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'SNL' Scorecard: With Ben Stiller's Show Being This Bad, It's No Wonder Why Eddie Murphy Didn't Show Up

by Mike Ryan, posted Oct 9th 2011 2:00PM

'Saturday Night Live' did itself such a disservice by not immediately squashing the rumors of an Eddie Murphy appearance on last night's show. As we pointed out on Wednesday: this was most likely never, ever going to happen. But it would have been really fantastic if it had – and that's the problem: Anything less than an Eddie Murphy cameo is going to be a letdown. (And it doesn't help when the show is as lackluster as last night's Ben Stiller hosted effort.) I mean, Hugh Jackman showed up. From all accounts, people like Hugh Jackman. He's one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Do you know who Hugh Jackman isn't? Hugh Jackman isn't Eddie Murphy. Hugh Jackman isn't a guy who has openly despised the show that made him famous and then gave the world a glimmer of hope this week that this feud may be coming to an end. A world where 'SNL' and Eddie Murphy are on good terms is a world that I want to live in. Unfortunately, we don't live in that world. We live in a world that teases us with the hope of that world – and, sadly, that's a kinda dickish world to live in. On to the scorecard...

Sketch of the Night

"Bruce Springsteen DVD Set" (Stiller, Armisen) "And I said, sorry, pops, but tonight I'm going drag racing by the old abandoned Ferris wheel. One Two Three Four...!"

As pointed out in a Twitter conversation last night, "This episode is terrible, but, 'when I was 16 I got a job stacking rust at a dirt factory,' is Pulitzer-worthy stuff." For anyone who has ever seen Springsteen in concert, this sketch is funny because it's true. I've seen Bruce 14 times, and, yes, I've spent entire evenings making up fake Springsteen concert stories (I swear, not by myself -- but I would). If this DVD set existed, I'd buy it. Also, Armisen does a surprisingly dead on Steven Van Zandt – which we haven't had a chance to see since The Soprano's sketches.

Score: 8.0

The Good

"Tinyballs" (Killam, Stiller, Moynihan, Pharoah, Brittain, Armisen) First, it's good to see Killam bring his Brad Pitt impression away from a "Weekend Update" segment and use it in a more controlled environment. Strangely, this is the second steroid sketch of this young season – a topic that already seems played out – but at least it's is used in a setting that's depicted ten years ago. Also, it's kind of funny because it's true. And, no, I have no idea why this was tacked on as the last sketch of the evening. (Also, for anyone who lives in New York City, it's funny to see that a lot of the baseball scenes were filmed at Icahn Stadium on Randall's Island – a stadium that is only barely worse than the Oakland Coliseum.)

Score 7.5

"Lincoln Financial" (Sudeikis, Hader, Stiller, Elliott) In a three part commercial series, Lincoln Financial asks you to take a look at your future – which means literally meeting your older self on an airplane. Regardless, one of the segments ends with Jason Sudeikis performing oral sex on himself. Read into that what you will.

Score: 7.0

"Best of Both Worlds with Hugh Jackman" (Samberg, Jackman, Hader, Stiller, Moynihan) I hate – hate! – walk on cameos when the real life subject of satire confronts his or her 'SNL' counterpart. (The worst example of this is when Sarah Palin pulled this stunt in 2008. And of course we saw this last season as well with Mark Zuckerberg and Jesse Eisenberg.) If 'SNL' has to do this... this wasn't the worst way to go about it. I mean, at least Hugh Jackman didn't come on as Hugh Jackman, instead appearing as Daniel Radcliffe. And credit to Jackman for being a good enough sport to appear in a sketch in which, basically, his sexuality is being questioned. Also, Bill Hader's Clint Eastwood was one of the highlights of the evening.

(Unfortunately, this sketch is not online)

Score: 7.0

"Fox and Friends: Hank Williams Jr." (Killam, Bayer, Moynihan, Sudeikis, Stiller) Killam, Bayer and Moynihan always do a superb job of satirizing 'Fox and Friends.' Unfortunately, Sudeikis' unfocused Hank Williams Jr. impression sent what was going well, spiraling out of control. This was really two sketches in one: The first part with biting, clever banter and then the second, with Sudeikis yelling.

Score: 6.5

"Cold Open: Mitt Romney-Chris Christie" (Sudeikis, Moynihan, Ensemble) First, congratulations to Bobby Moynihan for landing the role of Chris Christie, "a fat president, it's going to be great." My only regret watching this is that with Christie not running for president in 2012, we are really left with some boring candidates in terms of 'SNL' satire. (Also notable: we've now had four and a half hours of 'SNL' this season and we have yet to see an Obama sketch.) Hopefully, Christie just keeps popping up, regardless.

Score: 6.0

The Bad

Underground Festival: Columbus Day (Sudeikis, Pedrad, Moynihan, Pharoah, Stiller) It pains me to put this down here in "the bad," considering how much I absolutely loved the first "Underground Kickspit." But, now, what is this? The fourth one? They get progressively worse every single time. Honestly, I think it's time to let Ass Dan rest in peace forever.

Score: 5.0

"Digital Short: V-Necks" (Samberg, Stiller, Killam, Pedrad, Brittain) Samberg and Stiller have a competition to see who can wear the most reveling v-neck shirt until, eventually, it drips below the male genitals. That's it. No, really, that's the whole premise.

Score: 4.0

"Ben Stiller Monologue" (Stiller, Samberg) No clue. I have no clue what this was about. I know it has something to do with Yom Kippur and food. I want to say that this is what the show put together in haste once it was official that Eddie wasn't showing up – but it seemed way too elaborate to be a last minute thing. I want to give credit for trying something a little different for a monologue, but I just can't.

Score: 3.0

"Shanna: Halloween Party" (Wiig, Thompson, Killam, Samberg, Elliott, Stiller) The "Shanna" sketch was decent the first time it aired -- a clever look at the absurdity of what men find attractive in a woman. Now it has become a sketch about peanuts that have passed through the human digestive tract unchanged. Also, what was the deal with Stiller's '90s Guy? It was so out of place. Here's what it felt like: Still (Note: "Still" was a typo, but I decided to not correct it and instead coin a new hip nickname for Ben Stiller) had this hilarious idea for a sketch called "90s Guy," but it was cut. So he asked, "Hey, since that was cut, can I just play '90s Guy in this "Shanna" sketch? (It was at this point that I wished 'SNL' would have continued its unofficial Stiller -- or "Still," as we now like to call him -- ban after he bailed on hosting the show right after 9/11.)

Score: 2.5

The Ugly

"Weekend Update" (Meyers, Hader, Stiller, Wiig) If no one else will say it, I'm going to: Stefon is officially played out. I worried about this at the end of last season, but I thought, maybe, the summer off could rejuvenate a character that 'SNL' absolutely beat into the f-cking ground. What used to be amusing, watching Hader break character, just now comes off so forced. And there's nothing worse than forced fake laughter. Then the addition of Stiller as Derek Zoolander just made the whole thing worse. At the very least, Stefon needs a very, very long break.

But that's not the reason "Update" finds itself so low this week. And neither is another off night by Seth Myers (though, his delivery of the Jose Reyes, New York Mets line is the Meyers I miss). No, the reason is the creation of perhaps the worst 'SNL' character that I've seen in the last five years. Its name is Nan Washingtom. One of two things happened: Either this just killed at the more intimate setting of table reads, or Meyers knew that this would piss off the audience and that was the point. (I tend to believe the former because you can tell by the look on Meyers face that he knows it's bombing.) I can envision a scenario in which Eddie Murphy did show up for a cameo, then, after he watched Nan Washington during dress rehearsal, said, "F-ck this sh-t,' and boarded the next flight back to L.A.

Score: 0.5

Average Score For This Show: 5.18

Weekly Host Scorecard:

· Alec Baldwin 5.80
· Melissa McCarthy 5.45
· Ben Stiller 5.18

You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.

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Kristen De La Riva

I laughed during the Springsteen sketch and everything else left me deadpanned. It also breaks my heart to not even find Stefon remotely funny because it used to be my favorite part of Weekend Update.

October 10 2011 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mr. Dobyns

First off, I'm amazed someone is actually employed to watch and rate SNL. Tthere should be some kind of extra hazard pay that goes with the position for the potential for permanent brain damage. As for Mr. Stiller, the guy simply isn't funny regardless of his role. If wearing strange costumes, strange make up and making weird faces qualifies as humor to anyone it speaks volumes about our country as a whole. Go away Ben and take freak Owen with you.

October 10 2011 at 2:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ben is a great actor, i like it a lot............my best friend's mom makes $77 an hour on the computer. She has been out of job for 9 months but last month her check was $7487 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read about it here MakeCash9.com

October 10 2011 at 10:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Count me as not liking the Springsteen or the rest of it for that matter. Both Worlds was alright. Hugh Jackman FTW.
Very weak episode.

I'm too young to have seen Murphy on SNL and don't really know anything about the feud. A cameo wouldn't do much for me. I'll always remember him as a guy that used to make great comedies, then put on make up and ruined his shot at an Oscar.

I have a feeling someone is back there cutting the good skits and releasing the bad ones because they don't know what the hell funny is.

October 10 2011 at 1:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think BOBW was pretty brilliant in that, as soon as the premise was played out, the entire premise changed from being a talkshow hosted by Hugh Jackman to being about a sketch where Samberg plays Jackman opposite the real Jackman, who desperately tries to defend himself without breaking character. I think the same "almost turns meta" was present in the cold opening, where everyone is sad about the sorry selection of candidates and wishes for someone more fun.

It wasn't a very good WU. Washingtom felt like Wiig had wanted to do something like that Will Forte character, where he plays a politician on WU, mumbly and incoherent and with some terrible ideas, but she was really hungry when she wrote it, so she sort of lost focus. And Meyers seems to have forgotten how to interact with his guests, over the summer. And Still is really getting too old to plays Zoolander.

October 09 2011 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lordz86's comment
Mike Ryan

Ugh, you're right about Still. I thought the same exact thing but didn't want to criticize him for that. Also, yes, Washingtom really is a poor man's Tim Calhoun.

(Also, yes, I'm responding to comments on an iPhone at a St. Louis Cardinals bar in NYC, so please excuse any typos. Multitasking!)

October 09 2011 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The only sketch that had me laughing out loud was the Best of Both Worlds one. Unlike the author, I love when the real actors encounter their SNL counterparts. I especially liked this one b/c it was not Hugh as himself confronting Hugh but him as Daniel Radcliff defending Hugh. I have not seen Zoolander or Moneyball so both if those were list on me. Same with the Lincoln Financial--never seen the original. The Bruce Springsteen and music festival ones were so long and boring I ended up FF thru them.

October 09 2011 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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