Bill Hader was definitely one of the most memorable recent cast members to grace the Studio 8H stage. Whether he was doing one of his spot-on impressions (Alan Alda never disappointed), hosting an eccentric game show, being silenced as Lindsey Buckingham, or perplexing Seth Meyers as Stefon, he was just brilliant and always dedicated to his roles…no matter how insane.
With SNL being in their 40th season, would tonight get nostalgic, bringing back other other cameos that celebrate the show’s [recent] past? Well let’s head through the third SNL Recap to find out!
COLD OPEN: KIM JONG-UN (Moynihan, Strong, Killam, Mooney, Bennett)
Welp, didn’t think I’d see Moynihan’s Kim Jong-Un tonight. Not gonna lie, other than seeing him climb down the stairs and whining the first time, this wasn’t all that funny. Moynihan is funny. Kim Jong-Un isn’t that funny…especially in a one-note sketch. This brought the show to a halt before it started.
BILL HADER MONOLOGUE (Hader, Wiig, Fierstein)
Hader is such a pro. And I knew we could expect Hader’s Skeleton Twins partner, Kristen Wiig, to show up. And then, out of nowhere, Harvey Fierstein showed up! This was just a great, fun time. Bill Hader really is just fantastic. And genuine!
HERB WELCH (Killam, Hader, Davidson, Strong)
“I know you’re smooth down there” – Herb Welch just has no chill whatsoever. Putting him on screen with Pete Davidson (who eventually had a very big night!) was a fine move. It was weird not seeing Jason Sudeikis as the news anchor (Killam even said something about the last guy ‘ailing’), but otherwise, this was HILARIOUS. Good to know Herb is just as ornery, violent and racist as he always was. (Poor Cecily Strong.)
YA TRAILER (Davidson, Mooney, Bennett, Zamata, Hader)
This was just plain brilliant. Period. SNL is really banking on these movie trailers so far this season. And hey, we got all our featured players front and center! Mazel tov.
HOLLYWOOD GAME NIGHT (McKinnon, Bayer, Strong, Killam, Pharoah, Bryant, Bennett, Hader, Wiig)
I knew we’d get a sketch like this tonight, with everyone’s impressions being featured. With Bill Hader being here, that’s totally fine. Many of these impressions were dead on, too – good LORD Beck Bennett’s Nick Offerman, who knew? And Jay Pharoah’s Morgan Freeman – I just can’t. I simply can’t. But then, Kristen Wiig kind of forgot she wasn’t hosting, bringing back a one-note impression no one really asked to see again & taking over. This almost canned the sketch for me…but thankfully, Hader’s Al Pacino just barely cancelled out all that rot.
39 CENTS (Hader, Pharoah, Thompson, Zamata, Jones, Bayer)
This was hilarious. It went just about where I thought it would go, and then went a tad further. (I’ve always wondered if the starving folk in the background commercial actually wonder the things they say in this sketch.) Every time Leslie Jones shows up, the action always seems to escalate in such a great way. It’s so great to have this diversity on the show.
WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, Davidson, Hader)
I’ve decided that Michael Che’s brief standup spiels are the best parts of Update, truly. We got Pete Davidson once again, who seemed to be having a nice night. This wasn’t as memorable as his first appearance, but the confidence his rapper chains gives him to finish his dinner makes me happy for him, and such. Then, as many people expected (and John Mulaney kind of gave away via tweet), Stefon came back. Now, I have two sides to this. On one hand, Wiig and Stefon were given such great sendoffs that it feels weird to have had them back a few times since then. (Wiig was basically Vice-Host last night, from sketches to introducing Hozier’s second performance.) On the other hand, I will say that with Mulaney writing Stefon’s material, even without Seth Meyers’ presence (he was doing stand up in Vegas last night, so…), they did a pretty fine job of having him there without letting the fact that he was there be too out of place. And even if some feel like Stefon’s been overused over the years, the material here was hi-LA-rious. It was painfully obvious that some lines were changed after dress, just like classic Stefon writing. (Who in the writers’ room likes Dan Cortese so much?!)
PUPPET CLASS (Killam, Moynihan, Strong, Hader, Thompson)
I was NOT expecting this to be a returning sketch! When Seth MacFarlane hosted in 2012, this one the funniest sketch of the night – an estranged war veteran re-living his war flashbacks in Grenada via a puppet. At first, this was just as great as the first one, right up to his cigarette smoke coming out of the puppet’s mouth. Then, suddenly and without warning…we got a brilliant puppet Vietnam flashback. I can’t even talk about how great saying that out loud is. Just brilliant.
INSIDE SOCAL 2 (Mooney, Bennett, Davidson, McKinnon, Killam, Strong, Hader, Moynihan)
I might be in the minority on this, but this wasn’t as fun as the first Inside SoCal they did last season. I wasn’t really into it once everyone started doing the gravely voice…then Bill Hader showed up as a disoriented teen who tried to compare artwork to his Madden playing, and I chuckled.
CAT (Hader, Strong, Bryant, Davidson)
An interesting twist: the Cat in the Hat knows the children’s mother, and things get awkward when we learn that they have a past. Things escalate when the man she remarried was Thing 2. You know what’s great about this sketch? It’s better than Mike Myers’ Cat in the Hat movie.
LOVE IS A DREAM (Jan Hooks, Phil Hartman) – Hader and Wiig introduced this mid-show to honor the passing of SNL alum, Jan Hook this week. I admittedly had never seen this performance before, but it was wonderful and touching all the same. Rather than simply showing her photo on screen during the show, this was a great and tasteful way to honor two of SNL’s strongest performers in the show’s history.
(By the way, here’s a funny little sketch that got cut at dress with Bill Hader playing a gossiping coal miner.)
Best Sketch of the Night: Puppet Class
Worst Sketch of the Night: Cold Open: Kim Jong-Un Cold Open
Joke of the Night: TIE: Puppet Class’ war flashback AND “I know you’re smooth down there.”
Observations: Bill Hader is still a fantastic performer, Pete Davidson had a big night, puppets can smoke and have vietnam flashbacks, Leslie Jones is never not funny, and Stefon is pregnant. Even with a couple duds, this was a pretty great show with tons of energy. It was a great night for our featured players, while we didn’t see as much of our repertory players (Aidy Bryant and Vanessa Bayer for example didn’t get to say much). While it was fun to have a nostalgic kind of episode with the return of past Hader characters and Kristen Wiig, it will be nice to see if Jim Carrey’s show in a couple weeks calls back attention to the sketches and the cast. Either way, this was a fun show and Bill Hader looked so thrilled to be back. I hope he hosts again soon!
BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 6.91
Next time: Jim Carrey on Oct. 25th!
Bill Hader: 6.91
Sarah Silverman: 6.78
Chris Pratt: 6.54