Scarlett Johansson’s previous hosting performances in the 21st century have been, shall we say…serviceable? She’s not particularly known for being funny, or even as energetically entertaining as a Dwayne Johnson- or Kevin Hart-type host. In fact, the last show she hosted was among the worst of the 2010-2011 season. Plus, viewership of this show was already, as the cold open pointed out, stilted by the televised Mayweather fight. My point: this episode had nothing to lose. I watched to see how the show might comically deal with this week’s top stories, mainly the Baltimore riots and the Gay rights act – and it was pretty obvious that this is where all the best energies went.
COLD OPEN: MAYWEATHER-PACQUIAO (Killam, Thompson, Pharoah, Bryant, McKinnon)
Aidy Bryant as Pacquiao is pretty great. Though, Pharoah and Thompson abandoning the sketch just seemed too obvious somehow.
SCARLETT JOHANSSON MONOLOGUE (Johansson, Thompson, Killam)
I guess Scarlett Johansson wants to use the word “baby” to confuse a child’s lullaby for a sexual song, complete with backup ladies. Taran & Kenan’s reactions were pretty great, but I don’t know…it just didn’t seem to really go as far as it could have. Which is an overused criticism of the average lacking SNL sketch, but…here we are.
RIGHT SIDE OF THE BED (Strong, Killam, Johansson, McKinnon)
I liked this rendition of Right Side of the Bed better than the first time it aired (the Martin Freeman episode in which it was the worst sketch of the night). It didn’t stick to exactly the same formula as last time, allowing the two ideas of the host vs. guest to be better balanced – in this case, more towards the over-the-top hosts. Johansson, as with her other hosting gigs, relied on her thick Brooklyn accent pretty quickly, and it didn’t add too much (but hey, it didn’t take away either). Also: Kate McKinnon’s Hozier.
ORIOLES (Bayer, Thompson, Killam, Moynihan, Johansson, Bennett, Pharoah, Davidson)
The James Franco-hosted show last fall cut a brilliant morning talk show sketch in which the hosts suddenly had to discuss the Ferguson events – doing all they could to divert from it while on air. This Orioles sketch was a re-attempt at this format, and I’m glad they found it fitting to air this time. It wasn’t quite as biting as the cut Ferguson sketch, but the “knee grows” line was pretty excellent.
BLACK WIDOW (Johansson, Pharoah, Bennett, McKinnon, Killam, Strong, Moynihan)
Well, why not?
GIRLFRIEND’S TALK SHOW (Strong, Bryant, Johansson)
I’ve never really enjoyed these, and I’m actually afraid that they’re getting less and less interesting. There might be one or two funny lines from Aidy Bryant in them (who, until tonight, seems to be generally on air less than last season, or even last fall), but there doesn’t even seem to be much of a point in doing them anymore. It’s literally the same thing every time, but with no real new jokes. Plus, this seemed like the longest installment, dragging on without much to say. I think it’s beyond time to put these out to pasture.
WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, McKinnon, Moynihan, Bayer, Thompson, Pharoah)
Colin Jost, this spring semester especially, has been proving his case a bit more each week as to why he deserves the Update desk. Seriously – although it’s been taking more time than most of us would have liked, the reasons for him being selected as an anchor are shown more consistently throughout each episode. I won’t say the hosts’ interactions are getting better (they’re not), but Jost as a host is the most. (Sorry.) Each of the talking segments were fine (McKinnon practically owns Update talking heads now), but it was truly Jay Pharoah’s Shaq making Kenan Thompson break that gave me my hardest laugh of the night.
DINO BONES (Killam, Strong, Thompson, Bayer, Davidson, Johansson)
What was this sketch?!?!?!?! I have nothing to say.
BLAZER (Killam, Wiz Kalifa, Thompson, Pharoah, Che, Bennett, Moynihan)
This…was pretty great. Somehow, we went directly from the worst sketch of the night to the best sketch of the night in no time flat. Here we have Taran Killam as a cop who makes light of race-centric police brutality, going so far as to have his own filmed theme song while pouncing on only black guys. The payoff for his efforts turns out to be a clever comedic way to address these cases.
VIRGIN FLIGHT (Killam, Davidson, Bayer, Johansson, Moynihan, Pharoah, Bryant, Jones)
I was waiting (and hoping) to like this one, because it was just so weird. It may have not been weird enough…or perhaps just too one-note. Either way, it just kind of stayed floating around in first gear and never got towards anything memorable (like much of Johansson’s sketches tonight).
JINGLE WRITERS (Killam, Mooney, McKinnon, Bryant, Johansson)
This is Exhibit A in why I need more Aidy Bryant sketches on the show. I hope we get a couple more of these before the close of the season. It reminded me a little of Tim Robinson’s Roundball Rock sketch in Season 38. Anyway, it gets points for being weird.
Best Sketch of the Night: Blazer
Worst Sketch of the Night: Museum
Joke of the Night: “That knee grows stronger every day”
Observations: At 11 sketches (including Update), the only interesting sketches were the ones which in some way addressed the biggest news stories of the week – all in different ways. The Internet will probably like Johansson’s Black Widow romantic comedy the most (in which she seemed the most comfortable, other than the final sketch). The odds were a bit against this episode, but I have more faith in Reese Witherspoon’s and Louis CK’s final two shows as the 40th season comes to a close.
BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 6.0
Next time: Reese Witherspoon!