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Saturday Night Live: Annette Bening/Gwen Stefani and Akon

by Annie Wu, posted Dec 10th 2006 2:55PM
Bening and Stefani(S32E08) I must preface this post by saying that I know virtually nothing about Annette Bening. She is married to Warren Beatty, she was in American Beauty, and... that's about it. So, if this episode was packed with Bening film references and I failed to catch them, I apologize.

Bening had a really strong performance. All her characters were totally solid and natural (I mean, as natural as they could be). However, she had a really tough time with the cue cards. It wasn't like her eyes darted from side to side... she just full-on stared at the cue cards most of the time. That always annoys me a little bit about hosts, but perhaps it's just a personal annoyance and not particularly fair towards Bening. After all, it's not like something a film star should be used to, right?

The writing was very funny at some points, but the rest of the episode was only "okay". Hey, they can't all be winners.

Cold Open (Message from the President): I'm still not sure whether or not I like Jason Sudeikis as President Bush. I mean, I like Sudeikis a lot, but when he plays Bush, he kind of sounds like he's impersonating someone doing an impression of Bush. Or maybe I just don't like the way he's portraying the president. Will Ferrell used to play a straight-up idiot, Will Forte used to play an idiot that was ridiculously desperate to justify his actions, and Sudeikis is playing the cocky know-nothing. Anyway, this sketch was okay. I liked the velociraptor idea, but that's because I like anything that involves velociraptors.

Monologue: Annette Bening, looking lovely, faced the audience with -- uggh -- a Q & A. These generally don't turn out so great, but I guess the real estate agent stuff was mildly funny. Alec Baldwin's appearance was a special treat ("I live here!"). I hope you all have been watching him on 30 Rock. Funny guy.

"Mel Gibson's Apocalypto": Throw some anti-Semitic subtitles on top of the Apocalypto trailer and it's gold. Beautifully simple. "What are you laughing at, sugar tits?"

"Good Morning, I Hate This Town": "Dumb-ass" word count: 11. Funny joke count: 1? Maybe 2, if you're feeling generous?

"Diddy Kiddies: What Does Diddy Do?": I really liked this because I've often wondered what the hell Diddy does, as well. The man just likes making people do all the singing/rapping for him and showing up to award shows on the back of a flatbed truck.

"Teacher/Student": Wow, Bening, way to look natural with the cue cards. I think she only looked at Andy once throughout the entire sketch. Damn.

"Two A-Holes in a Live Nativity Scene": The two A-Holes as Mary and Joseph? Brilliant. I'm quite fond of these characters because, although they're pretty formulaic, they make it work. My two favorite lines from this sketch: "You look like Mrs. Brady", "This baby doesn't look like Santa."

SNL Digital Short: Matthew Fox was in this sketch. I guess this was meant to air last week, but they ran out of time. This was kind of funny. I liked seeing Kenan Thompson in his old Kenan and Kel hair (does anyone else remember that show?).

"Buyer Beware": Eh, this was alright. Not much to say about it.

"Weekend Update": Weekend Update was pretty good this week. I liked Al Gore's talk about Lindsay Lohan -- BLART -- and laughed all through Will Forte's "Silly, Silly Gays" song. I kept expecting Forte and Fred Armisen to make out. I've gotta stop doing that.

"Monster under the Bed": This was one hell of a weird sketch. I mean, the beginning was already pretty strange, but then the festive monster in the closet? I believe the only way to describe it is... WTF? I think that was Bill Hader as the monster. I wonder how long it took to put on that costume and make-up. My favorite line: "I'd be sorry too if I had to sit on a bed and watch my parents get raped by a monster!"

"Valtrex": Old Valtrex commercial with Alec Baldwin. Still funny.

"What the Mess?": Did Bening borrow her hair from Full House's DJ Tanner? Good lord. I found this sketch to be fairly amusing. I think my favorite part was when the audience saw Bening's unflattering slacks and let out a collective horrified groan.

"Stanfield and Partlow: Cattorneys" (I was lame and just made that up myself): I don't know if this was just my station, but the first part of this commercial got cut off by a real commercial. I don't think it really mattered anyway, actually. Seemed like the best part was Bill Hader's kitty-teasing faces.

Gwen Stefani and Akon: See, I thought this was going to be, like, Gwen Stefani featuring Akon. But no. This episode had two musical guests, which was weird. Was Stefani too winded after all that yodeling in the first performance? By the way, I'm cool with Gwen Stefani, but "Wind It Up" sounds really shitty live. Yeah, sorry to say.

Next week, Justin Timberlake will play host and musical guest. I'm really looking forward to this, because his first hosting gig was surprisingly funny. "Bring it on in to Omletteville-ah!"

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Ok and now my $0.02:

Cold Open (Message from the President): I'm also strangely fond of Sudeikis, but the Bush-themed and any of the impersonations Darrel Hammond does of Chris Matthews, Bill O'Reilly, and the rest of the "usual pundits" haven't been funny for a loooooooooong time. I miss Will Ferrel's "Du(m)bya" topical is not always funny.

Monologue: American Beauty was a great movie but we're years after it's been on the forefront of pop-culture. I saw the movie and loved it at the time, but had a hard time remembering that Annette Benning played a Real Estate Agent.

"Mel Gibson's Apocalypto": Fox's MAD-TV did virtually same "replacement captions" take on it (except with sets & costumes) that aired about 20 mins ahead of SNL. After seeing that - the SNL trailer parody seemed like a last-minute afterthought.

"Good Morning, I Hate This Town": Good concept, poor final product. Benning & Sudeikis were too giddy to save this one. A more annoyed/exasperated vibe could've been a bit funnier, IMHO.

"Diddy Kiddies: What Does Diddy Do?": Who cares... Rob Smigel is running out of ideas....

"Teacher/Student": Fell asleep on this one - should've been cut in dress.

"Two A-Holes in a Live Nativity Scene": Pure gold. Sudeikis and Wiig nail the "A-holes" every damn time -and it's so contageous - you can't help yourself and end up talking like the guy A-hole (Sudeikis) next day: "Hey, Babe! Wanna get a Starbucks, babe? He's saying they don't have the manicures at the Starbucks, babe..." All they need is a catchphrase on the scale of "Maaahhhhhvelous!" or "We're wild and crazy guys!" or "Makin' copies", etc. - and it's a shoo-in for the SNL hall of fame.

SNL Digital Short: They must've missed the cut-off last week when Foxey hosted. Should've stayed on the shelf. I guess they needed filler....

"Buyer Beware": Oh my, where do I start? Keenan is way funnier when he's acting "snyde" not "paranoid" Maya didn't look like she was having fun doing this one at all. I hope this one never comes back.

"Weekend Update": Not Bad. Is Will Forte trying to jockey for the new Sandler(esque) position of funny guy who does funny songs? He's done quite a few over the years - most with Armissen, who I think didn't utter a word this time - so the point of him being there is what exactly? Oh I get it Forte can only play air (not real) guitar... Though their "fatal attraction" that Annie seems to notice every time, while subtle this time, was a good complement to the "Silly Gays" song. Are they the new Ambiguously Gay Duo?

"Monster under the Bed": Totally a concept sketch. I thought it worked well even with no laughs. Kinda harkens back to some of the old SNL tradition. I also kept wonderiing who was in the monster costume, Hader? That monster reminded me of the Garth Brooks-hosted show - with a skit where Garth's character was trying to sell his sould to the Devil for a hit song and the Devil had "Singwriter's block"

"What the Mess?": It was just not messing funny. Just like the same ones before it with different hosts.

"Stanfield and Partlow: Cattorneys" Sounds like another last-minute filler sketch. BTW on the east code (NYC feed) it was the last few secs that got cut. all of a sudden you got a Benning still frame while you could still hear Hader and Benning going on with the sketch.

Gwen Stefani and Akon:
Gwen Stefani looked a bloated retard in that unitard. Seemed that that waistline did double duty as the push-up bra. Trainwrek to watch - and not that great a song.

Akon - is it me, or does the guy looke like a gay African foreign exchange student. Enough said. Song was ok - but I kept thinking someone's cell phone was going off in the chorus - kinda annoying.

December 11 2006 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You think an actress could remember some lines but I guess that is asking too much. The only funny parts were Acpocalypto when the Mayan girl goes "I smell bagels," and the weekend update joke about condoms are too big. I

December 11 2006 at 2:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"It's Myr Babe."


"Myr, Babe."


December 11 2006 at 3:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That picture of Gwen Stefani isn't horrifying AT ALL.

December 11 2006 at 1:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jake, are you Annette's agent? Because she was awful!! Turn the sound off and watch her stare her way thru all the sketches!! She is attractive looking, but now that she is older, her voice is unattractively deep. It creeps me out just to her voice. YUK!!!

December 11 2006 at 12:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just watched the episode and I thought it was the weakest of the season. Benning was not good. All I could come up as to why an Oscar nominated actress was staring at the cue cards was that maybe she was looking at the other actors too much in rehearsal and some director gave her a note to look forward more. I could count on one hand the number of times she looked at the other actors. It was very creepy. The writing was so-so. My favorite sketch was the a-holes, and in a typical episode that wouldn't happen.

December 10 2006 at 10:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Buyer Beware" was the funniest sketch of the night. Anytime Maya Rudolph plays an old black woman I laugh my ass off (probably because she reminds me of my aunt). I remember a skecth she did with Kenan a few seasons ago when Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson hosted were she played Kenan's aunt at the mall and she was buying underwear.

I think Maya is really underrated.

Here's the transcript.


December 10 2006 at 9:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I liked the show over all. The performances sucked. Seems like they didn't want to torture people too much with Gwen, so they added akon...but in my opinion I don't like either...Thankfully you can change the channel.

December 10 2006 at 9:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

P.S. Justin MUST reprise his role as Robin Gibb next week!

"No ... no, I don't."

December 10 2006 at 7:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watched the first half hour live and missed the rest because of a TiVo mishap.

The open was weak, and the monologue sucked. Jokes about realtors from American Beauty? Come on. The Apocalypto trailer was predictable but still pretty funny. The "I Hate This Town" sketch ... oh, brother!

I guess I'll catch the rest when it reruns ... in what -- two weeks?

December 10 2006 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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