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‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: “Will Ferrell and Usher”

Will Ferrell, Saturday Night Live
NBC

This week brings the return of ‘SNL‘ alumni Will Ferrell to host, which should more than make up for last week’s Eli Manning snooze-fest.

Pouty Biden

Jason Sudeikis plays a pouty, regressive version of Joe Biden to Fred Armisen’s Barack Obama in this sketch where Biden is angry at Obama for taking all the credit for supporting gay marriage.

Does it work? Biden has an imaginary friend named George — later in the sketch George comes out, and it’s Will Ferrell reprising his George W. Bush impression. Without this bit, the sketch would be basic cold open stuff, but Ferrell elevates it to something more charming. Particularly when he explains how he still lives in the White House: he was chasing a butterfly, got trapped in Biden’s closet, and has been living there for three and a half years.

Quote it: “Mission accomplished. It’s just something I like to say when a problem isn’t solved but I don’t wanna talk about it anymore.”

Opening Monologue

Will Ferrell brings his mother out for Mother’s Day and tells her that a speech he gave at Thanksgiving was scripted, so for once he’s going to speak from his heart. This of course results in a poorly worded, inarticulate speech involving phrases like “brain place” and “lady parts.” It’s pretty darn cute.

Nasaflu

A fake commercial starring Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell as a sick married couple promoting Nasaflu, a medicine that promises a good night’s rest. The hitch here is that Ferrell keeps unleashing these horribly loud sneezes while Wiig is talking and it’s driving her insane.

Does it work? It’s a bit too repetitive, but the moment at the end where Ferrell sneezes and Wiig drops her glass of Nasaflu all over herself is entertaining.

Wilson High School Alternative Prom

I would have loved to review this sketch, but Hulu didn’t include it in their full episode, nor did they feature it as a separate clip like they usually do with sketches they remove from the episode. Ana Gasteyer reprised her role as one half of the Kulps with Will Ferrell, the duo that puts their own spin on contemporary pop and hip-hop songs. Shame on you, Hulu! This sketch was probably wonderful.

ESPN Classic

Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte (!) are commentators on ESPN Classic when they’re interrupted by the infamous OJ Simpson chase. Ferrell plays Randy Feather, a correspondent on the scene at Simpson’s house.

Does it work? Forte’s character is a bit aloof and can’t keep up with Sudeikis, resulting in some pretty funny lines from Forte. Sudeikis nails it, though, with his rhymes about maxi pads, and Ferrell plays sleazy like no one else can in an appearance that’s reminiscent of his Ashley Schaeffer character from ‘Eastbound and Down,’ flowing blond hair and everything.

Quote it: “A shout out to our sponsor, Stay Free maxi pads. When you have your monthly boo-boo, put one of these near your hoo-hoo.”

“It’s the downstairs patch for your baby hatch!”

“Oh, I’d say like a McDonald’s straw.”

“I see London, I see China, I see one very happy vagina!”

“When your uterine lining looks like the elevator from the shining.”

The 100th Digital Short

Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Justin Bieber celebrate the 100th Digital Short with a song and dance about, well, sucking their own penises, featuring appearances from their most memorable characters, like Shy Ronnie, the cocaine guy, and the “Dck in a Box” guys — yes, Justin Timberlake makes a cameo and sings a bit, which is sadly as close as we’re going to get to him releasing new music anytime soon. Natalie Portman is perhaps the best cameo, reprising her filthy-mouthed rapper and tossing a fake baby around. Not to be upstaged, Michael Bolton shows up in Jack Sparrow gear and Jon Hamm reprises Sergio and humps at Justin Bieber. Naturally, Will Ferrell and Usher also make appearances — Ferrell is fine, but Usher feels shoehorned in out of necessity. Also: where is the ‘Lazy Sunday’ nod?!

Usher Performs “Scream”

Hey, it’s this week’s musical guest, Usher. His performance is fun and energetic without trying to take things over the top like, say, last week’s perf0rmances from a vagina-slapping Rihanna. Bonus: laser light show!

Weekend Update

Just your typical, topical commentary with some great jokes about Obama and Bristol Palin, but then Seth Meyers decides to do a “Really?!” segment, minus Amy Poehler. Andy Samberg shows up as Nicolas Cage to have a discussion with Liam Neeson, played by the actual Liam Neeson.

Does it work? These “Really?!” segments just aren’t as entertaining without Poehler around, though Meyers has some pretty good zingers about the overgrown kid breastfeeding on the cover of Time magazine. Samberg’s Nic Cage isn’t the best impression, but he sells it with his commitment to being just plain weird. His rapport with Neeson — who is a total trooper, by the way — is hilarious, especially when he goes off on tangents about his testicles and weird movies. Weekend Update should have ended when Samberg and Neeson exited the stage because the last couple of jokes are incapable of measuring up to that whole bit.

Quote it: “I’m developing my own movie. It’s called ‘Hungry Hungry Hippos.’ I play a rogue marble that escapes from Hell to exact revenge on the hippos that killed his daughter.”

“Don’t condescend me, tall Bono!”

“You just made my list, Schindler!”

2012 Funkytown Debate

Today on C-SPAN: The 2012 Funkytown Debate, hosted by Taran Killam as Michael “Monkey Sweat” James. Kenan Thompson plays the current mayor of Funkytown, Dr. Silky Delicious. He’s debating Captain Catfish (Will Ferrell) and the plain Janet Nichols (Nasim Pedrad). Usher makes a guest appearance as Mister Galactic Fantastic, Captain Catfish’s partner.

Does it work? It’s nothing special. The whole sketch relies on “funky” songs, and they just aren’t funny outside of seeing the actors in costume. The audience seems to feel the same way, as there is very little laughing throughout the entire sketch. It’s a bit of a dud, but things get interesting when Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, and Jay Pharaoh show up as Captain Catfish’s political cabinet. The positive reaction from the audience seems to indicate the relief of seeing some of their favorite players in ridiculous get-up to help escape the boredom.

Quote it: Nope.

Broadway Sizzle

Where has Bill Hader been this whole episode? The man is a treasure! He shows up here with Kristen Wiig as the hosts of the Broadway Sizzle talk show, featuring musical performances from Broadway wannabes.

Does it work? Will Ferrell really is at home on this stage and flexes his acting muscles very well in this bit, playing a mediocre, aspiring Broadway performer. Seeing an actor play the part of someone who can’t act as well is always kind of amazing, and Ferrell pulls it off with the help of a little uncharacteristic restraint. And that’s it — the sketch really is just a showcase for Ferrell, which is great, but it would be nice to see more Hader.

Usher Performs “Climax”

Usher continues his sexually suggestive theme with the song “Climax,” and man, can he hit those high notes. Usher’s concept on ‘SNL’ this evening seems to be posing for a 4th grade school portrait in front of a laser background. All he’s missing is a Bugle Boy t-shirt.

Vince and Angela’s 25th Anniversary

Will Ferrell, Fred Armisen, Taran Killam, Will Forte, and Kristen Wiig give quirky speeches at a wedding anniversary party.

Does it work? The show is losing steam at this point. This sketch is a little too easy, relying on the weird characters we’ve come to expect from Armisen and Wiig, but Jason Sudeikis’ straight man is good stuff. Killam’s lady character is solid, too, but needs more time to develop into something better. Forte in two sketches in one night is a blessing because this man is seriously missed.

Quote it: “A silver bullet into the heart of the socialist wolf that rules this land.”

Almost Pizza

This is a repeat of a fake commercial that aired a few weeks ago, presumably because they still had a couple of minutes to kill. It’s still just as hilarious the second time around, though!

 

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