This week's Saturday Night Live should have been a much-needed bounceback after last week's Robert DeNiro debacle. On paper, an episode hosted by Paul Rudd (his second time hosting the show) with musical guest Paul McCartney should be a slam-dunk. Rudd is a very funny and likable performer, and Paul McCartney is one of those musical guests (like Sting, too) that SNL is always good about using throughout the show. But, alas, let us not forget that this is Season 36 of Saturday Night Live, and apparently nothing is really to work this season. Apparently everyone has checked out. And Paul Rudd, like most of the guest hosts this season, wasn't really used to very good effect; I'm starting to think that the show can't be bothered to write for the host at all -- or, at the very least, try to make him or her look as good as possible.
I guess it's really good that Dana Carvey was able to come by and do his impression of Paul McCartney for four full musical performances (that's twice the usual amount, for those of you who have never seen this show). I guess when you have someone on pretending to be a Beatle, you give him free reign to not sound great on a number of classic songs. Plus, think of all the time and work that it saves the show in not having to come up with actual sketches to pad out the show! Dana Carvey should be on every week.
- "Cold Open: Barack Obama" - We're not even halfway through the season and it's already become totally exhausting to try and comment on the cold open sketch week after week. This week, we've got Fred Armisen's Barack Obama once again sitting at a desk, barely delivering any jokes into the camera. There's half an idea here (a theme for this week's installment), but no one really bothered to write a script. SNL seems big on putting their first drafts on the air this year. (Watch the "Cold Open: Barack Obama" video)
- "Paul Rudd Monologue" - If this monologue worked at all -- and I'm pretty sure it didn't -- it's only because it was sold by Paul Rudd's charm and comic timing, bolstered by the star power of Paul McCartney. I also liked Paul Brittain's little shout-out, even though it went nowhere. I think I just liked his excited exclamation of "featured player!" (Watch the "Paul Rudd Monologue" video)
- "Kissing Family" - It's really too bad that Saturday Night Live relies so heavily on repeat sketches these days. It's even worse that the show doesn't seem to have any sense of which sketches are worth repeating. This one -- which gets its laughs solely from shock value -- was done last time Paul Rudd hosted. I guess when you've got a host willing to lick the mouths of the male cast members, it's too good an opportunity to pass up. (Watch the "Kissing Family" video)
- "What's That Name?" - There's half a good sketch here (yet another game show!), but it's abandoned halfway through because Saturday Night Live gets to have commercial breaks. Good thing. The premise is funny and I actually liked Kenan Thompson's insistent "What's my name?" line. Then, like so many sort-of decent sketches this season, it just stops, presumably because four minutes had been filled and that was the goal. (Watch the "What's That Name?" video)
- "Cat Cuisine" - This made me laugh. I'm not a perfect man. I wish it went somewhere, but every time it cut to the slop being dumped on a plate, it was funny -- probably because it's not too far off from actual cat food commercials. (Watch the "Cat Cuisine" video)
- "Sexually Speaking" - See what I mean about not knowing which sketches to repeat? (Watch the "Sexually Speaking" video)
- "Field Day" - I was rooting for this sketch to work, mostly because it showcased featured player Jay Pharoah and allowed him to perform an original character instead of do another impression of Denzel Washington or Eddie Murphy. And while his "Attention teachers and students" opener made me laugh (and seemed well-observed, as though the character was based on a principal he once had), he just kept piling on affectations -- probably in the hopes of creating a character that's way more "repeatable." The air was quickly sucked out of the sketch, leaving it a dead zone between Paul McCartney performances. (Watch the "Field Day" video)
- "Ice Show at the Garden" - My favorite piece of the week, for a couple of reasons: 1) Abby Elliott. 2) Abby Elliott's very funny Meryl Streep impression, which is very smart in the way it zeroes in on the actress' false modesty in generating humor. 3) Jason Sudekis tearing up as he talks about the show. 4) The kids chanting "Meryl! Meryl! Meryl! 5) Taran Killam's enthusiastically catty review. The whole thing was really, really funny. So I guess the night wasn't a total wash. (Watch the "Ice Show at the Garden" video)
- Original Air Date: 12/11/10
- Host: Paul Rudd
- Musical Guest: Paul McCartney