I really like Emma Stone, who hosted SNL for the first time this week. She always comes off as funny and smart without being smug, and that can be tough. I was pulling for her to be great this week, and while I wouldn't say she achieved greatness she was funny -- albeit in a way that felt separate from the show itself. It wasn't that she didn't commit in every sketch -- she did -- it was just that it always felt like there was the sketch and then there was her. I'm sure it didn't help that she wasn't given much to do, although this certainly wasn't the worst or laziest episode of the season. I don't think I'll remember it a few weeks from now, but Emma Stone acquitted herself nicely.
- "Cold Open: Barack Obama and Harry Reid" - Will all of this go away after the upcoming mid-term elections? Who do I have to talk to about that? I'm not even sure some of the political cold open sketches have actual jokes anymore. Here's a tip, SNL: covering politics and current events doesn't make you relevant. Being funny enough to have people talking about you on Monday does. That's where your focus needs to be.
- "Baby Spanx" - It's pretty easy to get laughs out of doing something inappropriate with babies, so I guess that's why this was actually kind of amusing. The CGI special effects were creepier than they were funny, but I still liked all the stuff about chubby babies and insecure parents. Not the worst. (Watch the "Baby Spanx" video)
- "The View" - What can possibly be said about this sketch? I know The View is in the news again because some of the hosts walked off the set, but SNL isn't interested in doing much with that. There's a throwaway acknowledgment of the incident and nothing more. Instead, the sketch is yet another attempt to pile onto the mess that used to be Lindsay Lohan. Is there any comedy to be mined from that anymore? On the basis of this sketch, I would say "nuh-uh."(Watch the "The View" video)
- "Dream Home Extreme" - A perfect representation of what Kristen Wiig has become: thrashing and mugging and uncomfortable with any lack of reaction. She practically barfed up a lung here and Emma Stone was funnier eating potato chips. (Watch the "Dream Home Extreme" video)
- "Brett Favre Wrangler Video" - Yet another example of SNL attempting to comment on some current pop culture event and falling way short. Simply name-checking the event (in this case, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre supposedly texting pictures of his wang a few years ago) isn't really enough. You have to make a joke out of it. The only thing that made me smile in this sketch was watching the reactions of Bobby Moynihan as he tried his hardest to avoid any physical contact. That guy is underrated. (Watch the "Brett Favre Wrangler" video)
- "Headline News" - Another fairly lame sketch that was at least an original piece (except for "The View," I think the show stayed away from repeats this week). Emma Stone wasn't given much to do and Kristen Wiig just seemed kind of desperate, but Bill Hader almost makes the whole thing work on the strength of his line delivery. Almost. (Watch the "Headline News" video)
- "Digital Short: I Broke My Arm" - This was well on its way to being my favorite sketch of the night until Andy Samberg screwed it up. It was a fairly generic pop song parody, but I liked the Kei$ha-style pageantry mixed with the banal lyrics. Plus, Emma Stone sold the hell out of it and it was really willing to go to some dark, dark places. Then, as the Digital Shorts often do, Andy Samberg decided it needed more "absurdity" and stepped all over the dark punchline with a stupid bit about grape jelly. Oh well. It was 2/3 of a good short. (Watch the "I Broke My Arm" video)
- "Weekend Update: John Mulaney" - I don't include many of the "Update" segments anymore, because they've mostly grown tired, but I couldn't pass up the chance to include this piece from John Mulaney, one of my favorite comedians who joined the writing staff of SNL last year. This is only his second "Update" showcase, and while it wasn't as strong as his incredible Girl Scouts routine last season it still had a number of good jokes (I particularly liked the bit about the coming attractions for Mad Men, if only because I'm making that same point to my wife every week). He should be on the show more. (Watch the "Weekend Update: John Mulaney" video)
- "My Brother Knows Everything" - I'm almost positive that Nasim Pedrad has come up with three or four different variations on this character -- the geeky kid who's overly-enthusiastic about a family member. So this was one of those. Let's remember this sketch the next time we think about the fact that Jenny Slate is no longer on the show. (Watch the "My Brother Knows Everything" video)
- "'Sex' Ed Vincent" - New cast member Paul Brittain is clearly trying to make a new recurring character catch on here, and while there's a hint of something funny at the core there wasn't really anything remarkable about the sketch. I'm glad he got a showcase and I'm interested to see where he goes on the show, but this didn't announce him the way it should have. And isn't this just the kind of character Will Forte would have played if he was still on the show? I suspect Forte would have made this sketch a whole lot more uncomfortable. (Watch the "'Sex' Ed Vincent" video)
- "Budget Costumes" - This was another original sketch that felt like a repeat, only because Kenan Thompson has played some variation on this character at least a half dozen times. I resent his attempts to shoehorn in some sort of catchphrase in an effort to make the character more repeatable -- why not just write/perform a memorable character and find longevity in that -- but there was some decent stuff here. Emma Stone was funny in her bit part. In a lot of ways, this sketch encapsulated my feelings about the episode overall: not terrible, but kind of lazy and worth watching for what Emma Stone is doing in the side of the frame. (Watch the "Budget Costumes" video)
- Original Air Date: 10/23/10
- Host: Emma Stone
- Musical Guest: Kings of Leon