Kevin Hart returned to host SNL for his second time – his first hosting gig brought about one of the best commercial parodies ever, Z-Shirt. Just as before in 2013, Kevin Hart brought a grand amount of energy and character to everything he was doing, which made the strong material amazingly entertaining, and the lesser material at least a little more enjoyable at best. (Pretty much an echo of his recently heavy movie career.) Last night had him used well as himself, a talk show host, a talk show stage hand, rap artist, and even James Brown. So how did things pan out? On to a pretty excitable the scorecard!
COLD OPEN: MARTIN LUTHER KING (Davidson, McKinnon, Thompson)
Hey, we get Kenan Thompson as MLK again! Last time he appeared after Obama’s second inauguration, and he talked about things he observed were happening in America. This time, he appeared as a spirit guide to Pete Davidson, who can’t finish his school report but this time it’s him telling Dr. King about what’s different. The individual jokes followed with Kenan’s MLK yelling ‘mountain!’ were all pretty great (If I’m MLK, I wouldn’t mind my boulevard being a nice neighborhood w/gardens). These usually end with a nicer, more convincing message, and something to say more than “well, this is where we are now, and that’s that.” I wish there was a little more here than “I’m just gonna copy-paste my report about all the progress you’ve made.” Doesn’t that undercut things a bit?
KEVIN HART MONOLOGUE (Hart)
Kevin Hart dives right into some standup on his story about a burglar-type raccoon in his new neighborhood. Honestly, I could listen to Kevin Hart tell a story about bread and be entertained. (My personal favorite is the bum bump story, which he told a lighter version of last time he hosted. But anyway.) Fact: black people just do not like going outside in the dark when there’s animals on the loose. “You don’t need thumbs to scare me!” and “this is YOUR journey” are examples of why Kevin Hart is good at what he does.
CALVIN KLEIN ADS (McKinnon, Strong)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Kate McKinnon’s Justin Bieber is a national treasure. Also, I was really hoping for a third installment of these during the show (which appears here!!).
WHY’D YOU POST THAT? (Hart, Bayer, Bryant, Mooney)
First of all, this sketch has a point. People do post stupid things on Instagram. Unfortunately, it was subject to some technical issues that fought against how committed Kevin Hart was. However, I did like the ending sign-off line “please don’t post pictures of coffee.” (Confession: I post pictures of my starbucks semi-frequently. Sorry, SNL.) This serves as another great example of Kevin Hart trying hard to elevate even the best of material, but it wasn’t super great to begin with. You get the point pretty quick, and there are worse things on Instagram than what these people were doing that deserve this kind of discipline.
CORNER BOYS (Hart, Thompson, Pharaoh, Bayer)
It was funny seeing Kevin Hart walking all those dogs after everything he said about the raccoon in the monologue. The gentlemen had a great repartee during the whole thing about making pretty tamely white things sound pretty tough and ‘normal’. Best line: “you sound like someone put gluten in your muffin.” Anyway, this was great.
GET ON UP (Hart, Thompson, Killam, Moynihan, Bennett, Mooney, Pharaoh, Zamata, Strong, Davidson)
I was pretty excited for this sketch when it started, showcasing Kevin Hart as James Brown, because, why not? It technically doesn’t get out of first gear, but it’s a fun ensemble piece, Kevin Hart is a blast as James Brown, and I now want to know why one of his singers got married on a Tuesday and changed her first name. Also, I want to attend a concert like this.
SOAP OPERA REUNION (Bryant, McKinnon, Killam, Zamata, Bayer, Strong, Hart)
My favorite part of this sketch is just how great Taran Killam does the “artsy celebrity walking.” I also found Vanessa Bayer’s cartoony walking music funnier than it deserved. This is a silly thing, but ultimately there’s not much to it other than ‘funny entrance music.’
WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, McKinnon)
Kate McKinnon appeared as Colin’s neighbor to talk about dealing with bad neighbors. A few good lines here or there, but not largely as much fun as Michael Che’s neighbor Willie from last month (my own opinion.) A few great show-pausing jokes (especially from Jost, still piling on the Bill Cosby stuff), one quick segment, and they kept this one shorter after a long first half of the show. Not the most memorable Update this season, but pretty solid all the same. I’m sure if they had more time, we could have gotten something like Pete Davidson or Leslie Jones talking. Anyway, Colin Jost was great this week – his deliveries on jokes get me a little more each week.
http://www.hulu.com/watch/739048#i2,p0,d2 (Part 1)
http://www.hulu.com/watch/739047#i2,p0,d2 (Part 2)
THE JOURNEY (Thompson, Hart, Killam, Strong, Zamata, Jones)
A sketch in the same vein as the 90s ‘Cobras & Panthers’ sketch with Robert Downey Jr., in which both opposing gangs go into song dance choreography, while one person questions why they are breaking into song. This one focuses more on the broadway-style drama of it all, which keeps things not as memorable, but definitely still fun. There wasn’t much to this one, but the best parts were Kevin Hart overreacting and, again, Taran Killam nailing “overly dramatic performance by someone having a ‘moment’.” (The singing is pretty good, though!)
KEVIN’S SON (Hart, Jones, Pharaoh)
Even if this is just a chance to take a break and let Jay Pharaoh do his Kevin Hart impression, it was still a ton of fun to watch. Leslie Jones must have practiced keeping a straight face over the holidays, because a month ago she might have have lost it when the Hart & Pharaoh were standing next to each other.
LISTENING PARTY (Hart, Pharaoh, Jones, Moynihan, Davidson, Bennett, Killam, Strong, Thompson)
One of the best uses of Kevin Hart all night. His nonstop energy plus some pretty funny reactions to the secrets made for some good comedy. I completely lost it at the reveal of Pete Davidson eating gummy bears.
Best Sketch of the Night: Kevin Hart Monologue & Listening Party
Worst Sketch of the Night: Why’d You Post That?
Joke of the Night: “Harry is a Muslim but he eats pork. He pops gummy gears all day…gummy bears have gelatin, and gelatin comes from pigs. That’s pork! You didn’t know that, did you?!? Dumb b****!” – Hart
Observations: Kevin Hart came with some stellar, contagious energy that lasted all night, right up to the last minute! Some of the lesser material that would have sank completely in the hands of a different host was raised with just his high-energy spirit being involved. The strongest parts of the show may have been the second half, but it was a generally solid show all things considered.
BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 6.86
Sia went for a rather artistic, emotional set with per music. It was highly interesting to watch…but she was mumbling through ‘Chandelier’ so much that it took away from the presentation as a whole. Not sure how someone can make a singing career without diction. But that’s just me.
Next time: Blake Shelton!
Martin Freeman: 6.98
Bill Hader: 6.91
Kevin Hart: 6.86
James Franco: 6.81
Woody Harrelson: 6.80
Jim Carrey: 6.80
Cameron Diaz: 6.78
Sarah Silverman: 6.78
Chris Pratt: 6.54
Amy Adams: 6.18
Chris Rock: 5.75