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'Saturday Night Live' - Zach Galifianakis / Jessie J Recap

by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Mar 13th 2011 11:00AM
'Saturday Night Live' - Zach Galifianakis / Jessie J Recap['Saturday Night Live' - 'Season 36, Episode 17']

You can count on Zach Galifianakis to bring his own peculiar take on humor when he hosts 'Saturday Night Live,' a humor that seems to embrace the live and unpredictable nature of the show. Not many other hosts carry with them the reputation or the chops to bring the element of "anything can happen" back to the forefront, and it's what I enjoyed most about this episode.

Even if that "anything" turns into "nothing," we still watch the show with a different kind of anticipation that can help make every sketch just a smidge funnier. In this, his second hosting stint, Zach Galifianakis put out pretty much what I expected: an unwavering commitment to his comedic ideals, enough awkward pauses to keep us from getting too comfortable, and a Hoobastank reference.

Cold Open: It made sense. Combine the cultural phenomenon of March Madness with the recent explosion of actual madness popping up all over the world, and you have the makings of a decent sketch. The different brackets drew attention to how widespread the insanity has become. If nothing else, it was a way to do some tired Sheen stuff and note that Nicholas Cage "Always looks like he just witnessed a murder." The highlight had to be Andy Samberg's Dick Vitale impression, or the news that the Wayans brothers built the pyramids. They're so talented.

Monologue: Zach Galifianakis is not for everybody, even though his 'Hangover' role might have you thinking otherwise. That's why it was so great to see him do his act, which is far from mainstream, and not try to give people what they think they want. The monologue gave us a dose of the typical off-beat, awkward stand-up, self-deprecating to the point of sympathy, and culminated with a performance of 'Tomorrow' in full little orphan Annie gear. I have to believe it was the first time that ever happened, ever.

'The Talk': I'm surprised that it took them so long to address, what might be the worst idea for a television show in the history of people. Someone said, "hey, that 'View' thing really seems to strike a chord. Let's do that show only with bigger idiots," and the sketch reflected that. I guess you can't just roll out any four D-list women and call it a talk show. You need the right combination of pie-holes. Steven Tyler (Bill Hader) was the guest, referred to as "a Real housewife being eaten by a snake," and Galifianakis the disgruntled 'View' fan duped into watching. Kristen Wiig as Julie Chen genuinely responding to sarcastic hellos and reading slang off a teleprompter held the sketch together.

The Original Kings of Catchphrase Comedy: This might be one of my favorite sketches of the season to date. Maybe it's because I've watched an unhealthy amount of stand-up since I was ten, or maybe it exposed the trite, lowest common denominator conventions of 80's and 90's comedy -- the kind of comedy that Galifianakis has always been interested in lampooning. With vague allusions to Yakov Smirnoff, Ralphie May, anyone from BET's 'ComicView,' Larry the Cable Guy, and Judy Tenuta, among others; this one had just enough random and just enough parody to make me rewind it and watch it again.

Scared Straight: It had been a while since the last Scared Straight sketch and this one had McIntosh (Kenan Thompson) warning the youth of America about the downside of prison rape with a new sidekick, Bernstein (Galifianakis), the straight jacketed Lecter wannabe. McIntosh's specialty is commandeering movie plots as his own life experience then turning famous scenes from those movies into inmate sex puns. It's a fun game to play with your friends, and even more fun in sketch form on 'SNL.' A couple gems from this version were: "Getting hit in the head with nuts and taints" and "What happens in your ass, stays in your ass." So true.

SNL Digital Short: Having loved his last digital short, I had high hopes for the second go around, and was a little disappointed. The idea for this must have come from his old VHI talk show when he did stand-up for a preschool. Galifianakis is great at taking the same old thing and turning it on its ear. Kids are funny, but this is a much more warped, version of 'Kids Say the Darndest Things' that made the adult look like the child.

Weekend Update: One of the weaker Updates in recent memory, and just when I thought Seth Meyers was taking his act up a notch in the befuddled rage category.

Julie Taymor (Wiig) appeared to comment about getting fired from 'Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark" and the debacle it represents. It seemed like an odd choice considering what's going on in the world, to showcase an impression of a person no one really knows about. Not that her original Spiderman song wasn't funny. The whole thing just felt forced, or at least a stretch.

Samberg returned as Liam the Teenager Who Just Woke Up and when asked about Obama's energy strategy, proceeded to explain how everyone in his dreams (a hot girl, Obama, Peter Falk) has a hawk-body and boobs.

Like I said, not some of their best work.

Noodles: Galifianakis really doesn't start to break out his own personal comedy flavor until late in the show, when everyone who doesn't "get the fat bearded fella" has gone to bed. This sketch about a family dog that died from auto-erotic asphyxiation, and the subsequent explanation to the kids had that obsurdist, 'Tim and Eric' twang to it, especially when the dog -- still alive -- sang 'Luck Be a Lady.'

Celebrity Scoop: In my opinion, the Canadians don't get made fun of enough, and even when they do it's for their accents and their kindness. It says something about us when we make fun of people for being really nice. Wiig, Fred Armisen, and Hader all had funny, borderline Scandinavian accents, while Galifianakis focused more on their peculiar cadence and sounded pretty Irish. Props to everyone for not making the obligatory bacon joke.

Corn Syrup: I really liked this PSA/commercial parody, too, largely because it went about criticizing both sides of the corn syrup debate, before letting us know where they stand. We are a culture that loves to judge others based on popular opinion while at the same time, not taking the time to research and find things out for ourselves. This sketch asked the question: what happens when these two types of people meet, and people stop being polite and start getting real.

Titanic: Something just felt off as the show began to limp toward the finish line. Dead air and bad timing that, I think, led to cutting an additional final sketch, made this strained Titanic bit seem like one that maybe should have been cut in dress.

Host: B+
Musical Guest: Should consider porn, and not because she can't sing, but because she looked so comfortable in the uniform.
Laughs: B-

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

'Saturday Night Live' returns live on April 2 with host and musical guest Elton John at 11:30PM ET on NBC.

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I love these reviews! Keep them up. I do, however, differ to agree that Miley Cyrus can get the same grade Zach. That is just not possible. For reasons visible, her SNL hosting was flat in comparison to Zach, who is without doubt a host that should hover in the A ranges, if you gives As to hosts that is =) Looking forward to more!!! =D

April 02 2011 at 10:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tommy and Mac!!

I am a life long SNL fan and I enjoyed his monologue very much.Kristen Wiig is a goddess.

March 14 2011 at 4:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I haven't been watching SNL as much as I used to in the past, but I made sure to tune in this week knowing Zach G. was hosting. And, of course, he knocked it out of the park!

If you want to see photos and quotes of Zach and the rest of the cast from The Hangover: Part 2, be sure to check out http://www.TheHangoverQuotes.com

March 14 2011 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You missed the funniest part. At the very end, Zach came on with a mohawk. It was obvious from the cast reactions -- no Mr. T skit had been planned, I'm sure - that he did it spontaneously backstage. What a wild & crazy guy!!!!

March 14 2011 at 8:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ba Ba Bauf

You do realize that Zach was only joking when he said there wasn't enough time left for the "Mr. T sketch", right? There was no final skecth that was cut after the "Titanic" bit, Galifianakis shaved his head and joked about a "Mr. T sketch" basically as a throwback to the last time he hosted, when he actually did shave his beard for the final sketch of the night. It was just a joke. No way they could have possibly fit in another sketch, there just wasn't enough time. I think the "Titanic" sketch may have run short by about 30 seconds or so, which is why the "Good Nights" at the end went a few seconds longer than usual, but that's about all.

March 14 2011 at 12:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lots of stumbling over lines this week as well as bad timing.Writing not as good as last week but better than most.Next week Elton John which I expect to be a snoozefest

I always find it odd that SNL depends on retro based sketches to entertain an audience younger than the source mattter.Always brings on noticable pauses in laughter/applause.

Still believe SNL needs a complete reboot with new writers,a new cast and Lorne needs to retire.

March 13 2011 at 12:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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