‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: “Seth MacFarlane Hosts”
‘Saturday Night Live‘ has returned for an all new season! ‘Family Guy‘ creator and man of many voices Seth MacFarlane hosts with musical guest Frank Ocean, and don’t worry, they’re totally going to address that Clint Eastwood yelling at an empty chair thing.
Fred Armisen introduces Jay Pharaoh doing his Obama impression for the first time at the DNC rally in a symbolic passing of the torch. Taran Killam shows up as Paul Ryan and Jason Sudeikis returns for Mitt Romney.
Did it work? Honestly, Pharaoh’s Obama impression was more impressive in the YouTube videos of his stand-up that were circulating around the time he was hired on for ‘SNL.’ We were all excited to see him take over for Armisen, but his Obama is a little rusty. Taran Killam’s Paul Ryan is perfectly weird, but the best moment has to be when Obama tries to express his emotion by singing “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green, then cuts to Mitt Romney singing “Old MacDonald.”
Quote it: “One of my horses failed to medal at the Olympics, so I know hardship!”
“Oh, you are gay? So that’s why you’re wearing the beret. I see. Thank you for your service. I’m sorry, your gay service.”‘
“It’s like we got a ‘Sanford and Son’ economy.”
“The man is a Christmas miracle.”
Seth MacFarlane, creator of ‘Family Guy,’ ‘The Cleveland Show,’ ‘American Dad,’ and director/voice of this year’s ‘Ted’ is our host, and he slips in and out of his popular voices like Peter Griffin, Stewie, Quagmire — okay, just everyone from ‘Family Guy.’ They’re all arguing with Seth over how well he’s doing in his monologue, where he’s making a joke about how he has voices in his head. Next up, Seth breaks into a song to drive the point home, but he also does incredible George Takei and Marty McFly impressions.
Did it work? It seems a little obvious to use his voices for an opening monologue, but kudos to the ‘SNL’ crew for having him utilize his delightful singing and showcase a few of his other, non-cartoon voices.
In an ad attacking Mitt Romney, Bill Hader and Kenan Thompson play Americans affected by Romney. Hader talks about how Romney had the nerve to be sick around his wife, who was recovering from heart surgery, while Thompson plays a man who had to keep switching jobs because Bain Capital was buying out every company he worked for, even an Orange Julius.
Did it work? Hader and Thompson play it straight while the material becomes increasingly ridiculous, but the best stuff comes from Hader at the end when he talks about Romney having a cold sore.
Quote it: “I then got a job at an Orange Julius.”
“Mitt Romney probably gave Dan’s wife herpes.”
Sex After 50
Fred Armisen plays Rodger Brush, a stand-in on a sex talk show who gives advice (kind of ) to audience members, including Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer, Seth MacFarlane, and Kate McKinnon.
Did it work? It’s definitely one of Armisen’s weaker recurring characters, and Bill Hader steals the scene occasionally with his quirky voice. Moynihan’s face is hilariously enthusiastic when he talks about wanting to try sex toys. New cast member Tim Robinson makes a brief appearance as Seth MacFarlane’s boyfriend, but only gets one line. McKinnon only gets a couple of lines, but she nails it as an older woman desiring a boob job.
Quote it: “Just because there’s snow on the roof doesn’t mean there needs to be snow in the bedroom.”
“And was followed for two minutes of what she referred to as ‘hot dog water.’”
“I can’t maintain an erection.” “One Direction?!”
Eastwood and Chair
Bill Hader plays Clint Eastwood, who has decided to take his yelling at an empty chair thing on the road as a live stage performance… thing.
Did it work? Hader’s Eastwood is on the money, but it’s the physical comedy that really works here — Hader juggles at the chair, does pop n’ lock dance moves, and even almost sits on the invisible Obama in the chair. Various cast members show up to give audience testimonials, with Pharaoh giving a crackling “Man, what the f— was that?” and Killam providing the perfect stinger.
Quote it: “Even the middle 45 minutes when it was just the chair on stage and Clint Eastwood stood in the back eating a whole rotisserie chicken.”
“Just let people eat soda!”
“Whoop, chair it is!”
Seth MacFarlane, Kenan Thompson, and Jason Sudeikis play employees at a Lids store in the mall (you know, that place that sells sports-themed baseball caps, AKA they’re only in business because Fred Durst was a thing that one time). MacFarlane tries to cheer Thompson up with the internet-popular “Gangnam Style,” which he can make appear with the press of a button.
Did it work? First off, the employees’ names of “Deacon” and “Topher” are so legit that the sketch instantly gets extra points here. Bobby Moynihan plays Korean rapper PSY, and his whole-hearted Gangnam Style dance moves are hilarious on a tear-jerking level. Taran Killam gets to show off his dance moves, too, which you’ll be familiar with if you ever watched that backstage video of Killam doing Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend.” MacFarlane almost taking out his penis inappropriately is a great touch, but the sketch takes off when the real PSY shows up and the crowd goes wild. Note: Killam might actually somehow be better at Gangnam Style than the guy who invented the dance!
Quote it: “Listen, bro-turkey.”
“He was on Ellen!” “DeGens? Now that’s legit!”
Introduction to Puppetry
Seth MacFarlane is the instructor of a puppetry class and Bill Hader’s puppet has PTSD.
Did it work? MacFarlane’s apple-cheeked goofiness is Osmond-family stuff as the puppet instructor who is so pleasant and patient with his students. This is seriously Bill Hader’s show now and he dominates the hell out of this sketch, totally dwarfing Vanessa Bayer and Kenan Thompson. He brings some fantastic stuff to the puppet work here, making his puppet shake and smoke a cigarette, but the crowning moment is when Hader joins in making out with Bayer’s puppet and his own puppet in a weird man-puppet-puppet three-way.
Quote it: “Word came down from top brass — ‘Make it disappear.’”
“LOL!” “Nobody was laughing out loud that day in Grenada. Many people were saying OMG.”
“Together we went house to house, spraying liquid death.”
Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan are Honey Boo Boo and her mama, and Seth MacFarlane pops in as Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte.
Did it work? Bayer is excellent at capturing the incorrect grammar of children, which can often be over-exaggerated and come off as too silly. For example, she says, “And always be showin’ off what you got to no one in particular!” It’s just slightly off, with enough propriety (“no one in particular”) to sound like a kid really said it. MacFarlane’s Lochte takes a slightly similar slurring, regressive approach, which is not an exaggeration of Lochte’s persona — at all. It’s a delightful little show-stopper.
Quote it: “I just always look like a video that’s been paused in a weird spot.”
“I gave it six swims.”
“If you hold your ear up to my ear, you can hear the ocean.”
“It feels so weird to be dry.”
Seth MacFarlane is a drill sergeant instructing Tim Robinson, Taran Killam, Kenan Thompson, Fred Armisen, and Bobby Moynihan. Bill Hader is absent, presumably because he’s the best at everything.
Did it work? This may be the weakest sketch of the night, with the joke being that the drill sergeant does stutter, and he keeps asking his men, “Do I stutter?!” Armisen provides laughs with his nerdy private who does a shoulder-shrug when he’s confronted with the stuttering sergeant.
Kenan Thompson is Steve Harvey and Seth MacFarlane plays Craig, a guy getting a makeover.
Did it work? MacFarlane gets a makeover to look like Steve Harvey, and while the sketch seems like a one-note, it makes the most of deconstructing Harvey’s signature look, explaining everything from his pocket square to the reason for his mustache. It’s a simple sketch that showcases the show’s writing over the acting, and it feels like something the writers came up with late at night while under the influence of… something?
Quote it: “I feel like an Iranian DJ.”
“You should be able to disappear into a tub of Skittles.”
“Until they realized there was no white guy in Boyz II Men.”
Nasim Pedrad and Seth MacFarlane are on a blind date and they keep doing impressions to explain how they feel.
Did it work? There’s something genuine about the “I’m all and he’s all” and “I’m like” thing, which is definitely how people tend to talk. The premise is taken even further when Tim Robinson and Bobby Moynihan show up as friends of MacFarlane who also do the impression bit. Bill Hader wins the sketch just by walking by as an old waiter and throwing water on MacFarlane and Pedrad. And where the hell was Pedrad all night, anyway? Aidy Bryant makes her debut with a useless one-liner.
Quote it: “She’s dead?” “Yeah, she was all, ‘WHOA CAR!’”
Wooden Spoon Warehouse
Tim Robinson and Seth MacFarlane are the Yoder brothers, Amish folk who are trying to sell their wooden spoons on something called “internet.”
Did it work? It’s a brief sketch that doesn’t try too hard to bleed a small premise, so it ultimately soars above lesser stuff like the drill sergeant and the blind date. It’s a great way to end the show with a quick laugh — the major joke here being that the Amish refer to letters as shapes, like snakes and owls. And how many sketches has Tim Robinson been in tonight? That has to be a record for a newcomer.
Quote it: “Just select these symbols on your light box.”
“Fat snake with a sex penis.”
“The river what took my son.”