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'Saturday Night Live' - Paul Rudd / Paul McCartney Recap

by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Dec 12th 2010 12:15PM
Paul McCartney and Paul Rudd on 'SNL' Dec. 11 2010['Saturday Night Live' - 'Season 36, Episode 9']

Paul Rudd is, quite simply, one of the most accomplished straight men of this century. Not "straight", as in heterosexual, but rather "straight" as in "the guy in comedies that sets-up the 'funnyman' or 'the guy who needs to get all the laughs to compensate for things.' And by 'things' I mean: small wieners and low self-esteem."

In this role, Rudd excels, often getting as many if not more laughs than his comedic partners in this, the age of anti-humor where the laughs come more from the reactions to, not delivery of, situations and punchlines (think 'The Office,' 'Arrested Development' and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'). Now he takes another turn as the lead jokester, and we are left to hope he's taught the cast a thing or two about being straight.

Cold Open:
President Obama (Fred Armisen) addressed the nation concerning the pending tax package that has our entire political complex freaking out like a pedophile at a Justin Bieber meet and greet. The writers may be starting to turn on Obama -- the jokes were all about how he's acting more like Reagan than Clinton, citing Stockholm syndrome as his excuse for agreeing with right-wing trickle-down economics and with Rush Limbaugh's comment, "I never got hired by a poor person." It was refreshing to see the show step out of its comfort zone and criticize the left. It's what comedy should do: explore the ridiculous regardless of allegiances.

Monologue: The monologue was really short. Like, mad short. Rudd hit the stage and mistook all the buzz and adoration over Paul McCartney for his own. You know, because they have the same first name. It was cute. McCartney came out to clear things up. Short but sweet, however, it really lengthened the rest of the show, leaving more time for sketches to hit or miss.

Feline Culinary Creations: Cat food is nasty, no matter how "gourmet," it might be. You can put whatever you want in there, it's still going to look and smell like a homeless drunk's morning dump. The multitude of shots of cat food plopping onto plates was funny, but not one of the show's better commercial parodies. I kept comparing it to the Angry Dog (endorsed by Michael Vick) dog food commercial from September 2007.

The Vogelcheks: Of all the sketches to bring back intermittently, this one just doesn't make sense to me. I understand its appeal, and the sketch always heightens nicely, especially this time, when Dwight (Bill Hader) not only grabbed, but fondled his brother's (Rudd) boob... then did the same to his mom (Kristen Wiig). The sketch is just a way to get the host to tongue a dude, and I can think of 100 better ways to do that.

What's That Name?: Literally, this was a game show that asked contestants to identify people's names. The joke here was a smart one. After successfully identifying middle-of-the-road celebrities with ease, the contestants (Rudd and Vanessa Bayer) were asked to name people they interact with on a regular basis -- the doorman, the cleaning lady -- and were stymied. It was a sharp comment on our culture's obsession with celebrity, and the subsequent neglect of those people who might actually have an impact on our lives. Solid sketch.

SNL Digital Short, Stumblin': Andy Samberg and the boys have made absurdity the norm. So much so that we come to expect it, and embrace it in all its blissfully out-of-control silliness. This was a song parody based on a couple of lines from the song "9 to 5" and escalated into a non-sequitur fest. It's always funny to see the host on board with whatever the team come up with, and this one brought the musical guest into the fold as well.

Julian Assange:
The WikiLeaks bad boy once again commandeered the airwaves from prison to threaten increasing cyber-sabotage for each day he remained captive. A systematic attack that would start with amazon.com and move through Facebook and on to Netflix and a steady stream of 'Hangin' With Mr. Cooper.' The whole Assange story is certainly worthy of comedic examination, and this marks the second week the show took aim with mixed results.

Sexually Speaking with Dr. Linda Marie Choice: Another odd sketch to continually bring back. Dr. Linda is perpetually sick, leaving unsuspecting audience members exposed to the insensitive, sexist approach to sexual enlightenment of the show's producer, Roger Brush (Armisen). Not much else to say about this. It's pretty much the same as all the other ones, but doesn't have the luxury of being iconic (Wayne's World, The Church Lady, Spartan Cheerleaders, etc.) enough to warrant that repetition.

Weekend Update: Update was when I came to the realization that Paul Rudd wasn't the host. He was basically co-hosting with McCartney. The relative brevity of every sketch hinted at Sir Paul performing more than the requisite two songs, and his presence on Update, in the Digital Short, and the monologue gave him as much face time as Rudd. Here, he was a stunt voice for Camila Parker-Bowles in a throwaway bit with Seth Meyers. Update relied solely on the return of Stefon to keep it funny, giving visitors to New York some particularly disturbing holiday travel advice.

Booker T. High School Holiday Jam: Rudd played the insufferable nerd teacher dropping Christmas puns eerily similar to Marty and Bobby Culp (Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer). That was cute, but the sketch centered on Principal Frey (Jay Pharoah) and his "Darth Vader with asthma and emphysema" voice issuing announcements to the inattentive students. The part about kids giving a horse Dr. Pepper and Viagra, was decent, but when is a horse rape joke not a show stopper?

Broadway Cares: I guess it just matters what you like, because this is a semi-recurring sketch that probably shouldn't be, but I'm happy it is. Mike Underballs (Hader) and Jeff (Jason Sudekis), the bitter, disgruntled spot-op guy returned to shoot a spot with Rudd. For me, the whole sketch is Underballs saying "Jeaaaff," to varying degrees of frustration. That, and Jeff's unprovoked disdain for celebrities like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Le Bron James, and now Rudd.

Host: C+
Musical Guest: Too much Wings.
Laughs: C

Next week: Jeff Bridges and Eminem, 11:30PM EST on NBC

Dr. Vaughan teaches English/Media/Humor courses at Binghamton University in upstate New York, and he's hardcore.You can also check out his blog at drvtv.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Vaughan/21931402981

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This was definetly a Paul McCartney concert with some sketches that kind of feature Paul Rudd. For me, that's totally fine. I love The Beatles and Paul McCartney so that is fine. I knew he was going to get 3 possibly 4 songs due to every sketch and Weekend Update being incredibly short. I really enjoyed the Game Show and wish that had gone on a bit longer, the one with Jason Sudekis as the lighting guy was pretty funny and it was at the end of the show, it should have been earlier up in the show and given a bit more time, they could have done even more with that sketch but they didn't.

I actually think most sketches could have gone on a bit longer, except the Booker T High School sketch. That went on for way too long and didn't need to be. I like that they featured Jay Pharoah and Vanessa Brayer a bit more this episode, but that Booker T High sketch was ridiculous, and not ridiculous in a good way.

I'd never really say anything bad about Paul McCartney,so although it was Wings songs he sang is it really that bad? The host was game but couldn't do much with the writing. Opposed to say Robert DeNiro who was given decent writing last week and couldn't pull it off. It was definetly a mixed show this week.

Next week should be interesting, I wouldn't think that Jeff Bridges is funny, but ya never know.

December 12 2010 at 10:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have to take back one of my previous comments about Jay Pharoah. I've mentioned before that I think his bits fall flat due to poor writing. Last night he was given potentially funny lines as the principal and every one of them fell flat. My conclusion now is that he just doesn't know how to deliver a line to get a laugh. Maybe he should take up playing famous people in biographical movies. I think he'd be great at that, but he just doesn't seem to understand sketch comedy.

December 12 2010 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I know Paul McCartney is a Musical Icon; but Why does every appearance he makes have to completely take over shows? 2 segments on talk shows, 3 songs on SNL, 17 floats in parades. I dread seeing him in the details tab.

December 12 2010 at 3:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Usually when they go to dude make out sessions to get a laugh, it means they've run out of material. When the first real sketch is guys making out obviously, no one started writing the show until that afternoon.

December 12 2010 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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