Last night’s SNL was another in a run of good shows. Host Martin Short, a veteran comedian, performed perfectly. My friend put it best when she likened his antics to a USO show. It’s fitting, because the uplifting humor that the USO provides during difficult times was exactly what we (or at least I) needed.
There was a terrible shooting earlier this week, and that’s not something I want to write about. However, I’d like to give a “tip of the hat” to Lorne Michaels and SNL for the way they addressed the tragedy.
In place of a sketch, last night’s cold open was a children’s choir singing “Silent Night.” It very was tasteful. At no point did the opening reference it’s purpose, and that’s because everyone was very much aware of it’s purpose. I think it was the perfect response from SNL.
An unexpected surprise was “Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy,” on Weekend Update. This is the first time that I know of in which Vanessa Bayer has played a dynamic and original character. Now, I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m ragging on Bayer, I’ve just felt that she’s been an under utilized actor since she joined the cast. She usually fills the “awkward smile” roll in an aplicable skit. She seems to have successfully turned those aspects of her craft into an original and engaging character. It’s also funny as all hell.
Jacob is in the vein of “oddly specific and generalized characters” that Weekend Update has been interviewing, like “Drunk Uncle” or “The Girl at the Party You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With.” These characters are great, because they’re highly relatable and extremely honest. What I love about these impersonations is that they don’t focus on a specific personality. They give the audience the opportunity to say “well that’s obviously my friend Susan.” In the case of Jacob, it’s incredibly observational for Bayer to have so perfectly captured a Bar Mitzvah boy’s report. The opening line, “When I first started studying the story of Hanukkah, I was worried it was going to be boring. But as I learned more about the powerful story of the Maccabees, I found out it was actually pretty neat. But don’t tell my parents I said that!”
That’s exactly how a 13-year-old would open a story. It’s classic “integration of knowledge” that’s taught in middle school. Something about that, about the way Bayer pulled of the character, her general cadence, that was completely brilliant.
My favorite skit of the night, if for no reason other than Sam Jackson, was “What Up With That?” It’s always one of my favorite bits, even if it’s almost exactly the same thing every time. A professor once told me that surprise was having no idea that something was going to happen while suspense was knowing that something was going to happen all along. I think that good comedy can utilize suspense, and “What Up With That?” is a perfect example of that idea.
Jason Sudeikis’s red jumpsuit dancer is, by far, one of the most impressive bits of physical comedy on SNL. It makes the whole skit, in my opinion, especially that moment where he walks on stage with a cigarette. This is the cast having fun, and that makes it special. OH YEAH, did you hear Sam Jackson at the end? He dropped the fuck bomb. What happened?
Apparently, the joke was supposed to be complete indignation at Thompsons constant interruption. But Jackson, ever the bad ass, couldn’t stop himself from actually grooving into a smooth “fuck.” He’s just that smooth. As Jackson mentioned after the show on Twitter, the plan was to leave off the “ck,” by way of interruption. However, you probably noticed that a “This is bullshit” line that Jackson laid down a few moments later.
Kenan Thompson leans into it, saying to Jackson, “Come on now — that costs money.”
I just hope that somewhere, someway, Jenny Slate is smiling.