SNL Scorecard: Did Russell Brand Somehow Just Host the Best Show of the Season?
Never once in my life have I ever uttered the words, "You know what this movie needs? A little more Russell Brand." So when I heard Brand would be hosting an entire episode of Saturday Night Live (with confirmed a-hole Chris Brown as musical guest, to boot), I braced myself for the worst. My mistake: I have no idea how, but Brand just hosted the best SNL of the season.
I've had a theory for a while about nights like this: When SNL has a host who doesn't come with a huge built-in fan base or pre-written material (like Miley Cyrus will on both counts) and has no reservations about possible material -- especially in cases like Brand's, when expectations are already low -- this sparks the writers' creativity. And Lorne Michaels is likelier to let some edgier stuff air because, well, he's got nothing to lose. This was one of those nights. On to the scorecard...
Sketch of the Night
"British Movie " (Hader, Armisen, Brand): It's the new trailer for the new "Extremely British" Cannes award winner, Don' You Go Rounin' Roun to Re Ro, a film that's getting accolades such as "I don't thing I heard a single consonant." I have no idea where this came from -- Christ, it looks real! -- but this is the best thing to air on SNL all season. Our first perfect 10.
"Spider-Man Lawsuit" (Armisen, Moynihan, Killam): On any other show, this mock TV spot would have been the best sketch of the night. Armisen plays the chief of a sleazy personal-injury law firm that specializes in clients who have either performed in or attended Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. Even "insulted the legacy of Spider-Man" is reason enough for a suit. Unfortunately, it seems that his awarded compensation usually involves... more tickets to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. The best part: Armisen swinging by in-between scene changes.
"Weekend Update" (Meyers, Armisen, Killam, Pharoah, Hader): Meyers was, as usual of late, on. His best joke of the night involved a riff on congressman Christopher Lee and the need for an app that removes the cell phone from any picture. (Aquaman wasn't bad, either). Armisen was fine as Mubarak; Pharoah and Killam make an eerily good team as Lil Wayne and Eminem ("Knife!"), but of course the big news is that Bill Hader's Stefon is back. Stefon was great as always, but is it just me or did it look like Hader was kind of, let's say, embellishing one of his "breaks" around the 3:18 mark during the "human suitcases" line? I mean, imagine a Stefon without Hader laughing; would it be half as good? That's all I'm saying.
"Royal Taster" (Brand, Hader, Killam): This has to rank as one of the most over-the-top sketches in the history of SNL: Brand plays a king who treats his cook terribly -- so bad, in fact, that the cook point blank tells the King that he's going to poison him. Hader and Brand mug their way through and, somehow (I'm giving Hader most of the credit), it's funny. As an added bonus, you can now say that you've seen The King's Speech! (Sure, that line is such a non sequitur to the rest of the sketch but, really, why the hell not?)
"Russell Brand Monologue" (Brand): As stated, I'm not a huge Russell Brand fan, but Michaels was wise to just let Brand get on stage and do his thing. It was kind of a nice throwback to the old days of SNL when the host would do a whole routine on stage. Say what you will, but it is refreshing to have a host that can entertain the audience for almost a full eight and half minutes. To put this in perspective, Jesse Eisenberg's monologue was only four and half minutes.
"Livin' Single" (Bayer, Brand, Killam): What a week for Vanessa Bayer: Not only will Miley Cyrus be hosting in two weeks, but she gets a brand-new starring sketch. This sketch was fine, but the scene of Bayer riding around on Russell Brand put it over the line to enjoyable.
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