Actress Anne Hathaway proved to be a more-than-capable host during her first stint on “SNL” in 2008, which turned out to be one of the strongest episodes that season. So, was she able to top that performance for her second outing, and how did it stack up against the recent lackluster shows featuring fellow young actresses Emma Stone and Scarlett Johansson? Read on to find out…
Click the titles to view each sketch:
Cold Open- The Rachel Maddow Show: Kudos to Abby Elliot for finally landing a lead role in a sketch since what seems like forever (despite being bumped to a regular cast member this season), this time even at the top of the show. Elliot portrayed MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow once before, and it’s somewhat surprising that she hasn’t reprised the role until now since she’s already managed to nail Maddow’s mannerisms and voice inflection. This was actually a solid way to kick off the show, especially compared to recent political cold openings (particularly those featuring our inherently unfunny president).
This time, Rachel interviews soon to be Speaker of the House John Boehner (Bill Hader), current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Kristen Wiig), and recently convicted Rep. Charlie Rangel (Kenan Thompson). As expected, there were a few lazy jokes throughout the sketch, such as those aimed at Boehner’s name and Maddow’s boyish looks, but all in all it was a good way to start off the show, although it would have been nice to see them exaggerate Boehner’s orangeness a bit more. Grade: B
Monologue: Anne Hathaway’s new movie “Love and Other Drugs,” co-starring Jake Gyllenhaal features quite a bit of nudity, so the male cast members decide to persuade the actress to appear nude in as many sketches as possible. This was nothing special, but it showed that Anne was game for anything, which she went on to prove the rest of the episode. Grade: B-
Message from TSA: Very topical, and incredibly funny which is extremely rare for “SNL” these days. The TSA security workers appear in a late night sex line commercial, promising to give you that extra special touch at the airport, even “under your testicles.” Grade: A
The Miley Cyrus Show: We first saw this sketch when Bryan Cranston hosted a few weeks ago and played creepy Billy Ray Cyrus. This time it was funnier, in large part because of Anne Hathaway’s dead-on impersonation of Katie Holmes. It was great to see that she didn’t hold back, with the constant hair flipping, signature side-mouth, and rehearsed answers that use “complexity” every other word. It’s also nice to see Vanessa Bayer already getting her first recurring sketch on the show. Grade: B
Penelope- Thanksgiving: Penelope is one of Kristen Wiig’s few recurring characters that isn’t completely unbearable. The sketch definitely showcases Wiig’s talent, but if you’ve seen one “Penelope” skit, you’ve seen them all. At least they didn’t bring back Gilly. Grade: C
Visiting the Queen: Naturally, they had to give their take on Prince William and Kate Middleton’s recent engagement. Kate meets the Queen (Fred Armisen) and King (Hader) for the first time, where they show their true awful colors every time William leaves the room. Armisen’s Cockney thug version of the Queen was particularly funny. I also enjoyed the throwaway joke about Prince Harry crashing his car while in full-on blackface, given his Nazi Halloween costume past. Grade: B+
Weekend Update: Seth Myer’s best bit was “Come On, Dictionary” where he questioned Oxford Dictionary’s decision to now include “refudiate,” the phrase Sarah Palin accidently coined. Indeed, the woman is no Shakespeare.
We also got Bobby Moynihan’s incredibly accurate portrayal of Guy Fieri and Jay Pharoah providing not one but three impersonations of rappers performing Thanksgiving songs, including Jay-Z, Drake, and the Notorious B.I.G. (R.I.P.). It seems as though Pharoah is on a mission to impersonate every African-American actor and rapper by the end of the season. It’s not that he doesn’t do a good job, because he does — his take on Jay-Z was especially spot-on. It’s just that it would be nice to see what else he has in his arsenal besides impressions. Right now the show is shaping him up to be the black version of master impersonator Darrell Hammond. Eddie Murphy (who Pharoah is already being compared to) showed much more range than this during his tenure on the show. Grade: B-
The Wizard of Oz Deleted Scenes: Armisen plays actor Lon Donson, whose neurotic, complainy weather vane character just wants the wizard to help him find an apartment. Naturally, he was cut from the film. I feel like we’ve seen something similar to this before, and it was better then. Hathaway as Dorothy did get to show off her stellar singing voice, though. Grade: C+
Herb Welch: This was based on a viral video, featuring a testy exchange between a news anchor and a veteran reporter. You have to wonder why they waited until now to parody the clip, since its been circulating the web for some time now. In this version, Hader plays a senile reporter that repeatedly hits the interviewees with his microphone and asks them random questions, while “the haircut” in the studio (Jason Sudeikis) becomes increasingly frustrated. As usual, the length and repetitiveness made the sketch less funny as it dragged on. Grade: B-
Black Friday: Hilarious and by far the best sketch of the night. Hysteria and injuries are sure to ensue at Mega Mart’s Black Friday twelve-hour sale, which includes $39.00 iPads, $71 3D TVs, and seven copies of a previously unpublished “Harry Potter” novel, all located at the very back of the just-waxed store! Camp out to receive Four Loko, “America’s premiere Hillbilly and Cholo fuel.” Anne’s hillbilly character proved to be her stand out performance of the night. Grade: A+
Camel Tame: “Camel toe getting you down?” Well, why not try Camel Tame, which covers the outline of your vagina by giving you a huge bulge in the front of your pants. “SNL” usually shines with their fake infomercials, but there was something that didn’t quite work here. Grade: C+
Florence and the Machine: She performed “Dog Days are Over,” and “You’ve Got the Love.” I’ve read a few comments that she was off-key, but honestly most “SNL” performances don’t sound very good these days, even when it’s a great band (see: Arcade Fire last week). Still, she’s already proven to be a stellar performer, and she once again gave two solid performances last night, despite some noticeable vocal/sound problems. Grade: B-
It seems as though the writers save all their good material for the stronger hosts (Jon Hamm, Amy Poehler), while not trying as hard for the Scarlett Johanssons and Emma Stones. This was the case this week, with Anne Hathaway helping to make this one of the best shows so far this season, edging closer towards joining the top rank of “SNL” hosts. For one, she actually looks at the other characters, rather than stare at the cue cards like far too many of the actual cast members do on a regular basis. She also brings great energy, and has good comedic timing. Let’s just hope the show continues to get better from here on out.
Watch the full episode here.
Coming up next month:
Robert De Niro, Paul Rudd, and Jeff Bridges to host ‘SNL’ in December
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