Written By: Mark Henely and Dan Gagliardi
Saturday Night Live Recap – Larry David, Bernie Sanders, The 1975, Owen Wilson & Ben Stiller
The Host: Larry David
Mark: Usually when you watch SNL, you get a series of relatively straight forward sketches and then a couple of really bizarre sketches at the end. However, this episode felt like a bunch of bizarre sketches with only a couple of straight forward sketches sprinkled through out. I think a lot of this has to do with host, Larry David, and his willingness to be in sketches that are a little farther outside the box. It makes for a very weird episode with a lot of bright spots in it.
Dan: There’s nary a host who can get through their monologue without taking a second to grovel at the feet of the show, which is basically just an underhanded way of saying, “I’m so excited to be here that I’m not concerned with me doing a good job, and neither should you be.”
Larry David is one such host who can resist the temptation of totally lowering the stakes for himself. From the get-go, he was full tilt David, downplaying the significance of hosting a comedy institution that he himself tried and failed to get cast on without spending all of his time talking about it. For a guy who, as far as I know, doesn’t really get up and do sets regularly, he’s very on point—and only Larry David gets a pass for starting a premise with “You ever notice how…”
It set the tone for the whole episode, which was exciting, irreverent, and unafraid to put one of the weirdest sketches at the top of the show. David’s funny in his own right, but from his long career of working with incredible ensemble casts, he also knows how to fold himself into a sketch. What a swell guy.
Mark: This is going to sound bizarre, but there was some really great mime work on these week’s edition of Weekend Update. In a section typically known for its clever wordplay, the best part was a wordless parody of Dirty Dancing. Miming isn’t a comedic form that gets a lot of respect in today’s world, but new cast member John Rudnitsky really delivered. The whole thing was made even funnier by having Colin Jost and Michael Che laughing and shaking their heads in the background the whole time.
However, the real headline of Weekend Update was a surprise drop in by Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as Derek Zoolander and Hansel. It was great getting to see those characters again and they were really very funny. The schtick didn’t seem tired and they really held their own on stage.
Dan: I’m glad someone’s going to bat for John Rudnitsky here, and I’m even gladder that it’s not me. The whole time he was doing that bit, I just wished he would only done his admittedly very good Patrick Swayze impression. I thought the game of accidentally killing someone was a little obvious and made me tune out. But yeah, Mark’s right, great space work.
Another thing I think Mark is so wrong about? Sure, I got one more in the chamber. I hated the Zoolander/Hansel thing on principle, because unlike Mark, I am not so easily taken in by any crossover event I can get my hands on. It reminded me of my little cousin’s birthday party, when guys in Bert and Ernie character costumes showed up and the kids went nuts.
Mark: I would like a moment to defend myself. I will agree that the narrative of the miming bit was obvious, but I think he saved it with his Patrick Swayze mannerisms. Mime is a difficult medium to work with and I actually think the obvious narrative allowed the audience, who is not well versed in mime, to follow it better. The whole thing was really just a great vehicle for John’s Swayze-ing and I was happy to see it.
I also resent the idea that I liked the Zoolander/Hansel bit just based on hype alone. If they showed up and weren’t funny, I would have been down on it as well. I am skeptical at best on this whole Zoolander 2 thing and I am still not convinced that the sequel will be worth while, but I think they legit did a great job last night. They stuck to topical jokes and it made their schtick feel contemporary.
Mark: The funniest sketch of the night was a super weird Totino’s pizza rolls sketch. It is a sketch where the wife in a commercial slowly realizes that there is something horribly paranormally wrong with the men watching the football game in her living room. The joke in the sketch initially seems like it is going to play off of the corniness of TV commercials, but the humor for the audience comes from the audience slowly realizing that something much stranger is at play.
Dan: I am pleased to announce a two-way tie this week. Like Mark, I loved the Totino’s sketch, although I was a little disappointed by the reveal at the end. But for me, the Kevin Roberts sketch was the most perfectly executed SNL sketch I’ve seen in so long. Even that final reveal that Kevin Roberts developed the training simulator didn’t disappoint. It gave Kenan a chance to do what he does best—play completely bewildered by what’s happening to him. It was a weird, beautiful thing that Kenan and David were this classic two-man team, but never directly interacted with each other.
Least Favorite Sketch:
Mark: When I watch SNL, I’m all about the spectacle. I love when celebrities drop in for surprise cameos (like Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson did in Weekend Update) and rumors leading up to last night’s SNL suggested that Bernie Sanders was going to make a cameo. Larry David has an incredible Bernie Sanders impression and the idea of David being in the same room as the man he mocks was very delicious. Unfortunately, he showed up in the worst sketch of the night: the very poorly executed “Women and Children First” sketch.
The premise of the sketch is that the “Women and Children First” policy on sinking ships is unfair to men. This is not a new idea. This is something I thought long and hard about as an 8-year-old after my mom took me to see the movie Titanic. In this sketch, Larry David watches women and children get onto a life boat and calls them out for not being womanly enough or boyish enough. The sketch felt mean and creepy. Bernie Sanders came out at the end and that saved it a little, but his cameo would have been better if he wasn’t on such a lame sketch.
Dan: Mark is right about the “Women and Children” sketch. In addition to being a trite premise (although I’ll forgive David for toeing the line of mean and creepy since that’s often his schtick), it was an unfocused sketch. I feel like if you have access to Bernie Sanders, and you’re going to set your sketch in the ham-fisted metaphor of a sinking ship, maybe explore that a little bit more. Sanders was clearly a good sport and could have co-captained that entire sketch with David.
Musical Guest: The 1975
Mark: I didn’t know who “The 1975” were going into this show and I am still not sure. They seem to be your average alt rock band where everyone wears black clothes and looks handsome, but in an atypical way. All I know about them is that their lead singer is crazy vain. The frontman was a leather pants wearing waif with a mop of dark curls covering up his eyes and perfect cheeks bones. And while we couldn’t see his face, he did, however, wear an open jacket so that we could see his flat torso and cool tattoos. The rest of the band never looked up from their instruments in true shoe-gazing fashion, but it only intensified that “The 1975” is all about the frontman and how charming and sexy he is.
Dan: I skipped the first song, Mark. I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t have, but I was so put off by the drummer looking like the singer if the singer were allowed to dress himself that I simply couldn’t. I didn’t skip the second song when I noticed that the bass player looks like Billy Bob Thornton’s character on Fargo. I’m glad I didn’t, because as a fan of derivative music (Bruno Mars! My #1 little dancer!), I was quite pleased with this “Fame” by Bowie ripoff. It was a fine enough song and I’ve already forgotten how it goes.