Written By Melissa Jouben and Mark Henely
Host: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Melissa: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is our true First Lady of Comedy. Well, actually, she’s the President. Not only has Julia broken the ‘Seinfeld Curse’ by going on to receive critical acclaim for just about everything she does, she also completely smashed that curse. As in, it’s been lifted. Jason Alexander is just being lazy at this point. Julia is one of those higher-profile SNL alumni who you almost certainly will never remember for their time on SNL. The circumstances surrounding her tenure on the show were a little strange, for lack of a better word, which is a topic covered briefly in the 2015 documentary Live from New York! if you’re ever interested. As for her monologue this episode, it wasn’t her strongest to date but the joke behind it was refreshing. She wasn’t afraid to poke fun at herself and her early career choices, which provides a relatability and reminds us that it was a long climb to the top. There is one word I can use to describe her performance: confident. She knows what she is doing and she does it well. I was also a total sucker for her showing up as Elaine Benes in the cold open – with Larry David no less! As an aside, I will gladly take a Tony Hale cameo whenever and wherever.
Mark: I agree with Melissa that Louis-Dreyfus looked confident last night, but I felt the show overall was relatively weak. There just weren’t a lot of memorable sketches. Usually the successor failure of a show is based on the inability of the host, but this was a weird week where the host showed up ready to go and the material she was given just wasn’t great.
Best Sketch – Who Works Here?
Melissa: During the commercial break when they cut back to SNL to show the stage getting set up and I saw a podium, I thought “I am so over gameshow sketches this season.” This was, however, a really fun way to utilize a gameshow format. It seems clear to me they had the idea for these characters down and then had to reverse engineer a sketch to find a way to parade them all. That’s actually exactly what they did, they literally paraded character after character and left it up to the gameshow host to explain their odd behavior. Even given that all these characters had a few seconds of the spotlight, every cast member involved with this sketch completely shined and gave a really inspired performance. You can tell they’ve all met their fair share of weirdos in a CVS before. This also hits close to home because, haven’t you met a weirdo in CVS too? I had to talk to one about her diverticulitis for fifteen minutes the other day. Plus, Julia as a game show host is spot-on. Just perfect.
Mark: While for me, there was some competition for sketch of the night (“Brooklyn Democratic Debate” and “God is a Boob Man”), I think the most interesting part of the show wasn’t a traditional sketch. I’m a huge Cecily Strong fan and I was really into her “Weekend Update” segment where she played The Girl in a Male Dominated Comedy”. There seemed to be a genuine rage just beneath the surface of her performance that I thought was really compelling. She spent the entire sketch railing against what could potentially be her future as a performer, which could be playing vapid characters in comedies where the men get to have all the fun. It was a really interesting piece of satire that I think deserves a second look.
Worst Sketch – Match.com Event
Melissa: I went back and forth on this one for a while. Hopefully by the time this is published I’ll have changed my mind again because I didn’t want to say this sketch was the worst of the evening. But unfortunately, in terms of execution, it just didn’t deliver. The idea was great, and refreshing – “Cinema Classics”, my other pick for worst sketch of the evening, was a recurring sketch and so I feel like I’m punishing “Match.com Event” for putting itself out there and trying something new. I think both these sketches had a very simple joke behind them and then tried to play that joke out and sustain it, and “Cinema Classics” was helped by Julia’s physical commitment to that sketch – running around the stage, exasperatedly looking at the bottom of a clock, crawling around on the floor. This sketch was short, a little all over the place, and never felt like it had a satisfying conclusion. Plus the audience didn’t seem on board with it, which is a shame, but I guess the idea of people turning into skeletons can be upsetting.
Mark: There was a lot of competition for worst sketch of the night, but I’m going to agree with Melissa and give it to the “Match.com Event.” It was an interesting concept that was badly executed. Potentially, if it had been workshopped more, it could have turned into something good.
Melissa: Did you know Nick Jonas is hot? I didn’t know before SNL told me about four times. I know he is enjoying a prosperous solo career and I’m pretty sure without googling it that he sings that “Sexy Beautiful” song but last night taught me that Nick Jonas is actually considered a big deal and he’s also totally an adult. He appears to be a good musician in his own right, and his songs were easy to listen to. It’s clear to me that he really respected the opportunity to play that stage and he gave it his best. He also appeared in two sketches (as a recurring character named Nick Jonas Is Playing a Hot Guy) and he actually happened to have what is in my opinion the best line delivery in the “Big Jewelry” sketch.
Mark: As a metalhead teenager who group up during the Jonas Brothers era, I hated the Jonas Brother with a passion that, for most people, is only reserved for figures like Kim Jung Un and Casey Anthony. As an adult who no longer needs the rage of Heavy Metal to get himself through the day, I was able to watch this performance without rage in my heart. I can now acknowledge that he is bland and forgettable, but not really worth of hate. I think that is progress.