to do -- the few moments in which the dialogue went in really bizarre directions was a good glimpse into where it needed to go to stand out. Instead, it felt like something that was only halfway finished -- not bad, but not great, either. (Watch the "Hotel Fees" video)
  • "Last Call" - While this felt a lot like something you would see on stage at Second City, it still ended up being one of the stronger sketches of the night. There were a lot of jokes, and it gave CK and Kate McKinnon (who is going to have to be promoted to full cast this season if they keep using her this much, not that I'm complaining) a chance to be silly and go back and forth very quickly. There was a weird dynamic at work, too, where CK was playing kind of a believable drunk and McKinnon was playing a big, broad cartoon character. Really, the whole thing was just building to their long, weird kiss (congratulations, Louis CK), and it's a trope that the show falls back on a little too often. (Watch the "Last Call" video)
  • Original Air Date: 11/3/12
  • Host: Louis CK
  • Musical Guest: Fun
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