If there were ever a comic who should’ve had his time in the "Saturday Night Live" spotlight as a castmember, it’s Zach Galifianakis. He commands a room with a similar energy to Will Ferrell, but far more subtle in nature and compelling as a character. His hosting job on last weekend’s SNL was a hilarious display of such prowess, weakened only by the fact that the majority of the cast had no hope whatsoever of rising to the man’s energy, leading to several top-heavy sketches.
Much like Russell Brand’s recent hosting gig, Galifianakis’ monologue consisted of half a dozen minutes of his standup, a fully engaging run of goofball jokes that built an inflated enthusiasm for the show – and far better than Brand’s self-serving humor. We were rooting hard for his success, and when it came, it truly shined. The funniest moment had to have been the redneck ordering skittles or the guy from Queens obsessed with cargo shorts. "What are those, cargo shorts? – This next character…" Even the Annie costume worked, despite what seemed like sure failure at the tired song and dance. The "Hangover" star stripped down to reveal a high-hemmed, classic Annie red dress (with purple underpants), he lip-synched to "Tomorrow" while flipping through a large note pad emblazoned with a stream-of-consciousness rant that left me screaming.
Then comes the nosedive. Every female cast member on the show appeared in a spoof of CBS’ "The View" ripoff "The Talk!," with missed cues and mis-delivered lines a’plenty. The cast of yappers is, as Vanessa Bayer’s Sara Gilbert put it, “a show like a book club where no one’s read the book — or any books.” Abby Elliott was great as the annoying-as-hell Leah Remini, and Nasim Pedrad held her own while channeling the fake-bubbly evil queen Sharon Osbourne, though we’re missing Amy Poehler’s impression something fierce these days. Galifianakis sat in the the audience wearing a View t-shirt, angry to have confused the shows on his birthday. Bill Hader showing up as Steven Tyler put matters over the top, but Hader’s been stepping up well in the absence of Will Forte, who left after last season.
The Original Kings of Catchphrase Comedy spoof was a barrel of monkeys, taking aim at every human caricature from Larry The Cable Guy to Cedric The Entertainer. Galifianakis turned on the weird with his Pete "Airhorn" Schultz character, but Seth Meyers took the cake as Boston Powers – a character we definitely need to see again.
The week’s Digital Short finds Zach on the search for a new assistant, featuring Galifianakis interviewing children for the position. It was a little too quick, but brought more laughs than yet another "Andy Samberg dressed as a nerd!" sketch.
Weekend Update was a bit stale this week, with Julie Taymor embodied by Kristen Wiig, rattling on about The Lion King to try and avoid discussion of her failing, deadly Spider-Man musical.
Andy Samberg’s take on "Liam, the teenager who just woke up" was a complete waste of time, unfunny and frustrating in its accurate depiction of how utterly removed the youth of today is from relevant issues of the moment. Whippersnappers!
The shorter and more consistently funny of its recurring sketches, Scared Straight, returned, with Galifanakis dressed as Hannibal Lecter and enough cringe-worthy lines ("baby arm in your caboose") to last another few months. They went a little too heavy on the anal rape puns, but hell, once we’re past midnight on a Saturday, just about everything should be fair game, no?
The weakest segment of the night was likely “Celebrity Scoop,” a Canadian version of an Entertainment Tonight-style show hosted by Wiig and Fred Armisen (with Galifianakis looking on absurdly). The comedy just didn’t work, and Galifianakis absolutely butchered the Canadian accent… on purpose? Hard to tell.
Alternately, the strongest bit of the episode came from a sneering High Fructose Corn Syrup mock ad, pitting two moms against one another at a child’s birthday party. There’s a head-scratching moment where it seems the spoof is genuinely endorsing HFCS, but it all comes into clear view when Bobby Moynihan enters the picture:
Musical guest Jessie J is the absolute epitome of fake soul panflash manufactured BS music, pop trash so unlikable we should be demanding to know what kind of blackmail pics her label has on SNL chief Lorne Michaels. So terribly disposable, like a Hip-Hop Lily Allen with confidence and about two feet more height and two inches thicker makeup.
Kristen Wiig stepped up to compensate this week for a cast that seemed almost entirely unable to match Galifianakis’ crazy charm. If you were previously unsure of just how far Galifianakis is willing to go for a joke, take notes on the fact that he shaved his hair into a mohawk for the close of the show, presumably just so he could say the words, "Unfortunately, we did not get to the Mr. T sketch tonight."
That, my friends, is comedy gold.