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Saturday Night Live Episode Recap

Episode 3809: Jamie Foxx/Ne Yo

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Jamie Foxx hosts Saturday Night Live
Photo courtesy NBC

It's been over a decade since Jamie Foxx hosted Saturday Night Live, and his career has taken a very different path since the last time he was on. He has become a big movie star. He has won the Academy Award. He has a legitimate musical career. He is now Jamie Foxx SUPERSTAR, and he brought a bunch of that baggage with him to host the show this week. It's easy to forget that Foxx started out as a stand-up and got his big break doing sketch comedy (on the '90s sketch series In Living Color), but his experience showed here -- so much so that, at times, he threatened to overtake the completely. For about half the episode, it seemed like Foxx was acting in a totally different show than the rest of the cast. It's no surprise, then, that the first half was also some of the worst stuff the show has done all season. Things came together during "Weekend Update" and after, though; the performances began to gel and the show cut loose with some absurdist sketches that really worked.

Sketch Highlights

  • "Cold Open: Fiscal Cliff Press Conference - It's really weird when Saturday Night Live goes away for a few weeks and then comes back to do commentary on things they've missed that's totally toothless and out of step. I still like Jay Pharoah's Obama impression, but the show needs to get away from sketches that do nothing more with him than stick him behind a podium. Bill Hader's John Boehner was a disappointment, too, saddled with nothing funny to do and failing to capitalize on any of what's inherently funny about the orange-skinned politician. Things did not get off to a great start this week. (Watch the "Fiscal Cliff Press Conference Video)
  • "Jamie Foxx Monologue" - Stand-up comics always control the monologue in a way that's different than other hosts, and Jamie Foxx -- who has more confidence and swagger than most other comics -- really took over the stage at the start of the show. He was loose and informal, but also almost insufferably cocky. He did a run of "How black is that?" that started to go in an interesting direction before growing old. He played the piano and sang. Then, for some reason, rapper 2 Chainz came out. It was all a little schizophrenic, like the whole first half of the episode. Foxx is a very assured performer, but seemed to be doing a show of his own for parts of this week's episode. (Watch the "Jamie Foxx Monologue" video)
  • "Bitch, What's the Answer?" - The common practice for Saturday Night Live is to lead with one of its best sketches, so maybe the show was just trying to "shake things up" by kicking off the episode with its worst sketch by a considerable margin. The joke here is that Jamie Foxx says "bitch" a lot and intimidates the white contestants. Between the opening monologue and this sketch, I had a really bad feeling about what the episode's theme was going to be. I'm happy that I was wrong, and that things basically improved after this. (Watch the "Bitch, What's the Answer?" video)
  • "J-Pop Christmas" - Is this the first time we've seen "J-Pop" this season? That seems surprising. Whatever the case, this was no different than any other time the sketch has been performed, meaning it got by on the energy and enthusiasm of Taran Killam and Vanessa Bayer. The first moments of Jamie Foxx's appearance, where he did a laugh inspired by the bad dubbing of old kung-fu movies, gave me hope that he was going to find a different way to be funny than the regular cast members. No such luck. (Watch the "J-Pop Christmas" video)
  • "Tyler Perry Presents: Alex Cross" - Part of the problem with this Digital Short, which casts Foxx as Tyler Perry in both his Alex Cross and his Medea characters, is that Alex Cross bombed and disappeared from movie theaters weeks ago, meaning audiences probably don't even remember that it was a thing. That makes it a challenge to build a whole sketch around it. Foxx gave it his all, effectively skewering the cartoonishness of the Medea character and doing one great physical bit by crossing his eyes, but it went on way too long. The style was very accurate, though. SNL is great at mimicking these kinds of things. (Watch the "Tyler Perry Presents: Alex Cross" video)
  • "Weekend Update: Ding Dong" - In the last few seasons, "Weekend Update" went from consistently being the best thing in the show (going back to the Amy Poehler/Tina Fey days -- or even the Amy Poehler/Seth Meyers days) to being one of the weakest. This week turned that around a little, with one of the best "Updates" in a long time; Seth Meyers had a lot of good jokes and delivered them with confidence and expert timing ("I fell asleep while getting a haircut" was one of the biggest laughs of the night). The two guest appearances weren't great, though, starting with Aidy Bryant doing a lot of sex jokes as Mrs. Clause and following it up with Jamie Foxx as a disgruntled Ding Dong reacting to the bankruptcy of the Hostess corporation. Once again, the sketch became about race, but it was good to see the host of the show sitting in on "Update" (which so rarely happens). Plus, Jamie Foxx knew how to get maximum humor out of his oversized glove hands. The guy is a pro. (Watch the "Weekend Update: Ding Dong" video)
  • "Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney" - As much as I should probably take SNL to task for basing a sketch around as esoteric a concept as this, the execution was very amusing. The idea to make all three contestants on the game show black men was particularly funny, and their totally varied reactions when trying to come up with the right answers were great. Dermot Mulroney's appearance was cute and all, but it was putting a hat on top of a hat. Still, a bizarre and enjoyable sketch. (Watch the "Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney" video)
  • "Maine Justice" - This was insane in the very best way. I like when SNL comes up with a crazy concept and then has the courage to see it all the way through, and I was impressed at how long the sketch -- which was a court show set in Maine but in which everyone acted like Cajun caricatures -- was willing to go without spelling out the explanation. And when the explanation finally came, the writers kept it vague, leaving open the possibility of interdimensional travel as one option. Bobby Moynihan's "What the hell is going on?" was perfect, and Jason Sudeikis eventually climbing on the bench was very funny. Best of all was surprise guest Charlie Day (reuniting three of the four stars of last summer's Horrible Bosses), who created a funnier character than anyone else on the show in a short amount of screen time. Inspired. (Watch the "Maine Justice" video)
  • "Tree Pimps" - Sometimes, an SNL sketch can get by being built around a single joke as long as it's a good joke (just look at "Maine Justice" from this week). Unfortunately, the digital short "Tree Pimps," which equates Christmas trees with prostitutes, did not have the best joke. It was run into the ground pretty quickly, too, happy to rest on its concept rather than include many actual jokes. It was made very well, and most of the laughs came more from the style than from the content, but the laughs really weren't there. (Watch the "Tree Pimps" video)
  • "Swarvoski Crystals" - While very much a typical 11:55 sketch (or 12:55 if you're on the East Coast), it was hard not to find a ton of jokes really funny in this one. Vanessa Bayer and (especially) Cecily Strong are great at playing dead-eyed vapidity, and there were so many good one-liners that were tossed away -- "Crystals are only $50, plus they're diamonds" or "I lost my foot...it broke off in a butt" or Cecily Strong introducing herself as "I forget." Foxx was shoehorned in with a running joke that didn't work; I would have preferred the sketch just be about the two girls, but I understand why the show would want him to appear in the last piece of the night. The back half of the show was pretty strong thanks to sketches like this. (Watch the "Swarvoski Crystals" video)
  • Original Air Date: 12/8/12
  • Host: Jamie Foxx
  • Musical Guest: Ne-Yo
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