The 15 Timers Club
Steve Martin hosted this week's episode of Saturday Night Live for the 15th time (he's the first to ever reach that number) and I don't know what's more depressing: the fact that one of the best guest hosts in the history of the show was stuck hosting another of this season's lackluster episode, or the fact that he was doing so in promotion of his new movie The Pink Panther 2.
For the most part, Martin's talents were wasted this week. Several sketches were repeated, including the one about the three nerds planning debauchery in a bar and Kenan Thompson's "Issues," with little to no success. At one point, Martin was even forced to play straight man to yet another of Kristen Wiig's nerdy/awkward "characters," complete with funny voice and wig. I guess Gilly didn't quite fill America's need for another variation on the same Kristen Wiig character.
We all would have been better off watching any of these Steve Martin movies. And least they allowed him to show off the fact that he's one of the funniest guys alive.
- "President Obama Cold Open" - While it feels good to type the words "President Obama," this sketch demonstrates what many of us feared if His Baracknes was elected to the White House: that Saturday Night Live isn't really sure how to make him funny. Fred Armisen's impression, once novel, has worn off as others (including Jamie Foxx) have shown they can do it better. (Watch the video)
- "Pampers" - There's a funny idea at the core of this fake commercial, about diapers that turn into food once they've been put to use. Mostly, though, it just relies on being kind of gross. (Watch the video)
- "Laser Cats 4" - No sketch better exemplifies SNL's use of what my friend calls the "Laser Cat rule" better than "Laser Cats." The sketch, which has already been repeated too many times, is amusing in the way it's very specific and accurate about its badness. But there's no punchline; no comic twist. We watch it knowing it's bad, and at the end of every sketch Lorne Michaels says it's bad. That's the "Laser Cat rule." (Watch the video)
- "Weekend Update: Angelina Jolie" - I've seen lots of people try and do an Angelina Jolie impression, but never one as scary accurate as new cast member Abby Elliott's. I think this is the moment she became a star on the show, and I'm sure it's not the last we'll see of the impression (which, like Andy Samberg's Mark Wahlberg, seems like it would be hard to pinpoint). It's too bad they didn't come up with a joke outside of the impression, but it was still a highlight of the episode. (Watch the video)
- "Late for School" - Steve Martin pimped his new album of banjo music with a performance of his original novelty song, "Late for School." It was exciting to see him performing live music, and I so badly wanted to really like the song. The lyrics are creative enough (he's a good writer, that Steve Martin), but the whole thing felt kind of lame. It's pitched at kids, I guess, so maybe I missed the point. (Watch the video)
- "NFL Films" - Finally, the 12:55 a.m. slot produces the episode's first really funny sketch (which is often the case). It's a fake ESPN documentary about a great quarterback nicknamed "The Gun" for two reasons. Maybe I'm crazy -- I really liked this sketch. The fact that it was pre-taped helps; the production values are part of what makes it funny. (Watch the video)
- Host: Steve Martin
- Musical Guest: Jason Mraz
- Original Air Date: 1/31/09