Last week, ratings went sky high for Blake Shelton’s show, which was a true dud. Last night’s show featured J.K. Simmons rapping with his pants off and two white guys playing Kanye West & Jay-Z. However, because of how life works, I’m sure it won’t be rated as high despite how much better of an episode it was over last week. (Although, Aidy Bryant wishes Blake Shelton was still there.)
COLD OPEN: SUPERBOWL SHUTDOWN (Pharoah, Thompson, Zamata, Moynihan, Killam, Davidson)
I feel like Jay Pharoah has been wanting to play Richard Sherman for some time now. I enjoy his Richard Sherman, but that’s really all that was going on here – Richard Sherman talking. It was a hodge-podge about a few different topical things from the past week, and might have been better if the premise had focused on one of these instead of “Richard Sherman talking”.
J.K. SIMMONS MONOLOGUE (Simmons, Mooney, Bryant, Davidson, Jones, Armisen)
This was certainly fun at best…although he was basically doing a re-tread of the infamous Whiplash scene. Similar to last week’s monologue, the best parts were iterations of the cast rather than the host, and nothing super special happened. Dissimilar to last week, I had more fun with this one.
TOTINO’S SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL (Simmons, Bayer, Pharoah, Moynihan, Bennett)
So that’s what wives are doing during the games – I knew it!! Meanwhile, Vanessa Bayer continues to be great at her weird, passive-agressive wife-in-a-commercial voice. The main point of this is ‘how can I keep my wife out of my hair?’ as if she were the child he’s babysitting. My favorite part: ‘for grown women 5 and up.”
MISS TRASH 2015 (Simmons, Bryant, Strong, McKinnon, Bayer)
“We would show the before picture but the network won’t let us because they are the visual equivalent of the F-word.” There were a few good lines in here (such as that one), but once the reveal of Vanessa Bayer’s character thinking she was at the Miss America pageant came, there was pretty much nothing else going on except people doing voices. In other news, Aidy Bryant looked like a Melissa McCarthy character, and now I want them to do a movie or something together.
CASABLANCA (Thompson, Simmons, McKinnon, Killam)
“Some common sense and a bra that doesn’t cut into your back!” I’m only bummed that this “Cinema Classics” didn’t also end with Reese DeWhat yelling something absurd. But for what it was, Kate McKinnon and Simmon’s repartee here is pretty brilliant. “Nazis are weird like that.”
TEACHER SNOW DAY (Mooney, Strong, Moynihan, Zamata, Jones, Pharoah, Davidson, McKinnon, Bryant, Simmons, Thompson)
This is what I wish “Office Christmas Party” would have been – sure, it’s everyone just turning up to rap music, but at least there was more to it this time. Also: J.K. Simmons rapping with no pants on.
WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, Strong, Killam)
This Update gave us Mitt Romney’s concession, Jebidiah Atkinson’s triumphant return, and another great Michael Che spiel on Black History Month. (Seriously though, do you know anyone named Crispus today? And why isn’t he on a stamp?) Jost and Che continue to bring solid material to the desk, looking more and more comfortable each week. Their chemistry is also starting to show up behind the desk a little more in 2015 as well!
Cecily Strong’s “One Dimensional Girl” character wasn’t really anything new this time, aside from showing how good Jost has gotten at doing these. Jebidiah Atkinson was, of course, as solid as he always was – maybe even a little more. Poor Michael Jackson.
PUSHIE (Simmons, Bryant, Moynihan)
Another fine example of plain good live sketch comedy. Set up a funny premise, add some solid energy to keep it moving, throw in good jokes, and then do something with it beyond just one joke. Bobby Moynihan is electric here, and it’s a great example of why he’s great at what he does.
THE JAY-Z STORY (O’Brien, Pharoah, Killam, Zamata, Davidson, Sudeikis, Simmons)
Mike O’Brien as Jay-Z and Jason Sudeikis as Kanye West. WHY NOT?!?
CAREER DAY (Strong, Simmons, Davidson, Jones, Mooney, Bryant, Zamata, Moynihan)
Weird, weird, weird exposition. And by the end, you could feel the audience’s confused faces (but you went along with Magic Show last week? Okay). But man, was I hooked on every word he had to say about this job. Quick question: was it okay to say ‘Japanese’ over all this? Just checking.
Best Sketch of the Night: The Jay-Z Story
Worst Sketch of the Night: Miss Trash 2015
Joke of the Night: “I know Maury’s not black, but he’s brought more black families together than anyone I know. AND he’s set more black men free than Lincoln himself!” – Michael Che
Observations: It was a better show than last week, for sure – and mostly pretty consistent. But in general, the general air of the show was waiting for the big anniversary special in two weeks. I’m sure the several things they’re saving up for this special (including the long-awaited, never expected return of Eddie Murphy!!!) will prove beyond worth it on February 15th, and release the pieces of oxygen tonight’s show could have used in some areas.