'Saturday Night Live' - 'Zach Galifianakis/Vampire Weekend' Recap
by Annie Wu, posted Mar 7th 2010 1:45PM
(S35E16) This was definitely one of the weirder installments of 'Saturday Night Live' in a while, but for fans of Zach Galifianakis, it was a real treat. It's very rare that the entire tone of the evening so perfectly fits the host. A lot of hosts, be they athletes or singers or professional actors, use 'SNL' as a platform for showcasing other talents that they have (or think they have) and that can often lead to strange, near unwatchable territory.
Galifianakis knows where's his strong points are and confidently played those up all through the episode. He is not at his best with cue card-heavy parts, but rather when he forces the audience to bask in his glorious, beardy, unsettling presence. So we got a lot of that. A lot. Response to this episode will probably be highly divided (well, more so than other weeks) but, speaking as a long-time fan of Galifianakis, it worked.
Videos as they're available, folks.
Monologue: This was pretty much just Galifianakis doing his stand-up. But his stand-up is fantastic, so no complaints here. There were many laugh-out-loud lines, from his stylist requests (VP of Ultimate Frisbee, Marijuana Santa Claus, Wolf Blitzer at Burning Man) to his classic piano-talking moment. He's probably always wanted a band to back him up like that. Also, way to make people think of Hoobastank for the first time since ... ever.
I had been curious all week how Galifianakis would present himself during the monologue, the one part of the show where the host (supposedly) is not playing a character. Would he live in his deadpan stage presence, or would he allow for some of that smirking childishness demonstrated in the 'Comedians of Comedy' documentary and series to shine through? As it turned out, it was mostly the former, but there were a few moments where you could see Galifianakis break character and look genuinely super-excited to be hosting.
Beard: I had also been curious about Galifianakis's beard. Would he have to get rid of it? Jon Hamm was told to shave his when he hosted a few weeks ago, but Hamm and his beard have a very different relationship than Galifianakis and his own. That's more, like, near-symbiotic.
Now, one o'clock in the morning is not the best time for clear thinking. When Galifianakis popped up beard-free during the "Pageant Talk" sketch, I couldn't tell what was going on. Doubly so because I was watching on a tiny TV. I assumed he had rush-shaved right before. Then he returned to the stage after the break to say good night, but I couldn't really hear who he was thanking because I was too busy trying to figure out if I was seeing things. His beard had returned! Had he been wearing a fake beard the entire night? Do they make, like, bald caps for beard? I hadn't been this confused about facial hair since I found out that JD person from Le Tigre was a dude. I mean, re-visiting photos from the evening, it's obvious Galifianakis had shaved between sketches and donned a fake beard for the good-byes, but at the time, it was equal parts stunning and hilarious. That so Galifianakis.
Zach Drops By The Set: It probably would have been too earth-shattering to see Galifianakis do something like "Sergio" or attempt to sing with The Lonely Island, so this was perfect. The strange vintage 'SNL' punchline was also amazing.
Today Show: Thumbs up for Kristen Wiig's Kathie Lee using the wine like a giant, grown-up juice box. Double thumbs-up for getting a little creative with the host and continuing the joke from the preceding Digital Short.
Will Forte's Herstory Song: A bright point in an otherwise very boring Weekend Update (Kenan Thompson makes Mo'Nique look super-pretty though). Forte continues to be a wildly under-appreciated player in this cast. The entire song was hilarious, and his half-screamed, half-sung "Good job, women!" will ring through my head for many days. Maybe weeks, depending on how much positive talk I need in my head.
What Up With That?: Again: Galifianakis knows what he does well. He didn't have to sing, he didn't have to say a word. Just shock us with that stupid walk and that horrifying suit (borderline Dr. Venture-esque) and we'll be delighted. This sketch, as dumb as it is, is quickly becoming a guaranteed source of at least some laughs. The little exchange that happens every time between Kenan Thompson and Bill Hader will never stop being adorable, and Jason Sudeikis's tracksuit-dance has yet to fail. His decision to inexplicably leap into frame from now on was also an excellent choice.
Also: Paul Rudd! I could hear panties across the East Coast hitting TV sets.
Pageant Talk: Admittedly, I spent most of this sketch trying to figure out what happened to Galifianakis's beard, but, from what I heard, I liked it. His voice was marvelous.
NOT SO GREAT STUFF
Cold Open (Health Care Reform): Sure, it's a "thing" for Cold Opens to be political, but it's a real shame when the jokes aren't strong enough to lead a show but they do it anyway.
Vampire Weekend: Not because they performed poorly but because I will never stop being disappointed when I see them. When I hear the words "vampire weekend," I think "undead bloodsucker party time." These guys do not look or sound like "undead bloodsucker party time."
Kissing Family: This was a strange sketch to do with this host. Not because I was initially worried Galifianakis would beard-burn everyone if he went to town on half the cast's faces, but because he was barely used. In the few times this has been done, it was to shock us silly from seeing an actor make out with everyone on 'SNL.' Galifianakis kissed ... Fred Armisen? I think that was it. Bill Hader's disturbingly aggressive snog with James Franco was re-visited but on Bobby Moynihan. Just a strange choice. In other news: Good to know Armisen and Forte are still totally comfortable sucking face. Just like the old days.
Bidet: The word "bidet" and the idea of a "bidet" are both inherently funny. Amusing sketch, not spectacular.
Situation Room: Galifianakis is funny. Once again, he demonstrates how he doesn't need to say a word to show us that. Also, nice touch with the "It's a Party!" and "C'est une Party!" songs.
And next time: Jude Law and Pearl Jam. Last time we saw Jude Law here, I believe people were throwing things at him in front of a green screen.
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