Sarah Silverman was formerly a writer on the show in the 90s, as pointed out in her promos with Taran Killam earlier this week. She’s also known for her comedic stylings, acting, and zingers. (And apparently, she hasn’t been back on the show since stabbing Al Franken at a table read with a pencil…so there’s that.) So the fact that she made funny sketches will mean that she can be a funny cast member this week, right?
Let’s find out – on to our second recap of the SNL 40th season!
COLD OPEN: OBAMA 60 MINUTES (Bennett, Pharoah, Killam)
We get the return of Jay Pharoah’s Obama to talk about ISIS-related situations, which leads to two words I never thought I’d hear together: terrorist tweets. Interesting way to approach this situation, right down to LinkedIn being a terrorist organization. I laughed out loud at “One day the Black Flag of ISIS will fly over the White House. #TheVoiceisBack.”
SARAH SILVERMAN MONOLOGUE (Silverman)
Silverman comfortable riffs for a while, and then ends up sitting on the lap of a real, live audience member. This just fantastic because of Silverman’s electric energy – right down to mentioning her former, brief cast member days and even using her frequent fake-monologue-question appearances in the 90s (why did they make her do so many? Good lawd). This kind of reminded me of Vince Vaughn’s monologue back in 2012 when he riffed with live audience members, but Silverman had her own kind of energy that really worked for her and set a great tone for the episode. (It’s still funny that her featured player questions were treated as being “iconic” since those are usually the least remembered thing on any show.)
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS TRAILER (Silverman, Killam, Thompson)
Well, we all knew this was coming. But this had a point – don’t date someone with ebola. With quotes like “I laughed. I panicked. I mostly panicked.” and especially “you can’t quarantine your heart”, this was a good send up to both ebola and The Fault in Our Stars. BTW…Taran Killam does such a great crying “I have to kiss you but you have ebola, this is terrible but I can’t escape” face.
JOAN RIVERS (Zamata, Silverman, Pharoah, Mooney, Strong, Moynihan, Levine, McKinnon)
This…didn’t seem quite fleshed out. First of all, I was falsely excited to see Sasheer Zamata in a lead role for a second! Nope. It was focused on Silverman’s Joan Rivers in heaven with other great figures (Richard Pryor, Ben Franklin, Lucille Ball, etc.) firing off brief zingers to each of them. This felt unrehearsed overall – Silverman flubs every other line and seems very nervous for some reason, and whether or not the lines were funny, the audience didn’t seem to react much until Moynihan’s Ben Franklin started laughing hysterically (which, I now want to see a sketch about Moynihan’s Ben Franklin). Look, I’m genuinely glad that they did something to honor Joan Rivers, who certainly does deserve it. However, this just felt under-rehearsed and not fully prepared for air. Finally, Adam Levine was in this for absolutely no reason.
WHITES (Bryant, Bayer, O’Brien, Bennett, Killam, Silverman)
I had to rewatch this one, but I admit it is pretty clever. Who knows, maybe we do get a white female president next…or a different demographic altogether. Hey look, it’s Mike O’Brien!
FORGOTTEN TV GEMS (Thompson, Strong, Silverman, Killam, Bryant, McKinnon)
“Isn’t that weird? Women being nice and not hurtful to each other!” I was on board with this as a running joke for a TCM movie of all things. Along with past iterations of these TCM movie sketches (I do miss Melissa McCarthy falling down the stairs after charming cat calls), what sells it is that Kenan Thompson’s host is such a delight, being overly into the film every piece of commentary. (Finally: Aidy Bryant’s maybe-evil grin wins.)
WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, Thompson, Silverman, McKinnon)
I didn’t expect to see Al Sharpton on Update. I never expect to see Thompson’s Al Sharpton because he’s such an example of the real life personality being a completely different person from the SNL impersonation – but I admit, I laughed at his KKK acronym and “I support Obama everyday on MSNBC – even when he personally asked me to stop!” (He’s definitely better used as an Update segment than having those less-than-stellar Politics Nation sketches.)
Che and Jost were, once again, great tonight! The ebola jokes were great, between Jost’s Facebook quiz “How ebola are you?” and Che’s rant, ending brilliantly with “who goes to Texas and Africa?!” But most importantly was their brilliant exchange about what words they’re allowed to say is fantastic. It’s the kind of cohesive bite Weekend Update has been missing for a while.
Lastly, my favorite things about Silverman and McKinnon’s feminist singing duo is McKinnon turning her speech into the countoff to start singing.
CRUISE SHIP (Thompson, Strong, Zamata, Silverman)
Thompson and three showgirls are stuck on a cruise ship in on a river in Nebraska…and they tell us why with mini-monologues in the middle of their verses for Rollin’ on the River. There’s not much more to it than that. The jokes here are…okay. Not bad, not amazing. Just okay. The lack of laughter on a few meant that a couple (mainly Silverman’s lines) went over the audiences heads. At least they’re all having fun dancing around.
This song not online due to song copyright issues.
CAR RIDE (Silverman, Killam, Moynihan, Bennett, McKinnon, Levine)
What an interesting piece of writing this was. I’m not 100% sure what to do with it since nothing can be resolved for this couple…I mean, Adam Levine is there and gets hit by oncoming traffic. I feel like some other ending could have occurred here to give it somewhere else to go, but I give it credit for just how interesting the setup was. (Best part: the song on Killam’s radio “You cheated on me…and then you gave me fudge.”
This song is also not online due to song copyright issues.
POEM (Mooney, Silverman, Bennett)
Another very interesting piece of writing – this time, mocking how people fall in love with each others’ words while finishing their sentences. However, in this case, the situation carries out as it would anyway as the three people come together: however, the endearing poetic feel never stops no matter how malicious Bennett’s butt whoopin’ is. Mooney & Bennett must really like the 90s, because I havcen’t seen swirlies then…or heard “sayonora, sucker” since Nickelodeon’s Doug.
VITAMIX (Bayer, Silverman)
Contrary to “Supportive Women” from earlier, we get Vanessa Bayer (for the first time tonight!) trying to advertise an apparently very expensive blender to Silverman without good reason, and the two go into a funny exchange that splits them against each other. This is simple and works on execution alone. I slightly wish it would have gone a tad farther…but it was still fun.
Best Sketch of the Night: Sarah Silverman Monologue
Worst Sketch of the Night: Cruise Ship
Joke of the Night: “There’s plenty of things I can’t say because I’m black, like ‘toodle-oo’…or ‘skinny machiato’…or, ‘thank you for your help, officer!’” (Che)
(Runner Up: “Jimmy Carter celebrated his 90th birthday as usual by snorting peanut dust off a hooker’s butt.” (Che))
Observations: Sarah Silverman should come back and host sometime. She had great energy that seemed to last all night, and gave the impression that she’s someone fun to be around. Again, we didn’t get Vanessa Bayer until the end of the night…is she the new 10-to-1 slot holder? Anyway, Weekend Update continued to be great once again, and we did get a couple of sketches deemed interesting solely on the concept of their writing. The show, all in all, was darn good, with the monologue & Weekend Update being the biggest highlights. (Oh yeah, and Adam Levine likes being in sketches.)
BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 6.78
Next week: Bill Hader! (PLEASE let us get another “Vincent Price” sketch! *fingers crossed*)
Sarah Silverman: 6.78
Chris Pratt: 6.54