It should be no surprise that Michael Keaton did, indeed, host the best SNL of the 40th season last night. Despite how long ago his two previous hosting gigs have been, Keaton is a true actor who throws himself into the material. Whether starring in sketches or blending in with the cast, he was just dynamite all night, and the cast reacted to this commitment and energy exceptionally well. Best of all, there were no true duds last night.
COLD OPEN: ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR (Bennett, Pharoah, Thompson, Killam, Mooney, Davidson, Strong, Moynihan)
I now want a sketch starring Moynihan’s Steve character playing basketball. Or Charles Barkley trying to solve scientific problems.
MICHAEL KEATON MONOLOGUE (Keaton, Killam, Moynihan, Pharoah, Strong, Thompson, Bennett, Zamata, Davidson, McKinnon)
How great was this? It was an ambitious monologue, but it’s worth it to see Jay Pharoah in these costumes. “YOU GUYS TOLD ME TO DRESS UP LIKE THIS!!!!” was my first big laugh of the night. Mainly, it’s just fun to watch Taran Killam and Bobby Moynihan enjoy geeking out over Michael Keaton. Who wouldn’t? Also: a strong monologue really does set the tone for a strong show.
CNN NEWSROOM (Strong, Zamata, Moynihan, Keaton, Thompson, Bryant, Pharoah)
Once you’ve seen the reenactments that CNN released of someone opening a door, this is well deserved. What’s odd here is that the graphics look like table scraps from the animated movie Food Fight. That’s right, CNN – your recreations are on par with Food Fight.
PROM QUEEN (Keaton, O’Brien, Davidson, McKinnon, Bayer, Moynihan, Zamata)
Man, oh man. Okay: this sketch is good, and everyone in it is brilliant (especially Vanessa Bayer as the wife who checks out at 7:30), but it’s in order for it to work, you have to accept that you’re watching Mike O’Brien take his teacher to prom. I don’t know – I usually enjoy Mike O’Brien’s highly esoteric videos, but the premise was a bit of a stretch. Again, everyone was still good – it’s just a large pill to swallow. I might be in the minority on this one.
EASTER HOTLINE (Zamata, Strong, Mooney, McKinnon, Killam, Jones, Keaton)
This is funny because it’s true. Also, how about Sasheer Zamata? I don’t know if this sketch was her brainchild or not, but a starring role for her is definitely welcomed.
AD AGENCY (Strong, Thompson, Jones, Bennett, Keaton)
It’s interesting – a lot of the sketches in the first half of the show felt like the kind of material which would appear towards the end of the show. Yet, here we are, with Michael Keaton bleeding profusely while talking about huge knockers.
CHURCH OF NEUROTOLOGY (McKinnon, Bryant, Strong, Mooney, Jost, Moynihan, Bayer, Zamata, Killam, Davidson, Thompson)
This seemed pretty brilliant as a sendup to the discovered Scientology video it’s parodying. But really, that’s about all that’s here…a really brilliant replica, without anything distinctive going on. The production values support it enough to make it even more entertaining. Anyway, Colin Jost looked great in those big 1990 dorky glasses.
WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, Davidson, Reedus, Killam)
Man, this crowd was so live – the most responsive and reactive I’ve heard them all season. Granted, the laughter wasn’t grandiosse until we got past Pete Davidson’s Walking Dead bit, but man, by the time Jebidiah Atkinson, this crowd was just eating out of the palm of their hands. What’s more, you can tell that they knew the show was going well. It took a while to get beyond that first gear, but man – Taran Killam just commands the stage as Jebidiah Atkinson.
SMART HOME (Keaton, Strong, McKinnon, Bayer, Bennett, Mooney)
There was no laugh-out-loud moment here (other than the Googly-eyes and everyone needing to leave at once), but the premise was interesting. Oddly enough, as weird as this is, I wish it would have gone even weirder. It felt like there was something else in here waiting to happen instead of just these objects with eyes on them. Anyway, I spent my time trying to understand where this going more than being entertained by it. And then the pipe appeared from the couch.
EASTER CANDY (Keaton, McKinnon, Moynihan)
This was almost identical to the Halloween message sketch with Edward Norton last season – yet maybe funnier. The amount of laughter this sketch encouraged from me was quite substantial. Literally every line and every facial expression Keaton does is hilarious. This one will likely end up on my Top 15 sketches of the year, no contest. ‘Twas a great way to end a great show. “Yesterday was Good Friday, but this…this is the best Friday.”
Best Sketch of the Night: Easter Candy
“Worst” Sketch of the Night: Smart House (which wasn’t ‘bad’, just the least excellent)
Joke of the Night: “I gave this up for Lent last year. You know what I gave up this year? Cocaine. ……almost.” – Keaton
Observations: There wasn’t a bad sketch last night – everything we saw was either pretty good or great! The show brought forth its’ true A-game to produce a solid quality of sketches, most of which were highly bizarre. And there’s nothing wrong with bizarre! IT kept things, even at worst, very interesting. Let’s hope the show can sustain this good energy into next week’s show as we continue to climb towards the season’s end!
BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 7.15
Next time: Taraji P. Henson!